What Size Trowel Do I Need for Wall Tile?

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Man using a trowel before applying wall tiles.
Image Credit: Marius Gheorghe Barzu/iStock/Getty Images

Do-it-yourselfers in the midst of remodeling often choose tile for wall coverings in kitchens or bathrooms, although the many textures and finishes of tile lend themselves to almost any room. Wall tiles come in many sizes and materials. Whatever its size and composition, a tile should be fixed to a wall with an adhesive spread with a notched metal trowel. The configuration of the trowel differs depending on tiles to be applied.

Choosing a Trowel

To adhere properly, tiles must be pressed into wet adhesive that has been shaped into a pattern of alternating ridges and valleys. This texture is created by spreading the adhesive with a notched metal trowel. Choosing a trowel configuration is made simple by the tile packaging, which specifies the notch shape and size for different applications. If the packaging is unavailable, a general rule of thumb is "the smaller the tile, the smaller the notch." Mosaic tiles and wall tiles up to about 4 by 4 inches call for a V-notch trowel with 3/16- by 1/4-inch notches, while larger tiles require a trowel with a square or U-shaped notch to obtain proper adhesive coverage. Twelve-inch square tiles, for instance, are best applied using a trowel with 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch notches.


Kelvin O'Donahue

Kelvin O'Donahue has been writing since 1979, with work published in the "Arizona Geological Society Digest" and "Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists," as well as online. O'Donahue holds a Master of Science in geology from the University of Arizona, and has worked in the oil industry since 1982.