Tips for using tile spacers
Tile spacers give a tile installation a symmetrical and consistent finish. They ensure that all tiles are laid in an equal distance from each other thereby giving the tile installation a professional finish.
Selecting the size of spacer required for a job comes down to personal preference. Keep in mind that the spacers dictate the width of the grout lines and grout lines are a strong feature of the overall design. If you’re a professional contractor, consider discussing the grout width with your client before commencing with the tile installation.
The general rule is to use tile spacers of 2 - 3mm for a ceramic wall tile installation and tile spacers of 5mm for a ceramic floor tile installation, but there are numerous factors that can influence the size of the tile spacers you use. Porcelain, granite and marble tiles are generally installed with a 3mm spacer.
Other considerations to keep in mind before deciding on the tile spacer size:
- Unusual contours – the curvature around the shower, toilet base and basin pedestal will affect the overall design.
- Odd-shaped rooms – not all rooms are the same size, are square or have walls that are equally distanced from each other. The solution is to use larger grout spacing to reduce the impact of the inconsistency on the overall tile installation.
- Cut tiles – wider tile spacers can help you to use fewer cut tiles across the length of a wall or floor, which will save you time and money.
- Straight lines – use a chalk line or laser level when laying tiles and spacers to maintain a straight line and achieve a professional finish.
- Tile panel movement joints – these joints must be a minimum of 5mm wide, and must extend through the tile and adhesive layers. This is to allow for the anticipated movement in the installation. Provide movement joints around the perimeter of all floors, in all horizontal and vertical corners and in large tiled areas at maximum 5m centres in both directions, and at 3m centres for external applications. Movement joints should be created at closer centres in installations where increased movement is expected. To fit a tile panel movement joint, rake out joints and leave ungrouted. Fill with a good quality flexible joint sealant, such as TAL Goldstar Sealmaster 1000 polyurethane joint sealant, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Planning is key. Pre-test tile spacers by laying a trial run of your tile design in the centre of the room. This will help you to visualise the finished design from various points. Test a couple of different placements and decide which one suits the room the best.
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