How to Properly Use Tile Spacers

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how to properly use tile spacers

Are you planning a tile installation project? Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a beginner, knowing how to properly use tile spacers can give you a professional tile installation.

Using tile spacers is an important part of laying tile to ensure a level and professional finish. Tile spacers help keep grout lines and alignment consistent throughout the tiled area. Here are the steps on how to use tile spacers:

Choosing The Right Tile Spacer

choosing the right tile spacer

You need to choose the appropriate size of tile spacers based on the type of tile and the desired width of the grout lines. Common sizes range from 1.5 millimeters to 10 millimeters. Larger tiles generally look better with wider grout lines, while for smaller tiles, choosing smaller spacers can make for a tighter fit between the tiles.

In addition, tile spacers come in different shapes such as T-shaped, cross-shaped, wedge-shaped, and horseshoe-shaped. Select the spacers that best suit your specific tile laying project (for example, cross-shaped spacers for grid patterns, and T-shaped spacers for brick patterns).

Preparing to Lay Tiles Before

Before you start tiling, you will need to measure the tiling area and the tiles as a way of planning the arrangement of the tiles and determining whether the edges need to be cut.

You will also need to ensure that the surface to be tiled is clean, flat, and dry.

Laying Tiles with Spacers

laying tiles with spacers

Mix the tile adhesive (thinset mortar) according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then apply it to the base for laying tiles using a notched trowel. Hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle to the surface, and use the notched side to form ridges in the adhesive.

Place the first tile firmly into the corner of the starting point, gently twisting or pressing the tile into place.

Insert tile spacers at the corners where the tile edges meet, or along the adjacent edges of the tiles. For cross-shaped tile spacers, place them at the intersection where four tiles meet. For other shapes, such as T-shaped or Y-shaped spacers, place them along the tile edges.

Place the next tile close to the first one, ensuring it is tightly aligned with the tile spacers. Continue laying tiles, inserting spacers, and adjusting tiles as necessary while the adhesive is still workable.

Regularly check the tiles for level and alignment using a spirit level or straightedge. Make adjustments as necessary before the adhesive sets.

After Laying the Tiles

after laying the tiles

After waiting for the adhesive to set according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you can gently remove the tile spacers from between the tiles using your hands or needle-nose pliers. The removed tile spacers can be collected in a bucket or bag for reuse in future projects.

Once the adhesive has fully cured and the spacers have been removed, fill the gaps between the tiles with grout. Use a rubber float to press the grout into the joints, moving diagonally across the tiles to avoid pulling the grout out of the joints.

Tips for Using Tile Spacers

tips for using tile spacers

Estimating the Right Number of Tile Spacers

Before starting your tile project, you need to estimate the number of tile spacers you will need. Simply multiply the total number of tiles or squares to be used in the project by 4 to calculate the required number of tile spacers.

Of course, I recommend that you prepare some extra spacers to account for any that may be dropped or misplaced.

Remove Tile Spacers When Appropriate

Removing tile spacers in a timely manner during the tiling process is crucial. If left too long, and the adhesive has fully cured, it becomes difficult to remove the spacers without damaging the tiles or affecting the adhesive that is still curing. On the other hand, if spacers are removed too early, the tiles may shift, leading to uneven spacing or misalignment.

Please be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the tile adhesive or mortar. They usually provide guidance on the curing time.

If tile spacers are difficult to remove, you can try using needle-nose pliers to extract them. Grasp one side of the spacer tightly with the pliers, then pull it out with a vertical motion.

Never Grout Over Tile Spacers

Do not be tempted to take a shortcut by leaving the tile spacers in place and grouting over them. Doing so can result in poor grout application and could even damage the flooring. Tile spacers can compromise the structural integrity of the grout. Over time, you may find that the grout over the spacers cracks and creates small fissures.

Therefore, make sure to remove the tile spacers, even if they are stuck. In the long run, this will save you from potential issues and ensure a more professional finish to your tiling project.

Using the New Tile Spacer Application

using the new tile spacer application

In contrast to the traditional use of tile spacers mentioned above, there is now a new way of using them. Place the tile spacer vertically on the edges of two tiles while laying the tiles and push the tiles together until the tile spacer is completely snug against the two tiles.

This method prevents the tile spacer from becoming stuck and difficult to remove, thus increasing your efficiency in removing the tile spacer.

Ensure Tiles are Cut Correctly

The design purpose of tile spacers is to create uniform grout lines between tiles. If the tiles are cut inaccurately, it can result in uneven grout lines. This can also lead to misaligned patterns, disrupting the visual flow of the tiles.

Therefore, I recommend using a high-quality tile cutter or a tile saw to ensure quick and straight cuts of your tiles. This will minimize the impact of cutting on the progress of your entire project, helping to maintain consistent aesthetics and alignment throughout the installation.

For Use with Tile Leveling Systems

for use with tile leveling systems

For larger tile installations, it’s worth considering the use of a tile leveling system along with tile spacers to prevent tiles from lipping. 

These systems usually come with caps and wedges that help maintain the flatness of the tile plane, which is especially useful for large format tiles that can easily create lippage.


For any tile installation project, the use of tile spacers is a simple yet essential practice. By ensuring even spacing and straight lines, spacers help to enhance the structural integrity, aesthetic appeal, and longevity of the tiled area.

Whether it is a DIY project or a professional installation, careful use of tile spacers can have a significant impact on the quality and appearance of the final result. 

If you are interested in information on where to purchase quality tile spacers and knowledge about tile spacers, please feel free to contact us, and we will discuss it with you on time.

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