11 of the Best Tile Installation Tools That Pros Always Have on Hand

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated December 15, 2021
A worker laying tiles on a wall
Photo: ronstik / Adobe Stock

There isn’t one best tile installation tool, as they all work together to get the job done

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Tiles may just seem like they’re for your bathroom floor, but there are endless ways to use them in your home, from tile backsplashes to surrounds for your shower. If you’re looking to take on a tile installation project yourself, the process includes a wide variety of tools that you may not have in your home already.

Here are the 11 best tile installation tools that will set you up for success.

1. Wet Tile Saw

A worker using a wet tile saw to cut tiles
Photo: Andy Dean / Adobe Stock

The wet tile saw is arguably the best tool for cutting tile, regardless of the tile’s material. It can work on porcelain, glass, quartz, or even ceramic. A wet saw uses water throughout the cutting process to prevent overheating of the saw or the tile itself.

A wet tile saw will cost you anywhere from $200 to $900, depending on the power draw, size of the blade, and brand you choose. If you decide to tackle a tile installation job yourself, you might want to consider renting versus buying this tool, as rentals will only be around $50 to $100 for a day.

2. Grout Float

The grout float is responsible for giving that lovely finish to the grout so it’s not sticking out like a sore thumb. Rather than using steel on the bottom of the trowel (which is technically what a grout float is), it instead uses rubber. The rubber ensures you can easily push the grout into place without scraping the tile itself.

Grout floats will cost anywhere from $5 to $35, depending on the material of the float itself.

3. Notched Trowel

A worker laying tiles while using a notched trowel
Photo: andranik123 / Adobe Stock

Before you can put the lasting touches on a tile floor, you first need to lay it. Tile adhesives work best when paired with a notched trowel, as the notches help create an even laying surface.

The type of notch you’re looking for will depend on where you’re laying the tile. For instance, a trowel with square notches works best for floor tile adhesives, whereas you’ll use trowels with a V-notch for wall tile adhesives.

Notched trowels will cost around $5 to $15 on average.

4. Rubber Mallets

Smacking tile with a normal hammer is a surefire way to break the tile itself. This situation is where a rubber mallet comes into play. While you still can’t swing it around like a sledgehammer, lightly tapping the tile with a rubber mallet helps knock it into place.

Rubber mallets will cost around $5 to $20. The cost fluctuates based on the material of the mallet itself.

5. Manual Tile Cutter

Sometimes, a small tiling job doesn’t require you to get all the power equipment out. Instead, you might want to use a manual tile cutter. There’s no worrying about equipment overheating because the machine can only work as fast as you do.

Manual tile cutters will cost anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on the size of the unit.

6. Grout Sponge

 A professional cleaning grout by using a grout sponge
Photo: Valerii Honcharuk / Adobe Stock

When you hire a tile installer near you, you may notice them using this brightly colored object that looks a lot like a sponge. Well, you’re not wrong; it is, in fact, a sponge. But the main purpose of this sponge is to finish off grout work without pulling any grout up or causing it to stain the tile.

Grout sponges use all curved edges rather than flat ones, which ensures it glides easily over the tile while it cleans. You can not use a normal dish sponge, as the edge will likely pull up grout, requiring you to reapply it afterward.

A single grout sponge will run around $3, but a pack will be closer to $5 to $10, depending on how many you want.

7. Rubber or Plastic Bucket

It’s unlikely you’ll ever find a tile installer (or any contractor for that matter) without some type of bucket. You’ll need buckets to mix the mortar and grout before applying.

While it’s common to see a plastic bucket, it will make your life easier to use a rubber bucket for mortar and grout. The rubber material doesn’t allow mortar to stick to the bucket nearly as easily as plastic.

Plastic buckets will range from $5 to $10, while a rubber bucket will range from $20 to $30.

8. Diamond Drill Bits

There will be times when you need to drill into the tile for screws or even just simple holes. In these cases, you’re going to want diamond drill bits handy. Diamond drill bits can easily drill through all sorts of materials without causing them to crack or chip.

A single diamond drill bit will run you around $15 to $25, depending on the size and type of the drill bit.

9. Level

A professional using a level while installing tiles
Photo: kurgu128 / Adobe Stock

You can’t start a tiling project without a level. In fact, a level is essential in every homeowner's toolbox. You’ll want to use this tool to ensure you laid the tile flat and even on the floor or wall. It can also be a handy tool for drawing straight lines.

A level will cost anywhere from $10 to $100, depending on how large of a level you need.

10. Tile Spacers

Tile spacers are simple, yet have made the job of a tile installer a lot simpler. True to their name, this tool ensures you maintain a certain amount of spacing between each tile. If you don’t use some type of spacing tool, then there is a good chance the tiles will shift into each other and leave no room for the grout afterward.

Tile spacers will cost anywhere from $10 to $50, depending on how many you purchase and the shape of the spacer.

11. Knee Pads

 A worker wearing knee pads while installing tiles
Photo: StockphotoVideo / Adobe Stock

This one may only apply to floor tile installers, but they’re definitely a life changer. When installing tile on the floor, you’re on your knees quite a bit. This process can take a toll on these necessary joints in the long run, which is where knee pads come in.

Knee pads for floor tile installers have a cushion on the outside of the pad. Allowing for a softer and less intense kneeling position. These work knee pads will cost anywhere from $15 to $50, depending on the type of cushion the brand uses.

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