Why Spacers ?

15 Jul 2010
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United Kingdom
I am a P&D who has done a little tiling. A friend has asked me to give him a hand with his bathroom. The total area is about 7-8 sq m. He is using large tile which I suspect are flooring Tiles they are about 9" X 18". He doesn't want to use spacers. My idea is that you should do so as the grout in the gap is part of holding the whole project together. Am I right or can he tile without it.Also as the tiles are so big will the normal size spacers do ?Also What sort of depth should the adhesive be ?

Hope someone can help


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Are you saying he wants no space between the tiles or that he doesn't want to use the white plastic cross spacers?

There should be a grout gap for two reasons. Firstly it allows some expansion between the tiles as tiles will expand and contract. Secondly tiles are rarely square and true so if you try and install them with no gap, there will be gaps anyway which are then too small to get any grout into. The grout is there to fill the gap, it is not there to hold the tiles in place as that is the job of the adhesive.

The white spacers are meant for DIY'ers but they are not ideal, because the tiles are not all square it can make the joints wobbly. No pro tiler would ever use those spacers.

For tiles that big you will a 1/2" notched trowel and you should back butter the tiles too.
That's great advice much appreciated. what type of spacers would you use and what size would you recommend ?

I don't use spacers any more as I prefer to do it by eye. For large tiles you will probably want about a 5mm gap. All the sheds and tiling shops sell spacers, they are simply white plastic crosses.

If you use the spacers, make sure you use them correctly. Many people believe they should be installed flat at the corners of the tiles and left in. This is wrong. Doing that will mean they show through when you grout. The should be put in vertically between two tiles (i.e. one bar of the cross goes in the grout joint and two of them rest on the tiles. Once the addy is set remove them.

Spacers are useful on walls to stop the tiles slipping down but I would do your best to avoid them on floors. You may think you wont be able to do it by eye but it is your eye that will see the gaps unequal after.
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