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How To Choose Tile Spacer Size?

Aug 31,2023

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In the intricate dance of interior design, even the smallest tools can make the grandest difference. Tile spacers, those unassuming bits of plastic, are instrumental in creating that immaculate, professional finish on a tile project. However, the real art lies in choosing the perfect size. Join us as we explore the wonders of tile spacers and how to choose the perfect size for your tiling project.


Why Use Tile Spacers?

In the realm of tiling, precision deeply intertwines with design and aesthetics, creating a rich and visually pleasing experience. Just like a baker relies on precise measurements for the perfect loaf, a tiler needs tools to ensure exact spacing.

Tile spacers might seem like insignificant pieces of plastic at first glance, they're pivotal in the tiling world. They ensure uniformity, precision, and durability in every tiling project.

Next time you notice those tiny spacers at work, recognize them as the silent champions behind every impeccable tile design. This is the moment tile spacers truly stand out.

This is the moment when tile spacers truly shine. Tile spacers are the ones that truly shine in this aspect. But why exactly should you use them?

Achieving uniform and consistent gaps

A picturesque tiled wall or floor doesn't just bank on the tiles' beauty. It leans heavily on consistency. Picture a tiled floor that packs some tiles closely together while leaving noticeable gaps between others. Not only would it be a tripping hazard, but it would also be an eyesore.

Tile spacers, in their humble presence, ensure that every tile gap is the same. Whether you're aiming for a minimalist thin grout line or a pronounced thick one, tile spacers provide the consistency you need. Every tile, every row, and every column will have the same space, giving your project an organized and harmonious appearance.


Making sure tiles sit straight and level

Ever walked on a floor where one jutting tile almost tripped you? Or perhaps, while admiring a wall, a crooked tile caught your eye? These are classic issues arising from poorly set tiles.

Tile spacers allow each tile to occupy its designated space, ensuring they align straightly and don't encroach on their neighbors. No more wobbly tiles, no more crooked lines. Every tile sits where it should, straight and true, just like the artisan intended.


Aiding in achieving a professional finish and prolonging tile life

A welllaid tile is a longlasting tile. Correctly spaced and set tiles better withstand foot traffic, temperature fluctuations, and various external factors. Even gaps ensure uniform grout spread, serving as a shield that extends the tiles' lifespan.

When you space tiles correctly, it lets you apply grout effectively. This grout acts like a shield, keeping tiles safe from water, dirt, and damage. This means your area will stay looking clean and new for many years. 

Factors Influencing Spacer Size Selection

Tile spacers, though diminutive, play a significant role in crafting a seamlessly tiled space. Their size affects the tile layout, grout width, and overall appearance of the tiled area. However, with a myriad of choices, how do you select the right size? Here's your guide to navigate through this decision.

Tile Size & Type

The size of the tiles has a determining effect on the required size of the tile spacers. Generally, if your tiles are smaller in size, you'll need to use smaller spacers.

For example, if your tile size is 10 x 10 cm, you can choose tile spacers that are 2mm in size. We recommend using larger spacers for larger tiles. For tiles larger than 30 x 30 cm, spacers of at least 4mm or 5mm are ideal.


Large format vs. small tiles

For large format tiles, using spacers like 1/8" or 3/16" is a good idea. They help adjust for any size differences and make sure everything lies flat and even. Smaller tiles, such as mosaic tiles, generally require narrower spacers (e.g., 1/16" or 1/8") to maintain their intricate patterns.


Ceramic vs. porcelain vs. natural stone

Each tile type has its own characteristics. Natural stones, with their porous nature, usually need larger spacers because of their irregularities. In contrast, ceramic and porcelain tiles generally align well with standard spacers.


Tile Layout & Design


Tile layout also affects the required size of the tile spacers. For tiles arranged in straight lines, you can choose smaller spacers. For brick pattern layouts, you need to use larger spacers to achieve a seamless effect. For unique tile designs like diagonal layouts, check online sites for the best spacer size suggestions. 


Straight lay vs. staggered (brick) pattern

Personal aesthetic preferences, the type of tile used, and the overall design of the space will determine the tile method chosen. While the straight lay emphasizes structure and order, the staggered pattern introduces movement and a bit of flair. Both have their merits and can beautifully complement a room when applied thoughtfully.


Specialty designs like herringbone or chevron

Unique tile layouts such as herringbone or herringbone often require tile spacers that may require other styles. It is recommended to consult a tile professional or follow the manufacturer's guidelines for recommended spacer sizes.


Grout Line Preferences

The width of the grout lines plays a role in spacer selection. For thin grout lines, use narrower spacers (e.g., 1/16" or 1/8") to achieve a seamless appearance. Wider spacers (e.g., 1/8" or 3/16") are suitable for those preferring thicker grout lines for a more pronounced look.


Aesthetic Preferences and Trends:

When choosing the size of spacers for your tiles, it's important to think about your personal preference and what's currently popular. Some people prefer wider grout lines between tiles to highlight the beauty of the tiles, while others prefer thinner grout lines. For a sleek, modern vibe in your tiled area, go for slim grout lines. If you prefer a more traditional or rustic feel, wider grout lines are a great choice.


Substrate Flatness

An uneven substrate can affect tile installation and the choice of spacer size. In such cases, larger spacers can help compensate for inconsistencies and ensure a level surface. It's important to address any substrate irregularities before tile installation.


Project Location


Different project locations also affect the required size of the tile spacers. For example, showers, swimming pools, and other highhumidity areas require larger tile spacers to ensure sufficient water drainage. In addition, outdoor tile installations experience greater temperature fluctuations and therefore require larger tile spacers.

How to Choose the Right Spacer Size


Selecting the right grout width is essential for the overall look of your tiles. For small tiles, up to 8 inches, they often come with inbuilt lugs, eliminating the need for spacers. 

If aiming for a traditional appearance, experts suggest a 1/16 inch grout line for walls and 1/8 inch for floors. 

Mediumsized tiles, 12 to 16 inches, can comfortably accommodate up to 3/16 inch grout lines depending on the desired outcome. 

Larger tiles, especially those over 18 inches, can use really thin grout lines as thin as 1/16 or 1/32 inch. This gives them a smooth, almost seamless look.

You can use 1/8inch or wider grout lines on 4x4 or 6x6inch bathroom tiles to make the design pop. Remember, even tiles with lugs allow for spacers to enhance the grout width.


Benefits of Choosing the Right Spacer Size

Choosing the correct spacer size for your tile installation has many advantages and helps achieve a successful and attractive outcome. 


Uniformity and consistency in the tile layout


One of the primary purposes of using tile spacers is to achieve a consistent and uniform layout. Just as a welltailored suit enhances one's look, placing tiles with uniform spacing elevates a room's appearance. They provide a symmetrical pattern that's pleasing to the eye, ensuring that each tile is equidistant from its neighbors. This attention to detail can make a noticeable difference, converting an ordinary space into an extraordinary one.


Prevention of tile lippage


Tile lippage, or the variation in height between adjacent tiles, is not only unattractive but can also be a tripping hazard. Using the correct spacer size ensures tiles are level, especially in busy areas or where kids and older folks tread. It provides a smoother transition from tile to tile, making the floor safer and more visually appealing.


Enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal of the tiled area


Beyond functionality, the space between tiles plays a pivotal role in the room's design. It affects how the grout lines interact with the tiles, influencing the room’s aesthetic. Larger grout lines can create a more traditional look, while thinner lines offer a sleek, modern appearance. By choosing the right spacer size, you're in control of this design element, ensuring the finished look aligns with your vision.


Durability and Longevity

The right gap between tiles stops them from chipping and makes sure they stick well with the right amount of glue. This balance is crucial for the longevity of the tile installation. Adequate spacing allows for proper grout application, which helps to prevent moisture penetration and potential damage to the tiles over time. Choosing the correct spacer size helps tiles stay in place, withstand daily use, and last longer.

How to Use Tile Spacers Effectively

Before using tile spacers, always plan how you'll take them out. Whether you choose to place them vertically or horizontally, knowing how to remove them is key.

Begin by identifying the midpoint of your space, both lengthwise and widthwise. Tools like a chalk line or laser level will be your best allies to ensure tiles and spacers remain perfectly aligned. 

Starting with the center tile, place spacers at each corner, ensuring they're flush with the tile's edge. For floor tiles, consider adding two tile spacers per side for added precision. As you expand, consistently position the new tiles against the spacers to maintain uniform gaps.

Tiles come in various patterns, and your spacer placement should adapt accordingly. For the standard square layout, the crossshaped spacers fit snugly at the intersection of four tiles. But when tiles lay in patterns like brick or herringbone, a single leg of the spacer is sufficient.

This approach, sometimes called the "projection" or "tombstone style," needs fewer gap tools. However, removing them can be challenging after the glue hardens. Tools like pliers or specially designed horseshoe spacers can simplify the removal process.


While many prefer placing the full spacer beneath the tile, there's a popular alternative known as the "projection method." This involves using just one leg of the spacer, especially useful when tiles meet walls or in unique patterns. Though this method can require more spacers, their removal is a breeze with the right tools, such as needlenose pliers.

After setting the tiles firmly, you should wait 20 to 30 minutes, based on the glue used, before removing the spacers. Using fingers or needlenosed pliers can make this process smoother. With the spacers out, you're all set to grout, sealing the spaces between tiles, and cementing your professionallooking finish.


Tips and Tricks for Using Tile Spacers

Using tile spacers can greatly enhance your tile installation process.

Easy Removal:

When working with small spacers for thin grout lines, they can be challenging to remove by hand. To ease the process, carefully use needlenose pliers. Remember to handle small spacers with caution to avoid breakage.

Creating Unique Effects:

Experiment with different spacers to create varying grout line widths, especially when working on mosaic or bordered patterns. This technique adds visual interest and versatility to your tile installation.

Consider Tile Conditions:

Different styles of tiles are suitable for different shapes of tile spacers.For example, hexagon tiles can be Yshaped. Those who want creative paving can choose Tshaped or Yshaped. Now we also have special tile spacers with handles for easy removal after use. We select the style specifically based on how it will look when laid out.

Room Size and Spacers:

For smaller rooms, opt for smaller spacers. This will maximize the use of tiles and give the illusion of a larger space. However, always consult with your customer to ensure their preference aligns with your choice.

Inconsistencies in Walls:

Not all rooms have perfectly square dimensions or walls that are equidistant at all points. If there are noticeable discrepancies, consider using larger spacing to minimize their impact on the overall tile installation.

Test Different Placements:

Prioritize planning and don't settle for the first option. Sample different tile placements and spacing options to determine the most appealing layout for the room. Each room may require different spacing, and there is no onesizefitsall answer.

Save on Tile Cuts:

By spacing tiles an extra millimeter apart, you can significantly reduce the number of small cuts required. Across a wall or floor, this can make a substantial difference in time and effort.

Stress Relief and Minimum Spacer Width:

It is crucial to maintain stress relief in tile installations. Avoid going below 2mm for wall tiles and 3mm for floor tiles. These minimum widths provide the necessary flexibility to accommodate movement caused by climate changes and prevent cracked or buckled tiles.

Maintain Straight Lines:

Achieve professional precision by using a chalk line or laser level when laying tiles and spacers. This ensures a straight line across the floor and adds to the overall aesthetic appeal.

Additional Considerations:

Unusual Contours:

Take into account the curvature around shower areas, toilet bases, and basin pedestals, as they can impact the overall design.

OddShaped Rooms:

Not all rooms have uniform shapes or evenly spaced walls. To mitigate inconsistencies, opt for larger grout spacing.

Cut Tiles:

Using wider spacers reduces the tiles you'll have to cut, which saves you time and money.

Tile Panel Movement Joints:

Follow the recommended guidelines for movement joints, ensuring a minimum width of 5mm. You should strategically place these joints in the tiled area to handle expected installation movements.

Remember, thorough planning is vital. Before finalizing your tile layout, lay out a sample in the room's center. This helps you preview the design from various angles. Test various placements and choose the one that best suits the room's aesthetic.


Crafting a beautiful tile layout is both an art and a science. Using the right tools and techniques, you can turn any ordinary space into a stunning visual delight. The humble tile spacer, often overlooked, emerges as a hero in this transformation.

Choosing a tile isn't just about its look, but making sure each piece fits perfectly with the next. As we've discovered, the right spacer size, layout planning, and expert tips can elevate your tile project from ordinary to extraordinary. Remember, in the world of tiling, it's the details that count.