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How to Choose the Best Tile Trowel for Easier Floor Tiles Installation

One of the essential tools for installing floor tiles is the tile trowel. Though it is a beneficial tool that makes tiling projects easier, better and faster, it is among the most underrated tiling tools.

The quality of the trowel you use when laying your floor tiles determines the overall outcome of your project. Whether you are undertaking a large tiling project or want to do some minor renovation works, you must choose the suitable tile trowel to make the best out of your installation efforts. Without a versatile, well-functioning tile trowel, you might have issues spreading your adhesive compounds in your tiling project. Tile trowel also allows you to easily apply mortar, thin-set, or grout at different phases of your installation process. 

If you are a professional tile installer, I already believe you have learned how to install your floor or bathroom tiles to bring out glamour and excellence. I also expect you to have mastered how to measure the size of a tile trowel, how much adhesive a trowel will leave under the floor tiles, and which shape of tile trowel to use. You should already have known the difference between using a u-notched or a square notched trowel and how best to use your tile trowel to achieve the best tiling result. 

The only thing remaining is to choose the correct tile trowel to help you lay your floor tiles perfectly without complications. In this article, I will explain to you which is the best size of the trowel to use, how can you calculate the warpage (cupping), in other words, how flat your tile is, do the proper visual inspection, and some valuable tips to get a successful tiling placement job!


Determining which trowel size is correct for your floor tiles placement depends on the tile itself and the substrate. More accurately, it depends on the flat floor tiles and substrate. The less flat the tile is, the more adhesive you need beneath it, which means a larger trowel size.

First, you must know how much adhesive you want beneath the floor tiles in the finished placement. A finished placement requires a minimum of 2mm beneath the finished placement; aiming for a 3mm minimum makes it easier to calculate the proper tile trowel size.

There are two basic ways to determine which trowel size to use: calculating the warpage (cupping) of the tile and substrate or visual inspection. Learn more how to choose a tile trowel.


Cupping of the floor tiles means the amount of variation from the plane. It would be the same to say the flatness of your floor tiles. Figure this out by placing the tile face-to-face and squeezing one corner. If the tile is cupped, the opposite corner will not be face-to-face; it will spread apart. Measure the amount of space between the faces of the floor tiles on the opposite corner, then divide that number in half. That is the amount of cupping in the tile.

If squeezing the tile in this manner produces a 6mm space between the tiles in the opposite corner, the tile is cupped by 3mm. You must add this amount to the minimum adhesive amount you want beneath the tile to get proper adhesive!

Suppose you want a minimum 3mm bed of adhesive beneath the floor tiles cupped by 3mm. In that case, you must use a trowel that will leave a 6mm bed of adhesive beneath the finished placement. A 12mm square-notched trowel will accomplish the proper coverage in that instance. If you want to know more in detail about cupping of the floor tiles visit:


Visual inspection is simply fully embedding the tile into the adhesive bed, then removing it and looking at both the substrate and the back of the tile to determine whether you have proper coverage.

These floor tiles were pushed down only about halfway into the adhesive bed. Notice the 12mm square notched bed on the left side has the most coverage, with the 8mm square notch in a close second. The u-notch center has an even range, but you need a larger gap to get the same coverage.

When you calculate the amount of cupping in the floor tile to determine the adequately sized trowel, you still need to visually inspect the coverage to ensure you use the proper size of trowel!


Above and beyond using the proper method to get adequate coverage for a successful placement, your personal preference will help determine which specific tile trowel you use for different types of placement.

As a rule, the larger the tile, the larger the trowel; it is always better to use a larger trowel than you might need for the placement. A little extra adhesive beneath a tile is entirely acceptable; not enough adhesive beneath the floor tiles is improper.

U-notched vs. square-notched is a personal preference. While obtaining complete coverage with a U-notched is easier, you must also use a larger trowel to achieve the same bed thickness beneath the placed tile. That is sometimes difficult with vertical placements. It is easier to keep a steep ridge on a wall with a smaller square-notched than with a larger U-notched.

U-notched trowels make it easier to keep adhesive from the grout lines as you embed the tile. There is more space between the half-moon ridges with a U-notched than square-notched ones. That makes it easier to have the tile drop into the bed with the edge over an open area between the ridges than over the top of a vertical ridge. Since the adhesive spreads out rather than folding over first, it is less likely that adhesive will fill the grout line as you embed the tile.

Final Words

Choosing the proper tile trowel is essential to have a smooth spread of your adhesive compound, mortar, thin-set, and grout, which determines the overall beauty of your flooring. Make sure you consider the above tips when purchasing your tile trowel.

Efficient tips on how to clean your bathroom tiles

Nothing compares to the feeling of entering a bathroom that is as clean as a place that is intended to promote hygiene and cleanliness. The reality is that making a properly clean bathroom may seem like a big task…and maintaining a clean bathroom might feel closer to the “impossible” end of the overwhelming range. Especially in the case of bathroom tiles and grout. However, with spring cleaning in the air, there are certain tips and tactics on how to clean bathroom tiles and keep them clean that you should know.

Maintaining the cleanliness of your house is crucial since it is the environment in which your family flourishes. A bathroom is an area that requires extra attention since it tends to get filthy really quickly. We have a tendency to pay little attention to how we are polluting our environment when we are cleaning up after ourselves. In the bathroom, water stains, filth, mold, mildew, and soap scum are all common sights to see.

When it comes to making a bathroom seem nasty, there are few things more effective than old and muddy bathroom tiles. It is not just the act of cleaning that makes such a significant effect, but also the products that we use to clean our houses that have a significant impact. Unfortunately, cleaning products may occasionally include a high concentration of chemicals, causing more damage than good to you and your family as a result. This is why it is preferable to use natural cleaning products, even while doing household cleaning.

Cleaning the bathroom tiles may be a time-consuming endeavor at times, particularly since it can be difficult to reach between the bathroom tiles and around them. The use of chemicals to clean is highly convenient since the filth and grime disappear as if by magic, but it is also quite dangerous, particularly when there are small children and pets in the home. Non-toxic cleaning products are not only harmful to children, but they may also be harmful to adults who inhale the fumes from cleaning goods.

Everyday, do a little amount of cleaning in the bathroom.

This does not imply that you should deep-clean the bathroom on a daily basis, though. Instead, it entails doing those minor, 20-second actions that will help to maintain the freshness of your bathroom on a daily basis, such as spot-cleaning the mirror or floor tile and wiping down the worktops, tile backsplash, and/or sink surface. Weekly, on the other hand, you’ll want to take care of the bathroom cleaning recommendations listed below. As time passes, though, you will notice that it becomes less difficult and that you become more efficient.

Clean the bathroom tiles in the bathroom using a vacuum.

Keeping the bathroom clean with sweeping and mopping is fine, but occasionally the strong suction of a vacuum cleaner is required to remove hair and debris from the bathroom tiles, whether it is on the floor or on the walls.

Prepare the bathroom tiles by heating it.

A picture containing blue, tiled

Make use of the hottest water setting available on the faucet and fill the bathtub and sink with a couple of inches of hot water to warm the surrounding surroundings when at all feasible. Also, use hot water to clean any difficult areas of tile if necessary. Wait a few minutes as you clean the mirror or wipe down other surfaces with a paper towel to absorb the moisture. Then drain the hot water and thoroughly clean the tile and surrounding area; it has been shown that increased heat increases the efficiency of alkaline cleansers by a factor of two to three.

Work your way down from the top.

Clean from the top down if you have tile in your bathroom on your tub surround and backsplash, as well as on your bathroom floor and wall surrounds. Spray the antibacterial cleanser all over the surface, then begin scrubbing from the top of the surface down. Having cleaner and filth not flow down or drip into your already-cleaned regions boosts the effectiveness of your cleaning operation.

Distribute the cleanser in a uniform layer.

It is important to apply the bathroom tiles cleaner (including DIY natural tile or grout cleaner) uniformly throughout the tile and grout surfaces while cleaning them. Using a sponge or soft cloth is the most efficient way to do this.

Don’t rush anything.

It’s great if you can give your bathroom tiles cleaner (and other cleansers) some time to settle and battle the filth on the bathroom tiles themselves. Resist the temptation to begin swiping the cleaner away immediately after spraying and spreading it over the room. Allow it to sit for around five minutes in order to fully activate the cleaning capability.

Surfaces should be cleaned.

Allowing your bathroom tile cleanser to sit for around five minutes before scrubbing it clean is a good idea. Hardness varies across tile surfaces, but grout is more porous than hard surfaces, therefore use a non-abrasive cleaning instrument such as a gentler scrub brush or a non-scratch pad to avoid scratching the surface. If being green with your cleaning is your thing, you may want to consider utilizing natural products to clean your grout. You can read about Choosing the Best Materials for Bathroom Tiles by clicking here.

All cleaners should be rinsed.

If you don’t want all of your hard cleaning work undone by leaving chemicals on the surfaces of your bathroom tiles, be sure to properly rinse them after cleaning.

All surfaces should be completely dry.

Make certain that all surfaces are completely dry before continuing, especially on the floor, where damp floors may pose a significant safety threat. Make use of color-coded dry rags (for example, red rags for the floor, yellow rags for the toilet, and blue rags for the sink) to prevent cross-contamination of possibly lingering surface germs.

Final thoughts

If you’re looking to clean your bathroom tiles, this article will put you in the right direction in that regard. On the good side, you can also refer back to this article and practice the bathroom tiles cleaning tips mentioned here.

Choosing the Best Materials for Bathroom Tiles

When answering the bathroom needs, you need to explore the available materials you use as bathroom tiles. So, here is the million-dollar question: are you trying to choose the best materials as bathroom tiles? Whether your bathroom project is a renovation or a new creation, you need to try some of the latest accessories and materials for your bathroom tiles. Bear in mind that you can also combine different flavors for uniqueness.

Firstly, consider the benefits of some of these materials that can make up your interior decoration. For instance, what are the benefits of the best bathroom tiles? What are the benefits of using wood in your bathroom? What are the benefits of Chrome? The second aspect is a possible combination of these available materials. In other words, what happens when you combine the available materials for your bathroom? 

Perhaps this article can guide you to make the right choices of bathroom tiles for the best outlook. 

Benefits of using bathroom tiles

Bathroom Wall Tiles

Generally, tiles can work for any part of the home, ranging from the interior features to the interior. Similarly, particular places in the bathroom begging for placing tiles, such as above the bath or around the sink. Meanwhile, it also includes the fact that the main benefit of these tiles is the ease of cleaning them and making them sparkle each time. At the same time, you should be careful to choose a common way to maintain your bathroom tiles and keep off all dirt and grout.

The precise method is to clean up the tiles regularly to prevent the accumulation of this dirt. At the same time, the bathroom tiles provide a way further to illuminate the bathroom through light reflection on its surfaces. This reflective effect is another reason why the tiles must be clean at all times. Meanwhile, when the bathroom reflects light from your bulb, it makes the room appear larger than it is. By the way, this advantage is beneficial to smaller bathrooms. 

Furthermore, the bathroom tiles in your home are a great way to give a luxurious and modern look. In addition to the wall tiles, you can also add a complementary set of bathroom tiles to the floor and the ceiling. In addition, there are also several styles that you can explore for both the floor and the wall tiles. Moreover, it suffices for a completely personalized look. Visit to learn about Efficient tips on how to clean your bathroom tiles

Benefits of using wood

14 Tips for Using Reclaimed Wood in the Bathroom

Apart from the bathroom tiles, you can also use wood because it offers some level of coziness. In such a way, it can help create a unique atmosphere, especially if you choose the right kind of finish on the wood. For instance, you can opt for a warm wood finish or a dark wood choice to create a sense of ambiance in the bathroom at any point in time. However, you should be careful to use the correct type of wood, but it must be waterproof. 

Furthermore, the bathroom can also have a damp environment as long as you treat the wood nicely to prevent weed growth. At the same time, ensure the wood does not rot by using treated wood even while designing the floor or wall. Another way to use wood for the bathroom is to have wooden accessories such as side tables, bath mats, desks, benches, bath boards, vanities brushes, and other accessories. Another flavor that the wooden material brings to the table is the earthy natural look and style to give a more simplistic environment. 

Benefits of using Chrome

In modern interior decorations, the chrome material happens to be one of the most popular ones you can find. You can also consider Chrome as the best material for creating unique styles with your bathroom designs. At the same time, the chrome fittings with all the accessories look great on the bathroom wall. Some of the best hotels categorically choose chrome materials as the correct fittings for the entire bathroom.

How to Clean Chrome - Bob Vila

The kinds of bathroom accessories and fittings have been essential for high quality and brand for several years. In addition, this chrome material for your bathroom is also quite affordable in addition to other different accessories that can help. Some standard accessories made of Chrome that you can find include the flex towel ring that can enhance your interior’s overall look, including the bathroom. 

The combination of the materials

The next question we need to address is the possibility of combining all the three recommended materials for your bathroom. If you enjoy the three mentioned materials so much, you may want to use all three as part of your bathroom interior. So, why not? For instance, you can have the floor made of bathroom tiles, a set of chrome taps, and a towel rail alongside wooden bath panels and other accessories. Meanwhile, the best idea about combining all these resources depends mainly on the designer’s creativity, the mixed colors, and the homeowner’s taste. 

Floors of Stone Blog | Wood floor bathroom, Bathrooms remodel, Wood bathroom

Conclusion – what does each of the benefits say?

In summary, below are the benefits of each of these materials mentioned in this article.

  • Using bathroom tiles is one of the most fundamental ways of creating a bathroom interior decoration. Firstly, you can saturate your bathroom wall and floor with suitable tiles of desired sizes, patterns, and styles. In addition, the reflective power of the bathroom tiles is an added advantage to ensure that the room is well-lit. Meanwhile, light reflection makes the bathroom appear more significant than it regularly is. Similarly, this choice of material allows you to create a more personalized design and style for the best appearance. 
  • Chrome is applicable in creating a modern and sleek style while also using some of the best durable materials.
  • If you choose to use wooden materials, then you are set for a natural environment with both a warm and cozy feeling in one. Moreover, you can simplify the materials, including accessories in the bathroom but the wood must be treated and covered in the appropriate wood finish. The natural flavor of the environment is an excellent way to restore the environment into a more inviting and relaxed look. 
Vapor Permeability

Vapor Permeability

To tape or not to tape?  Because the installation method of our windows was not typical in this part of the world, we did run into some differing opinions on how to best seal the window assembly. The big issue here is to avoid trapping moisture – whether coming from rain infiltration, diffusion from building materials, or air leakage – inside the wall assembly. Standard windows with flanged frames are typically taped and/or caulked from the outside, generally allowing moisture buildup in the gap between wall and window to escape toward the inside. However, for inset windows such as ours that are not attached to the exterior surface, it was recommended that we place the primary air seal (silicone or tape) on the interior side of the window frame. This is to pressure moderate the cavity, and to prevent warm, moist interior air from getting into that gap where it would condense as it cools.  The bigger point of contention regarding the assembly, however, was what to do on the outside of the window frame. Do we seal the exterior perimeter with tape?

RDH Group, our local building science experts who have given us much invaluable advice on our foundation, wall, and roof assemblies, weighed in on this issue.  Their concern with installing seals on both sides of the frame was that this would create an un-drained pocket between the window and the surround, a condition they typically discourage.  A seal on the outboard side of the window, in addition to the interior seal, would create the potential danger that if the outside seal fails, water may become trapped between the two seals.

They felt that our interior seal plus spray foam already gave us two air seals and a thermal barrier around the window, and recommended that the exterior side be protected solely by the cladding or other “shedding” surface, allowing the cavity to weep out excess moisture. And If any seal was applied to the exterior, at least the seal at the sill of the window should remain open to drain any water that might get into the space.

Window installation spray foamed but not sealed from the exterior

Our window installers from Internorm had a slightly different approach.  Rather than using non-permeable tape or silicone for the interior edge of the window frame, they provided us with a vapor-permeable fabric tape, to be used along with spray foam, as I described in an earlier blog entry.  Trusting in their expertise in high-performance building materials, and understanding that vapor permeability is almost always a good thing in a wall assembly, we accepted this change. They then urged us to also seal the entire outside edge of the frame with vapor permeable tape.  This provides weather protection from the outside but allows moisture to escape out of the cavity in either direction. Since we felt that the window manufacturer’s recommendations were thoroughly tested and well established, we followed their advice as closely as possible.  As a part of our Passive House certification, we are closely following the airtightness of our envelope.  This issue also had an effect on our decision as the additional layer of tape gave us an extra air-tight layer.

vapor-permeable airtight seal on the interior side of the window frame

Finding a vapor-permeable tape to seal up our window installation from the outside was not easy.  Unfortunately, even though the use of vapor barriers is becoming more controversial in modern construction as the importance of vapor-open construction is becoming better understood, there are still not many products on the market that have both good vapor permeance AND good adhesion.  Typically, the best adhesives are either SBS or butyl based, neither of which is vapor permeable.  Most vapor-permeable adhesives use something similar to certain 3M tapes, which are not good in external conditions.  Our Austrian window manufacturers pointed us to several products which were not able to find in the US (Illbruck/Tremco Duo Membrane HD, and Würth Dichtband Aussen). RDH ended up pointing us to a vapor-permeable air barrier membrane manufactured by Henry called Blueskin Breather which we ended up using along with their corresponding primer to make sure we got good adhesion.

Blower Door Test

Blower Door Test

October 4th, 2010 by Bjorn Nelson

Last week our efforts in taping, sealing, and detailing an airtight building envelope paid off when we conducted our first airtightness test and received a  very encouraging result.  Our friends at Hammer and Hand, green builders who also do home performance testing, helped us out by conducting a blower door test of our building. Our result was 0.45 air changes/hour at 50 pascals!

A blower door test is a diagnostic tool that measures the airtightness of a building by depressurizing the house.   This depressurization exaggerates the home’s air leaks, making the leaks easier to measure and locate. A calibrated fan is placed into a door opening, which is then temporarily sealed around the fan, and the fan is used to blow air out of the building to create a pressure differential.  Pressure sensing instruments then measure the airflow (in cubic feet per minute) needed to create a 50-pascal pressure change.  By factoring in the interior volume of the building, we can then determine the amount of the building’s air that gets displaced per hour at this pressure (air changes per hour at 50 pascals pressure – ACH50).

Blower door installed at our kitchen patio our test result of 153 cfm at 50 pascals

We conducted the blower door test at this early stage to determine if we are on the right track for meeting the Passive House Standard of 0.6 ACH50 and in order to have the opportunity to easily find and seal leaks with tape or mastic while the framing is still exposed.  We were able to check around wall seams and window perimeters and could actually feel the air seeping through in some areas while the house was depressurized.  Our official blower door test, which we will conduct at the end of construction, may differ somewhat, but last week’s test gives us a good sense of where we will be at.  Between now and then, we will have to produce a few new penetrations through our outer walls for the ventilation system and our mini-split heat pump, we will seal and gasket them carefully, we will add tape to the outside of the window perimeter, and the interior drywall will provide an additional layer of airtightness as well.

Sam from Hammer&Hand using a handheld steam-producing device to look for air movement around a window perimeter

looking for leaks

as a basis of comparison, here are some air changes per hour at 50 pascals:

0.45 – Shift House (preliminary)
0.60 – a requirement for Passive House Certification
1.50 – voluntary standard for Canadian R-2000 green building program
2.50 – routinely achieved in new homes in Minnesota
3.00 – Concordia House (LEED Platinum house built by ROOT)
3.90 – the median for new homes in Wisconsin (2002 study)
5.40 – energy star rated manufactured homes
7.00 – 2009 International Residential Code requirement
n/a   – LEED for homes has no specific air-tightness restrictions

David Keefe, the manager of training services for Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, recently wrote in an article on blower-door testing, “Houses with less than 5 or 6 ach50 are considered tight, and those over 20 are quite leaky.”  Many older U.S. homes are so leaky that a third to a half of the home’s heat loss comes from air leaks.

The Exterior Gets a Facelift

The Exterior Gets a Facelift

Originally, as you can see in earlier renderings, the exterior was designed to be clad in white stucco with some highlights of dark-stained wood siding. We felt that this high contrast between the two materials, and the smooth continuous surface created by the stucco, would accentuate the reading of the shift – of the building sheared in half and offset to reveal the balconies. Additionally, we felt that the monolithic look of stucco seemed appropriate cladding to represent our thick 14″ walls, and we were drawn to the material since its use would have been a nod to the predominant building practices of our home countries (Germany for me, Serbia for VJ and Milos).

However, as the design evolved, we began to lean more toward cladding the building only in cedar siding.  We felt that the simplicity of cladding both the house and garage in only one material would benefit the design, that as a renewable northwest material, natural cedar would be more responsive to the surrounding buildings, and that it would be more expressive of the green building practices we are incorporating. Additionally, since we have 4 inches of EPS foam (see details) between the siding and our structure, we realized that it would be exceedingly challenging to adequately attach an assembly of materials as heavy as stucco to the side of the building.

So here is our revamped look, using horizontal 4″ tongue and groove cedar siding with two semi-transparent stains.  What do you think?

Shift House

Shift House

The Site

The Shift House sits on a plateau above Hood River and boasts panoramic views of two mountains: Mt. Hood to the south and Mt. Adams to the north. The project is located on a busy street, and in order to shield the residents from the traffic, the program was separated into two buildings. The main house, containing all the living spaces, was set back 70 feet from the street, while an auxiliary building containing a shop and garage were placed directly off of the street.

This separation had the advantage of allowing the auxiliary building to act as a buffer between the street and the house. It also removed the unheated spaces from the main house to allow the heated volume to become more compact.

The House Design

To optimize the use of material resources and maximize solar gain, the building is a south-facing two-story rectangular volume with an optimized surface-to-volume ratio.

The rectangular plan is bisected by an entry foyer and staircase, which divide the house into four distinct areas: living spaces, guest quarters, study, and master suite, virtually eliminating the need for hallways. This layout is then sheared in half along the east-west axis and the two halves are shifted apart by 10 feet. This shift dramatically opens up the living and sleeping spaces to more generous proportions and provides for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. And with this shift, pockets are formed in opposite corners that allow balconies and porches facing both directions to be integrated into the volume of the building.

With its simple pitched roof and overhangs, the shape, massing, and materials palette of the house references vernacular building traditions, showing that a house with exceptional performance does not have to look out-of-this-world, but can be accessible to the average American.

The design makes the architectural statement that simplicity is an articulation of efficiency, modesty, and beauty: That a simple roof form with less ins-and-outs is cheaper, uses less material, produces less construction waste, provides less surface area for heat to escape through, and provides less opportunity for complicated framing details that lead to thermal bridges and leaks; that an efficiently designed floor plan results in less wasted space, and therefore allows a smaller more modest home to be just as spacious and comfortable as the average American home.

The House Performance

The Shift House incorporates not only physical and spatial shifts but also represents a paradigm shift in home construction methods and green building philosophy. We were drawn to the Passive House concept because rather than representing sustainability in terms of elusive catch-phrases, it is simply defined by a quantifiable number of allowed energy use; and rather than relying on costly technologies to produce energy, it strives to simply reduce the need for energy in the first place, using simple concepts in an integrative systems approach. The result is simple: no furnace.

Reducing heating energy is reducing heat losses. The house employs superinsulation in order to significantly reduce the heat transfer through the building shell, with special attention given to eliminating thermal bridges. The walls have an R-value of 42 while the roof has an R-value of 60. Every construction joint in the building envelope is carefully sealed to minimize the amount of air that can pass through the structure. High-performance triple-pane windows are used to ensure that the windows are not the weakest link in the chain.

Reducing heating energy is making use of free heat. The house makes use of passive solar design by facing the majority of windows south to capture the sunlight. This strategy is combined with the use of thermal mass in the form of exposed concrete floors.

The house makes extensive use of intrinsic heat from internal sources – such as waste heat from appliances– as well as body heat from the people and animals inside the building. These heat sources can have a significant impact in a superinsulated building.

To ensure the high air quality in the interior, a heat recovery ventilator is employed that not only brings air in from the outside but also transfers the warmth of the outgoing stale air to the incoming fresh air, thus reusing the building’s existing heat.

Keeping the heat out reduces the need for cooling energy. As one of the home’s main cooling strategies, all of the south-facing windows are equipped with sliding exterior sunscreens made from horizontal wood slats. Several of the larger windows are equipped with solid wooden shutters that not only provide shade from the sun but also reduce heat losses through the glass at night. This operability of the house’s exterior then becomes a design feature that gives the building its dynamic ever-shifting look.