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Using Tile Spacers (or not)

The use of tile spacers are a sore subject for some installers.  Some old school installers tend to deride those that use tile spacers as “amateurs” or even as “cheating” on an installation.  For my two cents, installation and materials have changed quite a bit from yesteryear and it’s becoming exceedingly rare (except on commercial jobs) where the old 1/4″ grout joint is common.  Having a larger grout joint, like 1/4″, gives installers more room to play around with tile to achieve an even spacing even when the tile sizes are not uniform.  In these installations tile spacers are not as necessary for an experienced installer to achieve a uniform look.  Unfortunately for these fans of old school methods, many of the installations today are designed with a 1/8″, 1/16″, or even 1/32″ grout joint.  With these thinner grout joints, even a small variation in spacing can make a large difference visually.  In these cases, using spacers (and often a tile leveling system) becomes more of a necessity than a luxury to achieve a clean finished product.

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