What is a Notched Trowel?

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  • Written By: Nychole Price
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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A notched trowel is a tool used in tile and hardwood floor installation. Notched trowels are used to spread and comb the adhesive that is used to attach the tiles or wood to the. It consists of a cold-rolled steel blade with either a vinyl, or wooden, handle. Notches are located on the front and one side of the trowel, with the back and remaining side left smooth for scooping up the adhesive. This type of trowel is sold with V-shaped, U-shaped and square notches.

The V-shaped notched trowel is used to spread adhesive for hardwood floor installation and for laying tile on a vertical surface. It is available in 3/16 inch (0.48 cm), 1/8 inch (0.32 cm) and 1/4 inch (0.64 cm) thicknesses. The 3/16 inch (0.48 cm) V-shaped notched trowel is most commonly used for wall, ceramic, plastic and metal tile that is 6 inches (15.24 cm) by 6 inches (15.24 cm), or smaller in size. The 1/8 inch (0.32 cm) trowel is recommended for applying and combing the adhesive used in direct glue-down carpeting. When laying bamboo, solid wood and laminated wood flooring, the 1/4 inch (0.64 cm) trowel is recommended for spreading the adhesive.


Vinyl flooring installation involves the use of the U-shaped notched trowel. There are two types of U-shaped trowels, both of which are 1/16 of an inch (0.16 cm) in thickness. The first type is referred to as a VCT adhesive trowel and is used for the installation of solid vinyl. The second type of U-shaped trowel is referred to as a sheet vinyl trowel and is used in the installation of mineral-backed and felt backed sheet vinyl, as well as smooth and porous VCT.

Square notched trowels are used in tile, hardwood floor and vinyl floor installation. They are available in 1/16 inch (0.16 cm), 1/4 inch (0.64 cm) and 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) thicknesses. The 1/16 inch (0.16 cm) thick trowel is used for the installation of vinyl flooring that requires a double glue down or for attaching cushion to substrate when laying carpet. The 1/4 inch thick trowel is used to spread and comb thin set mortar when laying tiles 8 inch (20.32 cm) by 8 inch (20.32 cm) or larger in size. When it comes to laying natural stone, or quarry tile, the 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) square notched trowel is necessary to spread the medium bed mortar.

In order to extend the life of notched trowel, it is recommended that you rinse off the adhesive immediately after use. When the adhesive dries, it must be chipped away, which may cause damage to the trowel. Wipe down the trowel and store it in a dry area, to prevent rust from forming.


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