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Make Your Tiles Straight With A Tiling Straight Edge [Easy Guide]

Having problems with straightening out your tiles? It is tricky, we can understand. But you can do it easily with a straight edge. This simple and handy tool can save hours of your time.

How to use a tiling straight edge? 

It’s a pretty simple task. But first choose the right one among these- camelback, rectangular, and i-section. Mark the gridlines using a marker or chalk. After that, reshape all the tiles. Then check the straightness of the surface. Lastly, lay tiles with the help of a straight edge.

Is it your first time hearing about a straight edge? Worry not! We have prepared proper guidelines for you in this article.

Let’s check out all the details, shall we?!

Is Straight Edge Different From A Normal Scale? 

Definitely! A ruler or scale is a common measuring tool with gradients marked on each side. It’s typically used to measure length. 

On the other hand, a straight edge tool is used to find out if a surface is straight or not. It may or may not have gradients on the parallel sides. But you can also use this for layout work as well. 

Space between your wall and tiles is bad news. Just like that, a gap underneath the tile can potentially break it. That’s why you need to straighten out your tile and the surface.

Moreover, this can also come in handy to make grid lines. This will help to straighten your tiles before tile installation. Therefore, it’s a must to choose the right straight edge for your work. So, let’s see how you can do that. 

Choose the Right Straight Edge For Your Work

Both the staggered and straight tiling systems are extremely popular. But if you choose the straight tiling system then you have to use a straight edge. There are basically 3 kinds you can choose from. Check it out!

I-Section Straight Edges

If you work with larger tiles then the I-section is the best choice for you. It has a slim, rigid build, which reduces its weight and is ‘I’-shaped. 

You can place a bubble level on top of it to measure the straightness. Also, check the straightness of the tile surface at the same time.

Camelback Straight Edges 

You can use this for alignment work as it has a curved back section. The shape of this helps the straight edge to maintain rigidity. As a result, you’ll get an accurate measurement and straightness.

Rectangular straight edges

These are the most accurate straight edge for your tiles. It is often mistaken as just a rectangular block. However, these are the best for vertical and flat surfaces. They also have side working surfaces that can be used to measure parallel surfaces.

Now depending on the type and length of your tiles, you must choose the correct straight edge. But you must know how to read the straight edge before using it. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a few crooked tiles.

Reading a Straight Edge Precisely

You’re lucky if your straight edge has a measurement gradient on it. If you want to install tile using concrete then you need proper alignment. This is where your straight edge might come in handy. 

Usually, straight edges display only 1/16 inch increments. So you would have to pay attention while doing the measurement.  

These come in different sizes, but you should pick the length that best matches your tiles. For example, the 72-inch tiling straight edge is used for measuring 4-inch lines. There are also 12-inch ones, which you can use on smaller tiles. It is easier to maneuver and use. 

Now you can do measurement with a straight edge. Now let’s move on to the discussion of using the straight edge. 

Step-by-Step Process of Using Straight Edge 

Well, it may seem natural to install tile by just starting anywhere. Then work your way out. But you might find yourself setting crooked tiles. So we have created this step-by-step process of using a straight edge to straighten your tiles. 

Step 1: Mark the Gridlines

Map out the grid lines on the floor or the wall you’re working on. Then take a marker or chalk, and mark the subfloor. That is, where the tiles need to be installed. After that, you can move on to reshaping your tiles. 

Step 2: Reshape your tiles

The straight lines you marked earlier can also act as guides for cutting your tiles. After marking where the tiles need to be placed, you’ll notice a few things. 

At the corners of the room, the tiles might be uneven. So you’ll have to cut or reshape the tiles. You can use a grinder to cut and shape the tiles. 

Step 3: Check the Surface of the Subfloor

In this step, you will check the straightness of the subfloor. You’ve to use a fluorescent light to check the irregular gaps in between. Here’s how you can do it.

Take your straight edge and fluorescent light. Then hold the light behind the straight edge and shine it. You have to make sure to face it at the other wall of the room. If there’s any gap on the floor, the light will shine through it. 

For your convenience we have listed the top glare-free fluorescent lights for you:

Product 1
Product 2

You can use either of these to get your job done.  After that, you’ll start laying your tiles.

Step 4: Lay tiles using the Straight Edge

For this step, fix the straight edge to a wooden board to get precise straight lines. Then install the board directly on the subfloor.

Afterward, proceed to install the first row of tiles. This will result in a perfectly straight line. Once you’re done with this, you can follow along the lines to lay the next row. But if your straight edge is long and heavy you won’t need to get a wooden board.  

That’s basically how you can install your tiles using a tile straight edge. 


Question: Can a level be used instead of a straight edge?

Answer: Yes, a level can be used as a straight edge. However, these are not made for this purpose. But you can still use it. The laser level has a red line that can be used for the reference of a straight line. 

Question: Can you cut straight edge trims using your straight?

Answer: This depends on the type of straight edge you have. Modern straight edge tools have various functions in them. If you have that then you might be able to cut the tile trims. 

Question: What materials are generally used for straight edges?

Answer: Most of the straight edges are made from steel or aluminum. These materials are rigid and weightless, which makes usage easier. However, there are also straight edges made of cast iron and granite.

Final Words

We know that the installation process is time-consuming. But using the tiling straight edge will make things a lot easier. We hope these steps will help you to use your straight edge accurately. 

Best of luck with your work!