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The bricklayer’s art is a skill that not everybody can master. It is one of few jobs that remains the same now as it did 100 years ago. After all, most houses are still built using traditional methods – including the laying of bricks – and there is no automated way to do this. Bricks have been used to build for many hundreds – perhaps thousands – of years. They form the basis of some of the most wonderful and iconic buildings in the world, and most of us in the UK will live in a brick-built house, no matter how old or new.
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|Spear and Jackson Tyzack 11-inch|
|Rolson Tradesman Trowel Set|
|Marshalltown 19L 12-in|
| Faithfull SGTB11P|
The skill in bricklaying is not singular. The bricklayer must achieve a perfect level base and continue as such above, and must also lay the bricks as they need to be for strength. A well-built brick house should last a very long time, and the many still standing that were built centuries ago are a testament to the skills of the bricklayers who helped build them. There is, in fact, something very attractive about a correctly laid brick wall; it’s very neat, almost natural in style, and makes for an excellent addition to a property.
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There is the old adage that a workman is only as good as his tools. In the case of the bricklayer, the primary tool is his trowel. Now, this may seem like a simple tool – and to all intents and purposes it is – but a bricklayer will become very familiar, even attached, to his own personal trowel, and will find it fits him perfectly.
Table of Contents
- The Top 10 bricklaying trowels
- What Makes a Good Bricklaying Trowel
- Features to Consider
- Let’s Sum It Up!
The Top 10 bricklaying trowels
Writing a review of a bricklaying trowel is never going to be easy, as, despite their precision requirements, these are essentially very simple tools. It comes down to personal preference, too, so we may find one trowel to be excellent while an individual bricklayer will not. There are also a number of known brands, and Marshalltown is one with an excellent reputation for quality tools, with a great range of good trowels, so be prepared to find a few of theirs mentioned here.
This one is an 11-inch trowel, preferred by many but also available in 10 and 12-inch varieties, and is a Philadelphia pattern. This gives it a wide, square heel that is set far back. It has a very nice handle with a grip finished in Durasoft material – perfect for long shifts – and also has a handy built-in finger guard, which is a neat touch. The blade is fully ground from heel to toe, so you know this is a quality item. It costs a little under £30, which is about what you should expect to pay for a tool of this quality.
Key Features: Philadelphia pattern, Durasoft handle, fully ground blade, 11-inches
Among the many brands in the competitive tool market, Spear & Jackson is one of the best-known for top quality products. This trowel, reviewed here as the standard 11-inch model, is a good example of what you should look for in top quality bricklaying equipment. It is very nicely made with an air of genuine quality about it, and the Canadian leather insert n the wooden handle is a very nicely crafted touch that makes it stand out from the crowd.
This is a Philadelphia pattern blade, too, with the square heel towards the back, so is perfect for block work and also for bricks, and the blade is solid forged for long life and extra performance. It has a nice plastic endcap to, which is great for tapping down. The sheer quality of this bricklaying trowel cannot be overlooked in a market where there are many imitators, and at £30 for this brand you know you are getting a very good trowel that will last you a long time.
Key Features: Philadelphia pattern, Canadian leather handle insert, wooden handle, forged blade
If you are looking for a set of trowels for a one-off job, or perhaps you are not a professional but someone who just does the odd small job, then this could be the purchase for you. We must stress again this is not a set for professional use, as you get a full five trowels – yes, 5 – for a price that when we come to it will knock you out. So, these are not the best quality, but you do get everything you need to complete a job.
You get a Philadelphia trowel, a square trowel, a London trowel and two other pieces. Each is made of hardened and tempered steel, and each is designed for long-term use. However, we can’t see you getting the years out of this set that you would out of a top-quality trowel. The handles are simple yet usable, and the blades are decent enough, and for a jobbing handyman, it’s not a bad buy, especially at an astonishing price of under £12!
Key Features: 5 x trowels, very cheap, forged blades, everything for one job
Back to the top-quality items with this one, another from the excellent and much-regarded Marshalltown range. This 12-inch trowel exudes quality from the moment you first see it and doesn’t disappoint in any way. This is another with the popular Philadelphia pattern blade, so is great for both block work and bricks, and it is made to the usual high standards you would expect with this brand.
The blade itself is forged on the most modern equipment that is available and fully ground from heel to toe for added strength and effectiveness. It is specially designed with a very strong impact area for added endurance and ability, and the wooden handle is an example of quality engineering in itself. There is nothing more to add but that this really is at the top of the tree when it comes to bricklaying trowels, and at a little less than £45 you are buying a tool that will do a beautiful job and last you a long time.
Key Features: top brand, fully engineered, Philadelphia pattern, 12-inch trowel
Most reviewers will advise against buying ‘budget’ tools for jobs such as bricklaying, and with good reason. However, not everybody needs a trowel that is designed to last a lifetime; you might be planning on laying a small wall, or a few slabs, in which case budget items such as this one have a place on our list. This is a handy tool for the odd job then, but not one that comes recommended for professional or prolonged use.
It’s an 11-inch trowel, with the Philadelphia pattern blade – so you get the far back square heel that is useful for block work and for bricks too – and the blade is made from high-quality steel. It has a soft-grip handle for ease of use and is light enough for the job. If you are looking for a bricklaying trowel for a one-off, minor job, or simply want one to add to your toolkit in case you ever need one, this is a serious bargain at not much more than a fiver.
Key Features: budget price, soft handle, 11-inch, steel blade
This 10-inch trowel is marketed as being perfect for people with tennis elbow, or for apprentices, and we think that it is the latter group of users who will find it most agreeable. It is a very neat little trowel that offers everything you need in a beginner’s tool, or one that can be used by more experienced persons in smaller, more intricate jobs. Well-made, with a Philadelphia pattern blade that is great for all types of work, it comes with a soft-grip handle for added comfort.
The blade is a steel one that is fully forged for added strength, tempered and hardened too, and as such you will get a long life out of this small trowel. The only downside we can see is the small size, but there are many out there who do prefer a smaller blade, even if it limits working capacity. So, a good trowel if you want a 10-inch model, and at around £20 it is good value as an apprentice’s tool.
Key Features: quality tool, 10-inch, great for apprentices, hardened blade, Philadelphia pattern
This is another set of trowels that is not designed for professional use, but for the DIY user at home. As such, it is only recommended as a handy addition to your tool kit. We must stress again this is not a set for professional use, as you get a full five trowels – yes, 5 – for a price that when we come to it will knock you out. So, these are not the best quality, but you do get everything you need to complete a job.
You get a Philadephia trowel, a square trowel, a London trowel and two other pieces. Each is made from hardened and tempered steel, and each is designed for long-term use. However, we can’t see you getting the years out of this set that you would out of a top-quality trowel. The handles are simple yet usable, and the blades are decent enough, and for a jobbing handyman it’s not a bad buy, and it will cost you a few pennies more than a tenner.
Key features: 5 x trowels, very cheap, great for odd jobs
Unique among our selection is this rather nice trowel, another from the Marshalltown range. It is unique because it is the only one offering the London pattern blade. This is the blade with the heel pushed forward – more of a diamond shape than the other version – and that which is preferred for dedicated bricklaying rather than block work. If this is what you want, then you need to look closely at this one as it is very good in terms of quality.
You get a fully forged, ground from heel to toe blade for added strength and durability, and it comes with a Durasoft handle that promises excellent grip and comfort. It’s an 11-inch blade – although you will find bigger and smaller among this makers range so look there if it’s not the size you want – and is highly recommended for professional and long-term use. If a London blade is what you want, this could well be the one for you. At under £45 it is what we would expect to pay for a quality London blade tool from a top brand.
Key Features: London pattern, fully ground blade, Durasoft handle. Brand
Coming to the end of our review, and we have come to realise that the Philadelphia pattern blade is the more popular. This is likely because it enables the user to move more mortar around, which means faster work. This model – an 11-inch Philadelphia pattern trowel – is entirely typical, and also rather nice.
You get a solid forged blade that gives excellent strength, and this one is precision-tapered for greater accuracy and ease of use, and it comes with a special Dura Grip handle that allows for added grip and comfort. The handle also has a hard end for tapping down, which is a nice touch that will be appreciated by many users. It’s also available in a range of sizes from very small 9-inch to 12-inches, so that’s all the bases covered, and at around £30 we think it well-priced for a quality item.
Key Features: Philadelphia pattern, 11-inch, tapered blade, fully forged
Another ‘complete set’ of trowels and bricklaying tools, and another that we must say is not recommended for professional use. What it may come in useful for is if you are looking to build a small garden wall, for example, or lay a few slabs or blocks. It is worth looking at if you are on a budget and looking for extra tools for your kit, but that’s as far as we can recommend it.
You get a Philadelphia trowel, a square trowel, a London trowel and two other pieces. You also get two steel line pins and ten metres of line, so that’s an added bonus. Each is made from hardened and tempered steel, and each is designed for long-term use. However, we can’t see you getting the years out of this set that you would out of a top-quality trowel. The handles are simple yet usable, and the blades are decent enough, and for a jobbing handyman it’s not a bad buy, and it will cost you around £15.
Key Features: 5 x trowels, line pins, bricklayers line, price
So, that’s our list of the top 10 bricklayers’ trowels on the market right now, and we feel sure you will agree there are some that stand out more than others. Before we go on to give our verdict on the best one for you, let’s just have a quick look at the features you need to look for when buying one of these.
What Makes a Good Bricklaying Trowel
You might think a bricklaying trowel is just a bit of flat metal with a handle attached. No, there is much more to it than that! This is, in fact, one of the most carefully crafted, precision tools in the world of construction, and a good one is something to be treasured. Indeed, a bricklayer will use the same trowel for many years, as he or she will become accustomed to its traits, and it will become a much-guarded part of their kit.
A bricklaying trowel needs to have two main properties: a perfectly formed blade – these can come in many forms, so a little more of that in a moment – and a nice, ergonomic grip. They come in a variety of sizes, and brickies will have their own personal favourites.
There are two main ‘patterns’ of blade that have become standard in the bricklaying industry: these are the Philadelphia, and the London. These names refer to the shape and style of the blade. The Philadelphia blade has the heel further back and more square, while the London pattern has a blade with a rounded heel, but further forward. The former is considered best for laying block, thanks to its ability to carry more mortar, while the London pattern is best for standard bricks (thanks to the authority site ‘Trowel Collector’ for this information).
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So, here is our list of the top 10 best bricklaying trowels on the market right now, and we have taken care to ensure we have covered all budgets, so we hope there is one among these that is right for you.
Features to Consider
These are our recommended considerations when looking to buy a bricklayer’s trowel:
Blade pattern – London or Philadelphia? There are others to choose from, but these are the two patterns that tend to be chosen above all others. It is personal preference, and one is better for dedicated bricklaying than the other, so you will have your own view on this point.
Blade strength – in many ways it’s all about the blade when it comes to trowels. You need one that has been forged for strength and preferably tempered, too, and some of the higher-quality blades have been ground for added strength and purpose. Check out the specifications in advance.
Handle – a comfortable and good grip is essential, so look for a handle that has a special grip format, as there are many available.
Size – the most popular size is the 11-inch blade trowel, but you can also choose from anywhere from 9-inch up to 12-inch, and again it’s personal preference.
That’s about it for our list of recommended features, so which of the above trowels is for you? Let’s sum things up!
Let’s Sum It Up!
As we have already said, a bricklaying trowel is a personal item. Some people will prefer larger to smaller, some will prefer the London pattern to the Philadelphia, and some will have their own preferred brands. Therefore, it’s difficult to recommend one above others, but let’s have a go.
First, if you are looking for a quality bricklaying trowel for professional or near-professional work, you can disregard any of the multi-packs – great value if you are looking for basic tools to add to your kit for a job here or there – and anything that is too cheap to be true. You’re not going to get a quality blade for a tenner, or less.
For top quality, we can’t get away from the Marshalltown range, of which we have featured a few. These really are the best in the business when it comes to quality blades and construction, are made to a very high standard, and will serve you very well over the years. You’re paying for quality, but it really is worth it.
So, have another look and get yourself a bricklaying trowel that will last a lifetime!