Hi Bob, a smaller trowel will do the trick. When I was doing edging on a floor I grabbed a literal butter knife from the kitchen lol it worked fine.
You smear the tile adhesive on the back of the tile - similar to buttering bread. :)
Bob: you could even use a small kitchen offset spatula.
Make sure once you spread it on, you use a notched trowel to make grooves in the mastic. For some reason it makes a big difference in the way it adheres.
This is called Back Buttering, Thinset is put on the back of tiles in order to get better coverage (close to 100%) to prevent adhesion failure. What you do is put on a layer of Thinset on the base-floor or wall with a trowel-and then you add the Thinset to the back of the tiles covering them on the backside completely. This is to make up for any depressions in the base of the tiles. It is up to you what to use to apply the Thinset to the back of the tiles. A small trowel, a butter knife, and old store card, what ever works for your tile situation. Then put the tiles in place, gently moving them side to side to create the best contact.
I use a small scraper when putting in small tiles.
You can use a butter knife. small spatula, or even your finger. Just put a smooth dab of adhesive on the back of the tile.
Little old butter knife works well too. Obviously one you won't use again for food.
If you have any wooden popcycle sticks those work great and no cleaning them up afterwards just toss them in the trash or better yet use them to start a fire in a fire pit or wood stove. This would be after scrapping off any residue left on the applicator.
This is what they call it when you put mortar on the back of each tile, not just the wall.
Wooden stir sticks.
I keep craft sticks in my tool box for jobs just like yours. It is like buttering bread.
Hi Bob, stirrer sticks or Popsicle sticks work really well and they're inexpensive too. They're great for applying grout afterwards too.
Hi Bob: Along with using a craft stick for things like this, I use one of those suction cups that have the ability to release when you turn the top in a specific direction. This way, you can put the tile just where you want it and not get stuff on your fingers, and if you want to remove it before it sets, you can just pull it out. Here are a couple of sites that show them:
Here they all are:)
Use a tiny knife or old butter knife or a small stick