As far as home improvement projects go, tiling is one of the most laborious. In addition to mixing heavy bags of mortar and grout, tiling involves spending countless hours working from one’s knees on a hard surface.
A good set of knee pads is a requirement for any floor tiling project. Knee pads consist of thick gel and foam padding inserts that cushion the knees and are covered by a rigid outer cap that adds support while shielding from debris lying about the work site. Large hook-and-loop straps keep the pads firmly in place over the knees, whether standing to cut tile or kneeling to spread the mortar.
This guide will delve into some of the most important features to consider when selecting the best pair of knee pads for tiling, including a list of the top picks.
- BEST OVERALL: ToughBuilt Gelfit Knee Pads
- RUNNER-UP: Carib Gear Pro Knee Pads
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Thunderbolt Knee Pads
- UPGRADE PICK: RNF Supply Knee Pads for Work
- BEST COMFORT: McGuire-Nicholas Shock Absorbing Knee Pads
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Sellstrom KneePro Knee Pad
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Knee Pads for Tiling
Knee pads come in three different types—padding caps, hex caps, and shell caps. While hex caps give the wearer the ability to move around more freely, shell caps and padding caps provide the cushioning needed for tiling work. Ahead learn about the knee pad types and what factors are crucial to consider when shopping for a pair.
- Padding caps: Knee pads with padding caps use foam material. This makes them more flexible than other types of knee pads, allowing for more mobility while on the job. Knee pads with padding caps usually have a large surface area, however, which does limit their mobility while standing to work a tile cutter. The soft caps won’t slip on hard surfaces, nor will they leave scratches, making them ideal for tile work.
- Hex caps: Hex knee pads are designed to provide support while absorbing some shock. They are designed for athletes, so they’re thinner and more form-fitting to facilitate movement in sports ranging from baseball to basketball. These pads are also breathable to allow heat and moisture to escape during an intense workout. Hex pads do not have a significant amount of padding, so they are not particularly suitable for the long hours spent on hands and knees that tiling requires.
- Shell caps: Shell caps have hard plastic exteriors that can protect the knees from rough surfaces, such as pavement. For this reason, skateboarders and roller skaters commonly use shell caps. This type of knee pad comes with dense closed-cell foam that provides ample padding and coverage that runs from below the knee to the lower thigh. Shell cap knee pads meant for tiling have a rubberized layer over the knee to prevent slipping while working on a smooth tile surface.
Flooring knee pads use different types of material inside the knee pads to provide cushioning. Closed-cell foam is one of the most common types of padding. Closed-cell foam holds up well to the wear and tear of tiling and provides substantial cushioning for knees.
Gel inserts are also a common type of padding used in knee pads. Gel is more malleable than closed-cell foam and conforms better to the shape of the knee. Due to a lack of breathability, both closed-cell foam and gel may lead to sweaty knees when working in warmer environments.
Most knee pads for tiling use a combination of closed-cell foam with a gel insert to provide the cushioning needed for long hours working from the knees.
Thickness of Padding
The right thickness of padding for knee pads is a balance between comfort and mobility. Since tiling involves working from the knees, substantial padding is a requirement. However, the amount of padding is a balancing act. Pads that are too thick can be cumbersome to move around in, while those that are too thin won’t provide enough padding to adequately cushion the knees. With that in mind, most knee pads for tiling are around ¾-inch thick to provide comfort while still allowing for plenty of mobility.
Knee pads have adjustable straps that allow the user to adjust the fit of the knee pads. These are useful since the pads may or may not be worn over clothing, depending on the user and their work conditions. The tightness of the straps may also require adjustment when working while standing versus kneeling. Most knee pads with adjustable straps feature a strap above and below the knee. These straps consist of large strips of Velcro that allow the user to make readjustments while working. Most knee pad straps are around 7 inches long to accommodate different sizes.
Our Top Picks
The list below takes the above considerations into account to narrow the field to some of the best knee pads on the market. These products feature ample padding, ergonomic designs that allow for freedom of movement, and straps that hold the pads firmly in place.
With ample padding and mobility in their design, these knee pads from ToughBuilt are some of the best suited for floor tiling jobs. Cushioning is paramount for a job that requires hours working from one’s knees. ToughBuilt uses a combination of foam padding and gel inserts that conform to the knee’s contours to provide even pressure and cushioning. This pad extends higher than other pads to support the thigh, which also has the effect of keeping the knee pads in place over the knee even when moving from kneeling to standing and back again. This eliminates annoying shifting that can occur with other pads.
The hard-shell exterior distributes the impact of dropping to one’s knees on hard tile. A rubber coating keeps the pads from slipping while working on slick tile and also prevents them from scratching. Buckle hook-and-loop straps above and below the knee allow for a customized fit.
A cap design that’s well suited for spending long hours working from one’s knees and ample padding make this set of knee pads a worthy choice for that upcoming tiling project. When working from one’s knees on smooth tile, cushioning isn’t the only crucial factor; stability is also important. This set has large flat caps with a thick rubber tread that ensures the user won’t be slipping and sliding while laying grout.
These pads may not have much breathability with their ample thickness, but they do have maximum cushioning. Carib goes further with its cushioning than most other pads by combining a foam layer with two gel layers. These pads also offer versatility, as this set includes two 10-inch extensions for its hook-and-loop straps for more versatility with its fit. A pair of work gloves and glasses are included with the purchase of these knee pads.
A good set of work knee pads doesn’t have to be an investment. This set of pads has a design that makes them well suited for long hours spent working from the knees at half the cost of other higher-end knee pads. One of this set’s most prominent features is the larger surface area of the pads. The outer cup creates a broad foundation that distributes pressure on the knees over a wide area while also protecting from impacts.
An extensive rubber layer provides an excellent grip on smooth tile while also preventing the pads from causing scratches or scuffs. Under the shell is a thick, soft gel core that conforms to the knee, providing ample cushioning for hours of spreading mortar with a trowel. Large 7-inch hook-and-loop straps are easy to adjust for working while standing, sitting, or kneeling.
Knee pads that shift up and down the knee when moving from a standing to kneeling position are not only annoying but can also cause uncomfortable chafing as they require constant readjustment. This set from RNF Supply features two 2-inch-wide neoprene straps that stretch to conform around the leg as well as cushioning around the knee cap that serves to keep the pad in place over the knee whether kneeling to spread grout or squatting to level tile.
This design allows for an outer cap that curves around the knee and upper shin, providing a more ergonomic fit while facilitating better movement while working from the knees. A rubberized grip similar in appearance to tire tread offers a nonslip grip while protecting the tile from scratches. Inside the cap is a thick pad consisting of a combination of foam and gel for ample support and cushioning.
McGuire-Nicholas uses an innovative design to add a shock-absorbing system to its knee pads, making them ideal for jobs requiring constant movement, such as tiling. Unlike other pads that have a flat shape, these have a duck-bill profile that contours from the upper knee to the upper shin. The design reduces pressure on the shin and wraps more ergonomically around the knee to promote freer movement.
Split-style straps hold the pad securely to the knee while resisting bunching that can cause chafing over long hours of use. McGuire-Nicholas’s focus on enabling movement continues to the cap, which is flexible. The cap features a tread design that provides ample traction while protecting tile from scratches. Under the cap are multiple layers of gel and foam padding that provide adequate cushioning for tiling work.
Working in harsh industrial environments or outdoor work sites where nails, screws, and other debris presents a hazard demands a knee pad that provides a higher level of protection. With its hard-shell exterior and coverage that extends well above the knee, this set of knee pads can endure a significant amount of abuse. The hard outer shell protects against scrapes and punctures while remaining surprisingly flexible for crawling, kneeling, or standing. A metal rivet hinge facilitates movement between the knee piece and thigh piece.
The knee area of the cap features a large rubber pad that adds traction while kneeling and prevents the pads from marking up tile. Though tough on the outside, the inside offers ample cushioning with a gel pack enclosed in a ¾-inch-thick triple layer of closed-cell foam.
FAQs About Knee Pads for Tiling
If you’re still wondering about how your new knee pads work or how to care for them, then read on for answers to these and other commonly asked questions.
Q. How do tiling knee pads work?
The purpose of knee pads is to provide protection and comfort for the knees during long periods of kneeling. These pads attach to the knees using large straps. Rigid caps provide protection from debris on the ground or floor, while thick padding takes the pressure off the knees while providing cushioning.
Q. How do you know what size knee pads to get?
Most knee pads don’t come in size options; they are one size fits all. For the broadest range of fit, look for knee pads with straps that are 7 inches or longer.
Q. How do you wash knee pads?
Don’t throw a set of knee pads in the washing machine. Instead, remove any debris from the pads, then soak them in a mix of detergent and cold water. Allow them to soak, then rinse them with water and air-dry them.
Q. How do I dry my knee pads after tiling?
Dry your knee pads by placing them in a well-ventilated place or by letting them sit in the sun for a few hours.