Tile Spade vs. Drain Spade

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A tile spade vs. a drain spade – both essential tools for any home improvement or construction project. Tile spades help to dig a hole or trench that is manageable and efficient, while drain spades are perfect for excavating or clearing out debris and soil. Some use the terms drain spade and tile spade interchangeably, but they are not the same. So whether you are looking for a tile spade for your home renovation project or a durable drain spade, let’s dig in and give you the information about tile and drain spades.

Table of Contents

What Is A Tile Spade?

A tile spade is a tool explicitly designed for scoring and digging a trench or hole. It features a rounded sharp, serrated blade that allows you to quickly and cleanly score and cut through soil, whether hard, rocky or clay. The job of the tile spade is to score the ground when trenching or to edge a lawn. At the same time, the tile spade will loosen the debris to be removed. There are many benefits to choosing tile spades over drain spades. The main advantage of the tile spades is typically lighter and smaller, making them easier to maneuver and use.

Tile Spade

What Is A Drain Spade?

Drain spade

A drain spade is utilized when excavating soil from a trench or hole. It features a sturdy, rounded thin blade with curved edges, that can easily penetrate and remove soil from the hard-packed ground, so it is ideal for gardening, landscaping, and other outdoor tasks. Unlike tile spades, drain spades are typically stronger, more durable, and longer-lasting as they are made from steel or iron. So if you are looking for a high-quality tool to help with digging or drainage projects around your home or property, a drain spade is an excellent choice.

How To Choose The Right Spade

Choosing the right one can seem daunting as tile and drain spades come in various sizes, shapes, and styles, and by considering factors like strength, durability, ease of use, and price, you can find the perfect tile or drain spade.

When choosing between tile and drain spades, consider:

1. Purpose of the spade

Do you need it for cutting a trench or soil excavation? If you are mainly interested in cutting a trench, a tile spade is best. However, if your main focus is on excavating soil, a drain spade may be more suitable.

Is a tile spade a shovel for the garden? Yes a tile spade can be used in the garden to dig a hole or dig through roots, split plants, transplanting and cleaning up a border. A drain spade could also be used in the garden to dig a hole and remove the dirt, and transplanting though cuttting through roots and splitting plants can be done but with less ease than the tile spade.

You will also want to think about how solid and durable the tool is, its ease of use, and its price.

2. Size and Weight

Tile spades tend to be smaller and lighter than drain spades. They also have a sharp, serrated blade that can easily cut through any substrate. On the other hand, drain spades are usually larger and heavier than tile spades. They also have a sturdy, pointed blade that is perfect for excavating or draining soil. Tile spades are generally lighter in weight and smaller in size, which will usually mean that the spade is easier to maneuver and use. 

3. Quality

Another critical factor to consider is the quality of the spade. Look for one made from high-quality, durable, and long-lasting materials, as this will ensure that your tile spade will be able to withstand any demands.

Reference Guide

Edging a lawn or garden bedPick up debris from edging the lawn or garden
Marking a trench edgeRemoving debris loose in trench created from the tile spade
Cutting a trench for underwater sprinklers or pipeRemoving debris in trench
Digging a holeTransplanting in the garden
Tile Spade vs Drain Spade Reference Guide

How To Maintain Your Tile Or Drain Spade

Like any other tool, tile spades require regular maintenance and cleaning to stay in top operating condition. Here are a few spade maintenance tips to help keep your tile spade in tip-top shape:

  • Be sure to clean the tile spade after each use with a soft cloth or brush. The wipe down will help remove any debris that could dull the blades over time.
  • Every few uses, clean all parts with water. A quick rinse-off will also help prevent the build-up of dirt and grime that can cause the spade to deteriorate faster.

By following these tile spade maintenance tips, you can be sure to keep your spade in excellent condition for many projects to come. For more specifics on cleaning a shovel head over to our guide How to Clean a Shovel

Why Is It Called A Spade?

The exact origins of tile spade terminology are not known. However, some theories suggest that tile spades are called spades due to their resemblance to traditional hand garden spades and other garden tools. Tools, which typically have a long metal blade with a slightly curved edge, were often used to dig up soil or break up earth before a project began.

Therefore, some people may have referred to tile and drain spades as “spades” to differentiate them from other types of garden tools.

Another theory suggests that spades come from being used for scoring before making clean cuts.

Lastly, is the theory that the name tile spade and drain spade, arose to reflect the task the shovel had. A tile spade and drain spade were named as they were utilized to quickly dig trenches that were shallow and narrow to install clay drain tiles, according to Easy Digging.

How Do You Use A Tile Spade?

To use a tile spade, position the blade on the tile surface you want to cut. Then, apply pressure to the tile spade handle to score the material. Once you have scored the material, you can then use the tile spade to make a clean cut through to your desired depth.

How Do You Use A Drain Spade?

After you have scored your location with a tile spade and have loosened the substrate, it is the drain spades turn. Following the cut or score, utilize the drain spade for clearing the debris.

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