Choosing the Right Tile Adhesive

The two main categories of adhesive are pre-mixed adhesives and thinset mortars. Choosing the right adhesive for your tile job has to do with the type of tile you are installing, the location of the tile and surface you are installing the tile on.

This article should give you a pretty good idea about which type of adhesive you should use. Be sure to follow the manufacturer guidelines for the tiles you purchase. Some may require you use a specific adhesive in order to keep the warranty valid. 

Pre-mixed Tile Adhesives 

We’ll start with the pre-mixed adhesive options. These are generally used for wall tiles because they begin gripping the tile as soon as it makes contact. This prevents tiles from slipping or falling during installation. The most popular types of pre-mixed adhesive are organic mastics. Avoid using this type if your tiles are located outside or will be frequently exposed to heat. 

Adhesives may be used in areas that will be exposed to indirect moisture, such as the wall outside of a shower. However, you should never use them for areas that will get frequent, direct moisture. An example would be the floor outside your shower or the walls inside your shower.

Thinset Mortars 

This is the adhesive you want to use if you are installing tile flooring. They can be used to install tiles in wet areas or areas subjected to frequent heat. They have a stronger, more flexible bond as well. This combined with its ability to support a lot of weight is why thinset mortars are used for flooring.

This type of adhesive does not come pre-mixed, so you will have to learn how to mix thinset mortar yourself.  This is a fairly simple process. They will be mixed with water or sometimes an acrylic additive if it’s not blended in already.