Tile can add color, texture, beauty, and value to your home and though it can seem like a job for professionals, it does not necessarily have to be. With how-to classes available at many home improvement stores near your or even through virtual instruction online, in a few steps, with a few materials, and at a lower cost, most tiling projects can be done yourself.
With so many adhesives available for your home improvement project, choosing the right adhesive for your project can seem overwhelming. There are many factors to consider when selecting the perfect tile glue or adhesive for your job, we have searched multiple sources to bring you a streamlined list of tile glue by material to make your tile project a success.
Your tile job will look better and last longer if installed properly, using the proper adhesive or tile glue for the particular surface. The two main types of tile glue or adhesive are ready-mixed pastes and powdered tile glue or adhesive, but within these two main types of tile glue or adhesive, there are several other subtypes used for certain projects or when certain factors are present.
For smaller projects, especially those using smaller sized tiles, ready-mixed pastes are sufficient but when using larger sized tiles (those 12" x 12" and larger), powdered tile glue should be used. There are many factors that contribute to decisions about the best tile glue or adhesives for your project, we will discuss all of the different types of tile glue or adhesive, just keep reading.
1. Thinset Mortar
Thinset mortar is the most widely-used adhesive to bond tile to cement, cement board, or backer board. Made of sand, cement, and sometimes a water-retaining agent such as latex or polymer, thinset bonds the stone tile to the surface and is moisture-resistant, mold-resistant, and heatproof. Thinset mortar is available in standard form and pre-mixed, unmodified or modified, and has a dry time of between 24 - 72 hours depending on the particular type of thinset mortar that you use.
Standard thinset mortar
Standard thinset mortar is a powder that must be mixed with water to be activated. Available in an assortment of colors, standard thinset mortar creates an overall stronger bond than the ready-mix option. While having to mix with water takes a little bit of time and work, standard thinset mortar can bond any kind of tile: porcelain, ceramic, or natural stone. Standard thinset mortar should always be used for any tile larger than 11" x 11", when tiling any kind of floor, for larger wall tile projects, or for complex patterned jobs.
Available in white and grey, your grout color choice should determine the color thinset mortar you use for your tiling project. One characteristic of standard thinset mortar is its flexibility, which makes it perfect for high traffic areas or when adding an underfloor heating element (self-leveling thinset mortar should be used in this instance to prevent having to trowel over small heating cables). S1 and S2 types of thinset refer to the flexibility of the adhesive, with S2 being the more flexible adhesive to be used in areas with high vibration and movement.
For an easy alternative to standard thinset mortar, a pre-mixed form of thinset mortar is also available in a variety of colors. Pre-mixed thinset mortar is ready to go and handy for small jobs, such as backsplashes and small tiles around a fireplace. Smaller tiles may be applied using pre-mixed thinset mortar, but standard thinset mortar should be used for larger tiles and more complicated jobs.
Modified thinset mortar has latex or polymer agents, which are basically a sort of rubber added to the mix in order to maintain hydration of your cement mix or mortar longer to create a stronger bond with a thinner application of thinset. Cement bonds grow stronger the longer that they are exposed to moisture or hydration, which causes crystals that form within the cement to grow longer and form stronger bonds.
Unmodified thinset mortar is an old-school mixture of sand, cement, and water, the more cement in the cement-sand ratio, the better the bond. Water retaining agents such as polymer or latex are sometimes added to unmodified thinset mortar to increase the hydration of the cement for optimal bonding.
Glass tile mortar
A special mortar or thinset is needed for glass tile due to its transparent and nonporous surface. Made with a polymer adhesive, glass tile mortar is perfect for mosiac sheet tile and other glass or light stone tile applications. Made for glass, marble, and stone mosaic tile, glass tile mortar comes in shades to match the grout you will use for your project. For a strong hold on glass tiles going on a wall and to prevent sliding or sagging of the tile, a non-sag formula should be used.
2. Tile Mastic
Composed of acrylic copolymers and calcium carbonate, tile mastic is an alternative tile adhesive that has a quicker drying time, at about 24 hours. Tile mastic, recently more commonly referred to as ceramic tile adhesive, is not suitable for areas of high moisture but can make vertical projects easier due to its sticky consistency, providing adhesion in positions where your tile may otherwise slide. Tile mastic is best used for bonding porcelain, glass, or ceramic tile but unlike thinset mortar should not be used to fill gaps due to its watery consistency and is best used for tiles 8" and smaller.
3. Epoxy mortar
Comprised of two or three separate components that must be mixed by the user immediately prior to use, epoxy mortar is another waterproof tile adhesive option that sets within only a couple of hours. More expensive than other adhesives, epoxy mortar bonds to almost anything, including porcelain, ceramic, glass, stone, and even metal. Epoxy mortar needs a certain range of temperature, about 60-90 degrees to set properly, which starts in about 45 minutes not giving you much time to work with this adhesive. The durability of epoxy mortar can't be matched and resists movement and compression with traffic.
How to mix Weldbond for tile?
When used as a sealer, Weldbond is mixed in a 1:5 ratio with water. When painted onto a porous surface, Welbond seals the surface and is ready to apply tile. To mix Weldbond as a general adhesive to bond tile to your surface, use a 1:1:4 or 5 ratio of Weldbond, water, and filler such as plaster, grout, mortar, or cement/sand mix. The tile is now ready to bond to the surface, with a curing time of 2-3 days.
Can I use Gorilla Glue for tile?
Known for its gorilla-like strength, Gorilla Glue is a polyurethane adhesive activated by water. Because Gorilla Glue expands to 3-4 times the size of the application amount size, some sources do not recommend Gorilla Glue for tile. The expansion can push the tile out further than the surrounding tiles or can even push the tile off altogether.
Other sources state that Gorilla Glue can be used as a tile adhesive for small tile repairs if you wait for expansion to occur prior to placing your tile onto the glued surface, which typically happens around 20 minutes after application. After this time has passed and the glue has expanded, place the tile down and press to the desired height. The recommended curing time for Gorilla Glue is 24 hours before placing grout.
Does tile glue stick to paint?
The real issue is not how strong the bond of the tile glue to the paint is but how strong the adhesion of the paint is to the surface. It is always best to remove paint from the surface prior to tiling. Paint is not strong enough to hold the weight of the tile and grout. Some types of paint are also incompatible with the alkalinity of tile adhesives and can begin to dissolve. Water-based paints can absorb water from adhesive and become soft and pliable.
Tile projects can be a fairly easy project that can make a huge impact on the overall look of your home. Though choosing the right tile adhesive for your job can seem like a daunting task, we hope that this list of types of tile glues has helped make your decision-making process easier and more streamlined.
Before you go, be sure to check out these other home decor guides that may be of interest to you: