We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Different Types of Tile Adhesive?

Deanna Baranyi
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Selecting the correct tile adhesive is just as important as selecting the right tile for the project. The job of the adhesive is to bond the bottom of the tile to a surface, called the setting bed. In the last few years, there have been vast improvements in adhesives which make it easier for people to lay tile themselves, without contracting the job out to a professional. Organic mastics and thin-set mortar are most common, although latex, acrylic, and epoxy are also used.

The first step in choosing a tile adhesive is to consider the kind of installation involved in the project. A tile installer should consider whether the tile will be applied inside or outside, to the wall or the floor, or in a wet or dry area, among other issues. In addition, the installer should reflect on the kind of setting bed that will be used: drywall, concrete, plywood, or backerboard.

Organic mastics are among the most popular kinds of adhesives. They are commonly purchased because they do not require mixing and they help wall tiles stay in place without slipping. Those who use them must be careful of where the tiles will be set, however, because this type of adhesive shouldn't be used in locations that are exposed to heat or for tiles applied outside of the home.

The other most common type is thin-set mortar. It is usually mixed by the person installing the tile, and has a better bonding strength and offers more flexibility than organic mastics. This adhesive is applied to the tile in a thin layer, usually not more than 0.1875 inch (4.76 mm) thick. There are a wide variety of thin-set mortars available, so it is easy to find the right fit for almost any given job.

Water-mixed mortar or dry-set mortar is a form of thin-set mortar. It is a combination of Portland cement, sand, and an element that promotes water retention. This mortar is simply mixed with water and is beneficial because it allows the adhesive to hydrate. It is a favorite amongst the adhesives in the tile industry.

Latex mortar and acrylic-mixed mortar have additives that increase adhesion and lower water absorption, and either is perfect for wet or dry installations. Epoxy mortar is made from sand, cement, resins, and hardeners and is more expensive than most other tile adhesives. It is a good option when the setting bed is not compatible with cheaper adhesives. Medium-bed mortar is applied thicker than the rest — 0.25 inch (6.35 mm) — making it a strong option that is best for handcrafted tiles or those with uneven backs.

Following the general tile adhesive guidelines and asking plenty of questions at the home improvement store should make selecting the correct type easy. It is also important for consumers to read the instructions for each adhesive before purchasing one. Each company may have many kinds of adhesives, and some may have stronger bonding, quicker drying times, greater resistance to water, and less shrinking than others.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Deanna Baranyi
By Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her work. With degrees in relevant fields and a keen ability to understand and connect with target audiences, she crafts compelling copy, articles, and content that inform and engage readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon310282 — On Dec 21, 2012

Now I understand why my kitchen does not looks nice. I chose a bad version of the grout for the tile.

By anon306526 — On Nov 30, 2012

Great article. Now I know what type of tile adhesive I should choose to make my bathroom beautiful.

By blackDagger — On Apr 22, 2011

I'm about to put down new ceramic tile in the entrance of my home, and have already bought the pre-mixed adhesive to do it with. Am I right in thinking that this will suffice, or should I go with a more watertight kind? After all, this is going to stick around for a while (hopefully) and I'd sure hate to flub it up from the get-go. I’d much rather go ahead, eat a few bucks and have it last longer than to use an adhesive that isn’t going to work for the long haul. I've got to say though, that I'm pretty sure what I've got is supposed to be a waterproof tile adhesive.

By Agni3 — On Apr 20, 2011

Wow - I had no idea this was so in depth. I actually had the nerve to put up my own backsplashes in my kitchen. Now I'm thinking to myself, "Is my tile going to fall off the wall because it's near the stove?" I used the pre-mixed adhesive with natural stone tile rather than porcelain tile. So far, so good - it's been up a few months.

By anon133469 — On Dec 10, 2010

I purchased my tile and adhesive and left it outside and I'm afraid that it may have frozen. Can I still use it? It's Daltile acrylic for ceramic tile.

Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her...
Learn more
HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.