This article contains the top materials to use when bonding tile to substrate such as backer board, cementious board, drywall and concrete. While these materials are the standard for most tile jobs throughout the United States, you should always follow manufacturer’s specifications when bonding tile with adhesive.
Thinset A material manufactured by many different companies under many different names, thinset is one of the most common tile adhesives. Thinset is basically a mix of Portland cement, sand and methylcellulose. Methylcellulose is used in thinset to retain moisture long enough to allow the tile to be set in its dry state.
Thinset comes in many different varieties for numerous applications. Latex-modifiers are added to thinset to create many different properties conventionally unavailable in retro thinset. From simple waterproofing to chemically resistant plasticizers, latex, acrylic and plasticizers change the strength, durability, workability and budget of tile adhesives.
Typically two kinds of thinset exist for residential applications, white and grey. White thinset is used for walls, countertops, back splashes and all other tile applications. Grey is used strictly for flooring.
Organic/Mastic This common tile adhesive is used in a wide variety of applications from wet to dry. Premixed and ready to go out of the bucket, organic tile adhesive or mastic as it is more commonly known, can be used on floors and walls, wet and dry and indoor and out.
The benefits of using these tile adhesives are many. A re-sealable bucket creates a long shelf life without severe drying out of the product. In its premixed state it is the perfect consistency. Curing time is exceptional. The only down side to using organic mastic is its limited use for large projects make this an uneconomical choice.
Cement This tried and true method of bonding tile with adhesive has been around for the longest of all tile adhesives. A simple mix of Portland cement and fine sand set on a cementious substrate provides all of the adhesion that tile requires to bond forever.
Cement is used mostly for floor tiles, since it only bonds to a scratch coat or green (uncured) concrete. Mixed as dry as possible then set into place, cement mix is then pounded flat and tight to provide a suitable substrate for drain tile. A wet slurry is then mixed and spread with a notched trowel to adhere the tile flush around the drain.