Mastic vs Thinset: Which Is the Better Option?

When picking the greatest adhesive or sealant for building tasks, it is often hard to make a decision which item is the very best in shape. For case in point, mastic and thinset are two of the most well-known adhesives on the market, but they have quite different homes and makes use of. Which one is the much better selection?

How do you pick amongst the two? Do they equally have the exact same applications and rewards? Let’s discover out.

Overview of Mastic

Mastic is a tile adhesive for ceramic tiles, normal stones, and mosaics. It is a water-dependent adhesive employed in inside and exterior programs. Mastic has a minimal VOC content and is straightforward to use with a trowel or roller. It also resists mould and mildew expansion.

Mastic includes Portland cement, sand, water, and other substances. It is a white or light-weight gray coloration when dry. Mastic can be obtained in premixed containers or as a dry powder that have to be mixed with h2o just before use.

Where to Use It

Mastic has many purposes in both indoor and outdoor settings. It can be utilised on partitions, flooring, countertops, backsplashes, and showers.

Mastic can also adhere ceramic, porcelain, and mosaic tiles to various surfaces, which includes drywall, plywood, fiberglass, and cement backer board.

Where Not to Use It

Mastic does not do an excellent work sealing and adhering to moist surfaces. It should not be utilized in constantly damp locations, this sort of as baths and showers. It is also not advisable for use on flooring matter to large site visitors or abuse. Right here are some places in which you need to not use mastic:

  • Around water features
  • Steam rooms
  • Shower rooms
  • Swimming pools
a small bird flying over swimming pool
Image Credit: Laiotz, Shutterstock

How to Use It

Mastic is a h2o-based mostly adhesive, so it is easy to implement with a trowel or roller. For best outcomes, use mastic to a thoroughly clean, dry surface. The floor should also be free of dust, grease, and other contaminants.

Blended mastic must be employed inside two hrs of mixing. If it gets to be way too thick, insert more drinking water and mix once again.

The placement of tiles must be planned ahead of beginning to use mastic. It will assist ensure that the tiles are laid out evenly and there is no wasted mastic.

Mastic ought to be used to the again of each and every tile ahead of placing it in spot. Use a trowel to unfold mastic evenly more than the surface area. For ideal final results, allow the sealant cure for 24 several hours just before grouting the joints in between the tiles.

  • Ideal for indoor use
  • Can be used on a variety of surfaces
  • Easy to apply
  • Mold and mildew resistant
  • Does not do a good job of sealing wet surfaces
  • Not usable in high-traffic areas

Overview of Thinset

Thinset is a modified mortar produced of Portland cement, silica sand, and water. It is typically utilized to established tile or stone. Thinset is typically three/eight inch thick and obtainable in powder and premixed sort.

Thinset mortar is a cementitious paste that bonds tiles or stone to a substrate. The additives in the thinset improve its bonding energy and thicken the mixture so that it can be unfold simply.

Because thinset is thinner than other mortars, you can spread it uniformly throughout surfaces. However, when implementing thicker mortars, there’s often a danger of the content piling up in some locations and not spreading evenly.

Thinset is also acknowledged for its large shear strength, which is the power needed to crack the bond amongst the mortar and the substrate. Higher shear energy is required simply because it guarantees that your tile or stone won’t appear unfastened in excess of time.

You can get two main types of thinsets. These are:
  • Unmodified: It is in its simplest form, meaning it doesn’t have additives.
  • Modified: It has additives that increase its bonding strength and make it more durable. These additives include liquid latex polymers and acrylic. Some modified thinsets also have chemical-resistant agents to protect against water and staining.

Even though grout is obvious, thinset is not perfect for apps where it will be obvious. As an alternative, it must be concealed guiding the tile. So, if you are searching to established tile in a seen region, you need to use another type of mortar, like mastic.

Where to Use It

You can use thinset equally indoors and outside. It is a versatile adhesive that can be utilised on numerous different surfaces, which includes:

  • Concrete
  • Brick
  • Cinder block
  • Plaster
  • Drywall
  • Wood

Thinset can also be utilized in moist regions like showers and tubs. Since it is so functional, you can use it for a selection of initiatives, including:

  • Setting floor tile
  • Setting wall tile
  • Installing backsplashes
  • Repairing cracked tiles

Where Not to Use It

Though thinset is a adaptable adhesive, there are some surfaces where you ought to not use it. These include:

  • Metals
  • Glass
  • Plastics
person installing ceramic tiles on the floor
Image Credit: cnikola, Shutterstock

How to Use It

Now that you know exactly where thinset is helpful, let’s see how to use it. The 1st action is to prepare the area. It involves cleaning it and making sure there’s no unfastened paint, dust, or particles. If location tile on a concrete flooring, you’ll also need to have to make certain the surface area is amount.

After the area is ready, you can begin mixing the thinset. If you are employing the powder kind, mix it with drinking water according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re making use of the premixed kind, there’s no want to insert h2o. Rather, pour it into a bucket and stir it till it is easy.

Soon after mixing, you can begin spreading it on the area. Use a notched trowel to apply an even layer of thinset in excess of the location. Then, you can area your tile or stone on top of the thinset. Use a stage to guarantee the parts are even and press them into spot. After all the tile is in location, enable the thinset dry for at minimum 24 hrs ahead of grouting.

  • Widely available
  • Inexpensive
  • Can be used indoors and outdoors
  • Can be used on many different surfaces
  • Bonds tile or stone securely
  • High shear strength
  • Not visually appealing
  • May be too runny
  • Inflexible

Mastic vs Thinset: Which Should You Choose?

The discussion among mastic and thinset has been around for a while in the design industry. Every kind of mortar has professionals and cons, and the option you select will in the long run count on the project. Aside from being employed for diverse purposes, mastic and thinset also differ in composition. So, you have to think about other aspects prior to creating a selection.


The size of the tile you’re utilizing is an important factor. If you’re doing work with modest tiles, mastic is the greatest option. Mastic is easy to unfold and doesn’t need the precision that thinset does.

On the other hand, if you’re functioning with greater tiles, thinset is the way to go. Thinset is a lot more forgiving when it will come to big tiles and will give a a lot more protected maintain.

brushing tile grout with baking powder
Image Credit: Serenethos, Shutterstock


Mastic is made from asphalt and organic and natural resources, even though thinset is manufactured from Portland cement, sand, and water. The organic and natural components in mastic make it more flexible, while the Portland cement in thinset helps make it more sturdy.

As a result, if you’re hunting for a mortar that will give you a lengthy-lasting hold, choose for thinset. In the meantime, mastic will be a excellent selection if you need to have a mortar that can be easily removed.


Value is usually an essential element to consider when picking any construction material. For case in point, mastic is normally much more pricey than thinset, but the expense big difference is insignificant.

A single benefit of mastic over thinset is that it does not need a wet saw for installation. Nevertheless, moist saws can be expensive to rent or buy, so this is anything to maintain in brain if you’re on a limited budget.


If you need an adhesive for a humidity-prone area, it’s often a good thought to use thinset. Given that thinset is made from Portland cement, it is far more resistant to moisture than mastic.

Mastic can crack down over time when exposed to dampness, so it’s not the very best option for bathrooms or kitchens. Even so, you may possibly be able to use it on locations surrounding tubs and showers because they are ‘intermittent’ humidity areas.

But, for the best final results, it’s constantly ideal to use thinset in dampness-susceptible regions. You can use it in tiled swimming pools, shower pans, and backsplashes with no any problems.

hand wiping off freshly installed peel and stick tile
Image Credit: Benjamin Clapp, Shutterstock


One more aspect you have to take into account is the substrate. If you are operating with a porous substrate, mastic is the best choice. That is due to the fact mastic can penetrate porous substrates and develop a more powerful bond.

In the meantime, if you’re doing work with a non-porous substrate, choose thinset. Thinset does not need to have to penetrate the substrate to produce a powerful bond, so it’s perfect for use on non-porous surfaces.

Leveling Problems

Permit us preface this by expressing that thinset is not meant to be employed as a leveler. Nevertheless, it has ‘build’ homes, which signifies it can amount up slight depressions in the substrate.

Mastic wouldn’t do the same because of its syrupy properties and deficiency of filling skills. If you have at any time labored with mastic, you will recognize it has a regularity of pancake batter. That indicates it will just ‘run’ into any despair and not fill it up.

So, if you have minimal leveling problems, thinset is the best choice. Just be aware that you must only use it for slight depression. Everything much more than that, and you are going to require a leveling compound, these kinds of as self-leveling concrete.

Checklist for Mastic vs. Thinset Usage

When installing ceramic tile, there are a number of distinct supplies you can use to set the tile. Mastic and thinset are two of the most well-known alternatives.

But it is simple to be puzzled about when to use each one. Here’s a fast checklist to aid you choose which item is very best for your tile installation undertaking:

  • Shower Floors: Thinset
  • Other Floors: Thinset
  • Kitchen Backsplashes: Mastic
  • Tub/Shower Walls: Thinset
  • Floor Heating Systems: Thinset
  • Walls: Mastic
  • Bathroom Walls: Thinset
  • Kitchen Countertops: Thinset

As a rule of thumb, thinset must be employed for floors, walls in showers and tubs, and any other regions the place there will be a whole lot of h2o or humidity. On the other hand, mastic is a very good selection for backsplashes and other wall projects the place there will not be as a lot publicity to water.

Mastic Thinset
Moisture Factor Usable in dry and damp areas only Usable in moisture-prone areas, even places fully submerged in water
Best Areas Walls, dry backsplashes, and wainscots Bathrooms, showers, tubs, and backsplashes
Setting Power Sets quickly Sets slowly
Vertical Application Best for it Better for leveling depressions


By now, you need to know when to use mastic and when to opt for thinset. The selection will rely on your task type, value, moisture publicity, and substrate.

Even though mastic is an superb all-purpose tile adhesive, thinset need to be your go-to for most dampness-prone assignments. It’s exceptionally effectively suited for outdoor purposes or locations that will see a lot of water, such as bogs.


Highlighted Image Credit score: (L) Halfpoint, Shutterstock | (R) DUO Studio, Shutterstock