Tile Adhesive vs Mortar: Which Is the Better Option?

When providing your property a complete makeover or renovation, you could wish to alter the old flooring and set up a long-long lasting resolution: tiles. You can use different substances to secure your tiles to the floor or wall. Two well-liked choices when securing tiles are tile adhesive and tile mortar.

Again in the day, tile adhesive could not manage the strain of being walked on and had a limited life expectancy. On the other hand, tile mortar was set up above an underlayment of plywood and excellent outdated-fashioned elbow grease.

Right now, the two goods have advanced. It is achievable for house owners to appreciate gorgeous tile flooring that last for a long time. With so many tile adhesives and mortars on the marketplace, it can be difficult to figure out which one particular is the greatest for your undertaking.

In this article, we’ll educate you about tile adhesive and mortar to aid you realize which 1 is much better.

Overview of Tile Adhesive

Tile adhesive is a liquid or paste that bonds ceramic and porcelain tiles to the substrate beneath them. In other phrases, it’s adaptable glue that you can use to connect distinct tiles. It is utilised when setting up tiles on countertops, flooring, and walls.

Generally, the tile adhesive is used to the backside of the tile, then pressed firmly from the surface.

person installing rectified tile
Image Credit: DUO Studio, Shutterstock

What Is Tile Adhesive Good For

You can use tile adhesive to safe tiles on substrates such as wooden, cement, glass, and many a lot more. It does not crack or shrink due to temperature alterations and dampness.

It produces a strong bond between the tile and the subfloor, whilst also delivering a water-resistant seal amongst the tiles and the substrate. When used effectively, they’ll avoid h2o from leaking by way of the joints or cracks in the flooring.

You can also use tile adhesives to bond the tile to other components, such as vinyl, concrete, brick, or wooden.

Due to the tile adhesive’s h2o resistance, it’s perfect for setting up tiles in a parking spot and a swimming pool.

  • Bonds strongly; can use it on any substrate or existing tiles
  • Ready to use; only need to mix it with water
  • Thinner layer
  • Low shrinkage makes tile adhesives adhere strongly
  • Used on all types of tiles
  • Ready to be used in 24 hours
  • Tile soaking isn’t required
  • Applying it is challenging
  • Less durability
  • Cannot endure heavy foot traffic if used to install tiles on the floor
  • No strong bond between the tiles

Overview of Mortar

Tile mortar is a mixture of Portland cement, lime, and silica sand used to hold tiles in spot and improve it. This combination is known as a cementitious substance or mortar.

Mortar can also be ornamental on its very own. Some mortars are coloured or textured to develop interesting effects on the partitions.

The two principal components of mortar, Portland cement and sand are combined with h2o until they sort a thick paste. The mixture is then applied to the substrate utilizing a trowel.

The sand makes the mortar combine a lot more flexible. It also allows it to set quick when used. This way, it will help prevent cracking when drinking water evaporates from the floor of your tile set up. The cement binds every thing together, generating it powerful in opposition to stress from heavy objects like foot traffic or household furniture.

mortar mixture on a wall
Image Credit: rkit, Pixabay

What Is Tile Mortar Good For?

Tile mortar is used to adhere tiles to walls, flooring, and other surfaces. It also helps to waterproof the surface in which the tile is laid. The function of tile mortar is to supply a strong bond amongst the tile and the floor you are attaching the tile.

Tile mortar also functions as a sealant. It retains humidity from acquiring into the wall or floor floor in which it wants to stay dry.

The thickness of tile mortar is dependent on the kind of tile you use. Some tile mortars are slender enough to be utilized with mosaic tiles, although other folks are thick for flooring. Tile mortar is mainly used in business applications.

  • Widely available and affordable
  • It can fill dips in a subfloor. So, it makes a surface more even
  • Water-resistant
  • Tiles last long without developing cracks or chips
  • It’s resistant to mold and mildew
  • It takes a long time to set
  • Not visually appealing
  • It’s not flexible
  • Tiles must be soaked

Types of Tile Adhesives

There are a number of kinds of tile adhesives you can use to put in tiles. Every single type has its positive aspects, so your choice will rely on your funds, the measurement of your project, and the kind of tiles you want to install.

There are five tile adhesives you should know. You can differentiate them relying on the factors under.

Performance: Improved/heavy duty or regular
Chemistry: Cementitious and dissipation
Other properties: Minimized slip, fast setting, and no shrinkage

Here they are!

1. Type 1 Tile Adhesive

This tile adhesive is a water-based mostly product. It does not have harmful substances or VOCs (Risky Organic Compounds). You can tint it to match the colour of your tile. It’s appropriate for modest-dimension tiles with a porosity of three%.

These adhesives have a higher shear power and low shrinkage, producing them perfect for use with ceramic, porcelain, clay tiles, and stone slabs. The tile adhesive sets up in about thirty minutes.

2. Type 2 Tile Adhesive

Sort two tile adhesives are siliconized acrylic copolymers. You can use it outdoors or indoors on any nonporous surface area or content including glass and stainless metal. Also, you can use it to install glass, mosaic, and vitrified tiles. The tiles must have obvious porosity of three%.

Normally, Sort two adhesive is obvious and provides a sturdy bond amongst surfaces and substrates. It is best utilised when you need to adhere to large-dimensional tiles.

Most DIYers will not need Type two tile adhesive. It is much more high-priced and messier than kind one. But if you’re arranging on tiling an entire toilet floor or wall with glass or mosaic tiles, it’s really worth thinking about.

3. Type 3 Tile Adhesive

With a Type three adhesive, you can get absent with no grout. This tile adhesive is perfect for exterior wall substrates these kinds of as concrete and plaster. It’s formulated for clean surfaces this sort of as ceramic and glass tiles. You can also use it to put in clay, vitrified, mosaic, porcelain, and all-all-natural stone tiles.

It’s also obtainable in caulking gun format but has a much lower viscosity (thickness) than Variety two adhesive. So, it does not drip a lot when applied to porous surfaces these kinds of as concrete or brick walls.

4. Type 4 Tile Adhesive

You can install tiles making use of this tile adhesive on dry wallboard substrates. It is ideal for all types of tiles, but it is ideal for installing porcelain tiles due to the fact it doesn’t include solvents that can damage the surface area of your porcelain tiles.

The only downside to this variety of adhesive is that it will take longer to dry when compared to other varieties of tile adhesive.

5. Type 5 Tile Adhesive

If you want to produce a easy and level tile floor, a sort five tile adhesive is the greatest option. It’s also known as liquid flooring adhesive or slurry. It is typically utilised in industrial purposes. These adhesives are a bit a lot more costly than the others, but they have far better resistance to drinking water and chilly temperatures.

These are excellent for kitchens, bogs, and other locations in which moisture can be an situation. You can use it on all tiles, including engineered stones. In addition to, you can use it to install tiles on metallic substrates this kind of as delicate metal, aluminum, copper, or gridiron.

Types of Tile Mortar

Deciding on the appropriate mortar for setting up tiles can be difficult. So, we’ve damaged down numerous varieties of tile mortar to aid you make an informed decision.

There are 3 major sorts of mortar utilized in setting up tiles, and they vary in consistency and composition. They include slender-established, mastic, and epoxy mortar.

1. Thin-Set Mortar

Slim-established mortar is a pre-blended product employed to install tile on walls and floors. It is the most broadly employed variety of tile mortar for indoor and outdoor tile installation tasks. It is made from an aggregate of sand, cement, and drinking water.

The mixture decides the strength of the mortar. A large-power combine will have much more cement than a minimal-energy combine. It also comes in powder type that you can combine with water or pre-blended.

The mortar’s thin regularity makes it possible for for effortless spreading and leveling of the content as you install it. It also assures that the tile has loads of place to broaden and deal with temperature changes. This way, it won’t crack over time.

Skinny-set mortar is perfect for walls, shower flooring, kitchen area counter tops, and other locations with high humidity.

2. Mastic

Mastic is a type of tile mortar created from a mixture of cement and fantastic aggregates this sort of as sand or pebbles. It is generally softer than other varieties of tile mortar and less complicated to work with. Mastic is excellent for use with normal stone tiles, which are porous and can take in dampness from the mortar. It can trigger difficulties if you use a more difficult mortar that will not absorb dampness.

Mastic is not as powerful as some other varieties of mortar. It doesn’t include fillers or additives, but if your venture involves only little quantities of tile, this could not be an concern.

One particular downside of mastic is that it’s not dampness or heat-resistant. Also, it doesn’t stage the surface area you are laying tiles on.

3. Epoxy Mortar

Epoxy mortar includes 3 distinct parts: hardener, powder, and resin. It is best for commercial apps. It is sturdy and can stand up to hefty site visitors. It’s also watertight, which can make it a very good selection for kitchens and bogs. What is much more is that it sets fast and results in a strong bond.

Epoxy mortar is a blend of epoxy resin and an acrylate-modified polymer. It’s generally added to the combination to lessen shrinkage and cracking. It also has a powerful odor right after application, but this goes absent right after some time.

Epoxy mortars are more expensive than other varieties of tile mortar. They want particular gear and have rigorous application requirements. So, only experienced pros can put in tiles using epoxy mortar.

This mortar is ideal for putting in ceramic flooring tiles.

What Are the Differences Between Tile Adhesive and Tile Mortar?

Tile adhesive and mortar are two types of items used to protected tiles to the surface. Equally have their location in the entire world of tiling, but there are some variations in between them.

Tile adhesive is a specialized content developed for bonding tiles to surfaces. It operates like mortar but does not need grouting due to the fact it consists of no sand or gravel. Tile adhesive is typically utilised on huge wall tiles to guarantee they keep place as soon as installed.

You’ll also see tile adhesive used as an underlayment beneath laminate flooring or carpeting. With this, there’ll be no motion when you stroll on top of them.

Tile mortar, on the other hand, is produced from cement and sand and mixed with drinking water to produce a paste-like compound. It also retains modest tiles in spot. Besides, it offers a smooth surface area for grouting. So, many varieties of mortar need to have grouting.

Mortar has numerous utilizes, including placing tiles in shower walls, flooring, or backsplashes. It is also utilised outside the house around pools or spas, where it hardens into a water-resistant seal towards the aspects.

When to Use Tile Adhesive
  • Installing tiles on the walls
  • When you want it to dry faster
  • When reattaching loose tiles
  • When you want to DIY, but this is for several types of tile adhesive
When to Use Tile Mortar
  • Installing tiles on the floor
  • Installing tiles in high-traffic areas
  • When you want to reattach tiles that are getting loose
  • When you want to DIY (the only type of mortar you cannot DIY is Epoxy Mortar)


If you’re working on your first tile task or have small knowledge tiling, tile adhesive is the best alternative. But, if you know what you are performing when it arrives to tiling, you may be a lot more fascinated in mortar. It depends on your goals and expectations for your first tile venture.

It also boils down to how you want your tile to be put in. Tile adhesive is the greatest when you want an straightforward repair job that you can full by oneself. On the other hand, mortar takes some specific tools to set up effectively, but it’ll give a a lot more protected bond amongst your tile and wall floor.

So, there you have it! A better understanding of tile adhesive and tile mortar and how you can utilize them to a variety of tile apps.


Highlighted Impression Credit: (L) Bilanol, Shutterstock | (R) Sidorov Ruslan, Shutterstock