Which Tile Adhesive – Here is what you need to know

Take out the confusion and save more money

Wouldnt it be great if every job went like a dream? well let me tell you having the right tile adhesive for the job certainly helps. Ok, so here are some problems. One is too much choice and the others are just a lack of experience. So here is what you need to know – Which tile adhesive should i use –  why and when i should use it…What is best? When should i use a more expensive adhesive? Let’s take a look, but wait just a moment,  tiling covers such a big area (excuse the pun) we can not cover this in just one post, but you may just find what you are looking for right here.

Personally i would always recommend you to use a good powder (cement based) tile adhesive which is always going to be a winner due to the drying time as its a chemical reaction and not reliant on air dry or ventilation, but there are just so many out there, so which is best?

No need to look at mix ratios, just make sure your muck doesn’t easily fall off your trail but still remains a kind of thick cream.

In the picture on the right is an example of a ready mixed tile adhesive which usually comes in 15kg buckets and is either white for areas usually exposed to water, like baths and showers as the polymers in the adhesive do not break down if and when subjected to moisture, Or grey, which is cheaper for other areas. You should only use this kind of tile adhesive for tiles smaller than 25mm x 25mm as the moisture needs to escape the adhesive via the gaps. You need to allow at least two days before grouting as drying times can vary and the room should be around 20 degrees c.

which tile adhesive - here need to know is what you

So now that we’ve kicked the ready mix adhesive to one side, let’s get straight into what you need to know when using good old powder adhesives, but wait, there are so many to choose from, so which one do i use? Don’t worry i can narrow this down whilst explaining the differences that i myself have experienced.

which tile adhesive - here is what you need to know

If you don’t do much tiling and end up using a nasty tile adhesive, this can knock your confidence as you will end up hating the job!

Trust me this is not an advert for BAL products but this is the one brand that i use and is worth the money, however that’s not to say that other makes such as MAPEI and many many more are not equally as good, but one thing that i will say is, when you see a known brand such as Dunlop selling tile adhesive cheap then stay away, well away as this is just someone selling cheap rubbish while paying to use a known brand name. 

So here is the real difference

If you spend a few more quid to get a decent tile adhesive, you will experience a much better application giving you less mess and allowing you to get the job done quicker, a stronger non slip suction where you need to tile with no support, a much longer bucket life giving you way more working time, a thicker bedding if you need to gap fill, added flexibility giving you more piece of mind to the jobs life performance (mainly for floors), and a rapid setting which again allows you to get the job done quicker.

Ok so what about the cheaper stuff? Surely there is room in a job to use this and save some money? The answer is yes. Again, here is what you need to know…. I do also use the shops own brand but only when i have a large wall or floor area that has a  very flat even surface therefore is quick to work with giving me no potential problems.

As for this floor on the right, i actually used a fast setting pourable self levelling adhesive (know as BAL PTB Fibre plus) as i knew that this was a very easy floor to lay as there were no awkward key cuts to make and the customer needed there toilet back the same day. this floor was set in just 3 hours!

which tile adhesive - here is what you need to know

In short, usually whatever the situation is , there is a product for the job. When it comes to tile adhesive, the guys in the shop have more than likely done the correct training course in order to get you the right product for the job which is why you will always be better off buying from a tile merchant rather than some all-round builders merchants.

which tile adhesive - here is what you need to know

If you take a close look at the picture on the left, you will see that the sloped ceiling has been tiled. This was in fact a difficult job as nothing was quite symmetrical. If it was then i could have use a turbo setting adhesive as the tiles were 600 x 300 mm and heavy, so instead i used BAL fibre flex plus which gave a high bond suction will allowing me an extended bucket life. 

Saying that i did support some tiles while gaffer taping some of the others together just incase one should come unstuck.

Unless you will be using a dark coloured grout, it’s always a good idea to use a white adhesive especially when you need to play around with corner trims and awkward spaces. To make life easy, i always clean as i go and saying that there is still a little more cleaning to do the next day before grouting.

which tile adhesive - here is what you need to know
which tile adhesive - here is what you need to know

On these walls in the pic on the left i had used BAL flex fibre plus which is cheaper than the max flex fibre but more expensive than the rapid setting flex fibre. I would only recommend using the rapid setting adhesive when the temperature is not going to waste your bucket and your tools when trying to clean the stuff off. This has happened to me and was down to tiling a difficult area in a warm environment.

For the floor i again used PTB flex fibre which is pourable which means you just pour it out from the bucket and then get tiling. Of course i always have my first row of tiles pre cut for a good head start.

Over all i hope that you find this helpful as i myself can find there sometimes is too much choice leading to confusion. Most powder  form (cement based) adhesives are good for natural stone and porcelain tiles, however you should always check the info on the pack and only count the drying time when the temperature is from between 5 & 10 degrees c. The date printed on the bag is usually the manufacture date and usually has a 12 month shelf life from that date.

If you have an open bag, it’s ok as long as it’s kept dry. If you do find any lumps then chuck it away as the rest of it may of lost some of its adhesion.

So next time you ask yourself “which tile adhesive should i use” you hopefully have enough insight to make your decision.