When it comes to choosing the tile adhesive for your new project, it is not always as straight forward as it may at first appear. After all, there are numerous types of tiles, tile adhesives and other tiling materials on the market. What’s more, after investing a significant amount of time and money in choosing your tiles, it is essential to choose a suitable tile adhesive to ensure they look great and last a long time.

Therefore, doing a bit of research into what type of tile adhesive to use can ensure your tiling project has a great finish does justice to your hard work, time and effort.

In order to help answer the question ‘What tile adhesive should I use?’, UK Pro Tiling Training have put together the following guide about how to choose your tile adhesive.

Choosing your tile adhesive

Consider the types of tile you are working with

Because there are many different types of tile available, there are, in turn, many adhesives to choose from to work best with the different tile materials. Ultimately different types of adhesives suit different types of tile and it is essential to choose the correct adhesive for a good, strong finish to your tiling project.

Ceramic tiles tend to be the most popular, however, there is also Porcelain and other natural stones like Marble, Travertine, Terracotta, Slate, Limestone, Quartz and Granite available.

Types of tile adhesive

Ready mixed tub adhesives
Ready mixed tub adhesives come in a plastic container and are ready to use straight from the pot. Although ready mixed tile adhesives save time because you do not need to make-up the adhesive yourself, ready-made adhesives do indeed have a few limitations.

First of all, ready mixed adhesives should never be used when installing Porcelain or natural stone tiles. What’s more, when used on other tiles, ready mixed tub adhesives should only be used when fixing tiles to a wall.

Standard Rapid Set Cement
Standard rapid set cement is a type of adhesive that comes as a powder in a bag, that usually weighs around 20KG in weight.  It should be mixed, with water, by a mechanical mixer to produce the correct form.

It takes about 20 minutes to mix rapid setting cement, and takes 2 to 3 hours of curing time.

Standard Rapid Set Cement should be used only for fixing ceramic tile to a solid wall or floor.

Rapid Set Multi Flex
Rapid set multi flex is a type of adhesive that has a latex additive, which gives a slight flexible property to the adhesive. It also means rapid set multi flex has additional strength over the standard rapid set cement.

Rapid set multi flex adhesive is used for installing tiles over plywood surfaces that are subject to slight expansion and contraction.

Rapid set multi flex adhesive is also used to fix porcelain and natural stone tiles which require more grip.

You may want to ask yourself the following questions when choosing a tile adhesive for your tiling project:

  1. Where am I tiling?
    While a ready-mixed adhesive will suffice for internal walls, internal floors may require standard rapid set cement for increased durability. When it comes to external tiles, you may want to seek some professional advice where somebody can visit your home and the area to be tiled.
  1. What type of tile am I using?
    Small glazed ceramic tiles, installed indoors, can generally be fixed with a ready-made tiling adhesive. Glazed ceramic tiles that are larger than 30cmx30cm and porcelain tiles, however, should be installed with a standard rapid set cement.
    If you are using other natural stone tiles, you’ll need to ensure that you use a rapid set multi flex adhesive.
  1. What material are the tiles being applied onto?
    Althoughsmaller ceramic tiles can be applied to internal walls with a ready-mixed adhesive, you’ll also need to consider what material the tiles are being applied to.
    For example, plaster, cement board and plasterboards, work well with ready-mixed adhesives and standard rapid set cement. However, timber materials will work only with rapid set multi flex adhesive.

Always read the label of your adhesive
Because there are so many types of tile adhesive available, it is essential that you read the label of your chosen tile adhesive to make sure that the adhesive is compatible with your tiles and tiling surface.

If you would like some more advice about choosing your tile adhesive, please contact us at UK Pro Tiling Training.