What Adhesives for Wall Tile?

Adhesives are the bonding agents between a base and the wall tile. The type of adhesive you use depends on where you are tiling and whether it is indoors or out. You should also consider the base you are tiling on, if the area is dry or wet, and your experience. There are several adhesives available, usually in a powdered form or premixed. Some products have faster drying times, higher water resistance and bonding properties, and reduced shrinkage. Wall adhesives can be used to tile areas that get slightly damp, such as in a shower surround, according to the Hometime website.

Thinset Mortars

A variety of adhesives are available for hanging wall tile.

Thinset, also known as Portland cement mortar, is used to bond dry tile directly to substrate or a backing. The adhesive consists of sand, cement and methyl cellulose, the ingredient that holds water in the thinset and allows the user to set dry tile. Thinset is available in two types, the latex-modified Portland cement mortar and the dry-set Portland cement. Thinset adhesives have a stronger bond and more flexibility than premixed adhesives. However, premixed adhesives have the advantage of gripping the tile even before it is fully cured. The white thinset is used for walls while gray is used for floors.

Cement Slurry

Cement slurry is a mix of cement, and sometimes sand, with water to form an adhesive that is then applied with a trowel or brush. Cement slurry can only be used on a mortar bed or substrate that is still uncured or plastic. This adhesive method, sometimes referred to as wet-set, was the method used before the invention of thinset and is still used today.

Organic Adhesive/Mastic

Organic adhesive, also known as mastic, is used like thinset mortar to bond wall tile directly to a substrate or backing. Organic adhesives are premixed and usually packaged in watertight containers. Two types of organic adhesives are used. Type one is the mastic that can be used wet or dry and on both floors and walls. Type two is generally used for drywall only.

Spray and Set

A professional-grade adhesive can be sprayed onto the wall, according to the Adhesives and Sealants website. The Spray and Set wall tile adhesive is volatile organic compound (VOC) free, nontoxic and used with ceramic and porcelain tile as well as natural stone. Waiting time is only 30 minutes. The spray adhesive eliminates the need for mixing, measuring and troweling.

Adhesive on a Roll

Adhesives for wall tile are also available in a roll form. The advanced pressure-sensitive self adhesive is water repellent, mold resistant and environmentally friendly, according to the Bondera website. The adhesive roll is used by removing the plastic liner on the back and pressing it into place, removing the top liner and then pressing the tile in place. Adhesive on a roll is applied to any clean, flat surface such as drywall, plywood, cement board and laminate.

About the Author

Carolyn Green has been a freelance writer since 1989. She has written for BETweekend, Good Old Days, Baby's World and more. A teacher from New York, she also taught in Seoul, where she wrote for a Korean publication. Her passions include world travel, nutritional research and alternative medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from State University of New York, Old Westbury.