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What Adhesive Should I Use For Porcelain Tiles?

  • February 5, 2021

Picking the perfect tiles to create the sought after aesthetic for your home is the hardest part of laying a new floor. The easiest part is actually getting the work done. With the help of trained professionals such as the ones here at Atlas Ceramics, you will be well on your way to creating the perfect installation for your home.

What tile Adhesive do I use?

If you are planning to install your tiles on your own, it is important that you use the right adhesives for your tiles.

Tile adhesive is what bonds the tiles to the floor or the walls. There are specific mortar (adhesive) types that should be used for different substrates. It is always best to work with a professional when dealing with tiles. Our guide can serve as a great place to start when choosing tile adhesive on your own.

Tile adhesive
Tile adhesive being applied to the subfloor

Substrate Floor Types

There are many different substrates to which you can layer over with tiles. Let’s discuss some of the most common substrates, and the tiles best suited for each.

With Concrete & Screed Floors, Tiles should always be applied to a screed or concrete floor with a powder tile adhesive. New concrete should always be given ample time to dry and cure before adding a layer of screed and tile for the best results.

For Plaster & Plasterboard Walls, ceramic tiles will be used. This can include splash backs, showers, and other areas in your home. This type of project can be completed with ready-made tile adhesive as long as the tiles are not larger than 30 x 30 cm. However, for porcelain tiles, a powder adhesive must be used regardless of size.

For those planning to tile over a wooden floor, it is a good idea to add a sublayer of tile backing boards, or marine grade plywood. For any floor surface, powder tile adhesive must be used no matter what type of tile you choose.

Plywood Floor
Plywood SubFloor

Types Of Tile Adhesive Available

Tile adhesive is provided in two forms; powdered and pre-mixed paste. Those that are already mixed can be used right away, but they are only intended for small ceramic tiles that will be placed on walls.

Powdered tile adhesive

Powder tile adhesives must be mixed prior to use and can be used on any type of tile.

For porcelain tiles, it is important to only use powdered adhesives. This will create a strong bond with whatever surface they are applied to. The majority of powdered adhesives come in grey or white. However, there are some specialty brands that may offer additional colours.

weberset rapid SPF
We stock a wide range of tile adhesives, including this SPF rapid set adhesive by weber

Ready mixed tile adhesive

If you have underfloor heating under your porcelain tiles, you may also experience a small amount of subfloor movement. High-quality tile adhesive will help reduce the stress on the tiles that comes from subfloor movement.

Any powdered adhesive for porcelain tiles will have a rating. “S1” ratings mean that they are more firm once set, while “S2” ratings mean they are a bit more flexible once set.

Any area where you plan to lay porcelain tile that has high traffic should be installed with an “S2” rated powdered tile adhesive. More decorative areas or parts of your home that won’t get foot traffic or only a little, you can use S1 rated adhesives.

Ready made tile adhesive
Ready made tile adhesive tub by weber

All About Porcelain Tile Adhesive

Powdered adhesives are mixed with water prior to application. This makes them the best for laying porcelain tiles. They are only produced in grey or white colours. Therefore, you must choose one that will better match your grout colour when selecting an adhesive.

Where Will Your Porcelain Tiles Be Placed?

If you plan to apply your porcelain tiles to the wall, you will need to use a 20mm thick tile backer board. This can be affixed directly to the stud work without having to use plasterboard. Powder adhesive must be used.

If you already have a plasterboard on your walls, use a thinner backer board before applying your tile adhesive. You can also apply new porcelain tile directly over existing tiles, so long as you use a primer before going in with your tile adhesive layer.

Laying tile adhesive
Tiler laying porcelain floor tiles onto tile adhesive

How To Prepare Porcelain Tiles

For the best porcelain tile application, it is important to make sure that you have a correctly prepared surface. It should be level, strong, and clean. An even surface that is free of dust and moisture allows the tile adhesive to form a strong bond.

When applying powder-based tile adhesive, make sure the coverage is even and covers the full surface area. This will prevent tile cracking later down the line. Also, it will help to prevent moisture from seeping through the base layer.

Once the tiles have been laid, allow your tile mortar to set and cure completely before applying pressure. This means you will need to wait before applying grout.

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