What is the best tile adhesive?

tile adhesive

When it comes to professional tiling projects, it is important to choose the right tile adhesive to ensure the perfect finish lasts for many years to come. Whether you are tiling a wetroom or a kitchen floor, choosing the right adhesive is key, and if you are wondering what tile adhesive to use, this useful guide is here to help.

Why is tiling adhesive so important?

Laying tiles is both a financial and a time investment, which could quickly be lost if the wrong adhesive is used. The tile adhesive needs to hold tiles firmly in place, potentially for decades, so it is important to fill the gap between the tiles and the substrate below with the best possible adhesive. Although tiles will come under a lot of stress from below the surface and from above, there are a variety of adhesives available to suit every project.

What types of tile adhesive are available?

There are two main types of adhesives available, ready mixed and powered adhesives. In comparison to ready mixes, powdered adhesives will be cheaper, although they do need to be mixed with water for roughly 20 minutes to achieve the correct consistency, with curing requiring another 2-3 hours.

1) Ready mixed tile adhesive – This type of adhesive can be used straight from the tub; however, it can only be used with ceramic wall tiles and is not suitable for porcelain or natural stone tiles.

2) Low flex adhesive – Generally, low flex adhesives are only suitable for use with ceramic tiles or with very small porcelain tiles measuring below 10x10cm. This is because they do not offer the flexibility and additional adhesion required for larger, heavier tiles. The following are some examples of the low-flex, standard adhesive which we supply:

Python FS Tile Adhesive
Python ST Tile Adhesive 

3) Flexible adhesive – This type of flexible adhesive also needs to be mixed; however, it will benefit from more strength than the standard set thanks to the addition of latex. If you are tiling on a surface which could expand or contract, this adhesive will absorb some of the movement. It also provides additional grip, which is ideal for porcelain and natural stone tiles. The following are popular examples of flexible adhesive:

Python GT Tile Adhesive
Python RS Tile Adhesive 

4) Rapid set adhesive – If you are looking for a quick setting adhesive, the rapid set options will set in just 30 minutes which is ideal for quick projects. However, if you are laying an intricate pattern, you may need a little longer and a standard adhesive will take up to 3 hours to set. If you are looking for the best rapid set adhesives, the following are great choices:

Python FR Tile Adhesive 
Python GT Tile Adhesive
Python RS Tile Adhesive

What is the best tile adhesive for my project?

There are several questions which you should ask yourself when comparing tile adhesive options, such as the following:

What type of tile is being used?

If you are tiling small ceramic tiles, generally a ready-mix adhesive would be sufficient. However, ceramic tiles measuring more than 30x30cm will require a powdered adhesive. Alternatively, if you are installing large format tiles, porcelain tiles or natural stone tiles, it is advisable to use a flexible adhesive.

Where are the tiles being laid?

Although ready mix adhesives will generally be sufficient for internal walls, if you are tiling a floor, you will need a powdered adhesive that is designed for your tile type and substrate.

What substrate is beneath the tiles?

If you are tiling on plaster, cement board or plasterboard, you will be able to use both ready mix and low-flex powdered adhesive. Although, where possible, it is always recommended that you tile directly on to plasterboard or cement board rather than fresh plaster. If you do need to tile straight onto fresh plaster, a primer will be needed to seal the surface and improve the strength of the bond.

In contrast, timber surfaces can expand and contract, so you will only be able to work with a flexible adhesive. Many tilers choose to lay tile backer boards on top of floor boards or plywood, which creates a stronger and more stable surface.

Alternatively, if you are installing on concrete or a cement screed, a powdered adhesive is required with additional flexibility if underfloor heating is installed in the area.

What colour is the grout?

If you are using very lightly coloured grout or a porous stone tile, it is advisable to use a white adhesive. This will prevent any colour from the adhesive being absorbed into the grout or even the tiles themselves.

A wholesale supplier of tile adhesive

We hope that this guide has provided some useful information, and if in doubt the labels on your tile adhesive will provide additional guidance. If you are interested in stocking any of the products included within the blog, please contact our sales team for more information about our wholesale range.