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Which Tile Adhesive Should You Use for Your Tiling Project?

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The right tiles can add plenty of style and convenience to a home. But when the time comes for installing those tiles, it’s important to use the right mortar or glue. Applying the wrong adhesive is one of the most common tiling mistakes, and it could hurt the durability and convenience of your tiles.

Here’s how to pick the right tile adhesive for your project.

1. Thinset Tile Mortar

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Thinset mortar is the most common choice for both indoor and outdoor tiling projects. Thinset has a smooth, slippery consistency, similar to mud. It comes in two primary forms: standard and premixed.

Standard thinset is a dry powder. When mixed with water, it forms a mortar you can use for securing tiles.

Premixed thinset, on the other hand, comes in tubs and is ready for action as soon as you open it up. This variety is more expensive than standard thinset, but its simplicity makes it a popular choice for DIY projects.

Thinset Tile Mortar Pros and Cons

Thinset mortar creates a strong bond once it dries, securing tiles firmly. This makes it a great choice when installing tile floors in any room. Plus, thinset can be used with virtually any tile material, including ceramic, natural stone, and glass.

Thinset is also moisture- and heat-resistant, making it ideal for tiling showers, countertops, bathtubs, or any other area that gets too wet or hot. Thinset is the go-to option for outdoor applications, such as patios and swimming pools.

And if you’re dealing with an uneven or pockmarked surface, thinset can help. You won’t be able to fix wildly out-of-level surfaces, but you can patch up minor problems.

Best of all, thinset is relatively affordable and easy to use. There’s a reason it’s the default tile adhesive for most home renovation projects.

On the other hand, you also need to mix a special latex additive into your thinset to strengthen the bond further and prevent cracking. And if you’re using standard thinset, you’ll have to use up the entire batch or throw out any excess. It can’t be saved.

Thinset also takes 24–48 hours to dry, and vertical tiles may slip during the curing process if not secured properly.

Thinset often proves extremely difficult to remove as well, which can create problems if you ever decide to replace your tiles. (Though in some cases, you may be able to simply tile over your old tiles.)

2. Tile Mastic

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Tile mastic is an acrylic product with a sticky, gummy consistency. It operates more like traditional glue than thinset.

If your local home improvement store doesn’t have any tile adhesives labeled as mastic, don’t be surprised. Manufacturers typically advertise it as “ceramic tile adhesive” instead.

Tile Mastic Pros and Cons

Mastic’s sticky, glue-like nature helps hold tiles in place better during installation. This is perfect for keeping vertical tiles from sagging or slipping when tiling walls or backsplashes.

Mastic generally only takes 24 hours to dry. And unlike thinset, unused mastic can be saved and used later. Mastic is also much easier to remove than thinset, which comes in handy when you want to pull your old tiles out.

However, while mastic's stickiness is useful for securing tiles, it makes it harder to adjust or fix them once they’ve been placed.

Mastic isn’t suited for environments with high moisture or heat, either. It’s rarely wise to use mastic for a shower pan, outdoor patio, or swimming pool. Mastic can be used for some areas with only intermittent exposure to water, such as shower walls, but you’ll need to use water-resistant drywall or backer board when doing so.

Mastic also gives off a sharp, strong odor that takes some time to dissipate.

You have to be careful about what tiles you use mastic with, too. Mastic is also only designed for use with ceramic and porcelain and should always be avoided when installing natural stone or glass tiles. Size is a factor as well, since mastic isn’t recommended for use when installing large-format tiles.

3. Epoxy Tile Mortar

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Epoxy tile mortar comes in two or three separate components, which you then mix together immediately before use. Epoxy tends to be the most effective tile adhesive, but it does have some complications that make it less suited for DIY projects.

Epoxy Tile Mortar Pros and Cons

There aren’t any tiling applications inside or outside that epoxy won’t work for. From floors to walls to ceilings—and anywhere else—epoxy will do the job.

Epoxy provides an even stronger bond than thinset and mastic, and is completely impervious to moisture, water, and most chemicals. Epoxy also doesn’t require a latex additive to protect it from cracking as some thinset does.

And like thinset, epoxy can be used with virtually every type of tile. In fact, epoxy will even bond to metal or rubber. It sets up quickly, too, making it possible to grout tiles within just a couple of hours after applying it.

However, epoxy is more expensive than thinset or mastic—and much more difficult to mix and apply. Plus, because it dries so quickly, you won’t have long to install your tiles or make adjustments. 

In short, epoxy requires quick, skilled application, and may not be the best option for DIYers.

Get Some Expert Help for Your Tiles

If you’re considering a home renovation project involving tiles, we’d love to lend a hand.

At Downright Tile and Renovations, we’ve spent years helping homeowners throughout the greater Kansas City area with their remodeling needs. We install, replace, and repair tiles in a wide variety of applications, including:

 

And if you’re not sure exactly what you want, we even offer personalized design services. Just contact us, and we’ll come to your house to help you pick out the perfect options for your unique needs and preferences.

Click here to schedule your free, in-home consultation today

client Reviews

out of 23 reviews

Ann Butler

Cody was very professional, he was very good at advising us what would work well together. He showed up when he said he would , and never left a mess. We were under a time crunch , and Cody came through. The bathroom turned out beautiful. We are very happy with the end result.
We really appreciate all the hard work Cody and Trenton put into this job.

Stillwell, KS.

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James Pate

Downright Tile are true craftsmen. They take genuine pride in their work and make sure the customer is happy throughout the entire process. Some specifics from my experience:
-exceptional client communication
-upfront/honest pricing
-very prompt
-kept work area clean and free of debris
-extraordinary finished product!!!
I couldn’t be happier with my experience. Would hire again without question.

Weatherby Lake, MO.

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Nicole Galemore

Our experience with DownRight Tile was exceptional. We hired DownRight to install glass subway tile for our kitchen backsplash and coffee nook. They were extremely helpful throughout the entire process. From the get-go, they answered my millions of questions quickly and thoroughly. They were on-time throughout the project. I would say our project was a bit more complicated due to using glass tile and having a 70+ year old home with warped walls that weren't square. They exceeded our expectations and now we are using them for our bath remodel!

Shawnee, KS.

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Patricia Landwehr

My husband and I contracted with Downright Tile and Renovations to tile our basement laundry room and bath. Our house is 100 years old and the basement floor is not flat in places. They were able to level it out before installing the tile. The walls are not perfectly square, so we had lots of discussion about the best way to lay the tile to minimize the issue. They were very professional, arrived when they said they would, cleaned up the area daily and did a great job installing the tile. My husband is an engineer and very picky and was very pleased with the work. We highly recommend them. They are true craftsmen.

Brookside, MO

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Donald White

Downright Tile and Renovations repaired a faulty installation of a tiled shower floor. The previous contractor did not know what he was doing and the floor leaked badly. Downright Tile was great to work with on the project and now the shower works great. They were responsive, on time and within reason on cost. They finished the job ahead of schedule.

Independence, MO

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Dan Welter

Downright Tile and Renovations were wonderful. They are true craftsmen. Easy to work with and the results are just what I wanted. I think their pricing is too low, but don't let them know till I call them again. Thanks.

Overland Park, KS

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Shanna Smith

We are so happy we found Downright Tile. They were able to give us a custom look using the products we preferred, including modern design elements like a linear drain. They were friendly, respectful, and communicative, and do everything they can to pass cost savings on to you. Their attention to detail is fantastic. We recommend them to everyone we can, and we plan to have them back for a project in the future!

Overland Park, KS

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Jon Sestak

I cannot speak highly enough about my tile experience with Downright Tile and Renovations. First of all I want to say that the attention to detail is fantastic. Our job took a little longer, but the overall product looked amazing once finished. Typically, I would expect a job to be rushed in our circumstances, but the attention to detail did not diminish as the project went longer than expected. Would give these guys six stars if possible.

Overland Park, KS

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Kiven Moise

Downright Tile and Renovations are very professional. They did an excellent job tiling my shower walls. If your up against the fence about a tile job give them a try you won't be disappointed.

Independence, MO

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Alexzis Thomson

Thank you, Downright Tile and Renovations, for the awesome tile work! You helped convert our nightmare shower into a working shower! We initially hired a family friend to tile our master shower and shower floor. Long story short, the shower floor was not set properly and did not drain the water. :( I found Downright Tile and saw they had a knack for tile (especially showers), and knew they were the right company for the job. They knew exactly what to fix and how to fix it PROPERLY. They came in and did the job fast and effective! I can't wait to use the shower and not have to use a squeegee every time I get out. Thank you again!!! I highly recommend!

Blue Springs, MO

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Brian Joy Wilhide

We hired Downright Tile to install new tile in our fireplace. Our old tile was pretty dull... we replaced it with Jinshan Coffee tile. They advised us as to the condition of the new tiles (some chipped, some cracked, etc.) and we were able to request a new batch before we start our bathroom tiling project. They were able to select some very nice tiles for the fireplace and it is quite beautiful now. As soon as we have our ducks in a row with the new tile, we will be happy to bring Downright Tile back to replace our bathroom tile.

Lenexa, KS

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Angie's List Customer Review

We hired Downright Tile and Renovations to re-tile two fireplaces and our master bath floor. We picked our floor tile and when it arrived, found a lot of surprises. It was the last tile of it's kind from the quarry and there was a lot of variety. Downright Tile came up with a unique design which made great use of the variety and the final product is truly beautiful. They also re-tiled our family room fireplace with the same tiles. They suggested stacked stone tiles for our bedroom fireplace. Both fireplaces were transformed from boring to beautiful. Downright Tile took on our project where others might not have. It required a lot of extra cutting of tiles. They enjoyed the challenge and we are very happy with the outcome. We would confidently hire them again for any future tile work.

Kansas City, MO

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Daniel J Lopez

I am very happy with my experience with Downright Tile and Renovations. They had great communication, explained everything well, were punctual, and kept the job site clean. The finished product is exactly what we were hoping for and the price was good. I would definitely recommend them for any tile jobs you have in the future.

Overland Park, KS

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Will Woodford

Downright Tile and Renovations were extremely helpful and fast. They solved problems created by other contractors so that I didn’t end up having to deal with it. Downright Tile are perfectionists from step 1, and will not leave you without an excellent result.

Shawnee, KS

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Imene McCoy

Prompt, professional and clean! I had the best experience- Downright Tile and Renovations were fast, efficient and made the whole process super easy!! I highly recommend them!

Kansas City, MO

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Madison Grace

Very nice work & very friendly guys

Kansas City, MO

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Angie's List Customer Review

Downright Tile and Renovations were excellent to work with. They clearly understand their craft. They were professional, clean, and conscientious. I'll hire them again when I need more tile work done and refer them to others.

Kansas City, MO

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Beverly Bellinger

The project went beautifully. There were several areas around the tub and where the tub meets the floor that needed to be re-caulked; Downright Tile noted wherever new caulk was necessary within the shower/tub area and took care of it all. The amazing difference is in the floor. White tile with white grout can become discolored and hard to clean after a decade. Now it looks as good as when first installed, plus they offered care tips to maintain it. They also very graciously looked at a couple of loose kitchen backsplash tiles and provided advice on those. They're meticulous, professional and probably something of perfectionists—color matching was of critical importance to them. Our minor restoration project was clearly unworthy of their talents. Their charge was exactly as estimated ($300 plus materials). Imagine what a wonderful job they'd do on a start-from-scratch tile installation! If I had another tile project, Downright Tile is the only supplier I'd call.

Kansas City, MO

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Angie's List Customer Review

We were very satisfied with Downright Tile and Renovations' services. They were very responsive via text and were able to schedule us quickly. We had a very positive experience working with Downright Tile and love our new tile. We highly recommend them and would use them again if we eventually need tile work again.

Kansas City, MO

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David Duffield

As a very competent DIYer, it has always been difficult for me to relinquish control and hire someone else to do work on my home. My past experiences with hiring contractors has always left me disappointed in the quality of workmanship and/or the professionalism of the contractor. I can honestly say that, for the first time, Downright Tile and Renovations have exceeded my expectations. The crew were professional, timely, and the level of craftmanship was exceptional. Downright Tile took the time to plan the layout of the tile so there were professional results. I couldn't be happier and will definitely use them again on other projects. Thanks Downright Tile for all of your efforts!

Overland Park, KS

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Dan Lopez

Our house sold opening weekend. I’m sure the bathroom was a key contributor. We’re in a brand new house now so we’re set but I will definitely pass along your info to anybody who is looking. You did great work.

Overland Park, KS

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James Densmore

We recently remodeled our basement bathroom. We had multiple bids and they were all about the same. We chose to go with Downright Tile and Renovations as they warrantied their work more than the competitors. We picked out the tile and materials and then Downright Tile installed. They were on time and finished the project as expected. They explained various things when asked. We would use Downright Tile for a future project.

Mission Hills, KS

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Anna Challacombe

We hired Downright Tile to re-tile our guest bathroom and they did a phenomenal job. We've never hired anyone with more integrity or attention to detail. They always showed up when they said they would, communicated expectations, did a really exceptional job on the tile itself, and went above and beyond to make sure we were happy with the finished project and that it met their exacting standards. I would highly recommend Downright Tile to anyone looking to have tile work done.

Merriam, KS

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