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How to Pick the Right Tile Adhesive?

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Tiles play a crucial role in the look and feel of any space, be it your home, office, or any other location. They are often central to the overall aesthetic. Traditionally, tiles were installed using a mixture of cement and sand. However, this method has its drawbacks. Cement tends to shrink as it dries, leading to hollow spaces under the tiles. These become weak spots in the flooring, making the tiles susceptible to chipping or cracking upon impact.

Tile adhesives offer a more durable and reliable solution for tile installation. This guide helps you choose the suitable tile adhesive for your project by offering valuable tips.

Table of Contents

Tile Adhesive: What It Is, Pros & Cons

Tile adhesive is a specially designed dry powder that, when mixed with water or a latex additive, turns into a smooth paste for easy installation. It’s a premixed formula from Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC), fine sand, and special additives to enhance its laying properties. High-performance tile adhesive allows you to lay tiles on various surfaces, including existing tiles, polished cement, primed wooden substrates, and other specialized bases.

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Pros of Using Tile Adhesive

  1. Ease of Use: Tile adhesive is simple to prepare. Just mix it with water, and it’s ready for application. There’s no need to soak the tiles; you can lay them directly from the package.
  1. Efficient Installation: You can apply the adhesive mixture to about one square meter at a time. Then, you can place the tiles onto the adhesive and adjust them quickly. This speeds up the entire installation process.
  1. Specialized Formulas: Tile adhesive is designed for specific surfaces and environments. Whether it’s a swimming pool, bathroom, or living room, there’s a unique adhesive tailored for each setting.
  1. Strong Bonding: Tile adhesive creates a strong bond between the tiles and the substrate, preventing water penetration and reducing the risk of damage.

Cons of Using Tile Adhesive

  1. Requires Maintenance: Regular upkeep is necessary to maintain the strength of the bond.
  1. Risk of Water Damage: Despite its strong bonding, water can still seep beneath the tile surface, potentially damaging the tiles and requiring regrouting.
  1. Quality Matters: Choosing a low-quality adhesive can negatively impact the look and durability of your tiled area. It can lead to loose or hollow tiles and may even produce a sound when walking on them.

Key Factors in Choosing the Right Tile Adhesive

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Adhesive Qualities and Surface Type

Your adhesive should match the surface where you’ll install the tiles. Different adhesives offer better bonding for specific surfaces. For example, premixed paste is generally suitable for smaller tiles, while a powdered adhesive is often better for larger tiles.

Brand Reputation

Selecting a reputable brand can save you from poor installation and provide peace of mind for years.

Color Choices

The color of the adhesive can also be a consideration. Darker adhesives can hide imperfections and signs of wear, adding a contrasting touch to lighter tiles. For instance, grey adhesive can complement white tiles nicely.

Cost and Packaging

Premixed adhesive is usually more expensive because it’s ready to use. Since you may have already invested a lot in your tiles, the cost of the adhesive becomes an important factor. Adhesives come in various sizes, from small 500 gm containers to larger 20 kg bags, so that you can choose based on your project’s needs.

Types of Tile Adhesive

Different countries have their classification systems for tile adhesive. Still, generally, they can be categorized based on their chemical composition as follows:

  • Cement-based
  • Water-based dispersion adhesive
  • Polyurethane-based
  • Epoxy-based
  • Tile adhesive mat

Knowing the Surface

Understanding your tiles’ specific conditions is crucial in selecting the suitable adhesive.

  • Indoor Use: Consider the room’s specific conditions, such as moisture levels and foot traffic.
  • Outdoor Use: Consider the weather conditions your tiles will be exposed to. Outdoor settings may require adhesives with stronger bonding capabilities and resistance to environmental factors.

Understanding Your Tile Type

Different types of tiles require different kinds of adhesive. While most ceramic, porcelain, stone, metal, or glass tiles can be installed using multipurpose adhesive, there are exceptions:

  • Mosaic and Transparent Tiles: These types benefit from white cement adhesive, which is easier to clean and offers better aesthetic appeal.
  • Porcelain Stoneware: Due to its low adhesion and high weight, this tile type requires specialized adhesives with enhanced bonding properties.
  • Large-Scale Tiles: For tiles larger than 300×300 mm, enhanced adhesive is recommended for wall installations, while regular adhesive usually suffices for flooring.

Selecting the Right Adhesive

Once you’ve assessed the environment where the tiles will be used, you can choose the appropriate type and quantity of adhesive.

Choosing a Reputable Brand

While understanding the differences between adhesives is essential, the brand you choose can also make a significant difference. Opting for a reputable brand ensures a quality installation lasting for years.

Color Options

Today’s adhesives come in various colors to complement your tile choice. You can choose a color that blends seamlessly with your tiles or a contrasting shade to add vibrancy to the space. Darker adhesive colors can minimize the appearance of smears and wear, especially in high-traffic areas like bathrooms and kitchens. For example, when paired with white tiles, grey adhesive can add a striking element.

Coordinating the color of your grout with your tiles can create a sleek, modern look and make a space appear larger—important considerations for small bathrooms or kitchens.

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Budget is a key factor when choosing tile adhesive. Since you’ve likely already invested in your tiles, you’ll want to keep adhesive costs within your budget. 

Adhesives are available in various sizes, from 500 gm containers to 20 kg bags, allowing you to choose based on your project’s scale. Premixed adhesive is generally more expensive than powdered options because it’s ready to use. Choose the type that fits both your budget and convenience.

Setting Time

Different adhesives have different setting times. While premixed options are set quickly, powdered or cement-based adhesives may take longer to set. Consider how much time you will allocate for the adhesive to set when choosing.

Other Considerations

While the above are key factors in choosing the right adhesive, other variables can also influence your decision:

  • Transportation: Consider the logistics of getting the adhesive to your project site.
  • Alternatives: Be aware of substitute products that offer similar performance at a different price point.


Choosing the right tile adhesive may not be the most thrilling part of a renovation project. Still, it’s essential for ensuring the longevity of your tiles. While the factors mentioned above are commonly considered, handling all the options and challenges can be complex and time-consuming.

That’s where George Ceramics comes in. We offer a one-stop service that can save you both time and money. By choosing our products and services, you can skip the complexities of the selection process and have your tile adhesive needs met directly. Contact us to simplify your tiling project today.


Is tile adhesive stronger than cement?

Tile adhesives are either ready-to-mix or premixed solutions that offer several advantages over traditional cement mix. They are easier to handle and mix and provide better adhesion properties. Their enhanced bonding strength helps prevent issues like shrinkage, cracks, and tile slippage.

Can tile adhesive be used on wood?

Yes, tile adhesive can be effectively used on wooden surfaces. To minimize the risk of cracking when tiling over a wooden floor, it’s advisable to use a flexible tile adhesive and grout. Additionally, silicone sealer around the room’s edges allows the tiles to flex when walking on, reducing the risk of them pulling away from the wall or skirting board and breaking.

Can tile adhesive be used to level the floor?

Yes, tile adhesive can be used for leveling purposes. The mixture can be applied up to a thickness of approximately 25 millimeters, allowing it to accommodate tiles over uneven surfaces. This feature makes it suitable for leveling floors in various spaces.

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