A tile adhesive is required for the bottom of a tile to bond to the surface of the setting bed. This is the surface prepared to receive the tile and its accuracy and preparation is very important to the final product, whether it be wall tiles or floor tiles. There are different types of adhesives available and the choice of one would depend on whether the floor or wall is in a dry or wet area, whether it is indoors or outdoors and whether the surface on which it is to be applied is concrete, wood or drywall. Use of adhesives is best done without allowing too much of the material into the surface, as such excess material may come to the surface and cause problems for tile cleaning.
Mortars for Use as Adhesives
You can buy premixed thin set mortars in tubs which already have a latex additive in it. You can also buy dry powdered mortar but this requires to be properly mixed before use and is not recommended for DIY enthusiasts. This mortar is cheaper than the premixed kind. Thin set tile mortar does not dry immediately and stays wet for some time, so that you can make sure that the tile patterns and tile designs are properly laid out and move them around till they are satisfactory.
It also allows you to ensure that the levels are correct. This is absolutely important in areas that need to drain water like in bathrooms. The consistency of thin set premixed mortar is like mud and allows for easy application with a trowel. Manufacturer’s instructions for thin set mortars need to be followed for best results, as it is only with proper mixing and correct applications will good results be obtained.
Water mixed mortar is a combination of Portland cement and sand and is widely used as adhesives because of its property of water retention which is aided by an additive like methylcellulose.. You can also use cement slurry with sand to make a mixture that is trowel able or brush able. It is quite often used in cases where the substrate is still plastic or still has to be cured. This is still a very commonly used tile adhesive called the wet set method.
Other Adhesive Materials for Tiles
Petroleum or latex based adhesives are called organic mastic. They are mainly used for vertical surfaces where you need the wall tile to stick to the surface immediately. They are not amenable to leveling and are therefore rarely used for floors. They do not require any mixing. They are not suitable for external locations subject to heat and other weather conditions. They are ideal for use for shower tiles.
You can buy a tile adhesive that is acrylic mixed mortar that has increased adhesion properties. You can also get mortars that are made from cement, resins and hardeners that constitute the mortar types known as epoxy mortars. They are more expensive than the other adhesives but have phenomenal strength making it ideal for handcrafted tiles that may have uneven backs.