Reference Library : Videos : How to Install Tile Adhesives

How to Install Tile Adhesives

Video Transcript

Selecting the right bonding material and installing it the correct way is the second step to a successful tile installation. We are going to show you how to set tile using a tile adhesive, sometimes referred to as a mastic. Tile adhesives are ready to use right out of the pail and are easy to spread. They have a long working time, so tiles can be adjusted into position. For certain tiling jobs, adhesives offer an easy to apply alternative to traditional thin-set mortars.

Using a tile adhesive instead of a mortar depends on several factors including the location of the installation, the size of the tile and the cure time needed before grouting. Walls, such as backsplashes and tub surrounds, as well as horizontal surfaces like countertops, are ideal locations for premixed tile adhesives. CUSTOM’s products meet the requirements for use in these intermittently wet areas.

You can also use tile adhesives to set floor tiles. However, they may require a longer drying time before you can grout and walk on them, compared to a cement mortar. Regardless if you are working on a floor or a wall, tile size is important. Adhesives cure through evaporation so they work best on tile 8 by 8 inches or smaller. You can use them on tile up to 15 inches, but dry time can be significantly extended.

CUSTOM recommends using an appropriate cement mortar for installation in high traffic or continuously wet areas, like shower floors. For any tile longer than 15 inches on one or more sides, choose a cement mortar designed for large format tile. Suitable substrates for adhesives include concrete, cement backerboard, exterior grade plywood or interior drywall. Prepare painted drywall by lightly roughening the surface with a palm sander, or apply a coat of CUSTOM’s MultiPurpose Bonding Primer to improve the bond.

Depending on your project, assemble the following tools and materials:
• Notch Trowel
• Grout spacers
• Measuring tape
• Straight edge or level
The size of the trowel used to apply the adhesive will depend on the size of the tile. See the size chart of the back of the package. Review our Technical Data Sheets for important information about using tile adhesives. Wear impervious gloves, such as nitrile, and other protection as recommended on our Safety Data Sheet.

Now, let’s talk about the steps for installation. First, clean the surface to remove dust and contaminants. Apply a thin skim coat of the adhesive to the substrate with the flat side of the trowel. Add additional adhesive and comb ridges in straight lines, holding the trowel at a 45-degree angle. This will ensure ridges are the correct height to support the tile. Finally, set the tile firmly into the adhesive. Move it back and forth across the ridges, but not side to side. Make sure each tile is level with those around it. Also, periodically lift a tile to confirm you are getting at least 80% coverage to the back of the tile.

Do not apply more adhesive than is required. Clean any excess material from the tiles and grout joints as you go along. Leave a quarter inch gap at perimeters and changes of plane. These will be filled with a flexible sealant or caulk after you’ve grouted the tile. The minimum time before applying grout is typically 24-72 hours. But, it can be longer if the tile is larger than 8 by 8 or non-porous, the humidity is high or if the temperature is below 60 degrees Farenheit. 

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