All tiles make use of adhesive in one form or another, but the importance of this element is much higher when installing wall tiles. The reason for this should be obvious (gravity), but all adhesives are not created equal. When trying to decide what is going to keep your wall tile in place, it helps to know what to look for when you're deciding between adhesives. For walls, you are going to want to stick with "pre-mixed" types of adhesive when possible. These will begin gripping as soon as the tile makes contact and will prevent the tiles from sliding out of place during the drying process.
Using Mastics as Your Wall Tile Adhesive
Mastic is a type of glue that's made from the resin of the mastic tree, hence its name. It's the main form of pre-mixed adhesive you are going to encounter and can be found in thin liquid, thick glue, or sticky paste forms. As mentioned above, tiles will adhere to mastic immediately so they are great for wall tiling.
However, being an organic substance, mastic can harbour mould if moisture manages to infiltrate the outer surface of the tile. Additionally, this type of tile adhesive can lose solidity if submerged in water. As a result of these traits, mastics are best employed in areas that get little to no moisture. This means you can tile your bathroom backsplash with them or even the wall outside of your shower—just don't use it in the shower itself.
The Thinset Adhesive Option
The alternative to organic mastics as an adhesive is called "thinset mortar". This is basically a thinner version of Portland cement and has the advantage of being perfect for any tiles that will get heavy moisture or elemental exposure.
The downside is that the cement needs time to set once applied and, when dealing with a tiled vertical surface, the tile can and will sag during this period. Wedges and spacers are best employed to fight the sag and hold the tile in place while the cement dries.
Mastics in High-Moisture Areas
As mentioned, mastics can lose their stickiness if submerged in water, but they are much easier to apply than thinset adhesives. Due to this, it can be tempting to try using a mastic adhesive in a high-moisture area anyway. This is fully possible to do and, assuming you take care of the area properly, the tile can last quite a while. The trick lies in not allowing the tile to stay soaked for long. Assuming you have a good waterproof coating and you wipe up any standing water, it's possible to still use mastic glue even in high-moisture parts of the home.
In addition to countless tiling options that allow you to bring any home design vision to life, Centura Tile also offers expertise that can help anyone get their wall and floor tiles installed properly. To learn more about our tiling options or to get advice on installation, contact us or visit a Centura Tile dealer near you.