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Tile adhesive buying guide

Tile adhesive buying guide

Kate, Flooring Expert, Swansea

Guide written by:

Kate, Flooring Expert, Swansea

24 guides

Tile adhesive, or tile mortar, comes in different brands and with a range of technical specifications. Standard ready-mixed adhesive, C1, C2, C2T, C2F, C2G tile adhesive... it can be hard to know where to start but applying the wrong tile adhesive can result in it quickly becoming unstuck.

Important features

  • Surface type
  • Tile size
  • Floor or wall-mounted
  • Single or double bonding
  • Drying time
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Choosing the right tile adhesive is no small thing. There's a reason why there are so many different types! Here are some of the features to take into account before you buy.

  • Tile formats: some adhesives are limited to small formats only (30 x 30 cm / 45 x 45 cm).
  • Substrate type: you might be tiling over new screeds as well as old wooden substrates or even over old floor or wall tiles. Not all adhesives will be suitable.
  • Single or double bonding of the tiles: some adhesives can be used for single bonding.
  • Curing time before the area can be used again - from 6 hours for fast-grab adhesives to at least 24 hours for traditional ones.

Note: using a suitable primer for your substrate is highly recommended to achieve good grip with your adhesive. For flooring, you will always need to use powdered adhesives that require mixing. Ready-mixed tile adhesive pastes are for use with wall tiles only.

Standard tile adhesive

Standard tile mortar

For laying tiles over a traditional substrate and using tile formats measuring a maximum of 30 x 30 cm or 45 x 45 cm, standard adhesives known as 'C1' are fine. But only for use indoors!

They can be used to stick small tiles on walls and floors as well as for your tile skirting.

Ready-mixed adhesive (ceramic or wall tiles)

Ready-mixed paste adhesives are used to stick on small format tiles (max. 45 x 45 cm in general) and only on walls. Ideal for small ceramic tiles on small areas, but much more expensive! This means it's better to use powdered tile mortar for large areas.

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Indoor tile skirting

The most versatile adhesives as well as the most specialised are labelled 'C2' followed by a letter that identifies their technical specifications. These are perfectly suitable for use in 'normal' projects, meaning there's no problem with using them at home. They are suitable for adhering large format 60 x 60 cm tiles. The most common and cost-effective ones are C2T adhesives that prevent tile slip.

Liquid and fast-grab adhesive

Liquid 'C2F' or 'C2G' adhesives are designed for areas subjected to heavy use. They allow the space to be put back into use shortly after installation.

Large format tile adhesive

'C2S' adhesives are designed for both interior and exterior tiling, and are suitable for very large formats, i.e. 100 x 100 cm. These are ultra-versatile and are suitable for all types of substrate, old and new.

Applying tile adhesive

Tiling normally requires double bonding but certain adhesives only require single bonding. In any case, consider getting yourself a decent trowel to spread the adhesive with. Meanwhile, these tiling tools are a must-have for any project:

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Tile spacers

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Guide written by:

Kate, Flooring Expert, Swansea, 24 guides

Kate, Flooring Expert, Swansea

Flooring is my life. I love what I do, and I've been doing it for as long as I can remember. So, I'm not bragging when I tell you I know all there is to know about every flooring product. From laminate, parquet and linoleum to PVC, carpeting and tiling, my workdays are spent learning about manufacturing processes, composition, performance, laying techniques and maintenance methods. I've certainly seen my share of mistakes made on construction sites because of what was essentially a lack of information or understanding of the product. Flooring elements are constantly evolving and being improved upon - even us pros can find it hard to keep up! Some of us in the industry use language that is overly technical or loaded with jargon you'd have to be an expert to understand. What's more, flooring salespeople are often so focused on closing the sale that they don't take the time to explain the products in any detail. That's why I want to pass on my knowledge in a way that's clear and accessible, and maybe a bit fun too. Because flooring shouldn't be a chore!

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