Choosing the right Tile Adhesive or tile mortar for the appropriate job is of prime concern as this is not just critical for a job well done but also for people's safety aspect, therefore it is essential to get good advice for the specific project in question.
Tile adhesives come in different qualities and specifications, each one suited to its tailored purpose. When looking for a tile adhesive make sure to choose a Wall Tile Adhesive if it is to be used on walls and a Floor Tile Adhesive if it is to be used on floors. Some tile adhesives are good for both walls and floors. These tend to be the ones that need to be mixed with water, cement based polymer-modified, powder adhesives which are usually sold in bags. Most of such adhesives are often suitable for external use and are frost proof and can be used for fixing ceramics, porcelain, vitrified tiles, quarry, mosaics, natural stone including some marble.
Some powder adhesives are suitable for use on wood bases and on underfloor heating. Typically, these adhesives have a flexible polymer built in them (such as Bal Single part Flexible) or if not, it can be added during the mixing. Flexible adhesive additive such as Bal AD1 are great as it allows the cement-based adhesive to became a little flexible, which is good for where some minor movement is expected.
Cement based adhesives are usually available in two different working and setting times. Slow settings (16-24 hours wait before grouting is started) for a larger or more time consuming job and rapid setting (2-4 hours wait before grouting is started), for quicker finish. The colour of these adhesives are usually either: Grey, Beige or white.
Ready mixed adhesives come in small, medium or large tubs and as the word implies, are ready to be used. The maximum ceramic tile size recommended with these type of adhesives is 300x300mm. The colour is usually white. These adhesives are usually good enough for the standard kitchen and bathroom tiling with ceramic wall tiles.
Two different types of this range are usually available:
For use on dry or an intermittently wet area such as toilets and changing rooms, kitchens and domestic bathrooms.
For use on domestic and commercial, intermittently wet or heavy duty wet areas such as showers. Not to be used in total immersion areas.
Tile and grout adhesives have been created so that the user does not have to use a separate grout to fill the tile joints. This type of tile adhesive is great for some mosaic tiles installations, as there is no risk for the adhesive bleeding /staining through the grout.
Always try to match the colour of adhesive with the colour of the grout whenever possible.
Epoxy adhesives such as BAL EASYPOXY are usually used for high bond strength with fully vitrified / glass tiles. This can also be use as a grout.
Another good adhesive is Bal Mosaic-Fix. A bright white, water and frost resistant, cementious wall and floor adhesive specially formulated for fixing mosaic tiles including glass mosaics. It is also suitable for fixing ceramic wall and floor tiles, metal or glass tiles, marble, terrazzo, and natural stone in interior and exterior locations. Suitable for swimming pools.
Flexible floor tile adhesive. If you require high flexible adhesive then choose an Elastomeric floor tile adhesive such as Bal Single Part Fastflex. Used for fixing ceramics, porcelain and fully vitrified tiles, mosaics, and some natural stone and slate in dry or wet suitable for interior and exterior environments. Also suitable for underfloor heating.
Never use adhesives for what they are not supposed to be used for. If the surface to be tiled requires making good or preparation such as plastering or rendering, then use plaster or sand and cement. Adhesives have been created with specific tolerances within a certain thickness spread and slump resistance. Some will have their best strength at a thickness of 3mm, some at 6mm and others can be used up to 25mm.
It is worth noting that adhesive prices vary considerably across different brands and types. I found the more expensive ones delivered better results on my projects. Sometimes using a more expensive product does not necessarily mean a more expensive project, as you may not need additional products to add on, as on some cheaper alternatives, or for example, you might want to use a (more expensive) rapid setting adhesive instead of a slow setting (less expensive) on smaller jobs. This should save the customer money as the installer could finish the job on the same day, avoiding having waiting 16 hours before grouting can be started and charging for the next day's labour. Always make sure to read the manufacture's individual instructions and requirements for their own products.
Over the years I have used quite a variety of adhesives from different manufactures and found my favourite to be BAL, Ardex and Mapei. .
For other useful information visit the tiling help section