A Guide to Tiles & Stone Adhesives

Tiles and stones are used on surfaces such as walls and floors for its functional properties, as well as its ability to enhance the visual appearance of buildings, houses and other structures. But before you begin the process of tiling, or using stones, it is necessary for you to consider which bedding adhesive will give you optimal results. This depends on a number of factors, for instance, what type of stone or tile is used, size of tile or stone used, type of surface it will be placed on and the location of its placement. Stones and tiles are made of varying materials giving it different characteristics; while some are more porous in nature, others are less prone to moisture absorption. Additionally, depending on the receiving substrate a compatible adhesive should be chosen so that it is properly placed on concrete, cement board, drywall, etc. Lastly mentioned was the location of the tile or stone, based on whether it is placed on an interior or exterior surface, on the wall or the floor, in a wet area like a bathroom or swimming pool or in a high traffic area an appropriate adhesive should be chosen.

Once you identify these factors your first step is complete. Now to the difficult part, which adhesive to choose? An adhesive is a substance that holds or joins two or more surfaces together. In the tiles and stone industry adhesives fall into three major categories:

  • Type C- Cementitious
  • Type D- Dispersion
  • Type R- Reaction Resin.

These can be further sub divided into Class 1 and Class 2; where the former is a normal adhesive and the latter is an improved adhesive with higher tensile strength. If you are using natural stone tiles you need an adhesive that will prevent the stone from staining as it is sensitive when exposed to water and acidic liquids. In addition, stone tiles are rigid and require an adhesive that is flexible. So, natural stone tiles would need a C2 type of adhesive. This is an adhesive that has high tensile strength and should have the capability to be deformed. An example for stone tile adhesive would be KERABOND T Powder + ISOLASTIC 50. If you are environmentally conscious and have more money to spare you could use an epoxy adhesive. These adhesives are resistant to high temperatures, have strong bonds and have a low volatile organic compound content. Within natural and agglomerated stones and tiles there are subcategories: some natural and agglomerated stones and tiles are less absorbent, while others are moisture sensitive. The former stones and tiles need an adhesive that undergoes the transformation without much shrinkage, while the latter needs a fast setting deformable adhesive to prevent moisture from seeping in.

Ceramic tiles with low water absorption is classified as C2, suggesting that these tiles would need an adhesive that has a higher tensile strength, needs to be slip resistant and deformable (due to its low water absorption properties). An example of this KERABOND T Powder. A specific product has only been named for you to better understand the type of adhesive to use. You need not use this specific product and could apply a substitute adhesive instead. Porcelain tiles are usually denser than ceramic tiles. They are also grouped as impervious and have high durability. For porcelain tiles installation on walls and floor it is recommended to have a high tensile strength adhesion with the ability to deform. For mosaic and glass tiles it is important that the adhesive used prevents staining, is non-slip and water resistant. There are a range of adhesives from different companies that fit these requirements. The last tile adhesive discussed will be swimming pool tile adhesives. As swimming pool tiles and stones are prone to chemical exposure and need to withstand water movement it is important to have a latex fortified 2-component adhesive. This adhesive will prevent chemical damage and withstand water pressure.

If time is not invested into finding the right tile and stone adhesive, all your efforts would be in vain. The tiles and stones would be more prone to breakage, staining and it would decrease the overall shelf life of your floor or wall- ultimately costing you more. Although this is not a comprehensive report using the above guide can help you identify the type of adhesive to be used for your tiling and stone work.


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