What is thin-set?

The term ‘thin-set’ actually describes a method of setting tile with a bonding material usually 3/32” to 3/16” in thickness after the tile is properly imbedded. In Contractor language, thin-set has evolved to describe a factory blended, dry-set mortar used to install tile or dimensional stone without utilizing a mortar bed.

What is a mortar bed?

A mortar bed (or mud bed) is a mix of Portland cement and sand, lime would be added for vertical surfaces, that is normally reinforced with welded wire or metal lath. All of this is typically applied on top of a wooden, gypsum drywall or concrete substrate from ½” up to 2”, to prepare for the installation of ceramic tile or dimensional stone. In the past, all tiles were set in a damp or plastic mortar bed. Before the tiles were installed, they were soaked in clean water, usually overnight or several hours. The mortar bed would be installed and while still damp or plastic, the contractor would sprinkle dry Portland cement on the mortar bed, then take the wet tiles and ‘beat’ them into the mortar bed, hence ‘wet set’. The combination of a damp mortar bed, dry Portland cement sandwiched between wet tiles would create a monolithic layer of tile, Portland cement and mortar. If installing a mud bed, for convenience, use TexRite Floor Mud or Wall Mud that is factory blended in a bag instead of mixing cement and sand on the jobsite. See ANSI A108.1A Installation of Ceramic Tile in the Wet-Set Method, with Portland Cement Mortar. Today, most tile or dimensional stone installations utilize a dry-set mortar applied in a thin layer to adhere or bond the tile or dimensional stone to the substrate

What is a dry-set mortar?

Dry-set mortar is typically a factory blended mix of cement, sand and other chemicals for the installation of ‘dry’ ceramic tile or dimensional stone. The dry-set mortar is mixed with water or latex, applied to the substrate with a notched trowel and the tile or dimensional stone is immediately imbedded into the wet dry-set mortar. The contractor today, uses the word thin-set, to describe a dry-set mortar used for the installation of ceramic tile or dimensional stone. See ANSI A108.5 Installation of Ceramic Tile with Dry-Set Portland Cement Mortar or Latex-Portland Cement Mortar.

What does latex or polymer modified mean?

Latex simply means a polymer suspended in water creating a liquid emulsion. Polymer is used to describe a chain of molecules that impart flexibility and adhesive qualities to the products in which they are integrated. In the context of a polymer modified dry-set mortar, polymer would be a dry redispersible powder that is factory blended into the dry-set mortar, which, when mixed with water, produces a Latex-Portland Cement Mortar. Dry-set mortars mixed with latex or polymer modified dry-set mortars , provide significant improvement to overall physical properties like, bond strength, shock resistance, reduced water absorption and impact. See ANSI A118.4 American National Standard Specifications for Latex-Portland Cement Mortar.

What type of thin-set mortar do I use to install porcelain floor tile?

Porcelain tiles should be bonded with a latex or polymer modified thin-set because of the very low absorption, less than 0.5%, of the tile body. Additionally, porcelain tiles typically have a very hard and smooth surface to the backside of the tile, the bonding side, creating additional bonding concerns. Therefore a latex or polymer modified thin-set is required to set this type of ceramic tile. Use TexRite Porcelain TS, CeramaBond, TotalContact or CeramaFlex as a bonding mortar for porcelain tiles.

Which thin-set do I use to install glass mosaics?

Most glass mosaics can be installed using TexRite CeramaFlex for bonding, then TexRite AcCent grout. There are many different types of glass mosaics and tiles manufactured today, it is very important to follow any special instructions the manufacturer has included with the glass tiles before installation. CAUTION: Glass tiles have very unique physical properties that influence the installation methods please check the current ANSI Handbook for installation methods found in; ANSI A108.14-2005, A108.15-2005 and A108.16-2005 regarding the installation of glass mosaic tiles.

Can I use ceramic tile adhesives to install ceramic tiles in a shower?

No. Ceramic tile adhesives should be used for interior, dry environments only. Typically, ceramic tile adhesives are used to set backsplash tiles and tiles for decorative interior walls over gypsum drywall and tile backer boards. In dry environments use a Type I Multipurpose ceramic tile adhesive like TexRite BondRite to set ceramic tiles.

What is the largest tile I can install on walls using ceramic tile adhesive?

The maximum wall tile size when using TexRite BondRite is 8”x8”.

What bonding material should I use for green marble?

Most green marbles are considered ‘moisture sensitive’ and should be set with TexRite EpoxyPlus 2002 TS epoxy thin-set. There are many brown, black and agglomerate stones that require a special setting material for installation, check with the stone supplier before installation of these products.

What adhesive can I use to install tile on a steel deck?

Use TexRite UniFlex dry-set mortar or TexRite EpoxyPlus 2002 to install tile over a steel deck that is free from oils, grease, paint, and sealers and structurally sound. Note: Do not bond directly to galvanized steel with cement- based products.

Which thin-set do I use to install 24”x24” honed limestone on a floor?

Use TexRite TotalContact medium-bed mortar for the installation of large bodied tiles and dimensional stone. TotalContact medium-bed mortar is blended with special fillers to support the large heavy bodied tiles, reducing lippage and providing high strength bonding characteristics.

After removing the carpet, I have discovered small cracks in the concrete that will be receiving ceramic tile, what now?

Small, surface shrinkage cracks are commonplace on slabs, as long as the crack is not over 1/16” wide; use TexRite CeramaFlex to install the tile. For cracks up to 1/8”, use TexRite UniFlex Elastomeric mortar to install the tile, or treat the entire floor first with TexRite HydroRite as a crack isolation membrane, then install the tile with CeramaFlex