Choosing the right tile adhesive and additive

This may seem like a strange topic, but not many homeowners are aware that there's more to tile adhesive and additives than meets the eye. When taking on a tiling project you want to ensure a successful result, so it's important to know what products are available and how to use these in your next tiling project.


When taking on any tiling project, be it walls or floors, choosing the right tile adhesive is important. There are additives that can be incorporated into tile adhesive to allow for flexible installation, and to ensure that a tiled wall is water resistant - very important if you are tiling a shower or wet room.

There are various types of tile adhesive on the shelf at your local Builders Warehouse and these include cement-based mixes, ready mixed paste, quick setting and heavy-duty. Knowing what to ask for when choosing tile adhesive and additives for your tiling project will make the product selection easier.

When buying tile adhesive take the following points into consideration:

  • The type of tile you are using (ceramic, porcelain, natural stone)
  • Do you need rapid-set installation?
  • Is the surface flexible or rigid?
  • Are you tiling a shower or wet room?

Providing this information when buying tile adhesive will ensure that you not only buy the correct product, but also that any additives necessary will be included.

We asked TAL to provide information on tile adhesives for specific tiles:

  • Glazed ceramic and terracotta tiles: Standard-setting adhesives, such as TAL Professional, are ideal for installing these tiles in interior, ‘dry’ conditions.
  • Porcelain tiles: Due to the dense nature of the porcelain tile body use an adhesive with stronger bonding characteristics such as TAL Goldstar 6.
  • Natural stone tiles such as marble, slate and sandstone: These tiles are porous and using a conventional (standard-setting) adhesive may result in the curing and integrity of the adhesive being compromised and even in the staining of the tiles. Standard-setting adhesives are slow setting and therefore allow more water to be absorbed into the tiles, especially porous ones such as natural stone. For dark coloured natural stone tiles, such as granite and dark coloured marble tiles use a rapid-setting high-strength adhesive such as TAL Goldstar 6 (grey), and for white or light coloured marble or natural stone tiles use TAL Marblefix (off-white) to ensure a successful tile installation.

When installing ceramic tiles in an area that can be left for at least three days before being used, a standard-setting adhesive allows for application of grout after 24 hours and foot traffic after 48 hours.

Where the room cannot be left unused and has regular traffic, such as a shower or bathroom, a rapid-set adhesive allows for grout application after 4 hours and traffic after 6 hours.

Both the above depend on the site and ambient conditions.

Additional points to note when tiling:

When tiling areas subjected to constant moisture such as showers or balconies, over the top of slabs, or tiling over underfloor heating, use a TAL Bond latex additive to replace water for mixing tile adhesive and grout.   The latex additive improves flexibility and water resistance and also increases the bonding strength of both the adhesive and grout.

Always follow the manufacturer's recommended guidelines when using a latex based additive. The latex additive should be used as a total water replacement in the mix and not be diluted, as this will weaken the mix strength and the adhesive will not perform to its designed specifications in terms of flexibility and water resistance.

 Latex additive is a liquid product made with latex that is designed to be used as a substitute for water replacement in cement-based adhesives and grout and is used when tiling external areas, wet areas, high traffic areas and areas where some flexibility is required.

 It is important to note, however, that a latex-based additive improves the water resistance but doesn’t make the installation waterproof. Wet areas, such as showers and balconies, should be waterproofed prior to tiling.

TAL products are available at your local Builders Warehouse.