What’s under your feet (or how you get around) is as important as anything when it comes to the house. That’s why this fall, we collaborated with The Home Depot on an A-to-Z guide that will give you the confidence to make the flooring choices you’ll love. Read the manual from A to Z here.
Even if you don’t see it after installation, the quality of any tile project relies on the mortar, heavy cement, and sand adhesive that secures the tiles to a home’s sub-floor or substrate. Choosing the right mortar is paramount, especially if you plan to DIY a tile. You might not want a version that dries so quickly that you can’t secure the tiles in the right place, but you as well don’t want a process that goes on for so long that you literally watch the soil dry up.
Fortunately, there is a type of mortar for every tiling project – many of which are available from The Home Depot – as well as convenient, quick-setting products that don’t require it at all.
The composition of the mortar
Made of cement, sand and a water-retaining agent, the mortar holds tiles firmly to the ground, usually with a layer between 3/16 “and 1/4”. Its mud-like texture also creates a connecting barrier between the tile and the sub-floor, ensuring that excess moisture does not seep in.
Much like grout, which fills in the spaces between tiles, mortar comes in mixed-in-place or premixed varieties, and which version you choose often depends on the space you are working with and the type of tile used. . (Keep in mind that once you’ve mixed up the dry version, you’ll have to move quickly to use everything or throw away what’s left!)
Modified vs unmodified
The most common type of mortar used for interior flooring projects is a modified thin mortar. (You’ll find that many businesses and entrepreneurs use the terms “thinset” and “mortar” interchangeably: confusing, but common.)
Layers of tiles
Made with mixed plastic or latex polymers – which gives the mortar increased performance and long-term adhesion – the modified thin-set mortar repels mold growth and can really stand up to the elements thanks to its flexibility: no shrinkage or contraction depending on changes in temperature or humidity levels. These properties make Modified Thinset Mortar ideal for home flooring that will need to withstand splashing or water accumulation, such as bathrooms (or tiled shower floors), laundry rooms, and changing rooms. A dog soaked and soaked in the rain won’t even phase him.
Thin unmodified mortar does not have additional polymers in the mix, but is the mortar of choice in certain specific circumstances, such as when installing natural stone or when working with a product that uses a moisture barrier on the sub-floor. The modified and unmodified thinset can also even out small imperfections in the substrate before the tile falls off and is ready to be grouted.
For larger tiles, a medium layer mortar This is the way to go, which can be applied up to ½ ”thick and creates a substantial barrier between the substrate and the tile itself, useful if a settling foundation moves or cracks over time. However, due to its use of coarse sand, the medium-set mortar takes much longer to dry than the thinset: up to 72 hours.
Make it fast (tuning)
So when does it make sense to use quick-setting mortar or no mortar at all?
When it comes to quick-setting mortar, small jobs like a shower floor and repairs are a great place to start for homeowners. The ideal point for product quality and rapid installation is a rapid setting fortified mortar such as SpeedSet Thinner Mortar, which dries in about six hours.
(It should be noted that one of the more important “quick-dry” options is epoxy tile mortar, which is water and chemical resistant with shock-proof bonding ability. But the biggest strengths of this product are the reason why it is usually only used by professional installers: the mortar hardens completely in about two hours when spread, and its “pot life” – how long it can stay in the bucket without hardening – is only about 45 minutes.)
And then there are new innovative products like Quictile by Daltile, which overturns the whole notion of mortar on its head.
This type of tile uses three simple steps and what is known as the “floating floor” method to give you a whole new floor covering in as little as a day. Just ask the right one foam underlay on top of an existing hard surface, click together the desired tiles (such as porcelain marble look or driftwood porcelain), seal with grout and it’s a wrap. No need to tear up old flooring, no waiting for the mortar to dry, and no race against the clock if it starts to harden too quickly.
Whether you are fast setting, taking a more traditional route, or trying a time saver like Quictile, it bears repeating (again!) To always follow the manufacturer’s directions and make sure you measure correctly to ensure that the tile does not work. t end up obstructing doors or thresholds. Your tile (and your sanity) will thank you.