FLOOR TILE SETTING COMPOUNDS - CONTENTS: Ceramic & Stone Floor Tile Setting Compounds Selection Guide. Organic Mastics Used for Floor Tiles. Dry-Set Mortar Use for Floor Tiles. Polymer-Modified Mortar Uses for Floor Tile Installation. Modified-Epoxy Mortar and Grout System for Floor Tile Installation. Epoxy Adhesive & Grout Floor Tile Details. Guide to Tile Installation with Thinset Mortars. Medium-Set Application for Tiles. Tile Installation Details When Using Thinset and Medium Set Mortars.
InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.
A guide to ceramic & stone floor tile setting compounds:
This article discusses setting compounds used to install ceramic, stone, and similar floor tiles. We discuss organic mastics, dry-set mortar, polymer modified mortar, and modified expoxy or expoxy adhesives and mortars.
We address the installation details for each tile types. This article series discusses current best design practices for kitchens and bathrooms, including layout, clearances, work space, and accessible kitchen and bathroom layout, clearances, turning space, grab bars, controls, etc.
Ceramic & Stone Floor Tile Setting Compounds Selection Guide
[Click to enlarge any image]
We include advice on choosing and installing kitchen countertops, cabinets, and kitchen or bathroom flooring, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures and fixture controls such as faucets. A list of kitchen and bath product manufactures and sources is included.
Our photo (left) illustrates a bath restoration in an 1860's home, performed by the editor in the 1980s. Because the original wood flooring was badly deteriorated we installed 3/4-inch solid core plywood and then set these tiles in thin-set tile bedding compound.
Manufacturers offer a wide range of setting compounds
formulated for different setting beds and conditions.
Choosing the wrong one can result in a failed tile job.
example, applications subject to moisture, temperature extremes,
and heavy loading will need a higher quality setting
compound than a kitchen backsplash, where organic
mastic may serve perfectly well.
If applying mortar to a
thickness of over 1/4 inch to even out low spots in the floor
or irregularities in the tile, use a medium-set mortar or
multipurpose thinset suited to the task. With any product,
it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions
regarding application and compatibility with the particular
substrate (see Table 6-7).
[Click any image or table to see an enlarged version with additional detail, commentary & source citation.]
Organic Mastics Used for Floor Tiles
These are ready-to-use adhesives primarily
used with drywall and plywood substrates, although
some are also approved for concrete and cement backerboards.
Most now use a water-soluble formula, although
some still use petroleum-based solvents.
In general, mastics are the least expensive setting material
and provide the least strength and flexibility. The
substrate must be very flat, since mastic is troweled on thin
and cannot bridge low spots or uneven joints. Mastic
should be avoided in applications subject to high temperatures.
Type II mastic is rated for use on walls not subject
to wetting. Type I is approved for use on floors and wet
areas. However, thinset mortars are better suited for floors
and wet applications, for a modest increase in cost.
Dry-Set Mortar Use for Floor Tiles
Dry set mortar for floor tile installation is a factory blend of sand,
cement, retarders, and other additives that is mixed with
water on the job site. It provides a strong bond and high
compressive strength, making it more suitable on floors
than organic mastic. It is commonly used over concrete
slabs, mortar beds, or cement backerboards. It cleans easily
with water; but once dried, it is unaffected by water.
Polymer-Modified Mortar Uses for Floor Tile Installation
Polymer modified mortar for floor tiles is essentially dry-set
mortar with latex or acrylic polymers added to increase the
bond strength, compressive strength, and flexibility of the
compound. One formulation uses a latex or acrylic liquid
added to the dry mix at the job site.
The other has dry polymers
blended into the dry mix at the factory so only water
is added on site. Polymer-modified mortar bonds well to
most substrates, including waterproofing membranes,
to provide a premium waterproof system. Some kinds are
not recommended for use with plywood, however (always
check the label for compatibility with a substrate).
should be done quickly with a damp sponge while the
material is wet, or it is difficult to remove from skin and
Modified-Epoxy Mortar and Grout System for Floor Tile Installation
Epoxy mortar for flooring is generally
used for floors and countertops that require moderate
chemical resistance, or where higher bond strength is
needed to withstand greater loading, impacts, and flexing.
It is also useful with questionable substrates such as existing
tile, sheet vinyl, or plastic laminate, all of which are
suitable for epoxy as long as they are sound and the surfaces
are roughed up.
In addition to their higher cost, these
products have precise mixing requirements, a short pot
life, and more difficult cleanup than standard thinsets.
High-chemical-resistance formulations are also available.
Cleanup of dried material requires special solvents, and
the silica sand presents a respiratory hazard. Because of
the mixing requirements and faster setup, skilled applicators
Epoxy Adhesive & Grout Floor Tile Details
Epoxy adhesive is often used to
install green (serpentine), white, and other moisture sensitive
marbles and marble agglomerates that may stain
or warp with water-based products. It provides high-bond
strength and impact-resistance over most sound substrates,
It also provides water-resistance and
moderate chemical-resistance. It requires precise mixing
and skilled application, and special solvents are required
to remove any material that dries on the surface of the tile
(or the installer’s hands). Also, the silica sand presents a
Guide to Tile Installation with Thinset Mortars
All mastics and thinset mortars
are applied in the same way. First apply a thin layer of the
adhesive using the flat edge of the trowel for continuous
coverage, then comb with the notched edge of the trowel
to create a uniform, flat setting bed. Hold the trowel at
about 30 degrees from the surface for the continuous layer
and at about 45 degrees when combing with the notched
edge (Figure 6-39 shown below).
[Click any image or table to see an enlarged version with additional detail, commentary & source citation.]
Notches range from about 3/16
inch for thin tile to 3/8 inch
for tiles 12x12 inches and larger or irregular tiles such as
A 1/4 -inch notch works for most other
tiles. Always follow the directions on the can. Coverage
varies depending on the type of substrate and tile, as well
as the heat and humidity in the environment.
this is particularly important with tile 12x12 inches or
Also apply thinset mortar to only one small section
at a time—no larger than the area that can be tiled before
the thinset skins over. Any thinset that skins over will have
to be discarded.
Medium-Set Application for Tiles
Where irregularities in the
substrate or tile shape, such as handmade pavers, require a
setting bead thicker than 1/4 inch, choose a medium-set mortar
or an all-purpose thinset approved for medium-set
usage. Other thinset mortars are not strong enough when
built up to that depth. Irregular-shaped tiles will need some
adhesive “back buttered” directly to the tile to obtain
Tile Installation Using Thinset and Medium Set Mortars
Next press and twist in a sample tile to
check the adhesive coverage. ANSI standards require that
dry interior tiles be evenly covered over at least 80% of their
surface area (Figure 6-39b).
[Click any image or table to see an enlarged version with additional detail, commentary & source citation.]>
Wet or exterior applications require
95% coverage. When set back in place and beat in with
a rubber mallet (larger tiles) or beating block (smaller tiles
such as mosaics), the setting bed should be about 3/32
not larger than 1/4 inch, unless medium-set mortar is used.
Irregular-shaped handmade tiles need some adhesive “back
buttered” directly to the tile to obtain proper coverage.
Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
"The Elimination of Unsafe Guardrails, a Progress Report," Elliott O. Stephenson, Building Standards, March-April 1993
"Are Functional Handrails Within Our Grasp" Jake Pauls, Building Standards, January-February 1991
Access Ramp building codes:
Access Ramp Standards:
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), Public Law 101-336. 7/26/90 is very often cited by other sources for good design of stairs and ramps etc. even where disabled individuals are not the design target.
ANSI A117.4 Accessible and Usable buildings and Facilities (earlier version was incorporated into the ADA)
ASTM F 1637, Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces, (Similar to the above standards)
American Plywood Association, APA, "Portland Manufacturing Company, No. 1, a series of monographs on the history of plywood manufacturing",Plywood Pioneers Association, 31 March, 1967, www.apawood.org
ASHRAE resource on dew point and wall condensation - see the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook, available in many libraries. The following three ASHRAE Handbooks are also available at the InspectAPedia bookstore in the third page of our Insulate-Ventilate section:
2005 ASHRAE Handbook : Fundamentals: Inch-Pound Edition (2005 ASHRAE HANDBOOK : Fundamentals : I-P Edition) (Hardcover), Thomas H. Kuehn (Contributor), R. J. Couvillion (Contributor), John W. Coleman (Contributor), Narasipur Suryanarayana (Contributor), Zahid Ayub (Contributor), Robert Parsons (Author), ISBN-10: 1931862702 or ISBN-13: 978-1931862707
2004 ASHRAE Handbook : Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning: Systems and Equipment : Inch-Pound Edition (2004 ASHRAE Handbook : HVAC Systems and Equipment : I-P Edition) (Hardcover) by American Society of Heating, ISBN-10: 1931862478 or ISBN-13: 978-1931862479
"2004 ASHRAE Handbook - HVAC Systems and Equipment The 2004 ASHRAE HandbookHVAC Systems and Equipment discusses various common systems and the equipment (components or assemblies) that comprise them, and describes features and differences. This information helps system designers and operators in selecting and using equipment. Major sections include Air-Conditioning and Heating Systems (chapters on system analysis and selection, air distribution, in-room terminal systems, centralized and decentralized systems, heat pumps, panel heating and cooling, cogeneration and engine-driven systems, heat recovery, steam and hydronic systems, district systems, small forced-air systems, infrared radiant heating, and water heating); Air-Handling Equipment (chapters on duct construction, air distribution, fans, coils, evaporative air-coolers, humidifiers, mechanical and desiccant dehumidification, air cleaners, industrial gas cleaning and air pollution control); Heating Equipment (chapters on automatic fuel-burning equipment, boilers, furnaces, in-space heaters, chimneys and flue vent systems, unit heaters, makeup air units, radiators, and solar equipment); General Components (chapters on compressors, condensers, cooling towers, liquid coolers, liquid-chilling systems, centrifugal pumps, motors and drives, pipes and fittings, valves, heat exchangers, and energy recovery equipment); and Unitary Equipment (chapters on air conditioners and heat pumps, room air conditioners and packaged terminal equipment, and a new chapter on mechanical dehumidifiers and heat pipes)."
1996 Ashrae Handbook Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning Systems and Equipment: Inch-Pound Edition (Hardcover), ISBN-10: 1883413346 or ISBN-13: 978-1883413347 , "The 1996 HVAC Systems and Equipment Handbook is the result of ASHRAE's continuing effort to update, expand and reorganize the Handbook Series. Over a third of the book has been revised and augmented with new chapters on hydronic heating and cooling systems design; fans; unit ventilator; unit heaters; and makeup air units. Extensive changes have been added to chapters on panel heating and cooling; cogeneration systems and engine and turbine drives; applied heat pump and heat recovery systems; humidifiers; desiccant dehumidification and pressure drying equipment, air-heating coils; chimney, gas vent, fireplace systems; cooling towers; centrifugal pumps; and air-to-air energy recovery. Separate I-P and SI editions."
Building Research Council, BRC, nee Small Homes Council, SHC, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, brc.arch.uiuc.edu. "The Small Homes Council (our original name) was organized in 1944 during the war at the request of the President of the University of Illinois to consider the role of the university in meeting the demand for housing in the United States. Soldiers would be coming home after the war and would be needing good low-cost housing. ... In 1993, the Council became part of the School of Architecture, and since then has been known as the School of Architecture-Building Research Council. ... The Council's researchers answered many critical questions that would affect the quality of the nation's housing stock.
How could homes be designed and built more efficiently?
What kinds of construction and production techniques worked well and which did not?
How did people use different kinds of spaces in their homes?
What roles did community planning, zoning, and interior design play in how neighborhoods worked
Energy Savers: Whole House Systems Approach to Energy Efficient Home Design [copy on file as /interiors/Whole_House_Energy_Efficiency_DOE.pdf ] - U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Whole-House Supply Ventilation Systems [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Whole-House_Supply_Vent.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11880?print
"Energy Savers: Whole-House Exhaust Ventilation Systems [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Whole-House_Exhaust.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11870
"Energy Savers: Ventilation [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Ventilation.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Natural Ventilation [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Natural_Ventilation.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Energy_Recovery_Venting.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11900
"Energy Savers: Detecting Air Leaks [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Detect_Air_Leaks.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Air Sealing [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Air_Sealing_1.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
Gypsum Construction Guide, National Gypsum Corporation
Construction Handbook [purchase at Amazon.com] H17, Technical
Folder SA920 and PM2, PM3 and PM4, United States Gypsum Company, 125 South Franklin ST., PO Box 806278, Chicago, IL 60680-4124,
Humidity: What indoor humidity should we maintain in order to avoid a mold problem?
Ice Dam Leaks in building attics and roof cavities, how to inspect for evidence of leaks, identify causes, and
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones