Top 10 Common Issues in Tile Adhesive: Everything You Need to Know!


Tile adhesives have become increasingly popular with the rapid development of the dry mortar industry. As the size of tiles continues to grow, traditional methods of tile installation face challenges in terms of adhesion, sagging, and bonding. In this article, we will discuss the common problems encountered when using tile adhesives and provide corresponding measures to address them.




1. Why Should You Use Tile Adhesive?


Large Tile Sizes and Sagging

With the increasing size of tiles, such as 800x800mm, the traditional method of bonding with cement mortar neglects the issue of sagging. The self-weight sagging of large tiles significantly reduces the structural strength.


Air Void Formation

The current practice of tile installation involves applying cement mortar on the back of the tile and pressing it onto the wall. Due to the large area of modern tiles, removing all the air from the cement mortar bonding layer is challenging, resulting in hollow sounds and weak bonding.


Low Water Absorption Tiles

The most commonly used vitrified tiles in the market have low water absorption (≤0.2%) and a smooth surface. Bonding such low water absorption tiles is challenging with traditional tile adhesives. The market demand for tiles has changed significantly, while the adhesive and construction methods have remained traditional.







2. Dealing with Excessive Tile Water Immersion


Excessive water immersion is generally applicable to glazed tiles. It is not necessary to soak the tile adhesive before application, as it can create difficulties during installation. If the tiles are accidentally soaked, they should be allowed to dry before the installation, without damaging the glaze.







3. Can Tile Adhesive be Used for Grouting?

Tile adhesive is not suitable for grouting due to the different performance requirements of the two materials. Tile adhesive primarily focuses on bond strength, while grout requires flexibility, water repellency, and alkali resistance. However, in the market, options are available that combine both functions to reduce costs.









4. Role of RDP and HPMC in Tile Adhesive


RDP for tile adhesive

RDP improves the consistency and workability of the wet mixture, enhancing cohesion and contributing to ease of use. After drying, it provides adhesive strength to the smooth and dense surface layer, improving the interface between the adhesive and aggregates or air voids. By forming a film at the interface, tile adhesive gains some flexibility and reduces its elastic modulus, effectively absorbing thermal deformation stress caused by water absorption.

It also offers waterproofing properties, temperature buffering, and stress relief for materials with different coefficients of thermal expansion (ceramic tile: 6×10-6/℃, cement concrete: 10×10-6/℃), thus enhancing weather resistance.



HPMC for tile adhesive

HPMC provides good water retention and workability for freshly mixed mortar, particularly crucial for wetting the surface area. It prevents excessive water absorption by the substrate and moisture evaporation from the surface layer, ensuring smooth hydration reactions. Additionally, its air-entraining properties reduce the bulk density of tile adhesive, saving materials and lowering the elastic modulus of hardened mortar.




Click pic to watch WOTAIchem HPMC for tile adhesive









5.What to Do When Facing Challenges with Tile Adhesive Application?

Tile adhesive is a modified dry mortar that becomes viscous after adding water. Construction personnel may need some time to adapt to its consistency compared to traditional cement mortar.

If the tile adhesive becomes too dry and solid during use, making it unsuitable for application, it is often due to prolonged standing time. In such cases, the product should be discarded and not used.











6.Mechanisms of Tile Adhesive Damage due to Water Immersion and Freeze-Thaw


Tile adhesive damage due to water immersion and freeze-thaw can be attributed to the following factors:

1. Erosion by Freshwater: Water can dissolve Ca(OH)2 from the adhesive, leading to gradual loosening and damage to the structure.

2. Polymer Swelling: Some polymers tend to swell when exposed to water, even after drying.

3. Interface Tension: Water absorption by mortar affects the interfacial tension between the adhesive and the tile, reducing adhesion and potential detachment.






To address the mechanisms of tile adhesive damage due to water immersion and freeze-thaw, the following measures can be taken:



Before tile adhesive application, ensure proper waterproofing of the substrate to prevent water penetration and damage to the adhesive layer.


Use of Waterproof Tile Adhesive

Select a tile adhesive specifically designed for water-prone areas or for tiles with low water absorption. These adhesives have enhanced water resistance properties and are less prone to damage from moisture.


Polymer-Modified Adhesives

Opt for polymer-modified tile adhesives that offer improved flexibility and water resistance. These adhesives can withstand the expansion and contraction caused by freeze-thaw cycles.


Proper Grouting Techniques

Adequate grouting techniques and materials are essential to prevent water infiltration through the joints. Use high-quality grout that is resistant to water penetration.








7. Prevention and Repair of Tile Adhesive Bond Failure


Tile adhesive bond failure can occur for various reasons, including improper surface preparation, inadequate adhesive coverage, or incompatible substrates. Here are some preventive measures and repair techniques:


Surface Preparation

Ensure that the substrate surface is clean and dry. More, it should free from dust, oil, or any other contaminants. Proper surface preparation promotes better adhesion.


Adequate Adhesive Coverage

Apply the adhesive evenly and ensure sufficient coverage on both the substrate and the back of the tile. Insufficient adhesive coverage can lead to weak bonding and potential bond failure.



Verify the compatibility between the adhesive and the tile material to avoid any adverse reactions that may compromise the bond strength. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommended tile types.


Repair Techniques

In case of tile adhesive bond failure, it is necessary to remove the affected tiles, clean the substrate and tiles thoroughly, and reapply the adhesive according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure proper curing time before grouting.










8.What to Do When Tile Adhesive Cannot Be Applied?

1. Tile adhesive is a modified dry mortar that, when mixed with water, becomes thicker than traditional cement mortar. Construction personnel may need an adjustment period to work with its viscosity.

2. If the properly mixed tile adhesive becomes dry and solid during application, making it impossible to work with, it is often due to excessive resting time. In such cases, it should be discarded and not used.










9.Curing and Drying Time for Tile Adhesive

Proper tile adhesive curing and drying are crucial for achieving a solid and durable bond. The curing and drying time may vary depending on adhesive type, temperature, humidity, and tile size. Follow these general guidelines:

Initial Setting Time

Allow the adhesive to set for the recommended initial setting time before applying any load or grouting.


Curing Time

Provide sufficient curing time as specified by the manufacturer. This allows the adhesive to reach the maximum strength and stability.


Drying Time

After the adhesive has cured, allow adequate drying time before subjecting the tiled area to moisture or heavy traffic. Drying time can range from a few hours to several days, depending on the adhesive and environmental conditions.








10. Proper Storage and Shelf Life of Tile Adhesive

To ensure optimal performance, storing tile adhesive correctly and adhering to its shelf life is important. Consider the following storage guidelines:


1. Dry and Cool Environment: Store tile adhesive in a dry and cool environment to prevent moisture absorption and potential degradation.
2. Sealed Containers: Keep the adhesive in tightly sealed containers to prevent air exposure, which can lead to premature hardening or drying.
3.  Shelf Life: Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for the recommended shelf life of the adhesive. Avoid using expired adhesive as it may not provide the desired adhesion strength.


By following proper storage practices, you can maintain the quality and effectiveness of the tile adhesive.














Tile adhesives offer lots of advantages over traditional bonding methods. However, they also come with their own set of challenges. Understanding the factors contributing to tile adhesive failure and implementing preventive measures can help ensure a successful and long-lasting tile installation. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for specific product recommendations and best practices.


At WOTAIchem, we are committed to providing high-quality tile adhesive solutions that meet your needs. Feel free to contact WOTAIchem’s experts for further assistance or to explore our range of high-quality tile adhesives additives.






Leave a Reply


Posted by Isabel

Hi, I've been in this industry for five years. I hope you enjoyed my blog. Welcome to leave a comment down below.

Wide Contact Form 2
Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top