What are the Different Types of Adhesives for Tiles?

The tile adhesives are a ready-made mixture of Portland cement, polymers like epoxy, and selected aggregate particles with some additives added to improve their handling, laying, and strength properties.

Tile adhesives are classified into dispersion, cementitious, and reactive resin adhesives based on their properties and into thin-set tile mortar, epoxy, and organic mastic based on their composition.

Understanding the functions and benefits of different tile adhesives available in the market helps to choose the right adhesive for your floor tiles. Tile adhesives are used to perfectly bond the tile to the laid surface or the setting bed.

In this article, we discuss the basic requirements of a tile adhesive along with its different types to guide you to choose the right adhesive.

Classification of Tile Adhesives Used in Construction

The European Standard EN 12004 and ISO 13007-1 have classified tile adhesives based on their adhesive chemistry, level of performance, and other settings like setting time, reduced slip, etc into different types and classes. The code also specifies the individual composition and type of tile they are used on. 

The table below shows the specifications of different classifications in order to help you understand the different classes of adhesives quickly.


Adhesive Chemistry of Adhesive


Level of Performance of Adhesive


Optional Settings of Adhesive



Cementitious Adhesive



Simple Adhesive



Fast Setting Adhesive



Dispersion Adhesive



Normal Adhesive



Represent Thixotropy

Reduced vertical slip Adhesive



Reaction-Resin Adhesive



Improved Adhesive



Adhesive with Extended Open Time



Deformable (flexible) adhesive



Highly deformable (flexible) adhesive

Table 1: Types of Adhesives Based on EN12004

The type and class of adhesive are together mentioned to specify a product as given in the table below.

Now, when you are planning to buy an adhesive, check the label on the container or package. A good quality product will carry a classification rating CE mark and a reference to BS EN 12004. Any product that does not mention the class implies it is a product of lower quality.

Table 2: Possible Tile Adhesive Designations

Next, look for the classification of the adhesive – (C0, C1, or C2) since this marking shows its purpose and the tasks for which it is suitable.

The suitable tile for different class of adhesive and their best environment is explained briefly in the table below. 

Adhesive Class

Tile Application

Suitable Environment



Small or Medium Sized Ceramics

Heated indoor environment



Ceramic and Porcelain stoneware

Underfloor heating systems, outdoors, highly humid areas, drywalls, or hydro insulation materials



·       C2 S1

·       C2 S2

All types of tiles

C2 S1 : Tiles sized 20x80cm, 30x90cm, 60x120cm, and 20x120cm


C2 S2:  Tiles larger than 120cm on both sides


An adhesive with greater flexibility is suitable, for example, for laying tiles on deformable substrates (uncured screeds, wooden floors) or when working with formats larger than 60x60cm.

Table 3: Different Classes of Tile Adhesive and Their Uses

Classification of Tile Adhesive Grouts in Construction

The application of grout as an adhesive for tiles is selected based on the type of tile, the location and service condition of the installation, and color preference. 

European Standard EN 13888 gives the descriptions of the product classifications of adhesive grouts. 

Classification of Adhesive Grouts as per EN 13888

Factors Affecting the Selection of Tile Adhesive

Tile adhesives are selected by considering the following requirements:
  • The type and size of the tile.
  • The type of substrate that is planned (Plaster, or drywall/concrete/backer board).
  • The floor is heated or not.

Functions and Requirements of Tile Adhesives

Tile adhesive serves the purpose of holding the tile on the surface for decades without fail. Whatever the type of adhesive you choose for your tiling work, there are a few requirements any tile adhesive must show, as mentioned below.

  • Efficient to hold the tile on the surface for decades must be easy to work with.
  • The consistency must be good enough to fill in the gaps between the tile and the substrate.
  • It must not cure fast or must provide enough working time.
  • Tile adhesive does not shrink or crack during moisture or temperature changes.
  • Tile adhesive prevents the crazing and shedding of tiles.

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