tile adhesive vs cement sand mortar

Tile Adhesive VS Cement-Sand Mortar: What are the Pros and Cons?

Many people wonder why most building contractors use tile adhesive instead of conventional cement-sand mortar for installing tiles. How necessary is it to use cement-sand mortar? Are there any differences in using tile adhesives vs cement-sand mortar?

Tile adhesives have gotten popular in the construction industry for their various benefits and advantages over cement-sand mortar. Despite this, there are some who still insist on using the conventional method of cement-sand mix for fixing tiles.

In this blog, we will see the differences between tile adhesives and cement-sand mortar, and learn their pros and cons.

What Is Cement-Sand Mortar?

Cement is the most crucial building material and has been used in the construction industry for decades. Cement is made industrially in a controlled manufacturing environment by combining the following components –

  1. Lime = 60% – 65%
  2. Silica = 17% – 25%
  3. Alumina = 3% – 8%
  4. Magnesia = 1% – 3%
  5. Iron Oxide = 0.5% – 6%
  6. Calcium Sulphate = 0.1% – 0.5%
  7. Sulfur Trioxide = 1% – 3%
  8. Alkaline = 0% – 1%

The intense manufacturing processing and natural reaction between the components provides the adhesive properties to cement, which makes it an important element in the construction industry.

What Is Tile Adhesive?

Tile adhesive is a pre-mixed product made by blending ordinary high-quality Portland cement, fine sand particles, and additional adhesive chemicals. Some of these chemicals include latex polymers, water-retention agents, and additives for improving vertical surface applications. These components give tile adhesives the bonding, flexible and durable properties required for fixing tiles securely.

There are different varieties of tile adhesives available in the market, where each type is made for a specific type of application, usage, and environment. Tile adhesives help to install various types of tiles and stones on different substrates. These adhesives inherently have incredible blending, self-repairing and other excellent adhesion properties. The exceptional bonding strength of tile adhesives helps avoid slippage, breakage, and shrinking in tiles.

Drawbacks Of Cement-Sand Mortar

Cement-sand mortar is made by mixing Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) with sand and water. However, it is not possible to get sand with the ideal grain size, purity and quality. Besides this, Portland cement is sold in small bags and requires purchasing large quantities of sand. These tend to take up significant space for storage during the construction phase. The two components of cement-sand mortar also need to be carried to a separate location on the construction site to be mixed.

Additionally, laying tiles using cement-sand mortar requires applying a lump of the mixture to the back of each individual tile to ensure proper bonding. This process is time-consuming and inefficient. Apart from this, cement-sand mortar tends to dry fast after application, which creates problems with its ultimate load-bearing capacity. All these issues can create aesthetic problems with the tile layout and lower bonding strength. Ultimately, this leads to the tiles getting cracked or loose quicker.

Advantages Of Tile Adhesives

There are various reasons why tile adhesives are increasingly becoming more popular than conventional cement-sand mortar for tile installation.

Tile adhesives are available in various types and are incredibly easy to use. They only need to be mixed with water and can be instantly used. As opposed to cement-sand mortar, when using tile adhesives, you do not need to soak the tiles before installing and can simply unbox and lay them. Tile adhesives help to secure tiles to different types of substrates equally well. They have incredible bonding strength, which also ensures longer life for tiles in areas prone to moisture and heavy foot traffic.

The tile adhesives are also easier to spread and have excellent water-resistant properties, which makes them ideal for use in moist or wet areas. High-quality tile adhesives, such as those manufactured by Sakshi Chem Sciences Pvt. Ltd. are versatile and designed for installing different types of tiles on various surfaces. You can use tile adhesive to fix tiles on existing tiles, wooden substrates, polished cement surfaces, ceramic or natural stone tiles, etc.

The following are the express advantages of using tile adhesives vs cement-sand mortar for fixing tiles –

  • No hollow spaces between tile and substrate
  • Prevents tile cracking
  • Avoids tile slippage and shrinkage
  • No water seeping
  • Higher adhesion strength
  • Quick installation of tiles
  • Lowers labor cost
  • Convenient and safe to store

Comparing Tile Adhesives VS Cement-Sand Mortar

Tile Adhesives Cement-Sand Mortar
Efficient, fast and easy to use Time consuming application process
Tiles do not require pre-soaking before installing Tiles need to be pre-soaked before installation
Offers exceptionally better adhesion Can accumulate moisture between tile and

substrate, leading to cracking and loosening

Can be grouted within 24 hours, no need to wait for

moisture to evaporate

Grouting cannot be done before 24 hours
Can be applied on existing tiles, various substrates, etc. Not suitable to lay low absorbent tiles,

lay on existing tiles, lay glass mosaics, etc.

Creates smooth slurry and requires thinner layer for use Creates thicker slurry and requires thicker

layer for use


Conventional cement-sand mortar has been used for centuries to fix tiles. However, with the advent of tile adhesives, there is no need to use it. Cement-sand mortar is more complicated to mix, as compared to tile adhesives. It is also time-consuming to apply and needs special care. Besides, cement-sand mortar does not offer the extent of adhesion that tile adhesives can provide.

Tile adhesives are easier to use and require less labor and time. They ensure stronger and more secure tile installation which prevents the risk of cracking, shrinkage or loosening of tiles. Tile adhesives are incredibly versatile and can be used to fix a variety of tiles to different types of substrates or surfaces. Tile adhesives do not require preparing tiles by soaking them in water before installing. You can simply unpack the tiles and begin installation immediately. Lastly, tile adhesives are comparatively more affordable, efficient and reliable for installing tiles as compared to conventional cement-sand mortar.