Top 5 Tips for Successful Tiling with Adhesives

by Ofentse Sefolo
Top 5 Tips for Successful Tiling with Adhesives

By Lori Booth

As we head towards summer and the indoor-outdoor lifestyle we enjoy in Africa, our attention is drawn towards easy living options – and tiling is the coolest flooring solution by far. Ensuring tiles are successfully attached to their substrate is vital to the look, feel, longevity and safety of the floor, so we asked adhesive experts from TAL and Mapei for their advice.

These are the top 5 tips for choosing and working with adhesives:

1. According to Geoffrey Green of Mapei SA, “Surface preparation is fundamental. One of the key aspects of any flooring exercise, be it laminates, tiling or carpeting, is to make sure that the substrate the adhesive is applied to is solid, level and waterproofed correctly, where needed. Far too often we encounter failures in flooring where this very step has either been ignored or not done correctly.”

2. Sharon Margon of TAL adds: “Correct selection of the type of adhesive for the tile and service conditions is the next consideration, as well as factoring in deadlines for completion of the project, which may require that a quick- or rapid-setting adhesive be used. Too early access to newly tiled floors – before the adhesive has set sufficiently – could result in installation failure. Where the surface is uneven, it is quicker and more cost effective to install a self-levelling underlayment prior to tiling, rather than attempting to use tile adhesive as a levelling agent. Tile adhesives are not designed for building up of surfaces and can cause failures in the final installation if used in this way.”

3. Furthermore, Sharon from TAL advises, “Bear in mind that fluctuations in temperature may affect the working time of a tile adhesive on site. Warm weather conditions (generally, temperatures above 30°C) can shorten the working time of the mixture and may even result in flash-setting of the adhesive. Cold ambient temperatures (generally, temperatures below 15°C) will have detrimental effects on the curing and integrity of the adhesive, i.e. full cure may not be achieved.”

4. Geoffrey from Mapei advises, “Pay attention to joints in the floors. A major issue is expansion joints not being accurately considered and accommodated within the flooring application. They are there for a reason as structures shift and settle over time. Not accounting for this is a sure-fire way to have a failed flooring application.”

5. Sharon from TAL says, “Another key factor to remember is to use a flexible tile adhesive in high traffic areas, wet areas and areas subject to movement. Alternatively, the tile adhesive should be modified with a latex additive, such as TAL Bond to improve flexibility as well as bond strength and water resistance.”


Without a doubt, consumers are becoming more aware of sustainable solutions in the battle against environmental impact and climate change. As VOCs are harmful to humans and the environment, new technology in the industry has enabled manufacturers to reduce this content. All of our contributors confirmed their adhesive products are VOC-free or contain very low emissions of VOC in keeping within the limits stipulated by the Green Building Council of SA.

2020 Trends
Globally, bigger is better when it comes to tiles in 2020, which means fixing tiles is a little more tricky. In response to this large format trend, TAL has introduced TAL Goldstar XL, a quick-setting, high-strength tile adhesive. Developed to accommodate the need for a longer open time when installing large format tiles, this fit-for-purpose product allows for the “double-buttering” technique, whereby the adhesive is applied on both the substrate and the backs of the tiles. The longer open time prevents the adhesive from “skinning”, ensuring a wet-to-wet installation where the two layers “kiss together”.

Thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.mapei.co.za and www.tal.co.za for the information in this article.

Images by TAL

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