How to Apply Tile Adhesive


Tile adhesive, also called mortar, is used to affix tile to a surface. For best results, avoid using too much adhesive or spreading too much adhesive on your surface at one time. Limiting the spreading of adhesive to enough of a surface area to put down two or three tiles at a time will prevent the adhesive from drying before you have a chance to adhere your tile. Make sure to work in a well-ventilated space since many adhesives emit toxic or flammable fumes.

Things You'll Need

  • Trowel
  • Adhesive
  • Follow the manufacturer's directions to prepare enough adhesive to be used within 30 minutes. This will prevent the adhesive from drying. If you have an adhesive that requires no further preparation you can skip this step.

  • Scoop a glob of adhesive out of the container and drop it on the surface. You can use your hands for this or dip the trowel into the adhesive so a glob of adhesive rests on one of the corners of the trowel.

  • Use the combs of the trowel to spread the adhesive to cover the surface area of one to three tiles. Hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle as you spread the adhesive so the adhesive will set an even height. For best results, move the adhesive in a direction that is diagonal to the ridge pattern on the bottom of your tile.

  • Apply one tile at a time before the adhesive has an opportunity to dry. This should be done within a few minutes.

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  • Photo Credit tile layer image by Greg Pickens from
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