The Best Way to Apply Thinset (Mortar) to a Concrete Floor


Thinset mortar is a compound commonly used in construction made by combining aggregates, cement and other special additives. It comes in either white or grey and is designed to set stone, tile, marble or brick pavers on surfaces, which are usually made of either masonry or concrete. It is most commonly used in the interior of buildings on horizontal surfaces.


  • Before applying thinset mortar to any surface, you must ensure to clean the surface thoroughly. This means that the surface must be free of any grease, dirt, oil, mildew, paint or any other contaminants. It is better to use sandblasting or another dry-cleaning method, but if you are working on a budget, then manual cleaning is also possible.

    When cleaning your surface manually, you will be using water to rinse and clean. Use a commercial degreaser to clean the surface, as nothing is more lethal to thinset mortar than oil on your surface. Scrub the surface, rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry. To check whether there is still grease on your surface, flick a little bit of water on it. If the water begins to bead on top of the surface, you will need to clean your surface again.


  • The type of mortar that you choose will depend not only on the material of the surface you are tiling, but the type of tile that you have. As a rule, if you will be working with a darker shade of grout, select a grey mortar, and if you’re using a lighter grout, choose white.

    Unless you’re an expert, it’s better to steer clear of any fast-setting mortar because it will rush you and possibly cause you to not do as good a job as you otherwise would. If you are using ceramic tiles then you can use any type of mortar on the market. However, if you are using porcelain tiles you will want to get thinset mortar that has been latex modified. This also can be replicated by mixing an acrylic-based latex additive with a basic mortar.


  • Apply a thin coat of mortar evenly, using the flat side of your trowel to smooth the surface. Then apply a second coat using the edge of the trowel that is notched of your trowel to form evenly spaced ridges on which your tiles will sit.

    When placing your tiles, set the tiles so that they sink about a quarter of their height into the mortar. If any adjustments need to be made to straighten them out, make them immediately. Don’t give the mortar any chance to dry. Use a wet sponge to wipe any excess mortar away from the tile and allow it to sit for 72 hours to dry before grouting.

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