"Quick-set" mortar is specially formulated to minimize drying time. It's ideal for projects where there's little time to devote to installing flooring. Most quick-set mortars allow grouting within two to four hours after application. This two-hour range can make a big difference when time is of the essence. To make sure your quick-set mortar is ready in two hours instead of four, you must make sure that conditions are ideal before the quick-set goes down.
Things You'll Need
Get the room as warm as possible. Turn the central heating on to raise the temperature in the room above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the temperature, the more quickly the quick-set will set. Do not work in temperatures higher than 95 degrees. The quick-set will dry too quickly to be effective.
Decrease the humidity in the room. The higher the humidity, the longer the drying time. A dehumidifier is ideal for rooms in areas with high humidity. Keep the windows closed and keep the dehumidifier on for 24 hours before applying the quick-set. For areas with lower humidity, an air conditioner or circulating fan operating in the room or near the doorway will keep the air circulating enough to reduce the humidity significantly.
Keep the tile dry. Traditional mortar formulations require wet tiles to slow the drying time and ensure adhesion. Quick-set formulations need dry tile to work. Wet tile will slow the drying time considerably.
Follow the manufacturer's mixing instructions precisely. Use a measuring cup to measure the powder and water exactly. Excess water will increase the drying time. If some of the quick-set dries out as you're applying the mix, do not add more water. Just keep stirring the quick-set as you work to keep it hydrated. If it is too dry to work with, dispose of it and mix a new batch. Make the second batch smaller so that you can apply it without it drying out.
These guidelines will help you dry your quick-set at the minimum drying time listed by the manufacturer's instructions for the drying time range. Drying your quick-set any more quickly may interfere with the adhesion quality. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for preparation and installation. These instructions significantly reduce drying time. Do not mix any more quick-set than you can apply and tile in 20 minutes. Do not attempt to spread the quick-set mortar more thinly than recommended to shorten drying time. The tile will not adhere well. Test to see if the tile is set by pushing against the side of the tile in several areas of the room with your putty knife. If it resists a firm push, it is set. Wait until the minimum drying time passes to test. If the quick-set is loose, you may move the tile out of place and reduce its adhesion.