What Type of Thinset to Use When Installing Marble Tile

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Choosing the right thinset ensures that your tiles remain in place for years to come.
Choosing the right thinset ensures that your tiles remain in place for years to come. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Installing marble tile successfully requires a surface that’s strong, steady and level enough not to interfere with the tile placement. Creating this surface can take time and effort, but no matter how perfect the surface is, choosing the proper adhesive is just as important. For marble tiles, the adhesive of choice is often a cement-based thinset. It bonds well with concrete, backer board or wooden subsurface, while allowing the tile flexibility to move along with the surface beneath. But when it comes to thinset, installers face a choice of which thinset to use, quick-setting or regular, with the proper choice depending entirely on the type of marble installed.

Things You'll Need

  • Marble tiles
  • Quick-setting thinset
  • Thinset mix
  • Liquid latex additive

Examine the tiles for thickness and color. Most marble tiles are between 3/8 and ½-inch thick. Those tiles in the thinner half of the range tend to curl at the edges while curing due to moisture absorption. Determine whether your tile falls into the thinner or thicker half of the range to decide upon an appropriate thinset.

Choose a thinset type according to the tile thickness. Use a quick-setting thinset adhesive for thinner tiles so that they cure in place before the tile has the time to absorb the moisture from the adhesive and begin curling. Use a normal thinset mix for tiles in the thicker half of the range.

Examine the color of the tile before purchasing a thinset. Purchase lighter-colored thinsets for lighter-colored tiles, as a darker thinset may show through, altering the apparent color of the tile after placement.

Mix the thinset chosen for your tiles using a liquid latex additive instead of water for the mix. The additive helps with adhesion and adds flexibility to the tile backing to prevent cracking due to floor movement.

Substitute a 100 percent epoxy adhesive for the thinset when installing green, black and dark chocolate brown tiles. Even with quick-setting thinsets, they tend to curl too quickly to set properly.

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