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Thread: Ceramic Floor tile adhesive cure time

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Brian.Hoard's Avatar
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    Default Ceramic Floor tile adhesive cure time

    Hello,
    I'm remodeling a small bathroom and am installing 12" ceramic tiles on the floor.
    Since I'm not a pro at this, I opted for the ready-mix adhesive that I picked up at Home Depot (AcrylPro Ceramic Tile Adhesive) to give me more time before it dries.

    The directions says it can be walked on in 24 hours, so I waited 72 just to be sure.
    I did my center tiles 3 days ago, and today as I was installing the tiles around the wall, one of the center ones cracked as I stepped on it. To my surprise, when I pulled it up, the adhesive was still very wet under the tile. Not completely wet like when newly laid down, but soft and could be smeared easily.

    So I'm wondering now how long do I need to wait for the tiles to dry? Or how can I know when they're dry so I don't walk on them too early.

    Thanks for any help.

    - Brian

  2. #2
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    You might not get the kind of answer you are hoping for since NO professional tile man would use ready-mix adhesive to install ceramic tile.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Rhoni T's Avatar
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    I have used this before and it only took over night to dry. I also used this because I was installing tiles in my bathroom about 50 tiles and did this as I had time. ie: fulltime job/part-time job and 3 boys sporting events, too boot a single mom; at the time

    The temperature has a lot to due with your drying time, and in VA I'm gonna say the humidity too. I lived in AR in the river valley and humidity had a lot to due with the drying time. My Uncle told me to use this so I didn't have to mess with the mixing stuff, and he was a contractor, who knew I had to do things all on my own. And he was the one that told me about the humidity and temperature.

  4. #4
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    You might not get the kind of answer you are hoping for since NO professional tile man would use ready-mix adhesive to install ceramic tile.
    I'm no pro but I wouldn't use that stuff either except maybe small tiles on a backsplash.

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    First, the stuff stays usable in the bucket for probably over a year because it can't dry out...So, why would you expect it to dry out quickly under a large 12" tile? Second, all of those I've looked at (not an exhaustive search) have a max tile size, typically around say 8" or so. This is so there are enough grout lines and the distance to them so it can dry out isn't too big. A cement based thinset adhesive does not require drying time - it cures (chemically). Adhesives need to dry. Now, a modified thinset needs to both dry and to cure, so there are limitations on when and where you can use them, too.

    Read the fine print on the bucket of adhesive you have...my guess is you don't have a compatible installation, and it could take literally months for the adhesive to fully dry so you have proper support. Until then, they could slide around, and grouting is probably a bad choice. If you carefully pry them up, you can probably scrape and wash off the adhesive and use a good thinset. There are places where mastic works well, but not with large tile on a floor. Thinset is usually a lot less expensive, too. And, stronger.

    I had a bucket of adhesive (before I saw the light) in my basement that I just threw out...the cover wasn't on very tight, nearly 10-years old...it wasn't all hard...some was still soft. Now, that doesn't say much about keeping the garage clean, but that's another story entirely.
    Last edited by jadnashua; 07-02-2011 at 08:41 PM.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    If there was that much space, (so that it could crack), under the tile, you may have applied it too thick, which would have affected the "drying' time. Normally it is going to "squish" the cement to the point that the tile is almost to the concrete or subfloor. Decades ago, I was installing tile with an "expert". The adhesive had to be applied and allowed to dry before installing the tile. The concrete was well aged so the adhesive was drying in a matter of minutes, but when I checked on the "expert" he had applied the adhesive so thickly that it might NEVER dry. I threw him off the job, removed the excess cement, then waited about 6 hours before the adhesive was ready for tile, and even then some came up between the joints.
    Last edited by hj; 07-03-2011 at 10:11 AM.

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member Brian.Hoard's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great advice. As I do my own remodeling, no matter what I read and how many things of fine print I digest, there is no replacement for experience. And the only way for me to get that is to make some mistakes. No problem. I usually have to do things at least twice to get them right, and it's always easier the second time or third time. Looks like I should pull up all of these tiles, clean them off and start again with powdered adhesive that has a chemical cure.
    Thanks for the help.

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member Brian.Hoard's Avatar
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    Thanks Jim. This was actually my second purchase of this stuff due to the 12" tiles. The first stuff I bought along with the tiles was only good for up to 8" tiles. So I took it back to the store, and saw that this stuff was good for shower installs, and tiles up to 12". So I thought I was getting the good stuff. But it makes sense now that I understand the best adhesive uses a chemical curing agent so it doesn't need to have airflow to cure. That's what I'll be doing next. We'll see how many of my tiles I can pull up without breaking them. I figure a tile floor job should last a good 15 to 20 years, so pulling my tiles up and starting over will be worth it. Amazing how much time I'm spending in a little 5' x 7' bathroom.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Tap them first. If they sound hollow, they should pull right up, with just a little bit of leverage.

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    DIY Junior Member DanTee's Avatar
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    if the mastic isnt dry yet now would be a good time to pull them up and clean off all the mastic and use a good thinset to put them down. a guy put tile in my uncles house with the premixed stuff and he had to stay out of the kitchen for 3 days and after that still had tiles cracking. what type of surface is under the tile?

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member Brian.Hoard's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips, DanTee. This bathroom is on the ground level. Sub floor is concrete. I did a moisture test before I stared and there was no moisture coming up from the concrete. This house was built in 1973. To make sure it was nice an level, I also poured self-leveling compound down before I laid the tile. So I thought I was doing all the right things to make this work. Now as I walk around on the tile, I'm wondering if I should leave them as good and grout it up, or pull them up and start over.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member frmrnyker's Avatar
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    aww gosh not the pre mix..

    DITRA, DITRA, DITRA... a bit of extra moolah but no cracked tiles!! A good quality thinset will do you much better than that premix. Those tiles need to "stand up" on the thinset and the mastic does not do that effectively!

    I'd say pull up, clean up and start over...

    also visit John Bridge forum for some useful advise - before going back to home cheapo to buy your supplies...

  13. #13
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    12" tiles probably need a 1/2" notch trowel plus back butter. What does the lavel say is the max. notch size? Is the adhesive rated for floor tiles at all? finally, what is the substrate the tile was laid on....that can affect cure of the adhesive.

    And as Columbo would say....just one more thing: get really top notch tile help on the tile forum www.johnbridge.com Tell them the Terry Love forum sent you....we are pals!!

  14. #14
    DIY Junior Member Brian.Hoard's Avatar
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    Thanks. Yes, I do believe buying my supplies from Home Depot and Lowes is my problem. They are sending me on the wrong path. I'm trying to do a professional job, but I am far from a professional. But I do have patience, tons of that. So looks like it's clear that I will be starting this floor over again.

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