The most effective way to set tiles durably is using thinsets between them and the base (e.g. concrete, cement, plywood, etc.).
Even if you use membrane sheets for better adhesion and water resistance, a thinset is still needed to be applied for making sure your entire tile setting doesn’t fall apart.
That’s why choosing the best thinset for shower walls is a matter of real importance. Otherwise, despite sparing no expense on other construction materials, you can still face disaster.
So, in this guide, you’ll show you how to pick the perfect thinset for your particular needs without breaking the bank.
Dap, Thinset for Shower Tiles
5 Out of 5
SimpleSet, Thin-Set Mortar CTTSGQT
5 Out of 5
Schluter SET, Premium Unmodified Thinset Mortar SET50W
5 Out of 5
Laticrete International, Platinum Multipurpose Thinset Mortar
4.5 Out of 5
Custom Building Products, VersaBond Fortified Thinset Mortar
5 Out of 5
Top 6 Best Thinset For Shower Walls in 2021
1. Dap, Thinset for Shower Tiles 7079800141
If you want a thinset for shower walls with excellent "wet suction", the 7079800141 by Dap will be perfect for you.
The product comes in a 1 U.S Quart bucket. It’s specifically for internal use. It has a fairly wide area coverage. However, the coverage can change according to multiple variables.
It spreads as smooth as butter, giving a perfect texture without much effort. Unlike most thinsets, it provides a sufficient amount of time before drying. So, if you’re a beginner, this will allow you to shift the tiles during installation for getting a perfect alignment.
Also, it provides a retack window of 24 hours. It’s a great feature, if you’re doing more complex installations. The cleanup is simple as well; all you need is a soft fabric and normal soap water to wipe off excess mortar.
The product's waterproofing strength is at an industrial grade. It has a minimal VOC count and is manufactured to be non-flammable.
Besides, the manufacturer uses a latex formulation, which gives the product a high bonding strength and a strong adhesive power. So, you can safely use it to put together a variety of tiles over any kind of surface you like. Thus, it’s often considered as the best thin set mortar for shower walls and floors.
This medium set mortar also provides protection against shrinking and doesn’t create a disturbing odor during application.
2. SimpleSet, Thin-Set Mortar CTTSGQT
If you’re a beginner and looking for a simple yet effective thinset, the CTTSGQT by SimpleSet is an obvious pick.
It’s a 2 set mortar. The product comes in a sealed plastic bucket and provides 946-milliliters of premium grade premixed thinset.
Since its premixed, the application process will be very simple and trouble-free. You won't need to mix it with water like most unmodified and modified thinsets. Just open the bucket and you'll be ready to get to work.
The product spreads smoothly. However, make sure you're using a high-quality trowel, which is compatible with the tile size, base, and the amount of thinset latched to it. It also dries quickly, which helps to finish projects faster.
According to user reviews, the thinset works great to set composite, porcelain, and ceramic tiles. Many professionals also consider this product as the best thinset for wall tile installation, specifically on wet vertical surfaces.
Therefore, this gray thinset is widely used for setting tiles on high-end washroom and shower booth walls. It has a powerful bonding strength and provides high-quality water resistance.
3. Schluter SET, Premium Unmodified Thinset Mortar SET50W
The name “Schluter” speaks for itself. So, if you are looking for a premium grade thinset, you can’t go wrong with this product.
It provides you 50-pounds of unmodified mortar. The product's specifically designed for use with the manufacturer's popular boards like the "KERDI-BOARD". You can also use it to set tiles on both their water-resistant and uncoupling membrane sheets.
If you want to aim for smaller amounts, the thinset is also available in pallet packaging.
Considered by many as the best thinset for shower floor tiles, It’s also equipped with a dexterous application feature. That means you can apply it to set tiles on shower walls and floors with equal ease. The angle of the surface wouldn’t matter.
The application process is user-friendly. Even with minimal experience, you can spread the thinset effortlessly and get an even, smooth texture.
You can confidently use the product with a wide range of materials, such as stone, ceramic, and porcelain tiles. This is a multipurpose thinset. Because like LFTs, it also offers enough bonding strength to install big, heavier tiles.
The anti-sag thinset complies with the ANSI A118.1T standard. Also, if you have a Schluter-Shower System installed, this is the most optimum thinset solution you can have.
4. Laticrete International, Platinum Multipurpose Thinset Mortar 0254-0050-21
If you’re looking for that rare white thinset, which perfectly matches your porcelain or white Carrara marble tiles, then you’ve just found the perfect product. Instead of the common grey, this product provides you 50-pounds of platinum white modified thinset.
It comes in a very well designed container, ensuring that no quality degradation happens during shipping.
The product’s area coverage changes according to the dimension of the trowel, tiles, and setting. For example, you’ll get an area coverage of 80 to 95-square feet, if you’re using a trowel with a (0.25 x 0.25)-inch notch. According to users, you can set (18 x 24)-inch porcelain tiles for your shower walls or floors with ease using the product.
The thinset dries within 24 to 48 hours. If your favorite choice of material is glass or porcelain, this is the best thinset for shower tile installation you can buy.
Your washroom will stay hygienic as well because the thinset is designed with anti-microbial agents. Thus, areas like shower floors will be free even from threatening microorganisms like algae, bacteria, fungi, etc.
The product not only complies with but even outruns ANSI standards like ANSI A118. 15, A118.11, and A118.4. It uses latex polymers in the formulation to provide more adhesive strength and water resistance while keeping the VOC count low. This health and environment-conscious thinset also complies with ISO 13007-1 (C2TES1 P1).
5. Custom Building Products, VersaBond Fortified Thinset Mortar MTSG50
Choosing the best thinset for shower walls can be a difficult task.
Apart from constant contact with water, they also have to deal with a good amount of impact or pressure on a daily basis.
However, using Versabond’s MTSG50 to set those tiles is a great way to make sure your shower wall is always up to those challenges.
The product provides 50-pounds of thinset mortar, modified with latex polymer. As a result, the thinset achieves an increased bonding and adhesion strength. So, you can use it to set tiles in difficult settings like corners of a shower room.
It offers a long time-window before drying. Thus, you’ll have ample opportunities to make adjustments (e.g. realigning the tiles’ setting angle) before it’s too late.
The gray thinset can be used to set a variety of tiles, such as porcelain, ceramic, etc. You can use it to install tiles on shower floors and basin countertops as well.
Despite being a modified thinset, the manufacturer doesn’t use any chemical additives. So, the product has managed to exceed standards like ANSI A11811 and A1184.
It’s designed with a powerful weather compatibility feature. Thus, it dries fast despite fluctuations in temperature, such as in a cold atmosphere.
6. SimpleSet, Premium Premixed Thinset Mortar STTSW1
If you want the tiling installation of your shower to be as effortless as possible, the STTSW1 by SimpleSet is as good as it gets.
This is a premixed thinset for shower walls. You can also use it to install tiles on countertops and sink extensions. However, being a premixed mortar, it's not recommended to use the product on areas that stay submerged in water constantly, such as, shower floors, pool floors and walls, etc.
You'll get 3.78-liters of premixed white thinset in this product. The liquid comes in a sealed bucket, equipped with a handle and a reusable, screw-in gray top. So, it becomes very easy to apply the thinset.
You get to skip the trouble of adding water in 2 stages, waiting, and churning to get the right thickness. Simply open the bucket and start spreading. The handle allows you to easily carry around the container during installation. When you’re done, simply reseal the container with the cover. You can use the leftover thinset later if you need.
In terms of area coverage, one gallon can cover from 40 to 45-square-feet, given that you’re using (6 X 6)-inch tiles. Similar to LFT thinsets, this heavy-duty product can bond large tiles up to (18 x 18)-inches.
The thinset's high bonding strength can put together tiles of various materials, such as granite, ceramic, porcelain, marble, and stone. It can also be used on a wide range of bases, such as drywalls, pre-installed ceramic tiles, cement backer boards, and plywood (outdoor grade).
The white thinset is manufactured with antimicrobial agents to protect against fungi and bacterial growth. It also offers a "mold-guard" feature to block the building up of mildew and mold.
The product not only complies with but even surpasses the ANSI (A136.1, type I) standard.
Comparison Table For Top 6 Shower Wall Thinsets
Schluter SET, SET50W
Laticrete International, 0254-0050-21
Thinset For Shower Walls Buying Guide
1. Choose The Right Type
There are primarily two types of thinsets in terms of manufacturing, that is unmodified and modified thinset.
In terms of application or usage, we can also divide thinsets into two types, that is premixed thinset and unmixed thinset. Also, there are hybrid thinsets like LFT thinsets, epoxy thinsets, etc.
Choose the type that suits your purpose. For example, a modified thinset is a better choice than an unmodified one if you are using thinset for ceramic tile on concrete bases.
Tiles can be damaged in many ways due to being in constant contact with water. You can have issues like mold buildup, dampening, leaching latex, etc. These will quickly degrade the quality of your tiles, demanding frequent, unnecessary, and costly replacements.
Thus, make sure that the thinset or mortar for shower walls and floor you use, has an advanced and foolproof water-resistance feature.
3. Application Method
If you’re a beginner DIY enthusiast, a convenient and easy application method can save you from tons of unseen troubles. So, choose a pre-mixed thinset that spreads smoothly with an even concentration without much conscious effort on your part.
if you’re using tile spacers, ensure that the thinset allows you to set the spacers’ legs appropriately and is equipped with a wet suction feature.
We suggest, always opt for thinsets that allow enough time for tacking. Make sure that the thinset also allows ample time to reposition the tiles during installation. Specifically, if you’re a beginner, this feature can save you from making many costly mistakes, such as ending up with a crooked alignment.
Finally, ensure that the thinset offers a simple cleaning procedure, such as removing excess material using normal soap and water.
4. Protective Features
A premium thinset or mortar for shower walls will always have a high bonding strength and impact resistance. This will help tiles set in heavily used areas (e.g. shower floors and walls) to avoid getting cracked or fractured.
Also, buy thinsets that are equipped with anti-shrinking and anti-microbial features. This will increase the durability of your setup and keep it hygienic.
5. Health Safety
Purchase a thinset that offers a low VOC count, doesn’t emit any harmful chemicals during or after installation, and stays non-reactive to flame inducing catalysts.
Also, ensure that it doesn’t secrete any strong odor during application. This will keep your health away from being negatively affected by the product and provide a comfortable user experience.
Ensure that the thinset is compatible with your tiles' type and the nature of the setting.
For example, modified thinsets work well with most tiles and settings.
However, if you’re installing ceramic or porcelain tiles on a plywood base, using an uncoupling membrane sheet in-between, they won’t function very well. For this particular setting, an unmodified thinset will be a better choice.
Modified Versus Unmodified Thinset: Which One To Choose?
This is a complex issue that perplexes anyone who wants to buy the best thinset for shower walls or floor. However, we'll discuss the matter clearly here to ensure our readers know which one is the better choice and when.
Unmodified thinset is the earliest version of shower tile mortar. It’s manufactured by combining Portland cement, refined sand, and chemical agents that can absorb water to start a reaction known as “hydration”. However, they have lower adhesive strength. It also requires more time and experience to apply.
Modified thinset, on the other hand, is made from a combination of Portland cement, refined sand, and a variety of advanced additives, such as latex polymer. They have Increased strength, bonding power, lessens shrinkage, and provide impact resistance. So, using modified thinset as a shower tile mortar increases durability of the tiles. It also reduces tile cracking issues.
So, majority of the time, modified thinset is the right choice for you.
However, if you’re installing a membrane sheet in between the tile and concrete, modified thinset will take a long time (from 10 to 50 days) to dry. In cases like this, it’s better to use unmodified thinset to achieve a faster drying and cure time.
Sometimes you may have to apply both types in a single setting. For example, you can use an unmodified thinset between the tiles and the upper layer of the membrane and a modified thinset to bond the opposite layer of the membrane with a concrete base.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why Is The ANSI Rating Important For Purchasing Thinsets?
Answer: The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) rating can tell you about the type of thinset you intend to buy.
For example, if a rating starts with A118.1 that means it’s an unmodified thinset.
Modified thinsets usually have multiple ANSI ratings. For example, A118.1 followed by A118.11.
2. Does The Shape And Size Of Trowel Matter For Applying Thinsets?
You must match the size of the trowel with the depth of the applied thinset.
Usually, when the layer-thickness of the thinset increases so does the trowel size. The thickness of the thinset depends on the tile’s surface. If it’s too jagged or uneven, the required amount of thinset will increase. So, you’ll need a larger trowel.
Also, your tiles' dimensions must be compatible with the trowel's size.
In terms of the trowel's notch shape, it’s three things:
a. Your Preference: Some have always worked with square notched trowels and, therefore, feel more comfortable with this particular shape. The same logic can be applied to those who prefer trowels with U-shaped notches.
b. Surface Coverage: Some tile surfaces achieve an even spread and better area coverage if a square notched trowel is applied while other surfaces do so with U-shaped notches.
c. Layout of The Setting: if the layout of the setting has tricky corners, a U-shaped notch will perform better.
3. What Is A Membrane Sheet?
Answer: It is a thermoplastic sheet.
There are various types, such as uncoupling, crack-isolation, and waterproof membranes. It’s placed between shower tiles and the base to improve impact and crack resistance, as well as for blocking latex leaching.
4. Why Is It Necessary To Use Thinsets For Installing Tiles On The Shower Area?
Answer: Using thinset to install shower tiles makes the tiles phenomenally water-resistant. It increases the adhesive strength between the tiles and the concrete or cement base. Thus, the structural integrity of the tile setting is not weakened despite heavy use and constant contact with water.
It’s needed to improve the health of tiles and base, saving you the cost, time, and stress of frequent repair and replacement.
5. As A Beginner, What Kind Of Thinset Should I Use?
Answer: If you’re just starting out, avoid unmixed thinsets like LFT and unmodified thinsets. We recommend using a premixed, modified thinset for beginners.
Don’t attempt complicated application procedures like combined thinset application, which uses both unmodified and modified thinset on different surfaces of a membrane sheet.
However, consider the tiles’ material and nature of the setting before making a final decision.
6. Can I Use Thinset On Large Surfaces, Such As A Pool?
We recommend using a modified or LFT thinset for this purpose. LFTs work better for installing large tiles while modified thinsets provide the most effective water and impact resistance.
Tiles, be it porcelain, ceramic, or stone, is usually our go-to choice for decorating shower walls. But if you fail to set them properly, various problems can occur. For example, loosening tiles, dampening, cracks, etc.
Using the best thinset for shower walls is the perfect solution to battle these issues. So, in this guide, we've taken a strategic approach for providing you all the necessary info in the shortest amount of reading time regarding this matter.
Whether you want a quick know-how or an in-depth knowledge about the most effective thinsets the market has to offer, hopefully this guide is all you’ll need.