Best Adhesive For Shower Walls

What To Use To Glue Shower Surround With

You will hardly see the adhesive keeping your shower walls together, but it performs a fundamental job that the tiles wouldn’t stay put without them. Therefore, when renovating your bathroom, you shouldn’t overlook this component, so strive to find the best adhesive for shower walls. 

The best adhesive for shower walls is thinset mortar that has a latex additive because it’s stiff, dries faster, and is resistant to moisture. Alternatively, you can go with pre-mixed mastic for tiny shower tiles.

Tile adhesives can keep their grip for even a lifetime without cracking, bowing, and crumbling and keep your shower walls even, without any waves. This means your choice for shower tile adhesive is quite essential. 

However, that’s easier said than done, but this post provides the necessary information to help you pick the best one. Therefore, keep reading. 

What’s a Shower Tile Adhesive?

It refers to a form of tile adhesive equipped to create a firm grip in areas with high moisture. They are typically a mixture of thinset mortar and epoxy.

Homeowners doing DIY bathroom renovations usually use pre-mixed thinset mortar. On the other hand, professional tilers prefer an epoxy mortar or a standard powder thinset.

See also Is drano safe for shower drains?

What’s The Best Adhesive For Your Shower Walls?

You cannot achieve the best tiling job if you don’t have a suitable tile adhesive. While there are plenty of choices in the market, you must consider certain things like the type of shower tiles and their location.

Considering the wet environment of showers, you only have two options when it comes to adhesives- epoxy mortar or thinset mortar. You only need to apply a single layer of these materials on a substrate during shower wall installation, followed by the tiles.

Below are the tile adhesives you should consider.

1. Thinset Mortar

This material comprises Portland cement, water retention agents, and silica sand. It comes in various forms: a pre-mixed compound pre-packaged in a plastic tub or a powder variant you can mix with water. 

Thinset mortar in powder form is more affordable, but you must be skillful to mix accurately or properly; that’s why professional tilers mostly use it. On the flip side, the pre-mixed compound is ideal for DIYers because it’s easier to use, but it will cost you more.

Modified Thinset

This refers to regular thinset enhanced through the injection of other ingredients. It’s the go-to thinset for installation due to the increased strength, lowered bonding shrinkage, and ability to minimize tile cracks after installation.  

Large Tile Thinset

It’s a special thinset reinforced with polymers and explicitly modified to accommodate heavy and large tiles. It’s typically used on medium-to-large-sized ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles, quarry tiles, and Saltillo tiles.


  • Due to its inorganic nature, it doesn’t permit the growth of mildew in spite of the moist bathroom conditions.
  • It forms a firm bond between most tiles and cement board substrates.
  • It will not peel away in hot conditions because it’s not susceptible to heat.
  • It’s exceptionally resistant to moisture, making it excellent for tiling shower walls.
  • Thinset is resistant to changes in temperatures as it doesn’t contract or expand based on humidity levels or temperature changes.
  • It’s excellent for correcting small leveling problems, and it can fill gaps or small chips in the substrate.


  • It tends to crack; that’s why you should go for a variant of thinset mortar with additives like acrylic and polymers.
  • Due to its slightly prolonged curing time, the wet mortar can slide down the shower walls, leading to sagging. 
  • Not ideal for heavy or large tiles or whose back surface is uneven because thinset is thin. 
  • It needs an additional backer or cement board and cannot be simply added to a drywall substrate or wood. This translates to extra expenses or costs in a tiling project or bathroom construction.

2. Epoxy Mortar

This adhesive comprises three elements- a powdered filler, resin, and a hardening agent, creating a mixture with fast hardening properties. You must mix the elements well before using the epoxy mortar and make sure you install the tile as quickly as you can and efficiently.

It’s used mainly by professionals and seldomly in DIY tile installation.


  • It’s entirely waterproof, so you don’t need additives to ensure the mortar doesn’t crack.
  • It cures pretty quickly, so tiling your shower walls should consume a lot of your time.
  • Epoxy mortar is inorganic, meaning it is mildew-proof.
  • It provides a stable bond between the substrate and the tile.
  • This adhesive is resistant to discoloration and damage from moisture, most chemicals, and other elements.


  • It is much more costly than thinset mortar
  • It produces strong fumes and odors during installation and curing.
  • The short curing window (45 minutes) means you must install the shower walls swiftly and accurately as you will have little time for corrections.
  • You must store it in an area with temperatures of 60°F to 90°F.

3. Mastic

Sometimes a pre-mixed mastic is an excellent adhesive choice for your shower walls since it can be used in areas with high moisture, such as bathtubs, showers, and swimming pools. It’s ideal for individuals with smaller tiles or those who don’t mind slow-drying.


  • You can take time to make any adjustments because mastic dries slowly.
  • It forms a quick bond with small items such as brick tiles, square tiles, and subway tiles.
  • They are more suitable for a DIY job than a thinset.
  • Pre-mixed mastics don’t require mixing.


  • You should only use it to bond porcelain and ceramic tiles.
  • It’s not the ideal adhesive for a shower with high water exposure, like shower floors.

See also White or clear caulk around toilet

So, What’s The Best Adhesive For Shower Walls?

Generally, thinset mortar should be your go-to adhesive for your shower walls because it’s waterproof, more affordable, stiff, and dries quickly. However, this doesn’t mean you should disregard the other options.

Your shower wall adhesive needs to remain watertight, cure quickly, and support the weight. Ensure it won’t be affected by steam, heat, moisture, cold, and water once it fully cures.

It should be able to grab on to low and high-maintenance shower walls, plus non-porous surfaces to ensure the walls don’t come loose.

You will come across Type 2 or Type 1 labels on the adhesives with some not labeled during your selection. Type 1 adhesives are waterproof, while Type 2 adhesives are not waterproof.  


Adhesives are meant to keep tiles in place for at the very least years, but they can even be decades. This is why choosing the best adhesive for your shower walls is vital for the functionality of your shower and also its aesthetics.

See also Can you use flex seal for shower

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