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Over the years, I’ve laid tile using both mastic and thinset. Each was around long before I cut my first tile, and each has proved to be a sound material when used appropriately. Thinset is stronger and more versatile All thinset is cementitious, which gives it far greater shear and tensile strength than mastic. This quality greatly expands where thinset can and should be used. Because thinset cures as hard and as strong as the cement backerboard it’s often adhered to, it is the best material to use when setting tile in demanding conditions: in steam rooms and on floors, shower walls, and ceilings. It even holds up exceptionally well outdoors. Thinset isn’t as tacky as mastic, so it’s easier to adjust a tile layout as you go. It also means that tiles can slip and sag more easily, which is always a concern on vertical and ceiling installations. Cost: $10 per 50-lb bag Mastic has fewer uses, but it’s easier to work with Mastic is organic glue mixed with additives that give it body, so it can be troweled and textured like thinset. Unlike thinset, which is mixed on site, mastic is ready to use straight out of the…
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