Reviews

Best Thinset for Shower Walls – Review & Buyer’s Guide

Are you planning on tiling your shower, but aren’t really sure which thin-set to choose? You don’t have enough experience with this, yet still want to do everything right the first time around? If your answer is “Yes” to both questions, you came to the right place! In this post, we’ll help you pick the best thinset for shower walls and get to work immediately.

We’ve compiled a list of the top offers on the market and will tell you about their pros, cons, and our expert recommendations. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the top picks, make sure to also check out the Buyer’s Guide and FAQ. There, you’ll find answers to the most important questions and boost your own expertise. Alright, without further ado, let’s get right to our list and see which thin-set mortar will be the ultimate choice for your current situation!

Best Thinset for Shower Walls (Updated May, 2020)

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Editor’s Choice

Schluter Set White 50 lbs Bag UNMODIFIED Thin-SET MORTAR

1) Schluter Set Thin-SET MORTAR

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Custom Building Products MTSG50 VersaBond Fortified Thin-Set, 50-Pound, Mortar Grey

2) VersaBond MTSG50

  • Best Features:
    – All-purpose mortar with high bonding strength
    – Doesn’t take long to cure (even in cold)
    – Affordable, compared to rivals
  • Type: Modified
  • Color:Gray
  • Available Colors:
    – Modified Thinset (White)
  • Item Weight: 25 / 50 lbs (11.3 / 22.7 kg)

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Laticrete International 0254-0050-21 Laticrete Platinum Multipurpose Thin-Set Mortar, 50 lb, Gray

3) Laticrete International 0254-0050-21

  • Best Features:
    – A good choice for thin porcelain tiles
    – Specifically made for underwater applications
    – Anti-microbe protection included
  • Type: Modified
  • Color: Gray
  • Available Options:
    Modified Thinset (White)
  • Item Weight: 50 lbs (22.7 kg)

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SimpleSet Pre-Mixed Thin-Set Mortar 1 QT

4) SimpleSet

  • Best Features:
    – No need to mix it
    – Spreads and bonds quickly
    – Includes anti-mold protection
  • Type: Premixed
  • Color: Gray
  • Available Colors:
    White
  • Item Weight: 1 Gal (3.78 l)

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ION TOOL Paint and Mortar Mixer

5) ION TOOL – Best Drill for Mixing Thinset

  • Best Features:
    – Affordable
    – Mixes concrete, paint, epoxy, and stains
    – Heavy-duty steel, durable construction
  • Fit Drill Chucks: 3/8” and 1/2”

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Frosch Stainless Steel Square Notch Tile Trowel (3/8 X 3/8)

6) Frosch Tile Trowel

  • Best Features:
    – Easy to handle, comfortable grip
    – Heavy-duty stainless steel, highly durable
    – Rust-proof
  • Available Sizes:
    1/2″ X 1/2″
    1/4″ X 1/4″
    1/4″ X 3/8″
    3/8″ X 3/8″
    3/16″ X 3/16″

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Best Thinset for Shower Tiles Review

1. Schluter Set Thin-SET MORTAR – Best Thinset for Shower Walls and Floor

Schluter Set White 50 lbs Bag UNMODIFIED Thin-SET MORTAR

For wall-mounted and floor tiles, this mortar is a God-sent. It seals properly, doesn’t take too long to harden, and is highly “user-friendly”, even if you’re an amateur at this. Schluter is known as one of the leaders when it comes to tiling a bathroom/shower. But, it can be a bit confusing when trying to choose the right Schluter set.
To make things easier for you: SET is the unmodified thin-set and it should be used when dealing with shower or bathroom walls. ALL-SET, in turn, is the modified thin-set. It is best suited for large ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles, to name a few. It is also good for shower floor tiling. The only downside of the Schluter sets – they are a bit too expensive for the average tiling enthusiast. On the other hand, as a high-quality mortar, it’s actually quite reasonably-priced.

Expert Rating
Adhesion
4.8 / 5
Easy to Use
4.6 / 5
Waterproof
4.8 / 5
Value for Money
4.9 / 5
Result
4.8
Pros and Cons
Fitting for heavy, large tiles
Available both as modified and unmodified
Goes hand-in-hand with other Schluter materials
Could’ve been more affordable

Expert Recommendations
Joseph Kirby
Joseph Kirby
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"There’s not much that we don’t like about this thinset. It is a can’t-go-wrong-with choice for outdoor tiling, especially underwater. The one thing that you gotta watch out for is how little time this mortar takes to set. In the right hands, Laticrete International is a durable and reliable thin-set."

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2. VersaBond MTSG50 – Best Thinset for Porcelain and Glass Floor Tile

Custom Building Products MTSG50 VersaBond Fortified Thin-Set, 50-Pound, Mortar Grey

Next on the list, we’ve got the Versabond fortified thin-set mortar. As the title suggests, it’s a solid choice if you’re planning on using it with glass floor tile or porcelain. It’s polymer-modified and has impressive bond strength. All you have to do is add water and get right to business. We also like MTSG50’s fast setting nature.
Even if it’s cold outside, it won’t take this thin-set long to cure, which can’t be said about most similar products. Last, but not least, VersaBond made sure this is a competitively-priced mortar. If you’re on a tight budget, but still want to get the best possible quality, it might be worth your attention. Just like the previous product on the list, it is very easy to use and doesn’t require any experience for you to start using it.

Expert Rating
Adhesion
4.7 / 5
Easy to Use
4.6 / 5
Waterproof
4.7 / 5
Value for Money
4.8 / 5
Result
4.7
Pros and Cons
Fast setting (both in hot and cold weather)
Above-average bond strength
Cheaper compared to most modified thin-set on the market
Not fit for interior/exterior pools

Expert Recommendations
Joseph Kirby
Joseph Kirby
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"VersaBond’s mortar is fit for most standard installations and works with quarry, ceramic, porcelain, glass, natural stone, cement-based, and mosaic tile. Yes, the list of suitable tiles is pretty long. Add a customer-friendly price-tag, impressive bond strength, and fast setting, and you’ll get yourself a bang for the buck. Don’t try to use it to cover your pool, though, as this thinset won’t be able to “handle” the water."

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3. Laticrete International 0254-0050-21 – Best Thinset for Outdoor Tile

Laticrete International 0254-0050-21 Laticrete Platinum Multipurpose Thin-Set Mortar, 50 lb, Gray

Since this is a modified thinset, you can freely use it on glass tile both indoors and outdoors. The Laticrete mortar is also excellent for underwater applications. It is delivered in plastic – you won’t have to worry about the regular cardboard getting wet. Protection against microbes is another thing that makes this product stand out among the rivals.
A quick note: this thinset dries quickly, leaving you almost no time for any last-minute fine-tuning. So, make sure everything is right before you apply it. For a seasoned expert, a rapidly-setting thin-set is a pro, as they can get the job done faster. However, for someone who’s only getting started, this might lead to unnecessary stress.

Expert Rating
Adhesion
4.8 / 5
Easy to Use
4.7 / 5
Waterproof
5 / 5
Value for Money
4.6 / 5
Result
4.8
Pros and Cons
Good for underwater and exterior work
Microbe protection included
Comes packed in a plastic
Dries very fast (could also be a pro)

Expert Recommendations
Joseph Kirby
Joseph Kirby
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"There’s not much that we don’t like about this thinset. It is a can’t-go-wrong-with choice for outdoor tiling, especially underwater. The one thing that you gotta watch out for is how little time this mortar takes to set. In the right hands, Laticrete International is a durable and reliable thin-set."

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4. SimpleSet – Best Thinset for Porcelain and Ceramic Tile

SimpleSet Pre-Mixed Thin-Set Mortar 1 QT

In many ways, this is the simplest pre-mixed thin-set mortar, which also makes it one of the most effective ones. For ceramic, marble, stone, granite, and porcelain, it will be a good investment for your money. The thinset spreads quickly, doesn’t take very long to cure, and comes in a handy bucket. The best thing about this is you won’t have to mix the mortar with water – the company has already done that for you.
So, grab your favorite trowel and start working! Thanks to the Moldguard technology, mold and mildew won’t be able to grow under the SimpleSet thinset. This is important: while premixed is usually good, it also means you can’t use it for tiling bathroom/shower floors. But that’s pretty much its one and only con.

Expert Rating
Adhesion
4.7 / 0
Easy to Use
5 / 0
Waterproof
4.5 / 0
Value for Money
4.9 / 0
Result
4.8
Pros and Cons
Spreads quickly, bonds easily
Ready-steady - no need to mix it with water
Includes anti-mold and mildew protection
Works for shower walls and bathtub surrounds
Doesn’t work for shower and bathroom floors

Expert Recommendations
Joseph Kirby
Joseph Kirby
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"SimpleSet produces one of the best mastic-plus-sand mixtures on the market. With their pre-mixed thin-set mortar, you’ll get things done in a jiffy and with ease. It spreads and sets quickly and includes anti-bacterial protection. Plus, this mortar is a decent pick for tiling your shower walls and bathtub surrounds. But if you’re looking to tile your shower or bathroom floor, you’ll be better off with a different product."

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Buyer’s Guide

SimpleSet produces one of the best mastic-plus-sand mixtures on the market. With their pre-mixed thin-set mortar, you’ll get things done in a jiffy and with ease. It spreads and sets quickly and includes anti-bacterial protection. Plus, this mortar is a decent pick for tiling your shower walls and bathtub surrounds. But if you’re looking to tile your shower or bathroom floor, you’ll be better off with a different product.

Thinset Types

Thinset Types

Thinset is the go-to setting material for tile – has been for quite some time now. It is used to “stick” tile to the wall and mostly consists of cement, sand, and a special compound that is water-resistant. Common names for it include mortar, mud, but, most frequently, thin-set. By the way, did you know of the thinset for tile US origins? Yes, it is Portland cement that holds everything together.
Thinset is usually sold in a dry, powder-like form that won’t do any good unless you mix it with the right amount of water. This is done in a two-step manner: first, you mix the water and let it slake; then, you mix it again, and only then apply to the wall(s). If you skip the first step, water simply won’t have time to properly mix the various chemicals, and you’ll be in trouble.
The manufacturers always include strict instructions – make sure to follow them. That’s it for unmodified thinset. Modified thinset is when you deliberately add some kind of polymer bonding agent into the mix. This greatly increases the mortar’s bonding power, along with its flexibility and durability. Modified thinset has a far better chance of fluctuating through various seasons.
Finally, we have the premixed thinset. It comes in buckets and is, essentially, unmodified mortar combined with water, so you won’t have to do the mixing by yourself. In many ways, this is more mastic with sand, not thinset. And one more thing: always use unmodified thinset for Kerdi. We’re talking about setting stone and ceramic tiles over the Kerdi membrane. If you go with a modified thinset, you might have to wait for up to 14 days to start grouting.

Setting Time

Setting Time

Compared to mastic, thinset takes a considerably longer time to set. As we just mentioned, modified thinset requires even more time to cure, which can lead to unnecessary delays in construction. Mastic’s biggest pro is its sticky nature: it grabs fast, and you won’t ever have to see sagging tile. We have to also say that the slow setting nature of thinset isn’t always a bad thing.
For example, on more complicated projects, this gives you enough time to fix any imperfections (like tiles that aren’t properly aligned). On top of that, thinset is a stronger material compared to mastic. For flooring or any other horizontal work, it is an ideal pick. With that said, there are no rights or wrongs here: it all depends on your current needs.

Application

Application

Thinset can be (and usually is) used in rooms/areas that get wet or are submerged in water 24/7 (say, a swimming pool). In contrast, mastic can only be used in dry areas. If you’re planning on tiling your bathtub or shower, go with thinset. This is an affordable, easy-to-use material. Shower pans, bathroom walls, kitchen floors, and countertops work perfectly with it.
Thinset is highly water-resistant, meaning it won’t go bad and the tiles won’t start falling off the walls in the shower over time. That’s right: once the thinset is given enough time to cure (harden), it becomes “immune” to water. It doesn’t crumble, no matter how many times it comes in contact with water.

FAQ
How do I know if my Thinset is too dry?
Joseph Kirby
If you’re busy troweling, and the thinset keeps pulling up, that most likely means you’re dealing with dry thinset. Or, it could also be that there’s a significant amount of dust lying around on the floor. A tried-and-true way to check the dryness of the mortar is to use your trusty notched trowel. Pay attention to the thinset: unless it’s filling those lines nicely, your thinset is overly dry.
Oh, and if you’re working in hot and extremely dry conditions, don’t use warm or hot water – use cold water instead.
Should I use mastic or thinset for shower tile?
Joseph Kirby
Let’s start by saying that thinset is a naturally waterproof product, meaning it’s not “afraid” of water. Mastic, in turn, is much like glue, and, generally, easier to use. If you’re planning on tiling, say, your kitchen walls, we highly recommend going with mastic. It’s more “user-friendly” and gets the job done faster. However, it’s not a good choice for shower walls and floors.
So, that leaves us with an obvious choice: ONLY purchase thinset for shower tile. Thinset is also the go-to option for bathroom floors and walls, kitchen countertops, and generally all kinds of kitchen floors.
How long does Thinset take to harden?
Joseph Kirby
On average, it takes 24-48 hours for it to set. That means you’ll be free to walk or even stomp on it after a day or two. However, many pros recommend giving it three full days (72 hours) to really “take roots” and become 100% dry and safe to walk on. The temperature and humidity of the room, along with the airflow in it will determine exactly how long it’ll take for the thinset to harden.
Is Thinset waterproof?
Joseph Kirby
Yes, it is, and that’s the main reason why it is used for tiling shower walls/floors. To clarify: thinset isn’t “waterproof” in the most original meaning of the word: water can (and does) pass through it. What’s more important, though, is the fact that thinset isn’t in any way affected by water. Moisture can sometimes get trapped under tiles, essentially leading to rot and mold. But, again, thinset stays consistent.
Can I use premixed thinset in a shower?
Joseph Kirby
No, premixed thinset mortar has never been a good option for shower floors. That’s especially true for underwater areas. What’s the best application for this mortar then? We recommend using premixed thinset for shower walls (NOT floors), backsplashes, and countertops. Remember: if you’re planning on tiling your shower’s floor, don’t use mastic or premixed thinset.
Can mortar be used as Thinset?
Joseph Kirby
To make things clear for you: the term “thinset” describes a specific type of mortar (mostly unmodified) that is used for gluing tiles to walls (like shower wall tiles, for example). You might hear people say “mortar” instead of thinset, which isn’t 100% correct, but close enough. Cement, sand, and water – these are the “building blocks” for thinset. Sometimes, additives are added to make it more flexible and water-resistant.
Regular thinset for porcelain tile – is that a good fit, or not?
Joseph Kirby
The short answer is no, regular thinset isn’t the best option. The reason – for porcelain tile, it’s important to use modified thinset to achieve the best (and long-lasting) results. Here’s a rule of thumb: the thinner the thinset you’re working with, the lower its bonding strength will be. On the other hand, if it’s too thick, that will increase the chance of getting cracked tiles on your hands.
While this isn’t an exact science, if you go with 25% (we’re talking about thickness), that should do the trick. Examples include laying porcelain tile on concrete – modified thinset with ¼ thickness will be a good place to start.

Conclusion

Shower tiling isn’t a walk in the park, and to be successful in it, you’ll need to use the right type of mortar. Yes, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding thinset products, especially for people that are unfamiliar with DIY tiling. And the worst part is – if you purchase the incorrect type, you won’t only be wasting money on something you don’t need, but also turn the whole tiling process into a nightmare.
Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ll be able to answer the most important question – “What is the best thinset for a shower” – with confidence and expertise. As we learned today, there are different types of thinset, each made (or, rather, mixed) for a specific task. So, go over our post once again and check out the top four picks. And, don’t forget to share your successful/disastrous stories in the comments section!

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How do I know if my Thinset is too dry?
If you’re busy troweling, and the thinset keeps pulling up, that most likely means you’re dealing with dry thinset. Or, it could also be that there’s a significant amount of dust lying around on the floor. A tried-and-true way to check the dryness of the mortar is to use your trusty notched trowel. Pay attention to the thinset: unless it’s filling those lines nicely, your thinset is overly dry.
Oh, and if you’re working in hot and extremely dry conditions, don’t use warm or hot water – use cold water instead.
Should I use mastic or thinset for shower tile?
Let’s start by saying that thinset is a naturally waterproof product, meaning it’s not “afraid” of water. Mastic, in turn, is much like glue, and, generally, easier to use. If you’re planning on tiling, say, your kitchen walls, we highly recommend going with mastic. It’s more “user-friendly” and gets the job done faster. However, it’s not a good choice for shower walls and floors.
So, that leaves us with an obvious choice: ONLY purchase thinset for shower tile. Thinset is also the go-to option for bathroom floors and walls, kitchen countertops, and generally all kinds of kitchen floors.
How long does Thinset take to harden?
On average, it takes 24-48 hours for it to set. That means you’ll be free to walk or even stomp on it after a day or two. However, many pros recommend giving it three full days (72 hours) to really “take roots” and become 100% dry and safe to walk on. The temperature and humidity of the room, along with the airflow in it will determine exactly how long it’ll take for the thinset to harden.
Is Thinset waterproof?
Yes, it is, and that’s the main reason why it is used for tiling shower walls/floors. To clarify: thinset isn’t “waterproof” in the most original meaning of the word: water can (and does) pass through it. What’s more important, though, is the fact that thinset isn’t in any way affected by water. Moisture can sometimes get trapped under tiles, essentially leading to rot and mold. But, again, thinset stays consistent.
Can I use premixed thinset in a shower?
No, premixed thinset mortar has never been a good option for shower floors. That’s especially true for underwater areas. What’s the best application for this mortar then? We recommend using premixed thinset for shower walls (NOT floors), backsplashes, and countertops. Remember: if you’re planning on tiling your shower’s floor, don’t use mastic or premixed thinset.
Can mortar be used as Thinset?
To make things clear for you: the term “thinset” describes a specific type of mortar (mostly unmodified) that is used for gluing tiles to walls (like shower wall tiles, for example). You might hear people say “mortar” instead of thinset, which isn’t 100% correct, but close enough. Cement, sand, and water – these are the “building blocks” for thinset. Sometimes, additives are added to make it more flexible and water-resistant.
Regular thinset for porcelain tile – is that a good fit, or not?
The short answer is no, regular thinset isn’t the best option. The reason – for porcelain tile, it’s important to use modified thinset to achieve the best (and long-lasting) results. Here’s a rule of thumb: the thinner the thinset you’re working with, the lower its bonding strength will be. On the other hand, if it’s too thick, that will increase the chance of getting cracked tiles on your hands.
While this isn’t an exact science, if you go with 25% (we’re talking about thickness), that should do the trick. Examples include laying porcelain tile on concrete – modified thinset with ¼ thickness will be a good place to start.