Dry Set vs. Latex Tile Mortars

When you are choosing building supplies, it’s great to have choices. The ability to scan the features and benefits of individual products gives you the opportunity to select a product that will be the best fit for your project. This is certainly true with tile mortars.

When comparing dry set vs. latex tile mortars, you will quickly see that, while dry set has its place, the advanced bonding properties of the polymers that make up latex tile mortars make is a very valuable addition to the marketplace.


Standard dry set mortars are a cement based product that has worked very well for a long time. It is ideal to use when applying stone tile over concrete based slabs and surfaces. The development of the latex mortars though, has increased the number of substrates that can effectively hold heavy tile. Latex mortars can be used to install tile over treated exterior grade plywood, the work very well with ceramic tile that has no porosity.

Additionally, they work well in high traffic areas where standard dry set mortar might start to break down over time. Essentially, latex mortar gives you added durability in traditional applications. It just depends on the application and the budget that you have for the project. Know though, that if you have the extra money in your budget to use the latex then you will find increased durability.

Flexibility Matters

Another factor to keep in mind with mortar is flexibility. Even the densest surfaces, like high strength concrete, will flex, shrink, and swell with seasonal changes. Over years, dry set mortars can begin to crack and crumble with the movement caused by these seasonal changes in the substrate.

The latex mortars however, are made to flex and to move with the substrate surface as it shrinks and expands. This is just one more demonstration of how latex tile mortars increase the durability and life of your tile.

Furthermore, the latex mortars should always be used on exterior applications. The tendency of dry set mortars to break down in extreme weather conditions is much higher than that of latex tile mortars.

If you are thinking about using dry set vs. latex tile mortars and cannot decide which one is the best to use for your application, it is always better to err on the side of strength, durability, and technology.

Perhaps the best way to think about it is to remember that there are many applications where dry set would not be appropriate, but there are very few, if any, where latex tile mortar would be inappropriate. If you really can’t decide, then go with the proven winner. Latex tile mortars will seldom leave you wishing that you had used something else.