What Is Mastic Adhesive?

Ceramic tile on mastic adhesive.
Man using caulking gun.
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  • Written By: Jeri Sullivan
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2014
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Mastic adhesive is made from the sticky resin of the mastic tree, which grows in the Mediterranean. Because of its sticky nature, it is used as a bonding agent in many commercial applications. Some types include construction adhesive, industrial adhesive, and ceramic tile adhesive. Depending on the application, the adhesive is available in thin liquid, thick glue, or paste form.

When used in construction, mastic adhesive is typically in liquid form and applied with a caulking gun. The adhesive is squeezed out by hand in a thin line along wall or ceiling joints. The strength of the adhesive helps hold load-bearing walls in place. In ceilings, the quick-setting adhesive eliminates the need to support heavy drywall for extended periods of time. Construction adhesive is also used as a temporary hold for fixtures so they can be nailed or screwed in place by one person.

Industrial uses for this adhesive include repairing duct work in the heating and air industry. This is due to its heat resistant properties and the ability to seal and form and a strong bond. The adhesive also bonds with most any material, so repairs to concrete, brick, or mortar are also possible. The adhesive for industrial uses comes in a finely ground powder that is mixed to form a paste. It is smeared onto the repair area and allowed to dry.


Ceramic tile adhesive is mainly available in two forms: mastic and thin set. Mastic adhesive is a premixed adhesive that can be directly applied, while thin set is a powder that must be mixed and left to sit for several minutes before using. The premixed adhesive is applied in areas where moisture will not be an issue, such as backsplashes in kitchens or wall tile. Thin set is applied in bathrooms because it is moisture-resistant. It is not typically used on walls because it takes longer to bond.

Mastic is only suitable for ceramic tile because other types, such as porcelain or marble, are porous. Over time, the adhesive could seep into the tiles and cause them to discolor. Ceramic tile is often used on walls in restaurants and homes. Mastic works well in these applications because it creates an extremely tight bond with the wall. It also sets quickly, which is an advantage when working with vertical designs because the need to stand and hold each tile while it dries is greatly reduced.


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Post 7

Our LLC does acid stain concrete floors. I am looking for a product that can fill fine fractures and larger fractures in concrete slabs with a fast drying time and little shrinkage.

At the present time, I use rock-ite which is anchoring cement or a divit patch to fix the cracks or holes. My problem is when coloring out the fixed fractures my acrylic paint and acrylic sealer do not bond or achieve a darker enough color on top of these materials. I have even added a dark acrylic paint in the white rock-ite and the color of it remains white. Only with a great effort and several topical application can I color it but it still does not darken up in color much.

I have been doing this work for over 10 years. Amazingly, some of the floors that I have had to fix have had mastic all over the floors. My colors adhere perfectly to the mastic, and the colors do not lighten up.

Do you know of a product that I can use. This would greatly improve the quality of my work and make my life a little easier.

Post 6

What is the best adhesive for gluing wood trim to the front edge of a cultured marble window sill?

Post 4

Can mastic adhesive be used for swimming pool tiles? Where can I purchase it in the Denver, Co. metro area?

Post 3

Porcelain is extremely hard. Mastic will not seep into porcelain.

Post 2

Great tip on using mastic tile adhesive only with ceramic tiles. I had no idea mastic could seep into porcelain or marble and discolor the tiles!

I understand why organic mastic is the most popular because it's pre-mixed and is perfect for wall tiles. It sounds like an easy way to go. But is it heat resistant enough for a kitchen back splash?

Post 1

Please can you give me the ratio of blending premixed adhesive with mastic and also as a thin set. can I have a list of manufacturers too. I want to start making my own mix.

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