Tiles adhere to floors, countertops, backsplashes, and walls with thinset mortar. Therefore, it should not be walked on or disturbed during the drying process, as this could create significant misalignment of the tiles you just set, which would be impossible to rectify.
This implies that you must wait for it to dry before grouting; much of this can be affected by the amount of thinset, low or high humidity, or working in cold weather. All this and more can affect how long before grouting tile surfaces is possible.
As a good example, the thin-set mortar used for tiles and countertops, for example, takes 24 to 48 hours to dry, whereas brick mortar made from Portland cement might take up to 28 days to cure fully.
You can use a quick-setting mortar if you need useable natural stone surfaces in a hurry. For example, for grouting, this type of thin-set mortar can dry in as little as 2–3 hours and can be used for foot traffic in as little as 6 hours.
In our guide, you can learn more about how long does it take for tile mortar to dry compared to the curing time from applying epoxy grout. By the end, you’ll see how the different thinset mortars can be affected by the environment.
You’ll also see how having non-porcelain ceramic tiles or other unsealed tiles fitted to ceramic tiles affects how your thin set can cure properly. (Learn How To Remove Tile From Bathroom Wall)
How Long Does Tile Mortar Take To Dry Before Walking?
Knock on a tile with your knuckles to see if the mortar is dry as you would a door. If you knock hollowly, the mortar isn’t dry enough for grouting or foot traffic. Dry mortar makes a thin, firm sound when knocked, and make sure you wait before doing this to tiles applied to floors and walls.
- Knock tile work with your knuckles.
- If it sounds hollow, the mortar isn’t dry.
- If it sounds solid, the mortar is dry.
- Mortar can be wet beneath your porcelain tiles even when it looks dry on the edges and seams.
Wait 24 hours before grouting tiles. You may detect dry thinset edges or thinset peeking through the grout lines. Don’t be tricked. The thinset behind the tiles isn’t getting enough air and isn’t entirely cured.
Mix grout with water
Of course, when mixing grout, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the grout to the bucket with only 3/4 of the suggested water to get a perfect consistency. Add the remaining water until it resembles pancake batter.
Use your grout float
First, move the grout float diagonally across the spaces to ensure the grout line is filled. Then do a second swipe to remove any lumps.
Sponge off any excess grout from the tile’s surface. After 15-30 minutes, remove excess grout with a dense grout sponge soaked in water. Wait three hours and repeat, checking for excess grout on the tile or outside the grout line. Keep a pail of water nearby to rinse the sponge.
Let your grout set overnight, and you’ll see grout haze on the floor. Rather than using a wet cloth, use a dry towel to rub off this fully cured grout dust. (Find the Best Wet Tile Saw)
Can I Walk On Tile After 12 Hours?
Wait 24–48 hours after applying thin-set glue or mastic before stepping on tile. Refrigerators and washing machines should be placed on the new tile 72 hours after installation. Using a quick-setting thinset generally means your floor tiles can be ready in 6 hours.
- Tiles must be cured for 24 to 48 hours before walking on thinset.
- 6 hours for quick-setting mortar. Unmodified thinset or modified thinset could change the cure time dramatically.
- Tiles exposed to pressure too soon can shift.
How long for mortar to dry under ceramic tile?
Under ceramic tile, mortar must dry for 24–48 hours and take up to 72 hours in some circumstances. Try the knocking test, but follow all product instructions for applying mortar and drying thinset mortar. Use a quick-setting mortar that can cure in as little as 6 hours if you require a quick-curing mortar.
How Do You Make Tile Mortar Dry Faster?
Even if you don’t use a quick-setting mortar, you may take steps to ensure that your thin-set dries fast and correctly.
If you’re using powdered mortar, keep it at room temperature until you’re ready to use it. Use a notched trowel to spread a thin layer across the surface when applying mortar. A small layer of thinset mortar is present under the tiles when using a notched trowel, stimulating faster curing.
- Store mortar at room temperature; it will be used.
- Mix the mortar using room temp water.
- Spread mortar with a notched trowel to ensure a thin, fast-drying mortar layer. Your tile size can dictate the size of trowel you need.
- Shorten the mortar curing time by using a dehumidifier.
- Mortar cures of air contact; thus, the more airflow, the faster the mortar drying time and the quicker the cure time.
- Humid conditions in the room affect the curing time, so to speed up curing time, keep your space ventilated unless it is cold damp weather as this will slow the curing process.
When mixing the mortar, use less water. A stiffer mixture may be more challenging to work with, but it will dry faster. Apply the mortar to a dry substrate. Any moisture that collects beneath the mortar will seep into the mixture, slowing the drying time.
Use a room heater to warm the surrounding area or direct the heat toward the mortar. The evaporation rate of the water in the mixture will be increased if the temperature is kept higher than in the surrounding environment. If you see the thinset showing signs of cracking, lower the heat. (Read Can You Use Interior Paint Outside)
To keep as much air flowing as possible, use a fan to maximize airflow around the mortar and ventilate the space. This has a similar effect as heat on the rate of evaporation.
Use a polymer-enhanced mortar that sets quickly. It may be used as a tile and stonework underlayment and sets up hard enough for foot traffic in about six hours.