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How to Mix Thinset Mortar for Tile- The Best Practices with Tips

Wondering how to mix thinset for tile?

No worry!

These step-by-step guidelines will help you to learn the best practices of mixing thinset.

Although the process of mixing thinset mortar is not critical, beginners may feel it overwhelming to get the right consistency.

In this post, I’m going to break it all down with several helpful tips! From this post, you’ll learn everything about mixing thinset, from how to mix thinset in small batches to how to mix thinset for wall tile.

Don’t miss the FAQ section at the end of this post.

Let’s dive in!

How to Mix Thinset Mortar- Step-By-Step Guidelines

How to Mix Thinset Mortar
How to Mix Thinset Mortar

Required Materials:

  • Right type of thinset
  • Clean potable water

Required Tools:

  • One 5 gallon bucket
  • Plastic measuring container (1 to 3 quart)
  • Power drill with mixing attachment
  • PPE (safety glasses, hand gloves, dust respirator)

Guidelines for mixing thinset:

Step 1: Choose a Clean Working Area

Your working area to mix the thinset needs to be clean. Drop cloth or put down a piece of construction paper to keep the work area clean.

Make sure the bucket and mixing tools are clean.

Step 2: Pay Attention to the Surrounding & Water Temperature

Surrounding temperature is a big deal when mixing thinset.
For example, Outside hose water may be too hot due to the direct sunlight.

If you use this hot water from the hose for mixing the thinset powder, it may heat the mixer that may result in the mixer hardening too quickly.

It’s important to note that:

Thinset mortar is not recommended to use above 95-degree and below 40-degree Fahrenheit.

Store the thinset out of the sun. If you mix the warm powder with cool water, it may cause a chemical reaction, resulting in the mixer kicking too quickly.

Use potable, cool water. You can also use grout admix instead of water.

Step 3: Get the Right Type of Thinset Powder

Different types of thinsets are available. So, depending on your method of application and type of tile, be sure to choose the right one for your tile. Read up the label before you purchase to make sure you’re getting the right type of thinset mortar for your job.

thinset mortar

Step 4: Measure Out and Put the Water in the Bucket

Thinset powder hardens quickly. So, it’s not recommended to mix up a whole bag of powder at one time. Mix up the amount that you can use within 25 to 30 minutes.

Based on the type of thinset and manufacturer the instruction may slightly differ. Read the instructions printed on the thinset bag. Pay close attention to the instruction of the water/ thinset powder ratio, missing, and rest times.

Note that the ratio of water to the powder mentioned on the bag is likely for the whole bag of materials.

So, you have to do figure out first how much water you’ll require to make a smaller batch.

For example, if you take a 50 pounds bag and the instruction says 5 to 6 quarts of water for the whole bag, you’ll need 3 quarts of water to start mixing half of the bag of thinset.

Similarly, if you decide to mix up ¼ of the whole bag, you may need 1.5 quarts of water.

Depending on how much powder you’re planning to mix at the first batch, put the required water in the bucket.


Never put thinset powder in the bucket first- water first. If you put the powder first and then water, clumps of powder may get stuck in the corners of the bucket.

Step 5: Add Thinset Powder to the Water of the Bucket

Pour the required amount of powder from the bag into the water of the 5-gallon bucket.

best 5 gallon bucket

Step 6: Mix the Powder and Water

Mix both the elements by using a corded ½-inch drill with a mixing attachment. Keep the setting of the drill low. Continue mixing until it’s powder-free.

While mixing, continue moving the drill up and down throughout the bucket. You can add more water to get the perfect consistency similar to that of creamy peanut butter.

Step 7. Let the Mixture Set (Or Slake).

Once mixed, leave the mixture for about 10 minutes. Don’t leave the mixture bucket in the sun.

Step 8: Mix Again While You’re Tiling

After 5 to 10 minutes the mixture will complete slaking and it’ll thicken up a bit. Mix again for 2 to 5 minutes to achieve a workable consistency.
You can also mix this prepared mixture if needed while you’re tiling.


Never add more water after completing the slaking process. Additional water will weaken the thinset. So, try to get the right consistency during the first stage of mixing.

FAQs about Thinset and Thinset Mixing

If you want to learn more about thinset, read the following section

What is thinset?

Thinset is a setting or bonding material that is used to attach stone or tile to concrete or cement surface. The main components of thinset are fine sand and Portland cement. It also contains a water-retaining additive such as an alkyl derivative of cellulose.

Some types of thinset may contain polymers and other ingredients.
Thinset is also called thinset cement, thinset mortar, dry bond mortar, or dry-set mortar.

Is thinset waterproof?

No, thin-set is not waterproof and it’s also not soluble to water.

What should I use for tiling- tile adhesive or thinset?

For tiling, you can use either tile adhesive (also called mastic) or thinset. However, to decide between tile adhesive and mastic, you have to consider several things.
Mastic is not recommended use for large format tiles (tiles over 15 inches on any side).

What’s the best drill for mixing thinset?

A power drill with variable speed settings is the best option for mixing the thinset. It’ll let you turn the speed down to mix the powder with water slowly.

best drill for mixing thinset

Can I use a cordless drill to mix the thinset?

No-cord drill isn’t powerful enough to mix the thinset. The motor of the cordless drill may burn out if you use it to mix the mortar.

What should be the ratio of water to thinset?

The water to thinset ratio may differ based on the thinset type. I recommend checking the instruction mentioned on the thinset bag. In general, 6 quarts of water is required for a 50-pound bag of thinset.

How long does thinset take to dry?

It may take 24 to 48 hours to dry.

How thick should thinset be?

Thinset is designed to adhere the tile in a thin layer – typically the applied layer won’t be greater than 3/16-inch thick when spread out with a 3/8-inch notch trowel.

3/8 inch notch trowel

How much thinset to mix at a time?

Thinset starts to set up quickly after mixing. The length of how long thinset lasts after mixing varies based on the surrounding temperature.

However, you should not mix the whole bag of powder at a time. Mix the amount that you can use within 20 to 30 minutes.

If the thinset mixture starts drying out, can I add more water to it?

No. It is not recommended to add more water after the process of slaking has been completed. If you add more water, the thinset bonding won’t be strong.

Can I use warm water to mix thinset?

No. You should use cool and potable water. Warm water speeds up the chemical reaction and the thinset mixture will harden fairly quickly.

What is the perfect consistency for thinset?

The proper consistency of the thinset is like creamy peanut butter.

What happens if I don’t add enough water to the thinset?

Firstly, it won’t stick to the surface and smooth out to an even layer.

Secondly, the mixture will harden quickly. It’ll also be clumpy and won’t hold the tiles into place.

What happens if I add too much water to the thinset?

If you add too much water to the powder, the mixture will be too thin. It’ll also squish up in between the tile pieces when they are laid into place.

If you apply the mixture with a trowel, it won’t hold the notched ridges.

The thin mixture will be runny and droop off the wall. It’ll cause the tiles to sag instead of holing into place.

How to mix a small amount of thinset?

If you need to mix a very small amount of thinset, you could do it by hand. But it won’t be very fun and will take a long time to get the job done.

Is there a special thinset for porcelain tile?

A polymer-modified thin-set or a latex modified thin-set is perfect to install Porcelain tile.

How to use thinset?

You can apply the thinset mixture by using a trowel.

Can thinset be used as a floor leveler?

Over an uneven cement floor, you can apply thinset to install the tiles.


So, are you ready to tile?

Hope, these guidelines on how to mix thinset were helpful to you.

If you are interested to learn how to smooth out the dried mortar, click here.

Thanks for reading.