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Does Thinset Stick to Wood? (Answered)

Thinset is an adhesive agent used for installing tile, mosaic and similar things on surfaces. Thin-set is commonly used to install tile on the concrete surface,  but does it work on wooden surfaces? Or can you install wooden tile on concrete using it? 

This article will discuss what happens when you use a thin-set on wood and the correct way of applying it.

Does thinset stick to wood?

Regular thin-set does not stick to wood. You will have to use a specific type of thin-set made for wooden things. Wood can expand in humidity, and a regular thin-set is not flexible enough to stick to the bond. Thinset for wood does expand and holds on to the bond.

Thin-set is a product made of cement, sand, water and other adhesive components such as the alkyl derivative of cellulose. It becomes hard and bonds with different surfaces. Generally, it is used for installing tiles with concrete surfaces.

It is one of the finest products when it comes to installing tiles. It creates a strong bond and also comes at a low price. But does it work with other things like wood? 

Yes. Thinset bonds to wood, but you need to use a specific type of thin-set designed for wood. A typical thin-set will not work with wood. So, if you are planning to get a thin-set to work with wood, you should get the suitable ones for the wood.

Why are all types of thin-set not suitable for wood? Wood’s molecular bonds are not similar to tiles and concrete. Tiles and concrete do not change their shape, but wood can swell up because of the moisture. 

A regular thin-set also does not change its shape. So when you add tile mortar on wood, the wood will expand, and the thin-set will stay still. At first, the bond will work nicely, but the wood will expand a bit with time, but the thin-set will not. 

That will weaken the bond, and the wood will not adhere to the surface.

There is a specialized thin-set that bonds to the wood. That type of thin-set is flexible and adjusts any kind of wood shape change. However, a thin-set is not the best product to work with cement surfaces and wood. Urethane is a more suitable option for that.

There are some more things to keep in mind while working with wood and thin-set. If you want to install tile on a wooden surface, a wood thin-set will work, but make sure the wooden surface is strong enough to carry the weight of tiles.

Choose lightweight tiles to install on the wooden walls. There are different types of tiles, and all of them are not suitable for wood. Floor tiles are usually heavier, and those are not suitable for installation in the wood.

What about wooden tiles? Can you use a thin-set to install wooden tiles on concrete? Yes, it’s possible if you use a wood-thin-set. But urethane-based products work a lot better than thin-set.

Can you apply thinset to wood?

It’s possible to apply thinset to wood, but water-based thinset is not suitable. Latex-based thin-set works best to install tiles over wooden surfaces. Let’s try to find some pros and cons of applying thin-set to wood. 


Check out the pros of using wood-thin-set.

It is cheap:

Thin sets are a cheap and cost-effective way to work with tiles. A regular thin-set will cost $5 to $10 for 50lbs, and a specialized thin-set will cost more. But if you compare it with other options, thin sets are the most cost-effective.

Easy to work with:

With some basic research, it is possible to work with thin sets. That makes it suitable for DIY projects. 

Dries quickly:

Thin sets dry within 20 minutes, but it needs some hours to cure completely. It dries the fastest compared to the other alternatives. However, that can also cause issues if you don’t be careful. 

As the thin-set dries so quickly, you have to be good at timing and must not mix a lot of thin-set that you can not apply within the time. Start with a small amount, and after a couple of batches, you will understand how much you should mix for each batch.


Here are some of the cons of thin-set.

It’s not the best:

Thin-set for wood works decently, but it’s not the best. Urethane products work best for installing tiles on a wooden surface. Although the thin set for wood is flexible, moisture will still weaken the bond if the wood expands too much.

It gets damaged in moisture:

Wood adheres with a thin-set, but it is prone to damage in high humidity conditions. That means it will not last long in your kitchen, bathroom, balconies, and outdoors. 

Requires time maintain:

The thin-set dries fast, so one needs to apply it before it dries. That is actually a pro if you are not lazy.

Can cause health issues if not careful:

Like all cement products, it can cause some health issues if not careful. If inhaled, the dust particles can cause respiratory irritation, eye irritation, and skin issues. 

So, one must work with proper wearing like long clothes, gloves, a mask, and a protective eyeglass. Not only while mixing, but it is also essential while removing tile.

How to use thinset on wood?

The installation process of using a thin-set on wood is pretty straightforward. There are three easy steps to use thin-set on wood. Here are the steps.

Before you start:

Before you start using a thin-set on the wood, you must get the necessary staff you will need for applying. The first thing is the right thin-set. As we mentioned earlier, a wood thin-set will be required in the project, made of latex. 

After you get the right product, collect the necessary equipment. You will need a bucket, water and a trowel. Before you start, you must also wear a mask, gloves and protective eyewear to protect yourself from the dust. Here are the steps.

Mix the thin-set with water:

The first step is making a thin-set mixture with water. Take the bucket, pour the thin-set, and add water to the mix. You can know the proper amount of water by reading the instructions. So, make sure to read that first.

Also, don’t make a large amount of thin-set mix at once. If you can not use all the thin-set mix on time, the rest will get solid and unusable. Mix a small amount in the first few batches, and you will understand the right amount you can work with at once.

The application process:

Take a small amount of thin-set on the trowel and apply it evenly to the wood. Keep in mind that the mix will get hardened within 20 minutes.


After applying the thin-set, you can now start to add the wood. Apply a bit of pressure to set the wood in place. Make sure to install the wood pieces evenly.

Will thinset stick to painted wood?

Thin-set specialized for woods does stick to painted wood without any issue. But again, make sure to use a thin set for wood. If the paint conditions are not good or if the paint is coming off, you will have to remove the paint first. The bond will not last on damaged paint.

Do you need to repaint a wood surface to install tile on it? If the paint is damaged, just remove the stain before installing the tile. Paint is not necessary to apply thin-set. 

Does thinset stick to plywood?

Thinset can stick to all types of plywood, but the thin-set needs to have a good amount of latex. Thin-set that have more latex can adapt to the changes of plywood as latex makes thin-set flexible. There is a specific type of thin-set in the market made only for use on wooden surfaces.

Check out if the thin-set attaches to those types of plywood.

Thinset to pressure treated plywood:

Pressure-treated woods are better for this set. Treated timber is less likely to change its shape.

Modified thinset stick to plywood:

A modified thin-set for wood is the best option on the wooden surface. Regular thin-set does not do well on the wooden surface.

Unmodified thinset stick to plywood:

Unmodified thinset can stick to plywood if you add extra latex with it.

Final thoughts

Specialized thin-set for wood does stick to wood and stay bonded for a long time. But regular ones will bond at first but will not last long. Wood thin-set can also be used in painted wood, but make sure to remove damaged paints as it will weaken the bond.