Differences between Sand Topping Mix and Cement Mortar

The Recipe Differences for Thinset Mortar and Sand Topping Mix

By Mark J. Donovan

The words cement, concrete and mortar are commonly used interchangeably.

However, the truth is that cement, or more specifically Portland cement, is the key binding agent in both concrete and mortar.

Concrete is formulated using a combination of Portland cement, sand, and gravel, depending upon the desired strength of concrete.

Similarly, mortar, or thinset mortar, is formulated using a combination of Portland cement and sand. With thinset mortar finer sand is used. 

Watch these videos on installing a shower mortar pan and tiling a shower stall.

Sand Topping Mix is made from a combination of Portland cement and a mixture of sand. Normally the specific concrete topping mix ratio for sand topping mix is three parts sand to one part Portland cement.

It is typically mixed with water to produce a stiff mud consistency. It is commonly used in the construction of floors for ceramic tiles, as well as used for filling material in masonry block cores and chimney construction.

It is easier to spread and creates a stronger strength shower floor base for laying ceramic tile.

Thinset Mortar Mix Ratio

Thinset mortar is used for actually applying ceramic tiles to a shower bed or walls.

Thinset mortar is again a combination of Portland cement and a fine sand mixture, however, the mix ratio of sand to cement is different. 

How to mix thinset mortar

With thinset mortar the ratio of cement and sand is one to one. 

Thus it is a stickier mixture that produces better adhesion. It is either mixed with water or a special latex liquid additive to produce a thick slurry.

For information on installing a shower pan membrane liner for a ceramic tile shower…

See the Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com.  The Shower Pan Membrane Liner EBook will quickly teach you the step-by-step process for installing the shower pan membrane liner correctly.

It includes instructions on framing the shower stall, pouring the pre-slope and shower base mortar, and installing the shower pan membrane liner.

Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation eBook

Also see my “How to Tile a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower” Ebook to learn how to tile your own shower:  For a detailed set of instructions on tiling a shower floor and walls, including pictures for every step in the process, see my “How to Tile Custom Ceramic Tile Shower Ebook”.

Use HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Ceramic Tile Calculator to calculate your tile projects tile needs.

Related Information

Additional Ceramic Tile Resources from Amazon.com


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