If you thought choosing tiles for your project was hard, wait until you get to the thinset. There are several thinset brands in the market. Each company promises an unrivaled bonding strength and ease of use.
But the truth is, these thinset brands are all formulated differently. Considering that thinset plays a crucial role in tile installation projects, you must make an informed choice.
Mapei and Versabond are popular names in the thinset industry. If you are stuck between choosing these two, we will highlight the similarities and differences so that you can identify which is ideal for your tile installation job.
What is Versabond?
Versabond is an all-purpose thinset with a rich formula that can be used in tile and floor projects. Versabond can cure even in cold climates and has excellent bonding strength.
Versabond comprises Portland cement, inorganic aggregates, copolymers, and other chemicals responsible for its performance.
Since Versabond comes as a dry formula, it should be mixed with clean water when preparing it for use. On the packaging, there are instructions about the ratios you should use.
The good thing about Versabond is it has a longer working time. Therefore, after some five to ten minutes, you should always stir the mixture to ensure an even distribution of the contents.
Versabond is a great thinset mortar that is both powerful and flexible. It’s important to know that Versabond is modified, making it better than most average thinset mortars.
Versabond has got a wide range of applications. For instance, it can be used in flooring and tiling installations. That doesn’t come as a surprise because it’s an all-purpose thinset mortar. Versabond works well with granite, marble, porcelain, and plywood subfloors.
It’s important to know that Versabond has a few limitations. For instance, it shouldn’t be bonded directly to OSB boards, metal, hardwood, particle board parquet, and sponge or cushion.
On such surfaces, it won’t hold for very long. Please note that the manufacturers of Versabond don’t recommend it as a suitable tile for submerged water surfaces such as pools. Besides the above limitations, Versabond is an excellent thinset mortar.
What is Mapei?
Mapei is a leading brand in the thinset industry. Most of their thinset mortars are usually unmodified. But they have some modified options, such as the Mapei Ultralite Mortar.
Mapei thinset mortars are generally premium grade, lightweight, and can be used for heavy and large tile installation.
One of the critical characteristics most homeowners appreciate with Mapei is its non-sag feature. Besides that, the Mapei thinset is formulated to be very easy to apply.
If interested, you can choose a Mapei thinset with a universal color formula. This can be used on translucent marble or light-colored stone installations.
Since moisture is a menace to most tile installation jobs, you will be glad to know that Mapei is very good at dealing with moisture. It’s also mold resistant.
This brand of thinset mortar is formulated to cover twice as much of the area of a typical thinset. This means that you will use less Mapei than other types of mortar.
How Are They Different?
• Versabond has Smaller Sand Grains than Mapei
Even if this is a one-time kind of project, you will have to familiarize yourself with thinset lingo. There is something known as sand grains when comparing thinset mortars.
The sand grain determines the thinset ability to hold the weight of a tile. Thinset with a large sand grain will be able to hold more weight.
Between these two, Mapei has a larger sand grain. Therefore it can hold more weight than Versabond. Because of the sand grain size, the Mapei thinset will not sag when bonding to larger tiles.
If your project entails the installation of bigger tiles, we advise you to go with Mapei. However, if the tiles are of considerable size and weight, you can consider Versabond.
• Mapei Has a Shorter Setting/Working Time than Versabond
Another notable difference between these two is the setting or working time. Because of the difference in formulas, thinset mortars have varying setting times.
If you intend to complete the tile installation project in the quickest time possible, we recommend Mapei. However, this can both be an advantage and a disadvantage. Allow us to elaborate.
Mapei’s quick setting time enables you to complete the project in the shortest duration. Versabond takes longer to set. But if you make any mistakes such as misalignment, Versabond will give you more time to correct such errors.
With Mapei, there is no room for that. If you are a newbie or anticipating some mistakes, please don’t be in a hurry to dismiss the thinset mortar with a longer setting time.
• Mapei Covers a Bigger Surface Area
When defining the Mapei thinset mortar, we mentioned that it covers twice the area typical thinset mortars do. Well, in this case, the ordinary thinset mortar referred to is Versabond.
You will need 28 lbs of Mapei to cover an 85-square-foot area. If you decide to use Versabond. You will use 50 lbs. that’s almost twice the amount needed. If you go with Mapei, you will cover the same area as Versabond but with a small amount of thinset.
For homeowners working on significant tile installation jobs, going with a thinset mortar that has a bigger coverage is a more cost-effective solution.
• Mapei is More Moisture Resistant than Thinset
Generally, thinset mortars are known to have some moisture resistance. However, varying thinset mortars have different moisture-resistant points. Of these two products, Mapei has a higher moisture resistance.
You can use it in the bathroom or kitchen without watering about tile damage. With Versabond, you can’t be too sure when installing it in an area that experiences a lot of moisture.
• Versabond is More Affordable
The price will depend on where you are buying the thinset mortar. However, irrespective of where you are comparing the prices, you will discover that Mapei is more expensive.
This is as long as you keep the size or amount constant. If you are on a budget, you should lean more towards Versabond.
• Versabond Has a Higher Bonding Strength
We wanted to save the biggest difference for last. Between these two thinset mortars, Versabond has a higher bonding strength than Mapei. Not to say that Mapei’s bonding strength is whack. It’s good only that you can’t match it with that of Versabond.
The reason why Versabond has better bonding strength is because of the presence of modified agents. In the beginning, we mentioned that most Mapei thinset mortars are unmodified.
On the other hand, Versabond thinset mortars are modified. By modified, we mean that it contains more polymers aimed at improving strength and adhesion.
If you are shopping for a thinset mortar, opt for the one with a higher bonding strength. That will ensure the tile adheres firmly to the walls.
How Are They Similar?
• Both Promote the Adhesion of Tiles to the Wall or Cement Board
Even though there are notable differences between these two, irrespective of which option you choose, you are assured of proper adhesion of the tiles to the wall or cement board.
• Both are Products from Reputable Brands
Mapei and Versabond are reputable names in the tile installation business. Many experts recommend either Mapei or Versabond. From the above descriptions, why both are excellent choices should be clear.
What’s Better about Versabond?
Versabond doesn’t have many impressive features as Mapei. But there is one thing that makes it stand out: it is modified. As a modified thinset mortar, it has a more substantial bonding power.
If you are interested in a tile installation adhesive that will ensure the tiles hold to the wall for years, Versabond should be your top pick.
It’s also a cheaper solution. Please note that some exceptions in Mapei are modified with polymers and are equally as strong.
What’s Better about Mapei?
There are a couple of things that we like about Mapei thinset mortar. First, it has a more prominent sand grain. Therefore, it can hold the weight of more extensive and heavier tiles without sagging.
If you are installing big tiles, this is the thinset you should use. Secondly, Mapei has a shorter setting time. If you are in a hurry, it seems like a viable option. It is also more moisture-resistant than Versabond.
Let’s not forget that it covers a larger surface area. That is, however, ruled out by the fact that Mapei is more expensive.
Who Should Get Mapei and Why?
Mapei is ideal for professional construction contractors or homeowners experienced in tile installation since you get a shorter setting time, so you must be careful during installation.
A trait that is only mastered by experts. Besides that, Mapei has plenty of features, such as being more moisture resistant and having a larger sand grain. These are features that will ensure the tile installation job is flawless.