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QuestionHow do you get tiles to stick to plywood?

tiles keep coming away from plywood that boxes in pipe work

23 Answers

Best Answer

Professional tile adhesive manufacturers, BAL, Mapei, Weber etc technical departments all explicitly warn against the use of PVA, and provide specific instructions on preparing plywood surfaces prior to tiling with their products. Plywood requires the application of a latex based bonding solution to the plywood to seal it and then the use of a flexible cement based adhesive, not pre-mixed tub adhesive. All of this assumes that the plywood is thick enough to be reasonably rigid and doesn't bow and flex with temperature variation. Best material I have found for boxing pipes in bathrooms is 6mm concrete backer-board - it has more rigidity than plasterboard, doesn't require sealing and won't lose structural strength like plasterboard if it gets wet.

GID Tiling & Repairs 18th Feb, 2011

Never use PVA over plywood. Ensure that the ply is suitably fixed first to minimise any movement, then use a latex based primer and a cement based flexible adhesive and flexible grout. (both powdered bagged versions not premixed tubs)

DS Interior Services Limited 19th Feb, 2011

first use bal prime A P D
then stick with BAL FASTFLEX
if the ply is thick enough eg 12 mm fastflex wont let go
try putting some on your OLD work trousers and then bend it when dry its like rubber
actually its partly made from recycled car tyres

L M Property Development 27th Mar, 2011

just seal the ply wood with pva or just screw some plasterboard to the pipe boxing and use any good tile adhesive should stick just fine .

S.E.S Tiling 18th Feb, 2011

Hi there
sound like the only thing missing in all these answers is, make sure if heating pipes are behind boxing in that you turn the heating off and let the area cool before attempting any tiling, the use of silicone to stick tiles to the wall is laughable at best and i wouldnt recommend this to anyone! A good powdered adhesive that is flexible is all you need, pva and other methods will not make your tiles stick to the ply you are merely creating a seperate barrier for the tiles to stick to and will fail, flexible adhesive and grout is all thats needed here
BAL flexible rapidset adhesive for timber floors
Mapei flexible adhesive also sets in 2 hours or so and a flexible grout
silicone lol ive never heard of that, well each to there own i spose
kind regards

McLarren property maintenance 14th Mar, 2011

There are a few things that could be causing this. Most likely a non flexible adhesive has been used and as the board is expanding due to the heat from the pipes the adhesive isnt giving enough to allow the tiles to stay fixed. I would recommend a two part latex based adhesive in this situation as it is very flexible and durable and should cope with the situation.
You could also help the situation by using a thicker plywood that wouldnt flex as much.
Also, maybe the plywood isnt fixed well enough which would add to the movement under the tiles.

Professional Tiling Solutions 18th Feb, 2011

I agree with Pure Building and Plumbing. For a quick solution without replacing all the ply, use silicon provided it can key into the wood! I usually do tiling in around bath ends this way. Never had a problem.

However, I would possibly clad with a water board (Dukka or Marmox), tape, water proof it with a proper sealer (not PVA) if the tiles were going to get regular shower spray.

Blake Ecotec Ltd 18th Feb, 2011

Ply obviously hasnt been sealed so adhesive wont bond, it just gets sucked straight into ply.You need to Seal Ply then when dry apply Flexible adhesive preferably Bal adhesive.
Hope this helps.

Criterion Flooring 18th Feb, 2011

Hi, The tiles adhesive is probably not designed to be used on plywood. It may pay to remove all the tiles and plywood, fix plasterboard to pipe boxing instead of plywood and re-tile.

P.C.Brown Plastering Ltd 18th Feb, 2011

Clean and heavily score area to where tiles are to be fixed, it sounds like the adhesive does not have a rough surface in which to secure itself to. to be sure, maybe drill up to 6 evenly spread out holes in the plywood, at least 4mm deep or straight through in the areas to be tiled, so the adhesive sinks into the holes and hardens, hence creating a stronger fix.
be careful, by not going to far and drilling through the pipes.
this will do the trick should any of the other ideas mentioned not.

Terry Multi Traders 18th Feb, 2011

Pva is the key. Ensure the plywood is firm and does not flex and then give a good coat of pva.. This should rectify your problem

N.J STEWART Services 18th Feb, 2011

The answers above are good advice and cover the question well. Just to reiterate.

1) Pva the boxing first after removing tiles and old adhesive. 2 coats and let it dry.
2) Use a flexible tile on wood adhesive.
3) use a flexible grout.

all are available from B&Qs and no I dont have shares.

If you can change the actual boxing, either use thicker plwood, 12mm gyproc or backer board. Once again all available from B&Q.

Also when you stick the tiles make sure you cover the whole tile with adhesive, dont put it on the wood, and make grooves in the adhesive.

Hope this helps

Danny Marks

D Marks Contractors. 19th Feb, 2011

Tiling onto plywood using a standard tile adhesive can be problematic, initially I would make sure that the plywood surrounding the pipe work is secure and that you don't have any movement in it.
Then I would remove any loose tiles and scrap away any adhesive that is left on the ply and tile, you want the ply and tile to be perfectly clean for the next stage.
Finally I would apply a good quality silicone such as Dow Corning onto the tile and stick it to the ply in this way. This should ensure a good adhesion and allow for any movement.
Leave for 24 hours before grouting.

Pure Building and Plumbing 18th Feb, 2011

take of old tiles,make sure boxin in is properly secured,then fix aqua board and retile with waterproof adhesive and grout.

y,not build 19th Feb, 2011

A good coat of pva bonding would be best applied to the boxing first then re-tiled


It could be a few things 1 it my have been a cheap tile adhesive which has not bonded to the ply. 2 The ply has not been sealed to give a good bond to the tile adhesive.
Me I seal all surfaces with a pva sealer before I tile to give the adhesive a good bond.
You will need to take off all loose tiles, seal the ply, stick tile back on and grout.


(Herringbone property services)

HERRINGBONE 18th Feb, 2011

Hello Mike,

Try using a chemical compound resin; you can buy this in a tube just like silicone. This will stick nearly and material to just about any thing.

Best Regards.

By Design 18th Feb, 2011

You need to seal the ply first with P.V.A. If you do not the wood will suck all the moisture out of your tile adhesive too quickly and no bond will be formed between the two and your tiles will fall off easily.Hope this helps.

m w building construction and property maintenance 18th Feb, 2011

are you using flexible adhesive and grout

Taylor'd Building Services 18th Feb, 2011

put pva and water onto the plywood first to seal the surface

sjlpropertyrenovations 18th Feb, 2011

basically there our always wayas to over come any problematic problem but in my experience its the cheapest one which most our interested in many people will give the i have done this done that to bump prices but stick to what works ie use silicone in a wavie pattern and applie tile to board it works its cheap but be prepared to leave a longer drying time before grouting

bailey building services 24th Mar, 2011

i never use pva to seal ply prior to tiling
you should use a more suited sealer
i use SBR

Martin's Property Maintenance 5th May, 2011

Put new gyproc on the plywood and tile onto that
Or Pva and water bonding onto plywood then use flexible
Adhesive and grout

C Glancey 25th Feb, 2011

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