Masonry Adhesive vs. Mortar: Which to Use?

Masonry Adhesive vs. Mortar: Which to Use?

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If you are working with masonry, items such as bricks and stones need to be securely fastened or attached to each other. Two very popular methods of doing so include using mortar and masonry adhesive.

Now, although they can sometimes be used for the same purposes, the two are not the same things. Moreover, they also have different properties, pros and cons, and uses. Let’s figure out which of the two you need for your next project.

Masonry Adhesive and Mortar: The Basics

Before we get into talking about the similarities and differences between masonry adhesive and mortar, let’s first figure out what the two of them actually are.

What Is Masonry Adhesive?

Masonry Adhesive In case the term confuses you, masonry adhesive is also referred to as masonry glue, brick glue, construction adhesive, and landscape block adhesive. They’re all the same thing. It is a special type of glue or adhesive generally used to perform repairs on stone, to keep small pieces of stone in place, and so on and so forth. This is a very quick drying type of adhesive that is also waterproof.

Now, one thing to keep in mind here is that some masonry adhesives cure when the various components come into contact with water, whereas others require oxygen in the air to cure.

What Is Mortar?

Mortar on the other hand is a much more permanent type of building material or mixture, something that is made out of sand, cement, and lime, all of which are finely ground into a powder, and then mixed with a certain amount of water right before use.

It is used as the binding material or connector between various pieces of masonry such as blocks, bricks, and other stones. What is interesting to note is that mortar actually needs to stay wet for up to 48 hours in order to achieve a proper cure.

Similarities of Masonry Adhesives vs. Mortar

Now that we know what both mortar and masonry adhesives are, let’s figure out what their similarities are.

#1: The Materials They Are Used With

OK, so the most basic similarity between mortar and masonry adhesive is that they are both used for masonry, or in other words, they are both used to connect various pieces of masonry such as stone, bricks, blocks, cinderblocks, and more. Both of these products are designed to adhere one piece of masonry to another.

#2: A Long Curing Process

Another basic similarity that both masonry adhesive and mortar share is that they take quite a long time to dry and cure. Of course, in order to achieve the best results, they do need to dry and cure properly. With that being said, as you will see from the differences below, they don’t cure at the same rates.

#3: They Are Waterproof

The third similarity that both mortar and masonry adhesive share is that they’re both designed to be waterproof. In other words, both of these things can be used both for interior and exterior purposes, where there is a lot of moisture involved. While masonry adhesive won’t last as long as mortar, not nearly as long, it can still deal with a good amount of water before it starts to degrade.

Differences Between Masonry Adhesives and Mortar

Now, let’s dive into the differences – something that will be crucial in helping you choose the right material for you job.

#1: Mixing vs. Ready-Made

One of the main differences between mortar and masonry adhesive is that mortar actually needs to be mixed with water before you can use it, and this means that you need to follow very specific mixing instructions.

On the other hand, when it comes to masonry adhesive, this comes ready to go in a tube. Usually, a caulking tube, which means that all you have to do is squeeze it out. There is no mixing involved with masonry adhesive.

#2: Ease of Use

What definitely needs to be said here is that mortar is a lot harder to use than masonry adhesive, mainly because you do need to mix it properly. Because there is no mixing involved with masonry adhesive, you don’t have to worry about improper ratios.

Moreover, when it comes to mortar, you need to have the proper tools to spread it out, whereas with masonry adhesive, squeezing it out of a tube is really not very difficult – all you need is a caulking gun.

Using Masonry Adhesive

#3: Curing Process

When it comes to the curing process, the two can be very different, but they can also be the same.

Mortar requires a high level of moisture in order to care properly and actually needs to be kept wet for at least 48 hours. Now, there are some types of masonry adhesive that also need moisture to cure, but for the most part, they use air. This also makes life easier because you don’t have to worry about keeping masonry adhesive wet for curing.

#4: Curing Time

Another difference between the two is that masonry adhesive usually takes two to seven days to cure, whereas mortar can take up to a full four weeks or 28 days in order to achieve a full cure.

#5: Weight-Bearing and Strength

Perhaps the biggest difference between mortar and masonry adhesive is that mortar is just a whole lot stronger. Masonry adhesive is not designed to hold up a whole lot of weight, whereas mortar is. Mortar can be used to build full-sized brick walls and structures. This is not something that you can do with masonry adhesive.

Masonry adhesive is designed to maybe attach a brick or two to a wall, or to hold up a piece of stone, but not for extreme weight-bearing applications. The bond that mortar forms is a lot stronger than the bond formed by masonry adhesive, and it can also handle a whole lot more weight. Generally speaking, masonry adhesive cannot be used for structural applications.

#6: Adhesion to Other Materials

For the most part, masonry adhesive just won’t stick to other materials such as wood, but this is a problem that mortar usually doesn’t have to deal with. Mortar will stick to wood just fine.

#7: General Use

As we already touched on above, the simple reality is that masonry adhesive is fine for holding down some bricks to the floor or for attaching stone decorations to walls, or for other such purposes, even for repairs too. However, masonry adhesive is just not all that strong (in the grand scheme of things), and it’s definitely not structural in nature.

Mortar, on the other hand, is much stronger, it can hold up more weight, it lasts longer, and is much more waterproof too, which means that it is ideal for structural applications, such as for setting whole brick driveways or for building walls. Masonry adhesive is fine for small repairs.

Masonry Adhesive vs. Mortar: Which of the Two Should You Use?

The bottom line here is that if the task you are working on is structural in nature, then it is mortar that you want to go with. But if you are only working on a small scale, such as gluing a brick or a stone to a brick wall, then masonry adhesive will do just fine. Moreover, if you are just doing small repairs, then masonry adhesive will also work.


Now that you know what the differences between masonry adhesive and mortar are, you can now make an informed decision as to which one to use for your next project.