Did you know? Tile is not waterproof, or more correctly stated, the grout between traditional tile is not waterproof. And the tile we’re referring to here is any of the hard surface types (ceramic, porcelain, travertine, natural, etc) that require grout in between. Even if “sealed”, grout is not completely waterproof. Since moisture is the #1 enemy of all building materials, its clearly quite imperative that shower areas are watertight AND vapor tight underneath that tile assembly. Since 1966, Schluter systems has been providing comprehensive waterproofing assemblys for the entire range of small residential showers to large commercial steam rooms, and here are 4 reasons you need “comprehensive” when it comes to waterproofing shower tile assemblies.
- Waterproof. Clearly, anything that is meant to protect us from the elements needs to be waterproof. All of Schluter’s products used for waterproofing are just that, 100% waterproof when installed correctly. Even a cardboard box lined with Kerdi will not leak or get damp ( as demonstrated at all Schluter’s workshops).
- Vapor tight. Not only does water carry moisture, air does too. With a .75 perm rating (basically the rating on how easy air passes through), Schluter’s Kerdi membranes are all but 100% vapor tight as well. It used to be that the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) allowed up to 1.0 perm for a commercial steam shower. Only recently have they reduced that to .50 perms. Kerdi board just squeaks through that requirement at .48 perms, but Schluter’s Kerdi-DS membrane, at a little thicker profile, rates at .18 perms. According to the Building Science Corporation, most housewraps rate between 5 and 50 perms.
- Uncoupling. This is another subject in itself, but any tile that is chemically bonded to another surface will take on the movement characteristics of that surface, i.e.-cracks in concrete will telescope up through creating cracks in a tile layer bonded to it. Uncoupling solves this problem by creating a movement layer between surfaces that allow for expansion and contraction of substrates without affecting the tile. Wood is generally always unstable to some degree and Schluter says wood substrates move up to 9 or 10 times that of tile. Therefore, you need to “uncouple” those layers and allow them to move independently from each other. Schluter not only offers waterproofing membranes for shower walls, but they also provide a comprehensive line of “uncoupling” flooring underlayments with different thicknesses and options, etc.
- Ease of use. Carrying and cutting all of Schluter’s products is a far cry from the Durarock panels, mortar bags, and fluid waterproofing buckets of yesteryear. With the exception of their edge profiles, all of Schluter’s waterproofing products can be cut with a simple utility knife and many products come with grid lines that make the job even easier.
For more information on this company and its products, click HERE. And stay tuned for more comparison on how this holds up against other traditional methods of tile installations and stands the test of time.
Thanks for reading!