Thoughts on Premium Waterproofing
It sounds ironic when you first hear of it, but showers and built-in bathtubs need a premium waterproofing product. It’s especially necessary when you have a steam shower. Since the moisture content in the air is significantly higher than in a regular bathroom, you’ll need to reinforce the shower walls with barriers that are far more effective at preventing moisture from seeping into places where they shouldn’t be then the standard methods used by so many.
An Unfortunate Oversight in Regulation
If this is your first time hearing about the necessity of premium waterproofing layers for showers and bathroom floors, you’re not alone. Many old-school home builders and remodelers don’t see the need for premium waterproofing products. Many have been using the same method of laying tiles directly onto cement backer boards with a thin layer of liquid waterproofing such as RedGard and in more cases than not, for job cost savings eliminating the application step of RedGard.
This is an unfortunate oversight. The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook Committee’s guidelines for tile installers states that a moisture-proof membrane must be installed in the layers between the mortar wall and the shower tiles. Additionally, the TCNA Handbook stipulates that if the perm rating of the bonded waterproof membrane between the cement backer board and ceramic tiles is more than 0.5, a second water vapor retarder must be installed beneath the cement board or fiber-cement backer board.
Unfortunately there is not an inspection process set up to regulate this important step. Many builders/contractors skip or apply the bare minimum required for regular residential bathrooms.
There is good news. In the last 5-10 years there has been an influx in premium waterproofing systems to hit the market. A lot of these products go above and beyond the recommended requirements and streamline the installation methods.
The Advantages of Premium Waterproofed Showers
What can premium waterproofing do for your shower?
1.Prevents moisture from penetrating the materials beneath the tiles – When moisture makes its way behind the tiles, it’s unlikely to dry out before someone uses the shower again. You want to prevent this because sustained moisture in tight, enclosed spaces are prime breeding grounds for mold and mildew. The main way moisture makes its way through is an unsealed or cracked grout line. This can occur quickly over time if a heavy chemical has been used to clean. Heavy cleaners will eat away a sealer turning a standard grout into a sponge. Using Epoxy grout, specifically Laticrete Spectralock will prevent this from happening. With its stain proof properties, Spectralock grout is a maintenance free product which means it does not require a sealant to be regularly applied. The use of heavy cleaners is also permitted without any concern for grout deterioration.
- Prevents vapor issues – We’ve all seen moisture form on a window. Its cause is warm air on one side of the window with cold air on the other. This is also known as vapor. This can be a big issue in a steam shower or a shower that is on the exterior wall of a house. If not protected properly moisture can collect on the inside of your wall causing mold growth. The majority of waterproofing products on the market are rated for waterproofing but not rated to prevent vapor.
Schluter has a product that we use that is affordable and easy to work with called KERDI which is a sheet-applied waterproofing and vapor-retarder membrane that is installed behind the tiles in showers, bathtub surrounds, and other wet areas. By combining the Kerdi drain, Kerdi shower tray, Kerdi water-proofing membrane and Kerdi-band, we are able to create a water-proof and vapor tight system.
1.Avoid accidental falls in the shower – Perpetually-wet tiles are extra slippery. If you are in a situation where a gloss finished porcelain, glass or stone has been installed on a shower pan or bathroom floor and a slip-proof rubber mat is just not aesthetically appealing to you. Look into 511”s ANTI-SLIP product. Once applied, you’ll notice a significant difference. The added traction may be all you need to keep the mats off your beautiful floor.
If you’re in the process of selecting tile and working with Strictly Tile. We check with the manufacturer on its slip resistant rating. Each tile is rated and it is really important to make sure the minimum rating matches the area the tile is going.
2.Keep your shower glass door clear – When vapor and mist frequently form on glass, white residue that comes from trace minerals in tap water could form on the surface. This is difficult to remove and can make clear glass turn foggy. Once cleaned a product like SealPro can be used to prevent this from reoccurring. SealPro Glass Sealer is a coating that fills in the microscopic pores in glass and creates a chemical bond at the molecular level. The resulting barrier is so smooth and so slick that soap scum and hard water deposits cannot penetrate it. SealPro glass sealer works much like non-stick cookware.
The return in warranty, beauty and peace of mind is well worth the additional cost that a Premium waterproofing system provides. Half the battle here is just knowing that they exist and have the willingness to learn how to use them.
KERDI, DITRA by Schluter: Trusted Waterproofing for Floors and Showers
At Strictly Tile we have tested out quite a few methods and have come to trust the Schluter product family. KERDI and DITRA If you would like to do some research start with these two names.
Ditra is a premium underlayment product that offers four essential functions to create a durable tile floor.
- Uncoupling – Ditra features an open rib structure which allows the subfloor and the tile to move independently, eliminating movement stresses and preventing cracking and delamination of the tiled surface.
- Waterproofing – Ditra is made of polyethylene, which provides waterproofing and protects floors from moisture damage. This is a critical component in preventing mold and mildew, especially in wet areas.
- Vapor Management – Vapor is naturally released from your subfloor, and can travel up towards your tile covering to cause damage. Ditra’s configured channels create a free space to allow excess moisture to escape.
- Heavy Load Support – Column-like mortar structures are formed in Ditra’s cutback cavities, providing load distribution. Adequate support for heavy loads in an integral component to tiled floors, ensuring the finished result will last a lifetime.
KERDI Shower System is an integrated family of products that creates a “sealed” system for tiled showers, steam showers, steam rooms and bathtub surrounds. The Kerdi system provides the solutions to common tile installation challenges, including effective waterproofing and uncoupling membranes. Ceramic and stone tiles are beautiful, practical, and sustainable, however, they are not inherently waterproof. KERDI is a sheet-applied waterproofing and vapor-retarder membrane that is installed behind the tiles in showers, bathtub surrounds, and other wet areas. By combining the Kerdi drain, Kerdi shower tray, Kerdi water-proofing membrane and Kerdi-band, we are able to create a water-proof and vapor tight system.
If you want to know more about Schluter Systems’ vapor retardants and waterproofing membranes, get in touch with Strictly Tile. We’ll be happy to give you more specifics about its features, installation methods, and benefits. Contact us today.