How-To's

The Definitive Guide To Schluter Products

By  | 

In my early contractor days, I installed tile floors & showers the “old-fashioned” ways: tile floors with concrete board or Hardi-Backer board for a tile substrate on top of wood floors, and rubber membranes and dry-pack shower bases for showers.

But, I saved myself a LOT of time and labor when I began using Schluter Systems products for both tile floors and custom tile showers. Their products make installation easier, reduce installation time, and the superior waterproofing technology eliminates leaks & reduces potential for mold growth beneath surfaces.

Contents

You’ll find a good deal of content, videos, and information in this page. But don’t be overwhelmed! …Feel free to browse down through it to learn more about various Schluter products, or click on one of the items below to go directly to that spot on the page:


A man laying ceramic floor tile

Schluter Products For Tile Floors

One part of home construction and improvement Schluter has dramatically improved the efficiency and integrity of, is the preparation for tile floors.

Their product offering began with an uncoupling substrate membrane, and has now expanded to such popular products as a tile floor radiant heating system.

I’ll cover it all below…

 Ditra For Tile Floors 

The process of laying tile is now MUCH easier for the D0-It-Yourselfer, with Schluter’s ingenious product, Ditra (pronounced Dee-truh). An uncoupling membrane, Ditra prevents any movement or stress in the subfloor from transferring through to the tile, which prevents such problems as cracked tile or grout.

I’ve used Ditra for at least 10 years now, and love it.

It’s made the process of preparing for tile better in several ways:

  • Easier: Where you previously had to use a 1/4″ Hardi-backer board or 1/2″ concrete board as a tile substrate, which was heavy to lug around and cumbersome to cut and fit into place, now you simply roll out the lightweight roll of Ditra, cut it to fit with a box knife, and apply to the floor with Thinset.
  • Faster: That old process of using concrete board for a substrate also required fastening it to the subfloor with screws every six inches or so, which took a LOT of time
  • More Reliable: The uncoupling provided by Ditra far outperforms that of traditional concrete board tile underlays…reducing the chance any movements in your house’s subfloor will result in any kind of cracks in the tile or grout.
  • Waterproofing: Made of polyethylene, Ditra serves as a waterproofing layer that will protect any moisture-sensitive substrate you have like plywood or OSB.

The Importance Of Uncoupling:

When installed properly, tile is an incredible flooring material that will last a lifetime and is extremely durable. It can be expensive, and requires quite a bit of labor to complete, so you absolutely want to do it right!

A key to ensuring the integrity of your new floor is with an uncoupling membrane like Ditra.

You see, it’s unavoidable that there will be movements in the subfloor below your tile floor – whether it’s from wood shrinking as it dries & ages, or from shifts and settling in the foundation and framing of your house.

…And, if the tile were installed directly on the subfloor, that movement would quickly be made apparent through cracks in the tile, or cracking and popping out of grout.

But, when you uncouple the tile from the subfloor, with something like Ditra, you allow the two layers to move independently of each other, protecting the tile from the movements of the subfloor.


Pro-Tip: Use a modified Thinset below the Ditra, to bond it to the subfloor, and use a NON-modified Thinset above the Ditra, to bond the tile to the Ditra substrate.


Amazon Badge

The Proper Ditra Installation Process:

This video details the proper steps to install Ditra over a wood susbstrate:


 

 Ditra Heat For Heated Tile Floors 

Tile floors are beautiful and very durable, but the can be a little cold on the feet, especially first thing in the morning when you walk into the bathroom!

Ditra Heat is an electric floor-warming system integrated into the Ditra uncoupling membrane that is applied to the substrate before laying tile. The electric heating cable snaps easily into channels in the plastic membrane.

Amazon Badge

In the video below, HGTV personality Mike Holmes, explains what he likes so much about the new Ditra Heat, and shows how to properly install it:

 



Schluter Products For Showers

The process of building a custom tile shower used to be quite labor-intensive, requiring many steps to complete, and unfortunately, even if done properly, still had the potential for problems such as efflorescence or mold growth.

…Called a “water in, water out” shower system, this traditional method began with first creating a pre-slope mortar bed with concrete and wire mesh. After letting that layer dry completely, a waterproofing membrane (pan liner) would be installed to fit the shower and clamped into the drain. Then, a second mortar bed had to be installed above the pan liner, in order to provide a surface the tile can be bonded to.

But, thanks to Schluter Systems, you no longer have to worry about doing all of that to ensure you have a beautiful, waterproof, custom tile shower!

Not only is their system much faster, easier, and less labor intensive, but it also provides superior protection from mold growth and rot that can occur from the traditional shower construction method. An integrated family of products, the shower system includes Schluter Kerdi waterproofing membrane, Schluter Kerdi Shower ST Tray, Kerdi Drain, and other pieces that all work together to create a completely sealed system.

This video explains how Schluter’s innovative sealed shower system (which we’ll cover in detail below) overcomes the possible problems of traditional “water-in, water-out” systems:

For complete, step-by-step instructions and details of building your own custom tile shower, check out the Ultimate Tile Shower Construction Guide here on Tile Shower DIY.

A Complete Overview Of Schluter Systems

In this video, two representative of Schluter Systems give a live presentation and demonstration to contractors, showing all the pieces of a shower made from Schluter Systems’ products.

 


 Kerdi Board 

Schluter’s Kerdi Board is a product that replaces concrete board or Hardi-backer board that is used on shower walls and in the construction of custom shower benches. It’s much lighter in weight, and cuts much more easily, making it great for homeowners, DIYers, and contractors who want to get the job done faster and more easily.

Amazon Badge

It’s more expensive, but if you want to get the job done faster and more easily, Kerdi Board is just for you.

 


 Schluter Shower Kit 

The Schluter Shower Kit includes most of the products you need to complete the waterproofing of your shower space:

  • Schluter Kerdi Shower ST Tray
  • Shower curb
  • Kerdi waterproofing membrane
  • Kerdi Drain assembly
  • Kerdi band for sealing corners
  • Kerdi Kereck corner sealing pieces
  • Pipe seal and mixing valve seal pieces

Decisions to make that will help you choose the right kit on Amazon:

  • What dimensions (width & depth) will the shower be?  – You’ll find kits offer various sizes of floor tray, such as 48″x48″ square, 32″x60″ rectangle (fits nicely in place of an existing tub), or a large 72″x72″ square
  • Where will the drain be located? – The drain placement in the shower tray can be centered, off to the left or right, or in a line across the back or sides (Kerdi Line Drain).

Amazon Badge

This video, from Schluter Systems, provides a comprehensive overview of how their system works and how to properly install in creating your own custom tile shower.

 


 Kerdi-Drain & Kerdi-Line Grate 

Schluter provides several options for the drain of your shower. Kerdi Drain is in the center of the shower, either direct center or offset left or right. And they also offer the Kerdi-Line Grate, which is a thin drain that runs the length of one wall of the shower.

Amazon Badge

This video shows the installation of the standard Kerdi Drain…


The video below, from Schluter Systems, shows the installation of Kerdi-Line Grate, which provides an elegant, sleek, modern option, having a drain along one side of the shower, and the floor all sloping in one direction toward that side where the drain is located…

Amazon Badge

 


 Kerdi Membrane 


The Schluter Kerdi membrane is excellent for water-proofing any wall surface in your shower or surrounding a tub, and is simple to install. It’s a plastic membrane embedded with an orange fleece material on each side. The membrane provides the water-proofing, of course, while the fleece material is what allows it to bond to the wall on the back side and tile on the front side (via Thinset mortar).

Amazon Badge

Apply the Kerdi to the walls with unmodified Thinset mortar, and a 1/8″ square-notched trowel. Also, prior to applying the Kerdi, be sure to wet the wall surface with a damp sponge, to help prevent the mortar drying too quickly.

 


 Kerdi Band 

Kerdi Band is the same material as the rolls of Kerdi membrane, except in 4″ strips, which you’ll use to waterproof seams. It’s one half the thickness of the Kerdi membrane, which reduces build-up at seams.

At about 3:00 minutes into the video above, you can see the process of applying Kerdi band (or overlapping Kerdi membrane sheets).

Amazon Badge

text

 


 Rondec Tile Edge 

text

Amazon Badge

text about video

 


 The Proper Steps To Build Your Shower With Schluter Products: 

  1. Give your drywall surface “a drink of water” by wiping down the wall with a damp sponge. This will keep the substrate from robbing the mortar of its moisture and making it dry out too quickly before properly bonding to the Schluter Kerdi membrane.
  2. Use premium, unmodified thinset, mixed to the consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Use a small-notched trowel, like the 1/8 x 1/8 square notch trowel Schluter offers, to apply mortar to your substrate.
  4. Use a drywall knife to apply pressure against the Kerdi membrane, evacuating thinset/mortar from behind the membrane. This creates a mechanical bond between the mortar, wall, and fibrous backing of the membrane.

 

You can watch this “fast forward” or time lapse style of video showing the complete installation of a shower using Schluter systems; including a bench and linear drain.

 


Frequently Asked Questions About Schluter Products

Q. Who Sells Schluter Products?

A. Schluter has a network of distributors and dealers located throughout the country. Home improvement stores like Lowes & Home Depot sell some of their products, but often have only the basics, leaving you searching for some of the specialty items Schluter offers. One of the easiest ways to find the exact Schluter products you need for your DIY tile project is via Amazon. Just about every Schluter product and variation you can imagine is available on there, and you get the great service and fast delivery you’ve come to expect from Amazon.

(Disclaimer: I will earn a small commission for anything you buy on Amazon should you follow my recommendation and click on the link to see Schluter products they have available)

You can also use Schluter’s dealer locator page to find a dealer close to you if you want to go that route.

Q. Where Can I Buy Schluter Products?

A. About the same answer as the previous question:

You can buy Schluter products from:

  1. Your local home improvement “big box” store – but don’t expect to find every variation and specialty item Schluter manufactures
  2. A local dealer using Schluter’s dealer locator page
  3. From the comfort of home on Amazon, where they have everything imaginable and deliver fast directly to your doorstep

Q. Where Are Schluter Products Made?

A. While the company was started in 1966 by Master Tile Setter, Werner Schluter, in Germany, the company has grown tremendously since then, including three locations in North America today: Plattsburgh, New York, Montreal, Quebec, and Reno, Nevada.

Q. Why Use Schluter Products?

While a bit more expensive than traditional materials & options, Schluter’s products make installation of your DIY tile project Easier, Faster, and provide Superior protection to leakage and prevention of potential mold-growth.