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What you NEED TO KNOW about tile showers and waterproofing!

My favorite thing to do is to troll Pinterest for custom-designed tile showers (for hours). There is something so timeless and creative about tile. The possibilities are endless and the beautiful colors and shapes can turn a shower from blah to beautiful! That's until you're on your hands and knees with a toothbrush scrubbing discolored grout :( Is that just what we have to accept with tile? Is it always going to be more maintenance? NO! I shout it from the rooftops! No! This is a myth and has everything to do with improper installation. Here are some things you need to know as a homeowner who is considering installing tile in a bathroom or especially a custom tile shower:

Misconception #1 - Tile and grout waterproof your walls and floors. Um, no.

A common misconception is that once you install tile in your shower you have a big waterproof box that will last a lifetime. Wrong. So wrong. Tile and stone (and grout) can retain water. Depending on the tile you choose, moisture will seep through to your substrate. The substrate refers to the underlying materials the tile is attached to, or the building materials. Here in the Pacific Northwest we use things like wood, plywood, OSB, sheetrock and cement board. All these products are moisture-sensitive and must be protected in wet areas. When wetness gets trapped behind tile, the inevitable happens - mold. And thats where hands-and-knees, toothbrush scrubbing comes in. You're never going to win, because the staining is happening from behind the tile and grout, not on top.

Misconception #2 - Cement Board + Liquid Waterproofing Membrane = Waterproof

Cement boards may be classified as water resistant, as in, not affected by water exposure; however, they do allow penetration and passage of water and water vapor. To waterproof cement boards, many use a liquid membrane waterproofing material (RedGard, HYDRO BAN). This is common practice for the tile industry and we were taught this way as well. This system can work, but it is rarely used correctly and usually breaks down over time because of improper thickness or drying times. We are not against these products, but in our opinion, there are major drawback and concerns with these products. When using a rubber pan liner and mortar bed for a custom tile shower floor, even more issues can arise if the tiniest details are overlooked.

Solution #1 - A Trustworthy Waterproofing System

To ensure the lasting beauty of your new bathroom and protect your investment, a complete waterproofing system is essential. Tile and grout are not designed to waterproof, therefore the need for a waterproofing system becomes paramount. Moisture that penetrates these areas and collects in the wall cavities or floor structure is the primary cause of leaks and mold. In order to create a tiled shower that will last a lifetime, a waterproofing system is needed beneath the tile covering. The Schluter®-Shower System is an integrated family of products that together form a fully bonded, watertight assembly for tiled showers. The Schluter®-Shower System eliminates the risk of failures due to water and vapor penetration and dramatically reduces total installation time. From drains to shower benches to waterproofing pipe seals, Schluter®-Systems offers everything you need to ensure a dependable and watertight installation. And no, Schluter did not pay me for this blog post...although they should:)

Other upgrades we offer with the Schluter System are heated tile floors and curbless tile showers. For more information, feel free to contact us on our homepage with questions.

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