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Beautiful Tiled Showers with Superior Moisture Protection and Peace of Mind

Beautiful Tiled Showers with Superior Moisture Protection and Peace of Mind
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A common misconception about tiled showers is that the tile and grout joints are waterproof. They are not. They are water resistant at best, and if not installed along with a waterproofing system, the chances of water damage will increase, as well as the efflorescence and mold growth on the supporting subfloor and walls.

This deterioration can be a few months or a few years, but it is only a matter of time. And if a shower is on the second floor of a home, well, you can see how the problem will be more serious.

Here’s how you can avoid moisture and vapor damage in your tiled shower.

First, you should know that there are two ways that tiled showers are constructed:

1) the Traditional Tiled Shower System, also referred to as the water in/water out system; and 2) the Sealed System. It should be obvious by their names which of these will give you the protection you need, but let’s explore their differences for a better understanding of what’s important to know.

Find Schluter products at Materiales El Valle

Good news! Whether you are a builder, a contractor, or a DIY weekend warrior, you can now go to Materiales El Valle stores here in South Texas to find out more about Schluter’s products.

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The Traditional Tiled Shower System is the most used system, not only in the Valley, but across the country. Why? Three reasons may surprise you. First is the natural inclination among contractors to do things the way they’ve always done them. It’s what they know and have learned to do efficiently, and fast, so they stick with that. Second, there’s a fear of the unknown—especially if it involves learning something new. Third, and most important, contractors and builders have the misconception that the second system—the sealed system— will be more expensive and take longer to install. They are wrong, so let’s compare the two to see why.

The traditional water in/water out system, if done properly, is effective, but it is labor intensive and requires days to install. It requires a mortar bed on the floor of the shower to be sloped properly to the drain. A waterproof pan liner is placed over the mortar bed and clamped to the drain. Since the pan liners do not allow for the application of tile, a second mortar bed must be installed to provide a bonding surface for the tile. Remember, grout is not waterproof, so it’s inevitable that water and vapor will go between the grout joints, even if they are treated with a sealant. The moisture and vapor pass through to the mortar bed and to the pan liner, which should direct the water to the drain.

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Now think about this. We use the shower almost every day, sometimes more than once. And every time we do, we use about 30 or more gallons of water. That’s the equivalent of 1,000 inches of rain a year, so that shower floor will have more water fall on it than your roof.

A lot more.

The mortar bed will begin to retain moisture and become saturated by never having a chance to dry out completely. A variety of problems can make matters worse, for example: if the mortar bed slope was done improperly or not at all; or accidentally nailing through the pan liner; or not ensuring leakproof corners; or obstructions to the weep holes in the drain.
Lastly, from the foundation to the whole structure of a new home, everything moves, even if it is slightly over time. Since the tile is directly attached to the mortar and the mortar to the structure of the home, cracks in the tile or grout are inevitable.

Additionally, the traditional water in/water out system requires installing a moisture retarder behind the backer boards on
the walls of the shower and lapped over the pan liner to divert that moisture into the pan. If not done, this will allow moisture and vapor to penetrate to the wood studs and other moisture-sensitive building materials in the home. The take- way message about the water in/water out system in your shower is that it is not guaranteed to be waterproof.

Materiales El Valle has in-house Schluter product specialists who will provide all the expert advice and information you need for your project. And while you are there, you will want to check out their largest inventory of tile products in the Rio Grande Valley because you will need beautiful tile with quality that stands out to match the superior quality of your Schluter shower.

THE SEALED SYSTEM – The Schluter®-Shower System

For a tiled shower to be truly waterproof, it should be installed using the Sealed System. And the best of sealed systems is produced by Schluter®-Systems, a global company providing an extensive line of reliable products and systems for ceramic and stone tile installations. Schluter’s integrated family of products offers everything you need for a guaranteed waterproof tiled shower and more.

The Schluter®-Shower System’s integrated products create a fully bonded waterproof and vapor-tight shower assembly ready for tile installation. These Schluter products eliminate leaks and water damage, and reduce the potential for efflorescence and mold growth in the system. More impressively, using Schluter products reduces installation time and provides the flexibility for customization within the shower space. The company also offers several Schluter®-KERDI Shower Kits that include everything you need for an efficient and easy shower install.

The Schluter products are specifically engineered for ceramic and stone tile installations and help eliminate many of the problems and challenges encountered when building with tile. The polyethylene material that the products are made of is designed to provide the waterproofing layer that protects the water and vapor- sensitive substrates like gypsum and other backings.

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The first component of the Schluter® Shower System is the Schluter® KERDI, a pliable, lightweight waterproofing membrane that is applied to the mortar bed on a shower floor. The Schluter® KERDI waterproofing membrane is also used over solid backings like gypsum board or cement board for the shower walls by using thin-set mortar. The sheets of Schluter® KERDI can be cut to size and overlapped or abutted using KERDI-BAND waterproofing strips centered over the joints to provide the required 2” overlap for a tight seal. Schluter accessories include KERDI-SEALs for penetrations and protrusions like the shower head and hardware, and KERDI-KERECK corners to provide waterproofing in those sensitive areas and customizable curbs to fit the shower space.

The company offers a line of prefabricated shower trays with point and linear drain options for a more stylish look, and these are pre-sloped for proper water flow to the drain to keep the subfloors safe from water damage. Additionally, pre-sloped load bearing shower benches are available in various sizes and can be easily cut and customized to fit any space to remove the need for wood bench frames in a water environment.

Not only does the Schluter® Shower System offer the best water and vapor protection for a shower, it also substantially reduces the amount of time it takes to install the tile application. And, to top it all off: when considering the cost of labor and figuring in the potential cost of expensive water damage repairs or call backs, the system will cost less than a traditional water in/water out system.

Find Schluter products at Materiales El Valle

Contact Materiales El Valle for a personal consultation on your    project needs. Visit to see their tile products.

© RGV New Homes Guide, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to RGV New Homes Guide with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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