Lesson 5: A Tiling Installation System that Works

Schluter this and Schluter that. What in the Schluter are we talking about?

By: David A. Tyson, CR, CKBR, CLC
David Tyson & Associates, Inc.; President

I am referring to a new, but old, tiling installation system that does not require cement-backer board.

In 1975, Werner Schlüter came up with a right-angle profile that has since evolved into one of the best tile installation products over the past couple of decades. Schlüter products have proven themselves.

Small details often result in large advantages for the tile installer and Schlüter’s joint spaces make tile setting easier and cleaner. Recently, we became aware of the products that this company produces and will be using them soon.

Schlüter this. Schlüter that.

One of the products that a good friend and fellow NARI Certified Remodeler has recommended to us is the Schlüter- Kerdi shower-tile system.

This system requires no cement backer board, no mud pan, and no vinyl liner. But — you may ask — how do you waterproof the shower? How do you slope the shower floor? How is the curb integrated into the shower? What do you thin-set the tile to? Schlüter-Kerdi is a polyethylene waterproofing membrane, equipped with an anchoring fleece on both sides. It is suitable for waterproofing in conjunction with tiled surfaces on walls and floors and is ANSI listed.

Kerdi comes in rolls. The widest is 33 in. with rolls of 16-, 33-, or 98-ft. in length. It is also available in widths of 5-, 7 1/4-, and 10-in. with rolls of 16 ft. to 98 ft. in length. Schlüter makes it easy by having two types of inside and outside corners available.

The best part is the shower-pan system. They have three standard sizes: a 4- by 4-ft. shower pan with a center drain and two different 32- by 60-in. shower pans (one end drain like a tub replacement and one center drain). These prefabricated pans, made out of lightweight polystyrene (PSI 40) for constructing mortar free shower receptors, are easy to cut down for special sizes. They are 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-in. thickness on the edges and they also have a 4-ft. wide ramp available for accessible type projects. The curb material is also made out of polystyrene (6- by 4 1/2-in.) and is easily cut to fit most any application.

Schlüter also makes their own shower drain. The polystyrene pans have a recess around the drain hole for thin setting down the integrated bonding flange with the square drain cap that is available in stainless steel finish, brushed copper/bronze, brass, and nickel. One of the best advantages of this type of drain is the ability to adjust the location of the drain in the wet thin-set while installing the tile to maximize less cutting around the drain itself. This drain system also gives you the ability to adjust the drain in height to allow for lateral and tilt adjustment as well as accommodating tile from 1/4- to 1 1/4-in. in thickness. The 3 5/8-in. square drain works great with 4-in. and smaller tile.

Putting it Together

How do you put all this together? Schlüter has created a complete kit with everything you need except the unmodified thin set. The polystyrene pan, Kerdi rolls and bands, the drain, and curb are all in a package with a retail price ranging from $464 to $487 depending on the finish of the drain. It’s a great deal, and you can start setting tile just as soon as you have all this installed.

The installation is very simple. It is all detailed in a very simple instructional CD. The entire system is glued down with unmodified thin-set mortar applied with a 1/4- by 3/8-in. trowel. After the drywall has been installed, the pan is glued down; you need to then check for complete adhesion. The next step is to glue down the bands along the walls at the base of the shower and the inside corner at the walls. After spreading the thin set directly over the drywall, the Kerdi sheet is applied all the way up the wall with joints overlapping by at least 2-in. Spread the thin-set over the entire pan, set the integrated bonding flange of the drain into the recess of the polystyrene pan and then cover the entire pan with a layer of Kerdi.

The curb is then cut to fit, thin set into place, and covered with the Kerdi material. With each step in the Kerdi installation process, it is absolutely imperative to use the flat side of the trowel to press the Kerdi materials into the thin set and squeeze out the excess for a complete bond to your substrate. Now you are ready for tile installation.

This system also works with a dry-set mud pan. Schlüter has thought of everything for all sorts of tile installations. Check out their other products available at most tile suppliers or www.schluter.com.

Schluter-Systems L.P.
194 Pleasant Ridge Road
Plattsburgh, NY 12901-5841

Tel: 1.800.472.4588
Fax. 1.800.477.9783

Proceed to the Test