What is the Schluter System? A Guide to Modern Shower Renovations

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Whether you’re looking at replacing a shower or revitalizing your entire bathroom, the most critical part of any bathroom renovation is ensuring your waterproofing is going to protect the room for years to come. While installing tile in your home can completely transform the look and feel of any space, in order to have a beautiful, lasting tile installation, it’s crucial to start with a proper waterproofing system. That’s where Schluter comes in. The Schluter system provides a revolutionary approach to waterproofing and tile setting that makes installing tile faster, easier and more reliable than traditional methods. In this article, we’ll explore what makes the Schluter system so unique and the key benefits it provides.

Fine Home Contracting recommends Schluter’s products across all bathroom remodels where there is space in the budget to accommodate it. We are proud to be Schluter certified installers, and stand by the quality, lifespan, and variety of options that Schluter provides.

What is Schluter’s Waterproofing System

At the heart of the Schluter system is a sheet-style uncoupling membrane called Ditra. Ditra is made from polyethylene that has an open, grid-like structure. When installed under tile, Ditra provides uncoupling, waterproofing, vapor management and crack isolation protection all in one step.

Traditional tile installations require multiple layers to achieve the same level of protection. First, a waterproofing layer like tar paper or plastic sheeting is installed. Next, a mortar bed or backerboard is added for structure. Finally, tile is applied on top. The Schluter system replaces all those steps with quick and easy Ditra installation.

Benefits over “WIWO” Systems

The traditional standard for shower construction before Schluter revolutionized the industry was known as WIWO. WIWO stands for “water in, water out.” This refers to waterproofing methods applied on the exterior of the foundation walls, under the tile, and around the shower to direct excess moisture to the drain. While WIWO protects from leaks coming through the slab, it doesn’t prevent cracks in the tile surface, and oftentimes showers constructed with these methods will have a shorter lifespan and require more maintenance.

The Schluter system takes a WITO approach – “waterproofing in the tile opening.” By applying waterproofing directly under the tile, the entire assembly is protected. Ditra uncouples the tile from any movement in the substrate, preventing cracks from transferring through to the tile surface.

Additionally, WIWO systems have messy overlapping seams and require extensive curing times. The Schluter system installs much faster with simple butt joints and no wait time before tiling.

Perks of Schluter

Schluter Ditra Heat adds integrated electric floor warming to the Ditra uncoupling membrane. The thin profile takes up very little floor height and the wire spacing provides even heat distribution, all while being easier to install than comparable heat pump systems. With Ditra Heat, you get all the benefits of uncoupling plus cozy, heated floors. Schluter also offers smart thermostats that allow you to automate your heating or control the temperature conveniently from your phone or tablet.

Recessed shelves in shower walls, also called niches, provide useful storage space for shampoo, soap and other shower necessities. Schluter prefabricated shower niches make installing these built-ins simple. With the waterproofing and structure already incorporated, simply setting the niche in place saves multiple installation steps like cutting into structural beams or reframing your shower. Schluter offers niche sizes, styles and finishes to suit any design aesthetic.

A shower bench adds convenient seating space and Schluter’s lightweight prefab options install in a snap. The low profile keeps benches unobtrusive while the sloped shelf design prevents water pooling. Available in a variety of lengths and finishes, Schluter’s shower benches integrate seamlessly into shower designs.

Curbless showers eliminate the step-over threshold for easy, accessible entry, sometimes even eliminating the need for a shower door. These “Barrierless” showers are becoming increasingly popular in higher end designs. However, water containment becomes an issue without a curb to block water.  Schluter has solutions to allow for curbless designs without leaks. The Kerdi-Line linear drain provides discreet drainage along the floor perimeter while Schluter shower ramps create subtle sloped transitions.

Between the broad product selection and available finishes, Schluter systems support truly customized designs. Mix and match components in polished chrome, brushed bronze, nickel and more to create one-of-a-kind looks. Schluter STEPs provide modular staging platforms perfect for sleek spa showers. With Schluter, you’re limited only by your imagination.

Finding a Certified Schluter Contractor

Because the Schluter system differs so much from traditional installations, it’s important to have a knowledgeable installer. Schluter offers extensive training programs to certify contractors on proper system installation. Certified installers have demonstrated mastery of Schluter product knowledge and applications.

At Fine Home Contracting, we are happy to be certified Schluter installers, and regularly attend Schluter’s Innovation Seminars to keep up to date on new products and techniques for our remodels. If you’re looking at remodeling, we’re happy to provide a quote.

If you are outside of our service area or seeking other quotes, Schluter’s website has a finder tool to help locate certified Schluter contractors in your area. Simply input your city or zipcode to see a list of qualified pros nearby. A certified installer is the best resource for ensuring a successful and code-compliant Schluter installation.

Conclusion

The Schluter system takes a revolutionary approach to tile assembly that results in a fail-safe, low-maintenance end product. Ditra technology provides essential uncoupling, waterproofing, and crack isolation that traditional methods can’t match. With benefits like seamless curbless showers, integrated electric floor heat, and effortless modular benches and niches, it’s easy to see why the Schluter system has become the new standard in tile installations. For beautiful, durable results you can rely on for decades, be sure to use a certified Schluter contractor.

FAQ

Can I combine Schluter waterproofing with a curbless shower design?2023-12-06T15:31:37+00:00

Yes, Schluter systems are adaptable to various shower designs, including curbless or barrier-free designs, providing flexibility in creating a modern and accessible shower space.

Does Schluter waterproofing increase the overall cost of a bathroom remodel?2023-12-06T15:31:18+00:00

While initial costs may be slightly higher than traditional methods, the long-term benefits of durability, ease of installation, and the avoidance of potential water damage often result in a cost-effective choice.

How does Schluter-DITRA-HEAT work, and is it energy-efficient?2023-12-06T15:30:51+00:00

Schluter-DITRA-HEAT is an underfloor heating system that warms the tiles. It is energy-efficient, allowing for zoned heating control and preventing the need to heat the entire room, focusing warmth where it’s needed most.

Can I use Schluter waterproofing in a steam shower?2023-12-06T15:30:11+00:00

Yes, Schluter systems are designed to withstand the conditions of a steam shower, providing reliable waterproofing even in high-moisture environments.

How does Schluter’s waterproofing system differ from traditional methods?2023-12-06T15:29:38+00:00

Schluter’s system, featuring the KERDI membrane, is a modern solution that creates a watertight seal, preventing leaks and mold. Traditional methods often rely on materials like cement backer boards, which may not provide foolproof protection. Schluter’s systems are also “sealed” as opposed to the traditional method of Water in, water out waterproofing, resulting in more complete drainage.

How long does the Schluter warranty coverage last?2023-07-18T18:37:51+00:00

Many Schluter products, including Ditra and Kerdi, come with a limited lifetime warranty. This protects against defects for as long as you own your home when installed per Schluter’s guidelines. See schluter.com for full warranty details.

Can Schluter systems be used in steam showers?2023-07-18T18:37:32+00:00

Yes, Schluter’s Kerdi membrane is specially designed for steam room applications. When installed according to Schluter’s recommendations, the waterproofing ability of Kerdi prevents moisture damage and allows for stress-free steam shower usage.

How do I maintain my Schluter shower or installation?2023-07-18T18:37:05+00:00

Since Ditra waterproofs the entire assembly, routine maintenance is minimal. Use pH neutral cleaners on tile surfaces. Any damaged grout joints should be repaired as needed to prevent moisture access. Seal grout lines annually with a penetrating sealer.

Can the Schluter system be used on both walls and floors?2023-07-18T18:36:31+00:00

Yes, Schluter products like Ditra and Kerdi waterproofing membranes can be installed on vertical and horizontal surfaces. Proper installation techniques should be used for each type of application.

Need a Contractor? We’re happy to help. Get in touch to request a quote.

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