Do it yourself!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Backerboard vs. Ditra

Tiling has changed a lot over the last 20 years. Wall and floors used to be prepped with wire mesh and cement. Slowly concrete board of various types A board made by Hardiebacker is probably the most popular. It is used on shower walls and plywood floors to provide a suitable substrate for tile. It, and Wonderboard are used mostly in most showers but on pier and beam construction with plywood floors a new product is taking over called Ditra, developed by the Schluter company.
The development of ditra has revolutionized how tile is installed over floors on pier and beam construction. It takes the place of backerboard which reduces labor considerably. Probably the most important aspect of ditra is the uncoupling factor. With ditra, if the sub-floor moves it does so independent of the tile. It also adds strength to the floor which reduces the thickness of the plywood needed to cover the joist. It is lightweight compared to backerboard and much easier to cut and put down.
Ditra provides water proofing. Once the joints are covered with Schluters Kirdy Band the floor is waterproof from the top which is very important in areas where a lot of water is used and there are a lot of possibilities of water getting on the floor.
Ditra also provides moisture management from the wood and ground underneath which constantly absorbs and releases moisture. It provides an escape for this moisture.
Ditra xl is new to the marker coming out this year. It is 5/16” thick which provides extra strength allowing one to lay tile over floor joist on 2’ centers with only one layer of 3/4” plywood. It also makes for a smoother transition from tile to 3/4” hardwoods.
I have been using Ditra for several years now. I work by myself and the labor saving factor alone is well worth the little extra that it cost compared to backerboard.


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I’m 1st time installing tiles onto my kitchen. I just ripped of the vynel & partical board of the floor. What would be easier & stable & reliable for tiles. Hardie(wonder board) or Ditra?

I always use ditra on plywood floors. Your main concern is deflection. If you don’t have enough plywood on the sub floor it will sag when walked on and your tile will crack. If the floor joist are on 16” centers you can use one layer of 3/4” plywood. If 24” centers, 1 1/4”. There is a new ditra out now, however, that can be used on one 3/4” layer of plywood on 24” centers. Once your sub floor is correct ditra is the way to go.  richard

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