The Technology Behind The Tiles (Part One)

As the philosopher Plato said: "Necessity is the mother of invention," and for Schlüter-Systems, the world's number-one supplier of floor and wall tiling protection products, necessity is what it's all about. Certain types of profiles and accessories don't simply enhance the appearance of a tiling installation - in many cases they contain essential technology to prevent it from failing. In 1975, tiling installer Werner Schlüter was faced with a tricky problem. While tiling a bathroom with five doors he realised there was no protection to the edges of the tiles he was fixing, where they abutted the adjoining floor coverings. He quickly came up with a solution: a profile that, when fixed into the tile adhesive, edged the tile, leaving the bathroom floor neat, tidy and most importantly, protected from damage. The Schlüter-SCHIENE was born.

Today Schlüter-Systems has grown into the world's foremost supplier of tiling protection products. With around 5,000 products in its range, Schlüter plays an essential role in almost every tiling installation, keeping tilers, specifiers and stockists up to date with the mechanics of modern protection products and the technology behind them, to ensure that their tiled applications look as good in years to come as the day they were installed.

Schlüter's areas of expertise covers a number of tile protection categories:

Uncoupling, Waterproofing, Drainage and Sound Insulation

Schlüter's specialist membranes protect against water damage and substrate stresses. And Schlüter's acoustic membrane reduces the impact sound perception of floor constructions by up to 50%.

The Schlüter-DITRA uncoupling and waterproofing membrane is a proven success in stopping stresses being transferred to floor tiles from the substrate.

Without such protective measures being taken, problems occur because the surface tiles and the substrate will almost certainly move differently through thermal expansion and contraction, leading to the possibility of tiles debonding and cracking. Moisture content can also affect the degree of movement. Schlüter-DITRA neutralises this differential movement, preventing stresses being transferred to the tile covering. Also, the system supports applied loads by transferring them directly to the load bearing substrate.

The system comprises a polyethylene matting, with a fleece laminated to a grid-type structure of square cavities on the top. The fleece is adhered to the substrate with suitable adhesive, and the adhesive used to bond the tiles actually anchors into the dovetailed configuration, mechanically locking the tiles on to the top. The cavities allow any stresses that occur between the substrate and the tiles to be neutralised evenly in all directions. As well as uncoupling the matting has three other functions - waterproofing, vapour diffusion over green screeds, and it bridges cracks such as timber board joints and cracks in screeds.

Its use over green screeds enables tiling to be started as soon as the screed will support weight - e.g. two or three days - instead of having to wait for the industry recommended drying time. The membrane actually slows down the drying process of the screed, minimising shrinkage and eliminating most of the cracking which could occur. Also, especially over floating type screeds with insulation, it minimises the curling effect of the screed.

And Schlüter-DITRA creates a waterproofing assembly with the tile covering. The British Standards Institution recommends waterproofing with such impervious membranes, stating the most satisfactory method of preventing water passing downwards, is by: "Providing a membrane between the base and the tiling...the membrane material should be impervious...and be sufficiently flexible and strong enough to resist movement in the structure, and loads, without rupturing."

For waterproofing walls, Schlüter-KERDI is ideal, as it is applied very simply, like wallpapering.

The design of a floor drain which could be used in conjunction with bonded waterproofing membranes has traditionally caused problems. But Schluter-KERDI-DRAIN overcomes this long-standing weak point in the construction of surface assemblies in tiled floors. Its upper assemblies incorporate a bonding flange on the top surface to provide a secure bond between the drain and the waterproofing membrane. The flange is installed flush with the screed using a special sealing collar to produce an impervious connection with the waterproofing membrane.

Moving onto Schlüter's safe and permanently effective passive capillary drainage system, Schlüter-DITRA-DRAIN. It consists of an impact resistant polyethylene mat with a special stud structure on one side and a polypropylene filter fabric laminated to the upper side, which can be permeated by water and vapour. Thanks to the passive capillary effect, the water cannot return to the covering layer.

Schlüter-DITRA-SOUND was specially designed to reduce impact sound while protecting the tiled surface. It is a bonded impact sound insulation made of a heavy polyethylene mat, which has an anchoring fleece laminated to both sides. It reduces the impact sound perception of floor constructions by up to 50%, and the technology behind its construction means that because it cannot be compressed it ensures that the tiles are highly durable.

Underfloor Heating

The technology behind the Schlüter-BEKOTEC-THERM underfloor heating system led to it winning The Tile Association Award for Best New Innovation in 2007. The revolutionary studded panel design of the modular screed gives an overall height to the complete floor assembly of just 52 mm - that's a reduction of 23 mm compared to a traditional screed. This means that the pipes are closer to the surface, so the temperature loss between the pipes and the surface covering is minimal, resulting in the heating system running at a significantly lower temperature, using less energy and reducing heating bills. The studded panels diffuse tension in the screed when it is drying out, and incorporating Schlüter-DITRA uncouples a tiled surface from the substrate. This allows independent movement between the screed and the tiles, protecting the finished floor against cracking, tenting and debonding, overcoming a traditional problem of fixing tiles over underfloor heating.



   
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