Waterproof Vs Water Resistant – What’s The Difference? | Schlüter-Systems
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Waterproof Vs Water Resistant – What’s The Difference?

British Standard 5385 states “in wet areas, e.g. showers, wet rooms and steam rooms, substrates should be protected with a suitable proprietary tanking membrane system”. If you’re installing a bathroom that is to meet these standards, you should make sure you are not relying on materials such as tile or grout to offer this solution.

Contractors coming to our training day will often hear Schlüter talking about making sure that a tanking solution is waterproof and not water resistant. Often, we get the response “well what’s the difference?”. It’s a question we love, because it gives us a chance to educate installers and make them aware that there are in fact several differences that can make or break the tile installation.

So why is waterproofing so important?

Bathrooms are exposed to a significant amount of moisture. An average shower is 8 minutes long and uses 62 litres of water. If you have a power shower, you can expect this figure to be in the region of 136 litres per shower. By comparison, we experience an average rainfall of 73.75 litres per m2 per month, meaning a single shower at 62 litres is producing almost as much as one month’s rainfall per m2. It feels like as Brits all we ever do is complain about the weather, so a comparison like this is much easier to visualise why you’d want to have a tanked installation; this amount of water can cause serious damage if it’s not contained within the shower area.

(Data referenced from: Unilever, Met Office)

What does this mean for my shower installation?

Tiles, adhesive, and grout alone aren’t waterproof, they’re water resistant at best. What this means is that over time, moisture can pass through these materials and into the substrate below, causing havoc on the foundations of your bathroom. It’s not enough to rely on these materials to make your bathroom install waterproof. A worst-case scenario could see the joists and floorboards completely damaged beyond repair. These failures are often not immediately obvious and can go undetected for some time.

So, what is the difference?

There are three main terms that you might see used, all describing a different state:

Water sensitive materials such as plasterboard and most wood-based materials are sensitive to moisture and in most cases would break down or degrade when subjected to moisture.

Water resistant backgrounds will allow water to migrate through the product without the composition being affected. However, this would mean water could track into the substrate behind.

Waterproof, on the other hand is impervious; water is unable to penetrate the surface. In addition to this, waterproof products also protect structural integrity.

To install a long-lasting bathroom takes much more consideration than the purely decorative. Whilst having an attractive finish is all well and good, without an effective tanking solution below the covering, there’s no guarantee that you won’t be affected by problems further down the line once moisture issues become apparent.

To find out what solutions Schlüter-Systems have for tile and stone protection, get in touch with our customer service team on sales@schluter.co.uk or 01530 813396.

Contact Schlüter-Systems Ltd

Units 3-5 Bardon 22,
Beveridge Lane, Coalville,
Leicestershire, LE67 1TE
Phone: +44 (0) 1530 813396

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