When it comes to uncoupling membranes, Schluter DITRA stands out as one of the top options.
Besides being an uncoupling mat, DITRA creates a waterproof layer that protects moisture-sensitive materials such as OSB and plywood floors. This uncoupling membrane also facilitates tile installation.
DITRA is designed specifically for use on floors. Due to its many impressive features, you may be tempted to use it on walls. However, does Schluter accept the use of DITRA on walls? Let’s find out.
Can DITRA Be Used on Walls?
Even though Schluter mostly discusses the use of DITRA on floor applications, it can be used on walls. When you look at the anchoring fleece on the bottom of DITRA, you will notice some square waffles which thinset lock into during installation.
This waffle pattern guarantees strong adhesion between the walls and DITRA. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the uncoupling mat falling off due to the weight of the tiles. If you want to create a stronger adhesion between walls and DITRA, you can use anchor plugs.
It’s rare to find DITRA being used on walls. Most people prefer to use Schluter KERDI on walls. It’s, however, doable and practical.
There are some risks. But as long as you install the DITRA to the walls correctly, there isn’t cause for alarm.
Is There a Version of DITRA that is Designed Specifically for Use on Walls?
Yes, there is one type of DITRA known as the Schluter DITRA-Heat-E, which is designed for use on both floors and walls. All other types of DITRA mats created by Schluter are mostly used on floors and not walls.
The DITRA-Heat-E is an uncoupling mat that also offers heating provision. It creates a heated wall assembly where you plan to install tiles or stone on top.
This version of DITRA shares similar features with the original, such as uncoupling, vapor retardant, and waterproofing. But it also comes with thermal breaking capabilities.
What Benefits Can You Get from Installing DITRA on a Wall?
There are several benefits that you can get from installing DITRA on walls. For instance, being a recommended tile substrate, you can easily install tile over it.
The other benefit is in regards to DITRA’s waterproofing and vapor retardant abilities. It will keep moisture from penetrating through your walls and damaging other materials such as OSB and drywall. This feature makes DITRA a suitable material to use in shower walls.
As for the uncoupling features of DITRA, these won’t offer any value when installed on a wall because it’s not a load-bearing substrate.
Why Does Schluter Only Recommend the Use of DITRA on Floors?
The reason Schluter doesn’t talk about the usage of DITRA on walls is that it is an uncoupling membrane. DITRA uncoupling mats are designed to absorb any movement from the floor and prevent it from transferring to the tiles, which can lead to cracking.
All floors experience lateral movements. The same can’t be said for walls. That is why if you want to waterproof a wall, there are plenty of products that you can use instead of the DITRA uncoupling mat.
The bottom line is that DITRA was created to be used only on floors. However, it can be used ‘off-label’ on walls to facilitate tile installation and waterproof the surface.
Will Tiles Fall Out of DITRA Used on a Wall?
As mentioned earlier, DITRA has a waffle pattern on the back that mechanically bonds to the thinset when installed on a wall. This pattern ensures maximum adhesion to the wall.
Therefore, as long as you install tiles correctly, you don’t have to worry about them falling off. Tiles can last for years on DITRA installed on a wall. This is one of the reasons DITRA can be used off-label on the walls.
Will Schluter Honor Its Warranty When You Use DITRA on Walls?
Unless you install the DITRA-Heat-E version on your walls, with the other types, you may have trouble with Schluter’s warranty. The thing is, DITRA recommends their uncoupling matting be used on floors.
If you go ahead and use it on the wall and it fails, there is a good chance that the warranty will be voided. Never forget that installation is an integral part of the warranty. If you don’t follow the manufacturer’s installation guidelines, they have a right not to honor your warranty.
In case your contractor is the one recommending the use of DITRA on walls, make sure that you get a builder’s warranty. Therefore, should anything go wrong, the contractor will be liable for any damages incurred.
Schluter DITRA vs. Kerdi: Which Should You Use on Walls?
Schluter makes a lot of construction products. Therefore, you may have been confused about which of these two is ideal for use on shower walls.
On their official website, Schluter clearly states that Kerdi is a waterproofing membrane designed for use behind walls.
On walls, Schluter KERDI creates a waterproof surface which is also vapor retardant. Kerdi also facilitates tile installation, and it has limited crack-prevention abilities.
The biggest difference between Kerdi and DITRA is that the latter has advanced uncoupling capabilities. It can prevent movements on the substrate from reaching the tiles and cracking them.
Should you find yourself in a scenario where you are wondering which of these two products you should use on walls? Go for Kerdi. On the other hand, the ideal Schluter option for floors is DITRA.
How to Install DITRA on Walls?
The procedure of installing DITRA on walls is the same as fitting it on floors. However, if you have never worked with DITRA, here is a quick guide.
Step 1: Prepare the Wall
DITRA adheres better to a clean and level surface. Walls are generally flat, so you shouldn’t have a hard time leveling it out.
You can clean the surface with soap and water to remove dust and contaminants. Give it time to dry before you can move to the next step.
Step 2: Apply a Bonding Adhesive
You can use two products to bond DITRA to walls; unmodified thinset mortar and Schluter Kerdi-COLL. The latter isn’t very common, so I would advise you to stick to unmodified thinset mortar. Using a notched trowel, apply the mortar to the wall.
Step 3: Cut and Fit DITRA Mats
Cut the DITRA mats to your desired size and then fit them on the bonding adhesive with the anchoring fleece or waffle pattern on the bottom. Work the matt into the adhesive until you feel it has adhered.
You can use placing boards to nudge the mat into the walls. Give it time to dry and you will be done.
If you doubt DITRA’s ability to remain upright on a wall, you can bring in the help of anchoring plugs. You can get some at your nearest hardware store. These will hold down the DITRA to the wall.
Once installed, you can tile over the DITRA.
Are There Other Methods of Waterproofing a Wall?
DITRA isn’t the only product you can use to waterproof a wall. There are hundreds of products that are perfect for waterproofing walls. A good example is KERDI by Schluter.
This flexible sheet adheres well to walls and creates a waterproof membrane. There are products such as RedGard which can also waterproof your walls.
Additional alternatives include elastic waterproofing paint and liquid rubber membranes. These days, we even have special types of drywall, such as the green version, which is waterproof. Therefore, before you decide to use DITRA on your walls, it’s advisable to explore other options.