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Waterproofing is a topic much like insurance. You don’t realize how much you need it until you are in a crisis! One of the key areas where waterproofing is necessary is underneath tile. It is a common misconception that tile (and grout) are waterproof on their own. They are not, which is why an effective waterproofing system must be used before tile is laid to prevent moisture from seeping through and damaging your beautiful tile floors, walls or backsplash.

How Much Water Can Tile Absorb?

Tile, along with grout, will retain water in proportion to how dense it is.  There are four main categories of tile, which reflect how much water each type can absorb.

  • Non-vitreous: Absorbs 7% or more of its weight in water. Generally used vertically for backsplashes.
  • Semi-vitreous: Absorbs between 3% and 7% its weight in water.
  • Vitreous: Absorbs between 0.5% and 3% its weight in water.
  • Impervious: Absorbs between 0.001% and 0.5% its weight in water. This is the category porcelain tile is in.

What Is Tile Underlayment?

To prevent tile and grout from cracking due to moisture, a waterproof membrane underlayment (also called uncoupling membrane) made of polyethylene is put down over the subfloor before tile is laid. Any seams are closed with a waterproof seal. Tile underlayment is especially important over some substrates such as concrete, for example, which can expand almost twice as much as ceramic tile and grout thus leading to cracks. Wood substrates like plywood naturally absorb moisture and then expand. This is another situation where tile flooring would crack without a waterproof underlayment.

Showers and tub surrounds are obvious areas where waterproof tile underlayment is required. A waterproof barrier should also be used under tile flooring in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements.

At Straightline Custom Flooring, we have decades of experience with all types of waterproofing and we offer a complete selection of waterproofing products to choose from, making us your one-stop store where you can shop with complete confidence. Contact us today to discover the invisible (but very important) world of waterproofing products!

We carry the following Waterproofing brands:

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