June 8, 2023


Behind the Tile:  The Importance of Waterproofing

I'm Paula

A former Kindergarten teacher/part-time home flipper turned CEO – having traded my love for the classroom for my love of beautiful spaces!  

Now a surface specialist, design lover, and the founder of Iron River Surfaces – my combined passions for beautiful finishes and education merge together in our little blog as the team and I share helpful tips, design trends, inspirational ideas, and a little bit about ourselves along the way!  

Thank you for joining us, we’re so glad you’re here! 
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Featuring Guest Writer Chris Caovilla, B.Sc.

Pretty tile, grout color, layout, trim, niches and ledges – all of these elements go into the design of a beautifully custom shower.  But there is SO much more to consider!   What’s behind the tile is truly what matters most when it comes to the waterproofing of a wet space!

And for today’s blog, I am so excited to introduce you to Chris Caovilla, the brains and talent behind so many of the logistical details of our product management and installation services here at Iron River Surfaces! 

Chris has a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Alberta and 12 years of hands-on management and site experience in the custom flooring and tile industry.

We are so fortunate to work with Chris everyday and I am especially thrilled he agreed to guest-write our blog this month!  So without further ado – read on for the ins and outs of proper waterproofing and the importance of what goes on (and in) behind your tile!


Iron River takes waterproofing very seriously

Waterproofing done well is a small expense in the overall cost of a house, whereas a leak or a flood can cause extensive (and expensive) damage. 

At Iron River Surfaces we believe strongly in the Schluter Waterproofing System.  Its long track record of success has proven that it is the best overall waterproofing system on the market, and every Iron River job that requires waterproofing is quoted and installed using the system.

Our select and talented group of A-List installers have participated in multiple training sessions and classes on the system, and are certified Schluter installers with many years of experience.  Because of this, when installing a full Schluter®-Shower System and utilizing all of its components, we guarantee it will be leak free for the life of the shower.

What is Schluter exactly?  

  • Founded in Germany in 1966 by Werner Schlüter, his first product was his new invention the SCHIENE Metal Trim Profile to protect cut tile edges.
  • Schluter then branched out into all aspects of tiling products including, but not limited to, underfloor heating, movement joints & edge finishing profiles, uncoupling membranes and waterproofing and wetroom systems.

Why is Proper Waterproofing Important?

The thinset used to set the tiles as well as the grout used to fill in between the tiles are not waterproof.  That’s right.  Read that back to yourself again.  

This is something so many of our clients are surprised to hear, and it is a very common misconception that showers are fully waterproof with tile and grout alone.

Water will actually move through these materials over time to the waterproofing substrate.  And failures in waterproofing can lead to:

  • Leaks – Leaking water can damage the drywall and paint in ceilings and walls, hardwood flooring, cabinetry, baseboards, etc.  
  • Mold – Slow leaks that get behind your shower and other areas can cause mold to grow for years without notice until it becomes a major issue that may require remediation.
  • Structural Damage – Slow leaks could also cause swelling and softening of subflooring and rot in the structural timber of the house.

What is the Schluter Shower System?

The Schluter®-Shower System is an integrated family of products that together form a fully bonded, watertight assembly for tiled showers. The Schluter®-Shower System eliminates the risk of failures due to water and vapor penetration and dramatically reduces total installation time. 

The products that complete the Schluter®-Shower System

  • Kerdi Bonded Waterproofing Membrane
    • Pliable sheet-applied waterproofing membrane and vapor-retarder designed for the direct application of tile.
    • Kerdi-Band and Kerdi-Corners to waterproof seams in the membrane as well as inside and outside corners or Benches and Niches
    • Features an anchoring fleece on both sides to anchor the membrane in thin-set mortar
  • Schluter Prefabricated Sloped Shower Tray and Shower Curbs
    • Pre-Sloped  to provide proper water movement to drains
    • Features integrated KERDI waterproofing
    • Quick and easy to install eliminating the need for a mortar bed
    • Made of lightweight, expanded polystyrene
  • Schluter®-KERDI-DRAIN – a shower drain with an integrated bonding flange
    • secure connection to the KERDI waterproofing membrane
    • Comes in both Square and Linear dimensions in Multiple colours and styles to coordinate with any shower design

Want to learn more about the brand we trust when waterproofing our showers and wet rooms? 

Below are a few great resources to explore for more. 

And when working with us, we are always available to answer any questions on-site or in the planning stages,  to help ensure your project not only looks great but functions properly as well.



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