The 8mil Vapour Proofing Show Down - Laticrete's HydroBan Sheet Membrane vs Schluter's Kerdi

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by johnfrwhipple, Jul 20, 2014.

  1. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    HydroBan vs Kerdi: Which is better?

    I just received and email today via my Laticrete dealer that Laticrete's new Hydro Ban sheet membrane is 8 mils thick. I know all ready that Kerdi is 8mil's thick. Seems to me that these two players are in the same weight class and a head to head battle is in order.

    If we can not arrange that - at least we can compare each side by side.... I'll make it out like a MMA event and score it like they do kinda in boxing or Mixed Martial Art Competetions.

    Not sure how many rounds we will go. Maybe 10.....

    [​IMG]
    Kerdi Steam Shower Build

    I looked up the perm rating for HydroBan sheet membrane and found it listed at 0.06.

    What I don't know is how can the Laticrete product have a perm rating of 0.06 and Kerdi one of 0.75 (the lower the number the better). For more on Commercial Steam Shower Requirements

    NobleSeal TS (my preferred choice) is 30 mil thick and their updated perm rating is listed at 0.15.

    [​IMG]
    NobleSeal TS steam shower build

    I can make no sense of this data. I would assume that the various products are made slightly different but this is a big swing. Any ideas guys?

    The Fight Card

    "Wearing Blue and White. Fighting out of the USA"
    its.......

    [​IMG]
    HydroBan Sheet Membrane

    "HydroBans Opponent for this battle will be Schluter's Kerdi"

    "Dressed in Orange with the grey trunks. Hailing from Germany..."

    Its.....

    [​IMG]
    Kerdi
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2014
  2. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Perm Rating Info:

    I just fired off an email to my Laticrete sales rep in Alberta. I asked how Laticrete's new membrane achieved such low perm ratings.

    Lets see what Michael has to say.

    To be safe I'll sent the same question of to Arthur Minte at Laticrete technical support.

    While researching the new membrane one of the John Bridge Tile Forum members had this to say about it;


    Laticrete Hydro Ban Sheet Membrane
    Did my second steam shower with this new membrane from Laticrete. Thanks to my rep for letting me field trial it. Seeing that regular Kerdi no longer meets the perm standard for steamers, you have to jump up to Kerdi DS. One problem. No distributors carry it here.

    The HydroBan membrane is thicker than Kerdi but not as thick as Nobel TS. The biggest thing I noticed with this membrane is how it lays into the thinset and air pocketing is almost non existant. Air pocketing was my biggest complaint with Kerdi. Smooths out nicely. The best advantage this membrane has over Kerdi is the ability to use modified thinset ontop! You can also combine the membrane with the liquid Hydro Ban to do the ol Frankengueuze system. I think Laticrete has a winner here. So long Orange.
    __________________
    Dave - Source

    What I find confusing about this post is that Dave says that the Laticrete Membrane is thicker than Kerdi but thinner than NobleSeal TS. I just learned that (from a Laticrete rep) that the membrane is 8 mil.

    Someone has to be wrong here. I wonder who?

    Round One: Perm Rating
    Winner of this round. Laticrete

    Laticrete 10
    Schluter 7

    Rounds scored with 10 points being perfect
    Gave Schluter 7 since their membrane at least is below 1.0

    Laticrete takes the first round easy
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2014
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Vapor proofing a steam shower (this is a very different issue than waterproofing one!) is a much different task than what is acceptable and reliable for a standard shower. For a regular shower, anything less than 1.0 perm rating is considered fine in the industry. 0.5 or less is required for a continuous use steam shower (typically a commercial operation), and 0.75 for a residential shower. The difference is, a typical steam shower in a home is not used for more than a few hours, if that, a day, and often, not every day...giving it plenty of time to dry out in between, assuming it is built properly. That is not true for a commercial unit, which may never get turned off once commissioned. The industry tests these things, and provides their recommendations on what they know will work. Second guessing them is not particularly scientific, or reliable.
  4. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Kerdi vs HydroBan Sheet Membrane: Clamping Drain Tie in

    Question. Can you tie Laticrete's HydroBan sheet membrane directly to a three piece clamping drain?
    Answer. YES

    Question. Can you tie Schluter's Kerdi sheet membrane directly to a three piece clamping drain?
    Answer. NO

    I was reading the Laticrete Hydro Ban Sheet Membrane spec sheet tonight and noticed they has a recommendation for a three piece drain direct connection. This is something Kerdi does not offer with it's product. Schluter makes an adapter drain connector but I'm not talking about that but rather a direct connection from the sheet membrane to a three piece clamping drain.

    To me this is both good news and bad. Good because I like the fact that the connection is allowed but bad because I disagree with the silicone step between the sheet membrane and top collar. I think this is a mistake and will hold back water.

    Perhaps its the way the process is worded. I'll need to check this out later. I would think that the Silicone step would be done before placing the sheet membrane over the drain base. cut the bolt holes out. remove sheet membrane - add silicone - set membrane back - install top collar.... More like this.

    When I install NobleSeal TS or CIS to a three piece flaming drain I do not seal the top collar to the Noble product.

    Round Two: Clamping Drain Tie In
    Winner of this round. Laticrete

    Laticrete 9
    Schluter 7

    Rounds scored with 10 points being perfect
    Gave Schluter 7 since their membrane at least has the ability to do this job with another drain adapter purchase. Gave laticrete 9 because of the silicone
    reference

    After two rounds Laticrete is ahead 19-14 in my score card
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2014
  5. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Kerdi vs HydroBan Sheet Membrane: Type of thin-set for installation

    Question. Can you use any thin-set to install Laticrete's HydroBan sheet membrane?
    Answer. YES

    Question. Can you use any thin-set to install Schluter's Kerdi sheet membrane?
    Answer. NO

    I was reading the Laticrete Hydro Ban Sheet Membrane spec sheet tonight and noticed they allow both the use of regular non-modifed thin-set or premium modified thin-set to install their membrane. Image that - those urban legends on non drying thin-set must be false.

    This is a real plus for the new comer and one of the reasons I prefer the Noble product (choice in thin-sets)

    Round Three: Thin-Set Selection
    Winner of this round. Laticrete

    Laticrete 10
    Schluter 4

    Rounds scored with 10 points being perfect
    Gave Schluter 4 since their membrane only allows the use of non-modifed thin-set.

    After three rounds Laticrete is ahead 29-18 in my score card.
    Kerdi is getting it's ass kicked !!!
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Before Schluter designed their current drain (around 1990), all of their showers were installed using a 3-piece clamping drain. You can still do it that way, but why would you want to? You have three choices in this area: use the existing clamping drain (assuming it's there) and either use their conversion drain, bond it to the existing clamping drain with a 'hat', or tear out the existing drain and install a new drain.

    The reason Schluter's installation instructions call out an unmodified thinset is that they know it works under all circumstances with no time penalties. Unless you use a rapid setting modified, the TCNA guidelines tell you to wait anywhere between 7-14 days for it to dry out, and that it may take longer when installing a porcelain tile over a waterproof membrane using a modified thinset.

    Sure, you can, but are you willing to wait that long? Schluter doesn't think you do and specifies something they know works in a reliable timeframe. The use of a modified is very important when installing over something like a cbu, but the whole ball game changes when you use a membrane like Kerdi. Schluter knows this through many decades of experience. Don't believe me, look at the spec sheets for a good dryset mortar to porcelain. The bond strength is very significant, and the membrane, since it doesn't bond to it (it gets embedded around the fleece then cures), any bond flexibility you might get with a modified over something like cbu, is as good when installed onto a membrane, and there's no extended waiting time for it to dry out between the two nearly impervious surfaces.
  7. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    How the 8mil measurement is recorded

    I had the chance to chat back and forth with Arthur Minte of Laticrete technical support this morning and learned what my confusion is about the thickness of Hydro Ban Sheet membrane. I was told by Arthur that their membrane is 8mil thick WITHOUT the fleece.

    Kerdi is I believe 8mil thick WITH the fleece.

    [​IMG]

    You can see in this image how Schluter measures the thickness of their product. Trying to scale this image I would guess that the actual waterproof layer on Kerdi is somewhere around 4-5 mil and the fleece makes up the other 3-4 mil.

    So this is not really a fair fight and does explain why the HydroBan sheet membrane has such better performance ratings.....
  8. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Laticrete Trials: Test roll 108 square feet

    Picked up a 108 square foot roll of the Hydro Ban sheet membrane today. Time to do some up close comparisons.
  9. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Laticrete Trials: Installation over cement board.

    Here are a few process pictures from my installation yesterday. So far so good. need to dial in the trowel selection but this sheet membrane certainly does lay down nicely.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I washed and cleaned this wall and once that was done I scratched coated the wall with Laticrete 253 Gold thin-set. This is a flat trowel stage then I trowelled the notches in.

    [​IMG]

    Here it is smoothed out. Next it's a pull check...

    [​IMG]

    Original Photos - http://no-curb.blogspot.ca/2014/07/installing-hydro-ban-sheet-membrane.html

    So after only two hours and two sheets installed my first impression is that the membrane does lay down quicker and flatter than Kerdi. The coverage check is impossible with the Laticrete Sheet membrane since it is not see through like Kerdi.
  10. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Cut some off cuts of the Laticrete sheet membrane into 10" strips to band the corners.

    Now some fussy detail work tying this Hydro Ban sheet membrane into the Ardex 8+9 I have going on on the base.

    [​IMG]
  11. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Getting the Membrane to Lay Down Flat

    I have only installed on shower project with the Laticrete Membrane and have done dozens and dozens with Kerdi over the past 15 years. Which product (Hydro Ban Sheet Membrane or Kerdi Membrane) sits down the nicest or lays down the nicest?

    Easy answer - The Hydro Ban membrane does. That said the difference is marginal so Kerdi scores a nine in this round.

    Round Four: Ease of Install
    Winner of this round. Laticrete

    Laticrete 10

    Schluter 9
    Rounds scored with 10 points being perfect

    After four rounds Laticrete is ahead 39-27 in my score card.
    This observation from someone who was given the membrane to field trial before the launch of the membrane. Like me this user is familiar now with both materials....

    Laticrete Hydro Ban Sheet Membrane


    Did my second steam shower with this new membrane from Laticrete. Thanks to my rep for letting me field trial it. Seeing that regular Kerdi no longer meets the perm standard for steamers, you have to jump up to Kerdi DS. One problem. No distributors carry it here.
    The HydroBan membrane is thicker than Kerdi but not as thick as Nobel TS. The biggest thing I noticed with this membrane is how it lays into the thinset and air pocketing is almost non existant. Air pocketing was my biggest complaint with Kerdi. Smooths out nicely. The best advantage this membrane has over Kerdi is the ability to use modified thinset ontop! You can also combine the membrane with the liquid Hydro Ban to do the ol Frankengueuze system. I think Laticrete has a winner here. So long Orange.
    __________________
    Dave
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014
  12. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Cleaning the Membrane

    I noticed that there are some extra transfer marks on the Hydro Ban Sheet Membrane. I send and email out to Laticrete asking why and if the problem is fixed. I was told they are working on it yesterday.

    I had to rub hard at the markings to remove them. It took a little effort but for this fight to be fair I need to call out Laticrete on this hick up.

    So for ease of cleaning the membrane I need to give the round hands down to Kerdi. Never once has this happened to me with a Kerdi roll.

    Round Five: Ease of Cleaning
    Winner of this round. Kerdi

    Laticrete 7
    Schluter 10

    Rounds scored with 10 points being perfect

    After five rounds Laticrete is ahead 46-37 in my score card.
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    FWIW, if you read the instructions on installing Kerdi, regardless of what you may be able to see through the membrane, they tell you to always pull back a section to check for full thinset coverage. I've found that if you use either their Kerdi trowel (or one the size they tell you to use as an alternative if you don't want to buy theirs), the coverage is fine. If your thinset is mixed well, and is a premium product (i.e., not the price leader unmodified at the bottom of the food chain), bonding and air pockets are not an issue with a little practice. Either of their recommended trowels actually have a slight excess of thinset, and if it is mixed properly, squeegees out, and in that process also helps to ensure the fleece is properly embedded. Starting with 'just enough' actually makes it harder to install the membrane since there's none to move around underneath. If you notice on John's picture where he pulled it back, he did not have good coverage all the way to the edge. You want it to look like the same everywhere...the edges appear dry. Once you get familiar with the stuff, you can get a good idea by just looking at the membrane after you've installed it...it should have a consistent color all across it, and you should not be able to see the trowel notches.
  14. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Reinforcing the seams on Kerdi and Hydro Ban Sheet

    Now I have been told that you can not do what you are seeing below with Kerdi and still expect to have a warranty. Too bad the "Kerdi Expert" didn't wait for Laticrete's Hydro Ban Sheet Memebrane to come out before building this crazy shower.

    Here is a great action shot of "How Not to Install Kerdi". Had John used Laticrete's products completely he would have been fine.

    [​IMG]

    Since Laticrete allows this approach and Schluter does not. You really need to add this as a massive bonus for the Laticrete sheet membrane. And a huge negative for Kerdi. To be fair most companies want a complete system to be used. Since curves are impossible with Kerdi the Liquid waterproofing was used.

    I would be worried about water wicking under the thin set where the Hydro Ban meets the Kerdi that was skimmed over with thin-set. But hey - If John likes building that way - it's his shower.

    Round Six: Ease of Cleaning
    Winner of this round. Laticrete

    Laticrete 10
    Schluter 0

    Rounds scored with 10 points being perfect


    After six rounds Laticrete is ahead 56-37 in my score card.

  15. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Strength of Fleece

    My first Laticrete Sheet Membrane shower is all ready tiled. While waiting for the tile guy to show up the drywall crew did their thing. In mudding out the drywall the drywall must have dropped some mud on the laticrete sheet membrane. He tried to scrap it off and tore the fabric or fleece off a little.

    I then poked at it like I do to see how tough the fleece was. By my eye the fleece on Laticrete's membrane is a little furrier and a little looser. I think the Kerdi membrane's is tougher and finer.

    On a side note Noble Company's new fleece is the bomb and my favourite. Having to choose between the Laticrete and the Kerdi I do prefer the Kerdi. But not at the downside choice of then having to use non-modified thin-sets.

    But for this round head to head. I give it to Kerdi.



    Round Six: Strength of Fleece
    Winner of this round. Schluter

    Laticrete 8

    Schluter 10

    Rounds scored with 10 points being perfect


    After seven rounds Laticrete is ahead 64 - 47 in my score card.
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    The Kerdi fleece is designed like it is so that you do get a waterproof seam with thinset. One thing to keep in mind with most (all?) of these membranes is that thinset itself does not stick to them...thinset bonds to it because if it is mixed properly, and you embed the stuff as designed, it flows around and encases the fibers of the fleece, and then cures, locking itself in place, but it is not technically bonded to it like a tile is to thinset. When cement cures, it creates crystalline spikes that intersect and can get into pores, thus creating the bond to a tile - those spikes would be very tenuous to the flexible membrane without the fleece..
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