I just read a discussion thread on the Canadian Woodworking forum where the question asked was:
“Ditra for kitchen flooring – Is it worth it?”
I discovered this product last year while researching methods for laying a ceramic tile floor for an upstairs bathroom renovation in our old farmhouse.
What the heck is Ditra?
The short answer is that it’s an underlayment used under tile and stone flooring to “decouple” the ceramic tiles from the subflooring, which may be subject to expansion or deflection which can cause tiles or grout lines to crack.
The practice of decoupling has been performed for thousands of years by using a layer of sand under stone floors. Ditra was invented by Schluter-Systems back in 1987 and is used extensively in commercial and residential tile installations.
Ditra installation video:
But it’s expensive!
Yes it is. But if it prevents your floor from failing after a few years then it’s probably worth it.
There was an alternative product mentioned in the forum thread called “Protegga” which looks to be a slightly less expensive copy of the Ditra (you can read John Bridge’s comments about Ditra knockoffs on his tile forum).
The price difference between the two products here in Canada is currently about 33 cents per sq ft, so the Protegga would cost $50.00 less for 150 sq ft.
I went with the Ditra
After reviewing the alternatives on forums and reading the product data sheets, I decided Ditra was the safest bet for my situation. I was tiling over a vinyl composite tile that was in good condition and didn’t want to raise the floor any higher than necessary.
The product comes in a roll, so it was a lot easier to deal with in a small space than trying lay a plywood subfloor.
One thing you’ll need to pay attention to is using the proper type of thinset mortar:
For installing the Ditra membrane:
- over plywood or OSB – use MODIFIED Thinset mortar.
- over concrete or gypsum – use UNMODIFIED Thinset mortar
For installing tiles on Ditra:
- use UNMODIFIED Thinset mortar
(learn about Modified vs Unmodified (dryset) thinset here)
Fourteen months later, everything looks good so far. If I find myself needing to tile over anything other than new, level concrete, I’ll probably go with Ditra again.
If you don’t want to miss a tip, and aren’t already signed up for our Stonehaven Life updates by email, you can subscribe right here, right now.