Tile Fix Direct Blog

Decoupling & Crack Bridging Systems for Tiles

Decoupling Layer

When tiling floors with porcelain or ceramic tiles it is necessary to protect the tiled surface from movement and stresses in the underlying floor (the substrate) which can cause the tiled surface to fail or crack. Here are some of the reasons that can cause the substrate to move;

  • Thermal expansion and contraction. For example: the warming or cooling of a heated screed, or external temperature changes on a patio between day and night. Tiling behind large areas of south facing glazing are also particularly prone to movement.
  • Moisture movement in wooden floors. Wooden structures expand when humidity increases and shrinks when it decreases.
  • Shrinkage of a newly laid sand & cement, anhydrite or concrete screed. In the days and weeks after a new screed is laid it will shrink as it dries and cures.

Decoupling and crack bridging systems provide a layer between the tiled surface and the flooring substrate. This layer ensures that the stresses caused by horizontal movement are not passed on to the tiled surface, which may cause deformation and cracking.

Decoupling and crack bridging systems will not accommodate vertical movement and deflections, however. These are typically found in poorly braced timber floors, between adjoining substrates (i.e. a join between a timber and screeded substrate), or when covering an expansion joint. Timber floors must be well braced to prevent deflection (bounce).

In addition, expansion joints will generally be required over a substrate expansion joint or between adjoining substrates. Additional movement joints will also be required round perimeters, columns, over supporting walls and in large areas.

Always read the manufacturers detailed fixing instructions.

Most systems require fixing to the substrate, but BAL Flexbone2Easy is a loose lay system that speeds us install time. This can also be particularly useful if later refurbishment is expected, or you’re fixing over an anhydrite screed. Orbry and Marmox boards can be mechanically fixed to timber flooring and any fleece-based system can also be fixed to dry sand and cement screeds using Ardex AF200 vinyl adhesive.

We currently stock ten different De-Coupling and Crack Bridging systems that offer varying functionality and pricing. We offer solutions for low height systems, anhydrite screeds, easily removable, indoor or outdoor, integral waterproofing, fast tracking traditional screeds, vapour equalisation and integrated electric cable grids.

Key benefits of each system

Bal Rapid Mat at Tile Fix Direct

BAL Rapid Mat
• Low height (3mm from substrate to top of mat)
• No adhesive required to fill cavities

BAL Flexbone Varied at Tile Fix DirectBAL Flexbone Varied
• Easy-fill adhesive cavities saves time
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation

BAL Flexbone 2Easy at Tile Fix DirectBAL Flexbone2Easy
• Suitable for anhydrite screeds without significant preparation
• Loose lay so no adhesive required for fixing
• Easy-fill adhesive cavities saves time
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds

Kerakoll Green Pro MattingKerakoll Green Pro
• Suitable for external use
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Provides some impact sound reduction

Ditra Matting at Tile Fix Direct

Schluter Ditra 25 Matting
• Long pedigree, is the original system with proven record
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• When placed over underfloor heating the matting’s interconnected air channels help evenly distribute heat.

Ditra Heat Duo Matting

Schluter Ditra Heat Duo Matting
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas (but not suitable for permanently wet areas)
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Comes with integrated grid for electrical underfloor heating
• Thick fleece creates a thermal barrier
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds

Durabase Matting

Dural Durabase CI++
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds

Durabase UFH Matting

Dural Durabase CI FH
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas (but not suitable for permanently wet areas)
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Comes with integrated grid for electrical underfloor heating
• Fast track new sand & cement screedsOrbry Boards at Tile Fix Direct

Orbry Board
• Can be used as a tanking system for permanently wet areas
• Can be mechanically fixed (incl anhydrite screeds)
• Has strong insulating properties
• No adhesive requirement to fill cavities
• Suitable for external use

Marmox Boards at Tile Fix Direct

Marmox Multiboard
• Can be used as a tanking system for permanently wet areas
• Can be mechanically fixed (incl anhydrite screeds)
• Has strong insulating properties
• No adhesive requirement to fill cavities
• Suitable for external use

Note: always refer to manufacturers instructions before specifying or installation.

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