Tile Fix Direct Blog

Product Features

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.

How To Install DITRA Matting

DITRA matting is one of the most popular under-tile decoupling systems stocked in the UK. The bright orange uncoupling membrane is instantly recognisable and the range of benefits it provides to an installation makes it easy to see why it’s one of our best sellers.

What is DITRA Matting?

DITRA matting is a polyethylene membrane which has a specially designed anchoring fleece laminated to its underside. The matting has a grid structure of square cavities which are each cut back in a dovetail configuration. DITRA matting is specifically designed for tile and natural stone installations.

DITRA Matting Functions

The DITRA Matting has many functions that make it an ideal product for tile installations:

  • Through uncoupling the floor covering from the substrate, DITRA matting can stop stress cracks being transferred from the substrate to the surface covering.
  • The DITRA Matting can also help with waterproofing. Thanks to the waterproof polyethylene membrane, the matting creates a certified bonded waterproofing assembly with the tile covering. Through this DITRA matting will protect the substrate against moisture damage.
  • The matting ensures equalisation of vapour pressure, by keeping the interconnected air channels between the cavities on the underside of the matting open, allowing any moisture trapped in the substrate to evaporate.
  • The matting significantly improves load distribution, by transferring the load directly to the substrate.
  • DITRA matting has outstanding adhesive properties, meaning it can be used on both floor and wall coverings.

Using DITRA Matting

DITRA matting can be used on a wide range of surfaces including concrete, mortar screeds, gypsum based screeds, radiant heated screeds and masonry/mixed substrates. DITRA matting is particularly useful when installing underfloor heating and provides a decoupling layer between the underfloor heating and the tiles.

Substrates for DITRA Matting

Substrates on which the matting can be installed must always be checked for their suitability to make sure they are level, load-bearing, clean and compatible with the materials to be used.

Concrete: Concrete is subject to deformation processes due to shrinkage. Concrete and pre-stressed concrete may build up tension because of deflection. The Matting means the tensions occurring (in the floor and wall area) between the concrete and the tile covering are absorbed.

Mortar screeds: Tiles can be installed on as soon as they are ready to bear weight as opposed to the usual 28 days of curing.

Gypsum based screeds: According to the applicable standards, the residual moisture of gypsum based screeds should not exceed 0.5% prior to the installation of tiles. With the application of DITRA matting, tile coverings can be installed as soon as the residual moisture is below 2.0%.

Masonry / mixed Substrates: Using the Matting stresses and cracks will not transfer to the tile covering.

Stucco / plaster: Plaster substrates should be examined in accordance with the applicable building codes to ensure they are dry.

Balconies / terraces: As an uncoupling membrane, DITRA Matting neutralises the stresses between the substrate and the tile covering that are caused by the frequent and extensive temperature changes occurring on balconies.

Rooftop terraces: In the case of roof terraces over residential/ commercial or other spaces as well as roof-covered surfaces, the surface needs to be designed as a flat roof, following the applicable technical rules for roof structures.

Synthetic flooring and surface coatings: In principle, the surface must be load bearing and prepared in such a way that a suitable tile adhesive will adhere to it and anchor the fleece on the underside of the DITRA Matting.

Plywood and chipboard: These materials are particularly prone to deformation under the influence of moisture. DITRA Matting neutralises the stress occurring in the tile covering and prevents the penetration of moisture.

Structural plank subflooring: Sufficiently load bearing structural plank subflooring in tongue and groove construction, with the appropriate screws in place, is suited as a substrate for ceramic tiles.

Bituminous screed (paving grade asphalt): DITRA Matting allows for the installation of ceramic coverings on standard weightbearing, unheated mastic asphalt screeds in indoor areas.

Installing DITRA Matting

Prior to installing DITRA matting it is important to make sure that the substrates are even, load bearing, clean and compatible. The flooring should also have sufficient time to dry before you get started with the installation.

  1. Apply a layer bonding adhesive to the level substrate using a 3x3mm or 4x4mm notched trowel.
  2. Cut DITRA matting to size if required, then embed the anchoring fleece on the underside of the matting into the adhesive so that its entire surface is strongly bonded.
  3. Once installed, we recommend placing boards down to protect the matting against damage or loosening from the substrate, which can be caused by heavy mechanical loads.
  4. Tiling can begin straight after the DITRA matting is installed.

DITRA matting is available to purchase online at Tile Fix Direct in 1m lengths, in full 30m rolls or as a full pallet of 6 rolls. For more detailed instructions check out the Schlüter DITRA PDF guide.

Product Feature: Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

At Tile Fix Direct we choose the very best products to suit your every tiling need, so you can be sure your tiling is second to none. Introducing Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting. This product is an uncoupling and anti-cracking waterproof membrane with high adhesion for balconies, terraces and horizontal surfaces before laying ceramic tiles or natural stone. The Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting creates a waterproof surface even when overlaid on substrates that are cracked, have not been perfectly cured or might contain vapour pressure due to residual substrate moisture content.

The Unique Features of Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

Green-Pro is a highly innovative Kerakoll creation. The membrane is a high-technology, multi-layer composite polymer system comprising:

  • PA – hydrophobic PA fibres with high tensile strength to guarantee a superior and more evenly distributed available contact surface.
  • HDPE – waterproof and variable geometry HDPE structure to guarantee physical separation between the substrate and the flooring.
  • TNT – highly breathable sheet to guarantee passage of the vapour from uncured screeds or screeds with high residual humidity and to guarantee high levels of adhesion to the substrates.

The Benefits of Using Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

We all know the benefits of using a decoupling layer, but Kerakoll Green-Pro has a range of additional advantages:

  • Waterproofs any surface, old or new, damp or dry, cracked or subject to dimensional variations.
  • Compensates for hygrometric shrinkage and thermal deformation stress.
  • Reduces on-site working times: waterproofing and laying of the coating without waiting, withstands foot traffic immediately.
  • Solves the problem of respecting substrate joints in staggered or diagonal laying (cuts in doorways).

Where to Use Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting can be used both externally and internally. It can be used to waterproof, separate and compensate for vapour pressure prior to laying of ceramic tile and natural stone coatings for domestic, commercial, industrial uses (like industrial kitchens, food industries, warehouses) and for street furniture (check that the size and thickness of the material to be laid is suitable).

  • Screeds, including any that are cracked and not completely cured of with possible vapour pressure caused by residual humidity.
  • Existing ceramic, marble floor tiles, natural stone floorings anchored to the substrate.
  • Cured concrete.
  • Fibre-cement and plaster-board panels anchored to the substrate.

Do not use on anhydrite-based substrates without the use of Primer A Eco professional, concentrated, water-based surface insulation, on bituminous sheeting, on exposed surfaces, on inverted roofs made with insulation panels or low-density screeds, and on roofs of residential spaces built without vapour barrier and insulation layers.

How to Install Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

  1. Clean the substrates of dust, oil and grease, loose debris or flaky parts, residues of cement, lime, plaster/render, or paint coatings.
  2. Do not apply to substrates at a temperature > +35 °C (temperature of the substrate).
  3. Unroll the sheets and cut them to size, considering a space of approximately 5 mm between the sheets and the perimeter walls, stringcourses, protrusions, columns, pillars, architectural elements, drains, etc., and between one sheet and the next.
  4. Apply Biogel No Limits adhesive using a suitable toothed spreader; lay a thin layer with the smooth side, pressing down heavily to achieve maximum adhesion to the substrate and regulate water absorption.
  5. Regulate the thickness by the tilt of the spreader, using the toothed part. Apply the adhesive to a surface area that will allow laying of the sheets within the open time indicated (check the state of the adhesive frequently). Avoid any build-up of adhesive, that might compromise the flatness of the matting.
  6. Position the sheets or unroll them onto the fresh adhesive, taking care they are flat and avoiding the formation of creases or bubbles.
  7. Create joints approximately 5 mm in width between the sheets and the perimeter walls, stringcourses, etc., and between one sheet and the next.
  8. Immediately press the sheets down onto the fresh adhesive using Aquaform R mixed with a bag of adhesive.
  9. Check that the whole of the white unwoven fabric on the back of the membrane has been dampened; if necessary increase the amount of adhesive and press more carefully. Press properly to ensure that the membranes are taut.
  10. Avoid getting fresh adhesive onto the roller, as this might compromise the surface of the sheets.
  11. Lay the next sheet, aligning it with the preceding one and leaving a gap of approximately 5 mm between one sheet and the next; press immediately, paying particular attention to passage of the roller along the edges of the sheets.

Protect the rolls from direct sunlight, heat sources and rain, both during storage in the warehouse and on site. When laying the matting, protect it from sunshine until shortly before application. For further installation instructions click here.

Green-Pro revolutionises the world of underlying waterproofing, re-writing performance standards to allow applications that are impossible for mineral products. This top of the range standard is why we have chosen Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting, and why you should too.

Product Feature: Ardex WPC Tanking System White

Ardex WPC White Tanking Kit

We’ve Switched Our WPC Tanking System and Here’s Why You Should Too

At Tile Fix Direct we only stock the products which we believe are the best choices on the market for you, our customer. That’s why we have switched from the old grey WPC waterproofing to the new ARDEX WPC White Tanking System. ARDEX have over 60 years of experience and are one of the leaders in their field, so we know we can trust their product to do the job.

What are our reasons for switching? Well the new white colour has several great benefits that it’s grey predecessor did not:

  • The white colour means it is easy to see the marks you make in pencil or pen on walls for the tiles, pipes or whatever it is you are fixing in or up.
  • The new lighter colour makes it a great choice for installing glass or light coloured tiles, especially mosaics.
  • The new white WPC tanking system will make the whole room brighter while you are working in it. This makes the new colour especially useful in small bathrooms or enclosed wet rooms with no little to no light or windows.

Besides these great new benefits to the new white tanking system, it still also has all the previous benefits the original WPC kit had.

Why Waterproofing is Important

It is vital to waterproof the area being used before doing any work – as well as sealing the tiles afterwards if required. By taking the time to do this waterproofing you will help protect your bathroom, wet room or any internal and external wet area, from mould. The application of the WPC will also help protect the background from any unwanted water damage and leaks and, ultimately, give you some well-deserved peace of mind. Not only that but It will also make the finished tiled surface more hard-wearing and durable.

Why WPC is Good & What You Get

ARDEX WPC White Waterproof Tanking System is used as a waterproof protection coat on backgrounds such as cement, gypsum plaster, plasterboard, or wood-based materials. It is quick and easy to use. After applying the coating, tiles can be fixed to the background. The protective coat can be used to seal internal corners between walls, filling in holes, joints and gaps around pipes, and to seal baths and showers before tiling.

The kit consists of two components; a solvent-free acrylic dispersion and a reactive cement-based powder. In each box there is a free roller and scrim tape to help you with the application of the product. The pack size is 5kg/Powder and 5kg/Liquid and with consistent and even painting the product should provide a coverage of up to 6.6m2.

How to Use the Ardex WPC Kit

Ardex WPC Tanking is quick and easy to apply, here’s our guide to help you apply the WPC kit properly:

  1. Ensure that you have the appropriate tools and sufficient ARDEX WPC to cover the intended area. Make sure the surface to be tiled is dry, rigid, of sufficient strength and free from dust, grease, dirt, etc. Make sure to wear suitable gloves and eye/face protection and apply at temperatures above 5°C.
  2. Mix a small amount of ARDEX WPC to a slump free consistency for filling holes, gaps, joints etc. For application by spatula, pallet knife or towel, mix approximately 1.75kg ARDEX WPC liquid with 2.5kg ARDEX WPC powder per m2 at 3mm thickness, i.e 4.25kg of Mix No.1 per m2 at 3mm. The working time is approximately 45 minutes at 20°C.
  3. Apply the mixed ARDEX WPC (MIX No.1) with a spatula, pallet knife or trowel to seal joints in corners and fill holes and gaps around pipes, etc.
  4. Mix approximately 0.75kg ARDEX WPC liquid with 0.75kg ARDEX WPC powder per m2 at 0.8mm thickness to obtain a flowing consistency. Apply this Mix No.2 evenly with a brush or paint roller to cover the surface with a uniform coat. Leave 1 hour between each coat application to allow the WPC to fully dry.
  5. Ceramic tiles etc. can be fixed onto the second coat of ARDEX WPC after approximately 2 hours.

You should now be all set to use the new ARDEX WPC White Tanking System, happy tiling from all of us at Tile Fix Direct.

Product Feature: Marmox Thermoblock

Creating a well insulated and environmentally friendly home is becoming one of the top priorities of both construction companies and home owners. While there are many ways to insulate a building once completed, starting at the bottom is one of the most effective ways to insulate a property by eliminating the ‘thermal bridge’ – this is when heat is lost through the bottom layer of blocks or bricks where the wall and floor meet. Using an insulating block such as Marmox Thermolbock to replace this bottom course of bricks or blocks eliminates the cold bridge at the wall & floor junction.

Marmox Thermoblock is a highly insulating, load-bearing building block that can be used to reduce or eliminate the thermal bridge. Many insulating materials cannot be used at the bottom layer as they are not strong enough to bear the load of the bricks or blocks above, however Thermoblocks are made of the same XPS material as Multiboard tile backer boards, but with a strong and rigid epoxy concrete frame.

“The standard Marmox Thermoblock comprises of a 60mm thick core of fire resistant XPS insulation encasing two rows of high strength, low conductive, epoxy-concrete columns. These are fixed to the top and bottom surfaces of the block, which are 2.5mm thick layers of fibre reinforced polymer concrete incorporating the latest innovation in building technology – Carbon Nano Tubes.”

Features & Benefits of Marmox Thermoblock

  • Insulating
  • Fire resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Load-bearing
  • Impermeable to water
  • Thermal conductivity of 0.047W/mK
  • Mean compressive strength of 9.0N/mm2
  • Shear strength 0.18N/mm2

Marmox Thermoblock is designed to be placed at the base of a masonry or timber–frame wall to address the thermal bridge. Its thermal conductivity is 0.047W/mK which will result in a significant reduction in y values when used at wall to floor junctions. All building regulations in the UK and Ireland now say: “The building fabric should be continuous over the whole building envelope and constructed so that there are no reasonably avoidable thermal bridges in the insulation layers caused by gaps in the various elements.” Marmox Thermoblock satisfies this requirement perfectly by connecting the wall insulation with the floor insulation.

The blocks are 65mm high, equal to the standard brick height in the UK, designed to give the necessary insulation required. The Thermoblock material is also impermeable to water so it can be used in damp conditions and even creates a moisture barrier – preventing damp from entering the property. When installing Marmox Thermoblock, MSP360 Adhesive & Sealant should be used between blocks to prevent moisture creeping up into the joint and also for timber construction to seal the top surface of the block to the sole plate. Check out the MSP360 product page for coverage information.

Order Marmox Thermoblock and Marmox MSP360 adhesive online at Tile Fix Direct.

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