The way we build is changing every day, installation practices of yesteryear become obsolete and replaced with more innovative strategies. This week I thought I'd talk about uncoupling membranes and how they've changed how we look at tile floors.
uncoupling membranes have one simple job, to allow expansion and contraction to take place between two materials that expand and contract at different rates. It accomplishes this by allowing small movements to happen within the membrane. The membrane itself is comprised of a polyethylene layer, with a felt backing underneath. The polyethylene surface is waterproof as well, protecting your subfloor from suffering water damage leading to loosening or cracking of the tiles. The felt offers a great bonding surface to be "glued" in place with your setting compound, but enough give to allow micromovements to happen.
To add more value to your floor, you can also install an uncoupling membrane that accepts heating wires. Its a bit more tricky to measure how long of a heating wire to buy, you'll want to follow manufacturer specs on how to space the wire when installing in between the grooves. Make sure the heat sensor isn't under a shower pan or too close to a heat register. I cant stress enough to follow manufacturers instructions.
Everything expands and contracts, even when installing tile over concrete, you should strongly consider using an uncoupling membrane. You might not see the value in the extra money spent right away, but in the long run floors with uncoupling membranes are much more durable and resistant to cracking and popping, saving you from having to repair or replace your floors in the future.
Brent Whelan has been in the construction industry for over a decade and has worked for one of Halifax's top renovation companies and Canadas largest restoration firm. He's a Certified Professional Inspector and holds a Red Seal Endorsement in carpentry.