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Waterproof Vs Water Resistant – What’s The Difference?

Waterproof Vs Water Resistant – What’s The Difference?
February 19, 2023

Waterproof Vs Water Resistant – What’s The Difference?

Schluter Water Drop

Bathrooms are exposed to a significant amount of moisture. An average shower is 8 minutes long and uses 62 litres of water. If you have a power shower, you can expect this figure to be in the region of 136 litres per shower. By comparison, we experience an average rainfall of 73.75 litres per m2 per month, meaning a single shower at 62 litres is producing almost as much as one month’s rainfall per m2. It feels like as Brits all we ever do is complain about the weather, so a comparison like this is much easier to visualise why you’d want to have a tanked installation; this amount of water can cause serious damage if it’s not contained within the shower area.

What does this mean for my shower installation?

Tiles, adhesive, and grout alone aren’t waterproof, they’re water resistant at best. What this means is that over time, moisture can pass through these materials and into the substrate below, causing havoc on the foundations of your bathroom. It’s not enough to rely on these materials to make your bathroom install waterproof. A worst-case scenario could see the joists and floorboards completely damaged beyond repair. These failures are often not immediately obvious and can go undetected for some time.

So, what is the difference?

There are three main terms that you might see used, all describing a different state:

Water sensitive materials such as plasterboard and most wood-based materials are sensitive to moisture and in most cases would break down or degrade when subjected to moisture.

Water resistant backgrounds will allow water to migrate through the product without the composition being affected. However, this would mean water could track into the substrate behind.

Waterproof, on the other hand is impervious; water is unable to penetrate the surface. In addition to this, waterproof products also protect structural integrity

To install a long-lasting bathroom takes much more consideration than the purely decorative. Whilst having an attractive finish is all well and good, without an effective tanking solution below the covering, there’s no guarantee that you won’t be affected by problems further down the line once moisture issues become apparent.