Many of the specialized tile products I use come from a company called Schluter.  This includes the incredible Kerdi shower waterproofing system which is a superior way to construct a tile shower.  To educate tile contractors on their products they host regional “Innovation Workshops”  where they put us up in a nice hotel  for a couple nights, feed us steak dinners and talk tile.  I just got back from their workshop in Indianapolis, Indiana.

It was awesome from beginning to end.

I was already using their Kerdi shower systems and trim profiles, but at this seminar I was introduced to their Ditra uncoupling membrane, which basically takes the place of the cementboard underlayment in a floor tile installation, as well as the Kerdi-board and their in-line drains.  Much of the two days was spent in class where the instructor started with the history of tile several thousand years ago and brought us to the present.  It was so interesting to learn how they did tile in all those old cathedrals and why it has held up so long.

In addition to talking about the history of tile and how we’ve been doing tile to this point, we got into very detailed discussions on the flaws with some of the recent systems and how the Schluter products solve these problems and result in a much better tile installation.  I didn’t need to be sold on their stuff, but it was so helpful to hear the detailed comparison between the different methods of doing tile.

In the afternoons we had some hands-on sessions beginning with some of the Schluter guys going through a detailed demonstration where they showed us the best and easiest ways to install their products.  By the way, the Schluter people at the workshop were just top-notch.  I had one-on-one conversations with nearly all of them and they were not only extremely knowledgeable and helpful, but most of them had a deep background in doing tile themselves with over 10 years experience before they began working with Schluter.

The photo above shows part of the demonstration on doing a Kerdi shower.  One guy was doing the installation while the instructor narrated what he was doing and why.  The “why” part is so critical to understand.  If you don’t understand why it’s important to install tile certain way, then an installer might want to skip steps and ad lib a little bit.  They told us that nearly all the shower failures in America are due to incorrect installation or “pilot error” as they called it.  Their system is not complicated, but the steps are very important.

Needless to say, I was blown away by the entire experience and can’t wait to get started on my next Kerdi tile shower.