The Importance of Waterproofing for a Tile or Stone Installation

 December 9, 2022. 4:54 PM

bathroom with new shower and tile floorAs any building inspector will tell you, there is no greater enemy to the longevity of a structure than excessive moisture and water penetration. Be it poured concrete, wood-frames, a tile surface or a stone veneer, keeping water at bay is key to maintaining the beauty and structural integrity of the installation - and avoiding costly do-overs and repairs.

At MAPEI we promote the science of waterproofing nearly to an artform, knowing that the right waterproofing barrier for one job (or portion of a job) can be ill-suited to another. Each project can pose specific and unique challenges that can make all the difference in a given installation's success, which is why there's no "one size fits all" solution. Through 85 years of experience and extensive product development in MAPEI's laboratories around the world, MAPEI has come up with an array of products and solutions for every waterproofing need.

FastTrack Application Membranes

One of the reasons people cut corners by avoiding waterproofing their tile or stone installation is the prospect of the added time and cost it could entail. But that shouldn’t stop you from building responsibly as well as beautifully, which is why we developed FastTrack products that are less fussy for installers, while not making the prospect of adding waterproofing overly burdensome.

Mapelastic AquaDefense premium waterproofing and crack-isolation membranePerhaps our most popular roller-applied membrane, Mapelastic® AquaDefense has recently been relaunched with a new tint to enhance visibility during application. Used for waterproofing showers as well as swimming pools, Mapelastic AquaDefense provides a very high-performance liquid-rubber membrane, being IAPMO-listed for use as a shower-pan liner for shower floors, and exceeding the ANSI A118.10 industry standard (Waterproofing Membranes for Thin-Set Ceramic Tile). It provides a thin layer to act as a continuous barrier protecting adjacent rooms and floors below from water damage, and it doubles as a crack-isolation membrane for installing tile or stone coverings.

What installers might appreciate most about Mapelastic AquaDefense is how its application is so straightforward, being premixed, and extremely quick-drying, able to receive any MAPEI polymer or epoxy mortar within an hour of application. (Otherwise, if a flood-test is part of the mortar bed specification, that can be done after just 12 hours). For common problem areas like coves, basement floor corners, cracks and drains, it can be combined with MAPEI’s optional Reinforcing Fabric or Mapeband™ accessories (cove roll and drain flash) to provide additional protection.

For those who need to go premium, such as interior and exterior applications where higher moisture vapor conditions exist, look to Mapelastic Turbo, which exceeds the waterproofing standards of Mapelastic AquaDefense. As its name suggests, it doesn’t take long to apply or to cure, and no other solution can beat it for curing time before flood-testing, at 3 to 4 hours. Both products also meet the ASTM E96 standard for water vapor transmission, adding advanced moisture protection to the substrate and coverings.

For interior jobs where time is less of a factor, a third easy-to-apply liquid membrane option available is Mapelastic HPG. Like the others, it exceeds the ANSI A118.10 standard and can be combined with Fiberglass Mesh or Mapeband accessories to provide crack-isolation as well. Its single-component formulation is the most flexible meanwhile, allowing brush, roller or trowel application.

Other Versatile Membranes for Stone or Tile Installation

For exteriors and non-residential areas, such as restaurant kitchens and industrial or commercial applications, where the waterproofing barrier is needed to handle persistent or intermittent wet and submerged environments, a professional cement-based product such as Mapelastic® 315 may be needed. This waterproofing membrane is the most versatile – good for both interior and exterior waterproofing – and can be trowel-applied, making it great for vertical as well as horizontal applications.

Mapelastic 315 provides an excellent barrier to prevent water from migrating into other areas, so it’s often used in commercial and industrial areas for tile and natural stone or faux stone coverings, and is ideal for multi-family or multi-storey buildings where high-quality waterproofing is imperative to prevent water damage in rooms adjacent or below.

Sheet Membrane Solutions:

MAPEI’s Mapeguard WP waterproofing membraneMAPEI’s Mapeguard® WP waterproofing membrane systems are uniquely engineered to deliver waterproofing, crack-isolation and vapor-control solutions, addressing the demands of wet and high-moisture environments encountered in today’s ceramic tile and stone installations. From the installer’s perspective, Mapeguard WP 200 waterproofing sheet membrane with its desired feel and pliability is application-friendly, as an added benefit to the high performance standards attained in strength and dimensional stability. With its low perm rating, the system is approved for residential and commercial steam rooms, where the demands for vapor protection are critical.

In addition to Mapeguard WP 200 sheet membrane, the components of the Mapeguard WP waterproofing membrane system can include Mapeguard WP ST waterproofing sealing tape, Mapeguard PIC pre-formed inside corners, Mapeguard POC pre-formed outside corners, Mapeguard PC pre-formed pipe collars and Mapeguard VC pre-formed valve collars.

When these system components are used with a MAPEI mortar and grout, either a 10-year, 25-year or lifetime warranty will apply, depending on the products selected for mortar beds, grout lines and grout joints. The warranty term is based on product classifications according to industry standards and approvals. Mapeguard WP waterproofing membrane systems provide customers, contractors, architects and owners with single-source solutions from MAPEI, supported with its Best-Backed warranty program. Components of Mapeguard WP waterproofing membrane systems can be purchased individually. Additionally, some components are offered collectively as the Mapeguard Combo Pack, a tremendous asset to help with proper installation.

The Mapeguard Combo Pack consists of inside corners, outside corners, pipe collar and valve collar components packaged together in a kit. The installation corners and collar kit is a convenient, fast and easy way to seal around curbs, inside corners, outside corners, pipes, shower heads and shower mixing valves in wet areas, providing waterproofing and vapor-management protection when installing Mapeguard WP 200 waterproofing membrane for ceramic tile and stone.

With these and other MAPEI products available from local distributors across Canada, be sure to follow the instructions in the Technical Data Sheets for the products mentioned above, found on

VOC Content and Emissions

Environmentally-friendly concept image - globe wrapped in green arrowsA product labeled “low-VOC” or “zero-VOC” does not mean it is safe or good for your health, nor does it mean that it contains no toxic chemicals. VOC content (what’s in the product) doesn’t correlate to VOC emissions (what the product emits). Products with zero or low VOCs can still emit VOCs. To that end, all the above MAPEI products were third-party tested and third-party certified for low VOC content and low VOC emissions, achieving Indoor Advantage Gold certification from SCS Global Services to meet California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method v1.2-2017.

As noted above, waterproofing is a serious business, and MAPEI takes the formulation and production of its waterproofing products just as seriously. As an ISO 9001-2000 certified company that employs exacting standards to ensure quality and consistency from batch to batch, MAPEI also offers an in-house technical services team that responds to customers’ telephone inquiries in real time at 1-800-361-9309, and can even offer field support for on-site problem resolution. When it comes to finding the right, sustainable, vapor barrier and waterproofing solution for every need, look no further than MAPEI.


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