Ditra vs. Cement Board

Ditra vs. Cement Board – Know The Key Differences

Are you struggling when choosing between the ditra vs. cement board? If you are, we will help you out in making a wise choice between the cement board and the the ditra. These are most commonly used in the construction sector.

They protect your home brick structure and countertops. If you are unfamiliar with what ditra and cement boards are used for, then let me introduce some flattened block-like structures that help in construction and finishing. 

Despite being used to protect household construction articles, they hold many differences in function, procedure, application, and structure.

We are going to differentiate cement boards and ditra based on several factors. So are you ready to unveil the differences between which product is suitable for you? The following guide will give ample knowledge about essential factors to consider before you go and buy one.

What is Ditra?

ditra board

Ditra is an end-user product created by Schluter Systems. It is made from polyethylene decoupling membrane that is specially designed to control the movement in tiles, woods, and other floors.

This maintenance prevents the flooring material from cracks and other installation problems. Ditra also wicks away the moisture left during the installation. According to Ditra's manufacturers, the membrane can even suppress the moisture present under the tile.

That moisture can even escae from wood floors to prevent swollen wood and water movement.

Ditra membranes are 1/8" thick, and the roll comes in39" length. It is not installed stand-alone, preferably a thin layer of mortar is set to bond with the floor. Once the mortar and Ditra are glued, tiles are covered over the membrane.

Now it’s time to roll back some physics. The mortar that is used beneath the Ditra layer is not decoupled with the Ditra membrane. The mortar both beneath and top of Ditra is left unglued; thereby, creating a continuous layer of a thick plastic membrane in the center just like a sandwich.

The thickness of the tile is incorporated with a column like mortar structure to fill out the cavities. Ditra is most suitable for ceramic and stone tile installations.

The polyethylene membrane is waterproof and appropriate for a flooring material that is moisture sensitive like plywood and gypsum sheets.

Advantages

  • Ditra membranes are durable, easy to install, and hygienic.
  • Ditra membranes are water-resistant.
  • Even load distribution.
  • Vapor management function.
  • Open rib structure.
  • Even the in-plane movement.
  • Neutralization of differential stress.

Disadvantages

  • Lightweight construction can pose problems.
  • Cannot be used for wide spaces.
  • The installation process is time-consuming.
  • It is hard to install over concrete.

What is the Cement Board?

Cement Board

Cement board is an ideal substitute for drywall structure in the shower box. When cement boards are applied over drywall, it appears like standard cement. The cement boards are easy to fasten with screws. After the cement boards are screwed, the joints are pressed and cemented using thin-set and not the cement.

The cement has a darker color; therefore, the thin-set looks like cement boards. Unlike standard drywall, cement boards are hard to deteriorate. Cement boards are highly unlikely to seep water, which causes cracks and gouts. Similarly, cement boards can be used for floor tiling as well.

Apart from the standard cement boards, there are many different types of boards in the market, such as textured cement boards, heavy cement boards, and glass-mesh cement boards. Fiber cement boards have cellulose fibers that make the cement boards light in weight and density. Many cement boards are ¼" thick and have a size of 3 x 5 feet.

Like ditra, cement boards are glued on the floor using thin-set, which is later screwed to the floor with cement board crews. The joints between adjacent cement boards are filled with alkali-resistant mesh tape that is coated with a thin-set.

The surface of cement boards functions like a monolithic structure because it restricts movement. Floor tiles can later be glued over the cement boards using thin-set.

Advantages

  • Long-term performance.
  • Hard to break.
  • Retain moisture; hence, waterproof.
  • Dimensionally stable.
  • Fiber and glass mesh.
  • Strong fastening network.
  • A wide range of thicknesses and sizes.
  • Easy to cut and dismantle.

Disadvantages

  • Cannot bear the greater force.
  • Steel framing is required.
  • High installation charges.
  • Specialized installation.

Cement Board vs Ditra –Important Things You Need To Consider Always

After learning about ditra and cement boards, it is time to get in-depth knowledge. Many factors differentiate ditra and cement boards. You all must consider the following factors so that your choice is worth it.

Durability and Resistance

The foremost factor to consider before buying a ditra or cement board is its durability and resistance. After through and through research, we all get to know that Ditra is more durable than cement boards because it can withstand high pressure and is flexible.

The polymer is made from is sustainable and efficient. Polyethylene membranes used in ditra are chemical resistant and have low inflammability. Ditra can also suffer heat and stains.

Polyethylene membrane in ditra is highly unlikely to wear and tear; therefore, you can anticipate how strong and resilient it is. The only disadvantage we see is that polyethylene is not much resistant to chemicals such as strong acids and alkalis.

On the contrary, cement boards are very resistant to harsh chemicals because it can handle strong acids and alkalis without any adverse reaction. Cement boards are also durable and resilient, which can withstand any weather conditions without damage.

Moreover, it can suffer significant loads and pressures. Hence, ditra and cement boards have different advantages. But in the end, ditra is more durable, although it is less resistant to chemicals.

Thickness

Another factor to consider is the thickness. On average, cement boards are thinner than ditra. Cement boards are made from fine cement with fibrous mesh or sometimes glass mesh. Therefore, the cement boards have thickness like that of a gypsum ceiling or plywood.

On the other hand, Ditra has a layer of mortar on either side. The polyethylene membrane is sandwiched between the mortar layers. This structure allows ditra to distribute the exerted pressure evenly. So, you can see how efficient it would depend upon the thickness.

Flexibility

Cement boards are hard and strengthened with fibers. Some particular types of cement boards can be applied over curved and contoured surfaces. But still, this flexibility is not achieved quickly, and the cement boards break upon slight pressure. Even after application, if the cement boards are hit, they crack easily.

On the other hand, the polyethylene membrane in ditra renders it flexible. This flexibility allows the ditra layer to work in curved and contoured surfaces. Therefore, it can withstand high pressure and vibrations easily.

Adhesiveness

Ditra consists of three different layers: mortar layer one, polyethylene layer, and mortar layer two. The most crucial factor is how well the coating sticks to concrete.

Ditra layers stick well to the pavement, but the three layers can scrape in between any time; hence, it is not much effective.

On the other hand, cement boards consist of a single layer that has cement and high-quality fibers. This single layer can stick perfectly to concrete and is hard to scrape off.

After all, everything depends upon the type of glue and concrete surface. Still, cement boards hold well to the floor and countertops because they are fastened with screws.

Application time

It depends on how much time it takes to apply ditra and cement boards. Ditra coatings are cumbersome to use and take more time and effort due to the mortar layers. Without proper mortar layer, ditra will be extremely difficult to support the load of floors.

On the contrary, cement boards are a bit different. It can be glued over concrete in much less time. That is why cement boards are preferred for most of the jobs because they inherit more strength than ditra. However, when it comes to application, both ditra and cement boards are good and resilient.

Texture

The texture is also a prime factor, especially if the place of installation is smooth. You will be found out that ditra performs better than cement boards because it stays smooth without becoming brittle and plastic.

In wet conditions, ditra outperforms because the polymer is waterproof and wicks away the moisture.

On the other hand, cement boards are rough and textured. The cement dries to form a rough surface, and under a microscope, it has many points that friction against other surfaces.

Appearance

Last but certainly not least, everyone cares about how ditra or cement board looks. In this regard, both function well. Ditra coatings hide under the floor and hence has a minor effect on the appearance.

However, the polymer comes in a range of colors and surfaces. You can get semi-gloss, matte, high-gloss, and other kinds of ditra coatings.

This is not the case with cement boards because it comes in single color option-grey. Moreover, the cement boards' consistency renders it impossible to add colors or dyes; if cement boards are colored, the grey color will supersede light and neon shades.

However, you can still top the cement board with your favorite color pads and options.

The textured cement boards come in various designs. The cement boards are smooth on one side and rough on the other side. It depends upon the person to choose which side to display.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, both ditra and cement boards are hard to pick from. You must consider all the factors enlisted above. We believe that the factors above are adequate to decide what is suitable for your ditra vs. cement board.

If you prefer the responsiveness and easy installation, avoid using complicated procedures, and go behind smart equipment. Just remember that you cannot fulfill all the factors of your choice. You might have to compromise some of the factors that are unimportant to you.

If you are looking for a wood floor, then ditra is something that you must choose because it is waterproof and dries away the moisture; hence, the wood scales will absorb no water. Ditra is mostly used under floor tiles.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a quick exterior, cement boards must be preferred because they are easy to apply and install.

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