Schluter: creativity, craftsmanship, and a complete installation system lead to stunning project

This project feature reinforces our understanding of some market trends, while demonstrating unique installation methods and the timeless value of craftsmanship. It begins with an addition to an older couple’s home that includes a spacious new bathroom. The modern appointments of a tiled shower and heated floors are to be found, but there are some twists that make the project particularly interesting.

Corona installed the Schluter®-DITRA-HEAT system to provide floor warming throughout the bathroom and ensure a lasting tile application.

The builder and the tile contractor

Case Builders LLC of Lutherville, Md., specializes in design, consultation, and fine construction. They manage a multitude of projects of varying levels of complexity throughout the Mid-Atlantic and represent their clients’ construction interests throughout the United States and abroad.

NTCA member Corona Marble & Tile of Woodbine, Md., is a family-owned tile and stone contractor established in 1985, that serves the Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington D.C. areas. Led by second generation owner/installer Mike Corona, the company takes pride in its ability to collaborate with owners, builders, designers, and architects and successfully complete intricate projects that demand the highest attention to detail. This commitment to quality and longevity is evident in Corona’s employment of Certified Tile Installers (CTIs). For more information on the CTI program, you can visit ceramictilefoundation.org.

floor warming was installed throughout, using 3-2-3 cable spacing to maximize the warmth provided by the system


Calacatta Gold stone tiles supplied by Chesapeake Tile & Marble of Owings Mills, Md., were installed throughout the 15’ x 9’ bathroom, including the
6-1/2’ x 5-1/2’ shower. This white marble with deep gray veining produced a classic look that was very much at home in the open space with large windows and abundant natural light.

Heated floors

One of the primary homeowner requirements was to ensure comfort by incorporating a floor-warming system under the tiles. The addition was built over a crawl space so the system helps to mitigate transfer of cold from the space below. 

The framed shower floor area was built 2-1/2” lower than the rest of the addition to allow the mud bed floor to be flush with the bathroom floor.

Corona installed the Schluter®-DITRA-HEAT system to provide floor warming throughout the bathroom and ensure a lasting tile application. The DITRA-HEAT-DUO uncoupling membrane features studs on the surface that secure heating cables without the use of clips or fasteners and a thermal break attached to the underside. The cables were placed wherever heat was desired and the tile was installed directly over the membrane without encapsulating the cables in a self-leveling underlayment, thereby significantly reducing installation time. The sub assembly consisted of engineered wood joists covered with a 3/4”-thick AdvanTech® subfloor, and 1/2”-thick plywood underlayment to support the stone tile installation.

Curbless shower 

The entire shower base was covered with the Schluter®-KERDI waterproofing membrane after the floor warming system was installed, per Schluter Systems instructions.

Curbless showers continue to grow in popularity for both practical and aesthetic reasons. They can make a space feel more open, and the ease of entry can help homeowners age in place if desired. Since the bathroom space was part of an addition to the house, the builder was able to plan for this from the outset. He recessed the floor joists within the shower area 2-1/2” to allow for slope to the drain without requiring extra buildup of the floor outside the shower. Corona floated a mortar bed sloped to the Schluter®-KERDI-DRAIN in the center of the shower. Since there would be no curb, it was simple to continue the DITRA-HEAT-DUO membrane and heating cables across the shower entrance and over the surface of the mortar bed. While the uncoupling membrane is itself waterproof and the heating cables are rated for wet applications, the entire shower base was covered with the Schluter®-KERDI waterproofing membrane per Schluter Systems instructions. The walls were constructed using Schluter®-KERDI-BOARD as a lightweight and easy-to-install alternative to backerboard covered with a membrane.

Floating shower bench 

The floating bench is a 76” long 3 cm-thick marble slab supported by hidden steel brackets.

Shower benches serve practical purposes in tiled showers, and the sleek appearance of a floating bench can make for an elegant design feature. The owners desired a single piece of stone spanning the full length of the 76” wall without visible supports. 

Corona met this challenge using a clever approach. An approximately 12” wide strip of foam board was removed from the length of the wall and iron L-shaped brackets, 12” long on each side, were fastened to solid blocking within the wall framing. The previously-removed board was routed using the brackets as a guide and re-installed so that it would again sit flush with the rest of the wall. Special care was taken to waterproof the area around the brackets and prevent any water infiltration into the wall cavity. A 3 cm-thick marble slab with 4” deep mitered face was installed, with the underside subsequently covered with a layer of foam board and porcelain tile. The brackets provide the necessary support and are invisible within the final application.

Supports for the slab bench were anchored to the framing and then covered with Kerdi-Board building panels that had been routed to fit flush over the brackets.

Arched entrance

Field tile was cut and aligned to fit the underside of the arch and maintain the veining for a seamless, dramatic effect.
There are knee walls on either side of the opening, with an archway above that nearly reaches the ceiling

Perhaps the most striking visual feature of the shower is the entrance itself. Corona is particularly proud of this aspect of the project and rightfully so. There are knee walls on either side of the opening, with an archway above that nearly reaches the ceiling. He painstakingly cut and aligned field tile to fit the underside of the arch and stone chair rail to form the casing. The tile was installed so that the veining in the Calacatta Gold follows the arch to dramatic effect.


This project is an excellent example of how homeowners, builders, and tile setters can work together to produce something really special. The clear communication of requirements by the homeowners, followed by excellent planning and execution by Case and Corona Marble & Tile was the key to success. Using a complete system per manufacturer instructions, combined with plenty of creativity and craftsmanship helps empower tile setters to produce functional, durable, and beautiful results, all within a profitable business.

Schluter®-Systems Launches Live Online Training

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For almost 20 years Schluter-Systems’ hands-on workshops have been a hallmark of training and education in the tile industry.  In 2019 alone, over 13,000 people enhanced their tile systems know-how by attending a Schluter workshop. To continue the company’s commitment to industry education, Schluter has developed a series of live, online training programs that can be attended remotely.  These programs carry many of the most important features that have made the traditional workshops successful.

The core of each session will be a live, hands-on demonstration.  Each course is 2 hours long and covers an important tile industry topic.  The courses will be delivered by a presenter, an installer, and a moderator who answers questions and provides additional information via a live chat during the session.  Attendees connect to the session via computer, tablet or phone and can learn and engage with industry experts from wherever they are located.  

There is no cost to attend; attendees must simply register online for the course of their choosing.  Registration can be done at any time prior to the start of the course and, unlike the in-person workshops, there is a much higher limit of 250 people who can attend each session.

Sessions are being offered every weekday.  At present four different topics are available:

  • Flooring Warming with DITRA-HEAT
  • Moisture Management & Schluter Shower System
  • Uncoupling Principles & DITRA
  • Tile Edge Protection & Finishing with Profiles

Interested persons can learn more and register here:  Registration.

Horizontal Drain Outlet Makes Relocating Showers Easier

Relocating a drain for a shower can be extremely challenging and potentially expensive in many remodeling and renovation situations.  Residential environments that present these challenges include slab-on-grade construction, basements, high-rise condominiums, apartments and even many wood frame homes where multiple trades would be required to relocate an existing drain.  Commercially, any building with suspended concrete, post-tension concrete or old, vertical chases can present major challenges as re-coring concrete is a costly operation.  To overcome these challenges Schluter Systems has developed the Schluter®-KERDI-DRAIN-H with a 2” horizontal outlet.

The horizontal outlet allows the drain to be connected to an existing drain pipe and P-trap away from the new drain location.  Connecting to existing plumbing from a new drain location can significantly reduce demolition work, mess, and the cost of the project.  In situations where there is no access to the space below the floor, the horizontal drain outlet can bring an otherwise impossible project into the realm of possibility.

KERDI-DRAIN-H is identical in every way to existing Schluter 2” drains with the exception that the outlet is horizontal instead of vertical.  The drain includes the integrated bonding flange and is part of the complete Schluter shower system for constructing waterproof tiled showers.  It is available in both PVC and ABS.

To facilitate installation of the drain, Schluter has also developed the Schluter®-KERDI-SHOWER-CB compensation board.  Made of lightweight expanded polystyrene, the board is installed on the floor to accommodate the drain body and waste pipe height requirements.  Using the boards is a time and cost-effective alternative to pouring concrete.  The compensation board can be easily cut to size to fit the required space and to fit around the drain and waste pipe.  Multiple boards can be installed to custom fit the specific size and shape of the shower. A Schluter prefabricated shower tray can then be installed on top of the compensation board.

The new drain and compensation board will be available March 1 and are being shown in the Schluter booth at The International Surface Event (TISE) January 23-25 and the International Builders’ Show (IBS) February 19-21.

About Schluter®-Systems
Schluter®-Systems products are specifically designed for the tile industry to ensure that installations maintain integrity and durability. The company’s product line includes over 4,000 items, including tile trims, uncoupling membranes, waterproof building panels, shower systems, and thin-set mortar.  Schluter-Systems is renowned for its state-of-the-art technology with attention to detail for highly functional and visually appealing results.  For more information, visit www.schluter.com.


Five manufacturers and contractors in the tile industry banded together to tile the kitchen, bathrooms and basement in Sasha Bruce Youthwork’s RE*Generation House, which will provide transitional housing for at-risk youth in Washington, DC who might otherwise be homeless.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork welcomed donations of tile from Dal-Tile, setting and floor preparation materials from MAPEI, and Ditra underlayment and floor edging strips from Schluter Systems. NTCA Five-Star Contractors Collins Tile & Stone and David Allen Company completed the installation in the kitchen and three bathrooms. Sasha Bruce Youthwork is a well-recognized nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that provides shelter and needed support for vulnerable youth. (http://sashabruce.org)

MAPEI invited Tile Partners for Humanity, the partnership of tile industry members working to support nonprofit partners like Habitat for Humanity and community outreach centers through donations of tile materials and labor, to coordinate the project.

The RE*Generation House was also part of an outreach program by ProjectAEC Cares, a group of architects, engineers and contractors working in partnership with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) annual meeting as well as Reed Construction Data and Hanley Wood. Project AEC Cares coordinated a one-day service project in May to bring donors, volunteers, and media representatives together to work on the home renovation. Representatives of Collins Tile & Stone, David Allen Company, MAPEI, Schluter Systems, and TPFH were on hand to participate. Collins Tile & Stone and David Allen Company finished the installation in October once the house renovation was complete.

Larry Fullerton, Board Member of the Sasha Bruce Youthwork, thanked the industry donors for the beautiful finished product.

“We’re so grateful for the installation expertise and material donations from the tile industry. Not only is the finished product stunning, but in a house filled with kids it’s crucial to have floors that will stand up to heavy foot traffic. We also appreciate the time that everyone spent on site completing the project. It was great to meet the donors who made it possible!”

This marked the second year that MAPEI has contributed to the ProjectAEC Cares program and Michael Granatowski, MAPEI’s National Manager of Architectural and Commercial Projects, recently joined the program’s Advisory Board as a representative of the manufacturing community. Granatowski and Steven Day, Marketing Manager for MAPEI, participated in the service event in May.

“MAPEI finds that the Project AEC Cares program is an exciting and uplifting way to become a part of the communities where the AIA convention takes place each year. Our Sales, Technical and Marketing people who get a chance to participate in the renovations look forward to the next city and the next opportunity to help improve buildings for groups like Sasha Bruce Youthwork.”

Joey Miles, Territory Manager for Schluter Systems, also spent time volunteering at the service day event in May along with representatives of Collins Tile & Stone and David Allen Company.

“It was such an enormous pleasure to be part of the housing project at Sasha Bruce,” said Miles. “This was an opportunity for us to get involved in something we feel passionately about. Through this project we were able to take a hands-on approach in helping to create reliable housing for youth who may otherwise be homeless, and use our products and experience towards creating a home that we know will last, and will make a continuing impact on this community.”

Lori Kirk-Rolley, Senior Marketing Director for Dal-Tile Corporation, said that Dal-Tile was proud to participate in the project.

“At Dal-Tile, we strive to enrich the lives of others and positively impact our communities when we can. We’re pleased to be able to extend our support to the Sasha Bruce RE*Generation House and the well-deserving children they serve.”

Herb Miller, Executive Director of TPFH and its parent organization, Mountain Re-Source Center, echoed Fullerton’s gratitude. “It’s only through generous partners like Dal-Tile, MAPEI, Schluter Systems, Collins Tile & Stone and David Allen Company that we’re able to support important projects like the RE*Generation House. We had the best of the best – great materials and installation by two NTCA Five-Star Contractors. We truly appreciate their partnership and support!”

About Mountain Re-Source Center

MRC welcomes donations of all types of building materials as well as disaster relief supplies, educational resources, household necessities, and medical supplies. To donate or for more information on MRC or Tile Partners for Humanity, contact MRC Executive Director Herb Miller at 304-678-4229/ [email protected] or Networking Director Ally Venugopal at 425-429-6188/ [email protected]. MRC provides a donation receipt for tax purposes. For more information, visit www.mountainre-source.org or www.tpfh.com.

DITRA 25 Contest at Schluter Systems

If you’re a fan of Schluter Systems, you’ll want to find out more about their DITRA25 contest.  To celebrate DITRA’s 25th anniversary, Schluter is inviting all DITRA-lovers to tell their story, for their chance to win a trip to Montreal, Canada, a free roll of DITRA, or a Schluter soccer jersey.  If you’ve used DITRA in a successful tile installation, make sure and visit www.DITRA25.com to submit your story and pictures for your chance to win. Contest closes November 30, 2012.

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