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Can You Put Ditra Over Plywood? (How To)

There are always different ways to do a job but when you’re installing tile over plywood, you may have to put an uncoupling membrane in place. This is a step that is often skipped but it is also one that should seriously be considered.

DITRA can be installed over plywood and it provides many benefits when installing a tile floor. It goes down easily and once it is down, it provides the barrier between the plywood and tile that will keep the tile from cracking or shifting.

Rolled Orange Ditra

Unfortunately, when you go to a hardware store, you will often be told that the title can be put down directly over the plywood. That may be true in certain cases, but it is not the best option.

Can You Put Ditra Over Plywood? (How To)

DITRA is a type of membrane that provides uncoupling. If you install the tile directly on the plywood, the tile may crack and separate over time as the plywood expands and contracts.

Those cracks may not show up for a while and often, they are just considered a matter of settling. In reality, however, plywood is not a good subfloor for the installation of tile because you wind up with cracks in either the tile itself or the grout.

When you install DITRA, it is important that you keep the job in mind so that you can protect yourself and your health. The material itself is not dangerous to work with, but some of the tools you will be using can be dangerous.

First of all, you should always wear safety glasses when you’re doing any type of DIY project. You can purchase high-quality safety glasses and it is practically like you are not wearing them. They will protect your eyes like nothing else.

The DITRA you are putting down is going to be cut with a utility knife so you will not likely need to wear a respirator. At the same time, however, you need to work carefully and cautiously because you can easily cut your hand or fingers.

Always pay attention to your hand that is not doing the cutting and never get it in the way. Far too many people cut their fingers and end up with stitches because they work too quickly.

Finally, you are going to be working on your hands and knees so it is a good idea to invest in a high-quality pair of kneepads. These can really make a difference in how you feel when you are finished with the job.

We will consider the installation of DITRA in this article. This includes whether it should be used as well as how to use it properly and even how to prepare for the installation.

Should You Put Ditra Over Plywood

Confused man standing

It is a well-established fact that DITRA should be used for any job that involves tiling over plywood. It can be installed directly over the plywood but is it necessary to do so?

We will consider some of the benefits of using DITRA over plywood. These benefits will convince you of the fact that it is a good idea to use it.

Load – When you install tile directly on plywood, the load is not spread. When you use DITRA over plywood before the tile, however, you are able to put additional load on the tile because the matting is able to adjust the load and spread it out over a wider area.

Waterproof – If you are installing tile in any part of the home that is prone to moisture, such as the basement or the bathroom, then it is very important to use DITRA. Not only does it provide all the benefits we discuss here but it also provides a layer of waterproofing to protect the plywood and the joists.

Uncoupling – When tile is installed directly on plywood, the plywood movement will end up affecting the tile. Plywood does shift over time due to changes in moisture and temperature. Eventually, cracks will show up in the grout or the tile itself. Using DITRA as an uncoupling membrane helps to avoid this problem altogether.

Vapors – We already discussed the benefit of putting down DITRA to provide a moisture barrier but it also helps with water vapors as well. Those vapors would build up under the tile but thanks to this uncoupling membrane, they are neutralized and evaporate properly.

If those benefits aren’t enough to provide you with all that you need to know about installing DITRA, it’s also important to recognize that there aren’t any drawbacks associated with it. It’s a great idea, and one you should not skip.

Tool Needed To Install Ditra Over Plywood

Ditra in floor

There are not many tools necessary to install DITRA over plywood but you should gather them in advance. Doing so will help you to be prepared for the job and avoid any unnecessary delays. Here are the tools you need:

Tape Measures

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Straight Edge

Utility Knife with Extra Blades

Notched Trowel

5 Gallon Buckets

Rags

Sponges

Drill with Paddle for Mixing

Safety Glasses

Cut Resistant Gloves

Kneepads

More than likely, you also have your favorite tools that are used on almost any job. Personally, I never go anywhere without my five-in-one tool by my side. You can use them or mix and match them as you desire.

What Preparation Is Needed To Install Ditra Over Plywood

Confused man standing

When you install DITRA, there are several steps that are necessary to do it. The process is easy but you must prepare everything properly in advance. Here are the steps you will use to prepare for installing DITRA matting.

1. Check for Squeaks – If there are any squeaks in the plywood, is going to transfer through the DITRA to the tile. You will still hear them as a result. Go around and add additional screws if necessary to remove the squeaks in advance.

2. Check for Evenness – If there are any high or low points in the plywood, they will also cause problems after you install the DITRA and eventually, the tile. Look for those higher low points and make sure they are leveled prior to installing the uncoupling membrane.

3. Check for Nails – Use a wide blade to scrape the floor gently and check for any nails or screws that may be sticking above the surface. Make sure that they are either set properly or removed prior to installing DITRA.

4. Tape the Seams – Although this is an extra step, it is one that you may find beneficial. You can use fiberglass tape to tape the seams prior to putting down the thinset. This will just help to hold things together even better after the DITRA is installed.

At this point, the plywood should be level, free from defects, and ready for the installation of your uncoupling membrane. You will probably be surprised by how quickly the next step goes.

How To Install Ditra Over Plywood

Confused man standing

Installing the DITRA is a relatively straightforward process. That being said, it is one that should be done properly so that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Bonding Adhesive – There is a need for some type of bonding adhesive to be spread on the plywood prior to the time that you install the DITRA. Personally, I use thinset, but there are also many other types of adhesives out there that are used for this purpose. It really depends upon your comfort level and your budget.

The adhesive or thinset should be applied to the plywood using a notched trowel. Don’t work in an area that is too large for you to get completely finished within 30 minutes. Otherwise, you could end up with the adhesive drying before you get the DITRA in place.

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2. Cut the Membrane – The DITRA uncoupling membrane can be cut to size at this point. You can lay it out in position and at the edges, you can use a straight edge and a utility knife to cut the matting.

Safety is very important to consider during this step in the process. You will likely be working quickly in order to get done before the adhesive dries but don’t work so quickly that you sacrifice your fingers in the process. Always pay close attention to where your hands are when cutting with a utility knife.

You should also ensure that the blades of the utility knife are changed on a regular basis. A sharp utility knife blade will cut cleanly but a dull utility knife is more likely to cut you.

3. Protect – As you are cutting and putting the DITRA in place, you can use pieces of plywood or other boards to hold it in place and protect it from damage. It also keeps the DITRA from lifting until the adhesive has dried.

4. Tile – There is no need to wait after you install the DITRA until you install the tile. After it is in place, you can begin tiling immediately over top of it.

ReadyToDiy is the owner of this article. This post was published on 2022-09-10..

DITRA can be installed over plywood and it is an excellent choice for an uncoupling membrane between the subfloor and tile. When you install DITRA, you are protecting the tile by separating it from the subfloor and keeping it from cracking in the future.