Uncoupling membranes are usually laid between the substrate and new tiles. This prevents the newly laid tiles from cracking due to any slight movement that may occur in the floor underneath. Instead, these membranes absorb those movements, thus ensuring the stress and tension never reach the tile.
In addition, most of the membranes are waterproof, making them suitable for use in bathrooms and other areas. However, without the right uncoupling membrane, you may not experience all of its wonderful benefits.
There are sizes to define, thickness to measure, material quality for durability so on and so forth! With that in mind, we’ve listed some of the best uncoupling membranes available. So, read on to find the ideal solution for your next exterior or interior tiling project!
Here’s a quick round-up table with our top 5 picks:
|Schluter Ditra Membrane Tile Underlayment
5 out of 5
|Check On Amazon
|Heated Floor Uncoupling Membrane
5 out of 5
|Check On Amazon
|Schluter Ditra 54 sq. ft. 1/8” Underlayment
5 out of 5
|Check On Amazon
|Snap Products 1/8” Decoupling Underlayment
4.5 out of 5
|Check On Amazon
|JJ Care Isolation Mat for Under Tile
4.5 out of 5
|Check On Amazon
To read about our product selection procedure, visit the “About” page.
10 Best Uncoupling Membrane Reviews
First and foremost, we’ve picked some of the high-quality products with customized sizes for various tile installation work volumes. Besides, they are made to last longer and have the right thickness to get set precisely on the substrate.
That said, let’s get into the reviews one by one –
1. Schluter Ditra Uncoupling Membrane Tile Underlayment
Most people enjoy installing stone and ceramic tiles in their homes since they’re hygienic, durable, and simple to maintain. Unfortunately, modern lightweight construction techniques are making the installation of such surface coverings a bit challenging.
Luckily, you can protect the integrity of your tile installations through this tile underlayment from Schluter-DITRA.
For starters, this polyethylene uncoupling membrane is moisture-resistant, non-toxic, odor-free, and award-winning. To be precise, it has won 5 consecutive awards between 2007 and 2015 for the most preferred brand of uncoupling membranes.
In terms of dimensions, this dimpled mat is 3mm (⅛”) thick. This helps to minimize transitions to lower surface covering while reducing the thickness of your tile assembly. Besides, it’s quite simple to install, seeing that you only need a few tools for the task.
Still, on dimensions, this tile underlayment is available in 39: wide rolls of different lengths. For that reason, you can find it in various roll sizes ranging from 10 to 323 square feet. Therefore, you can easily choose the ideal membrane depending on the size of your tiling project.
When it comes to application, this decoupling mat is specifically designed for dimension stone and ceramic tile installations. Thanks to its ability to act as a vapor management layer, waterproofing membrane, and uncoupling layer.
In addition, it provides adequate load distribution and support for your tile covering. Interestingly, you can use it when dealing with various surfaces including vinyl floors, subfloors, plywood, concrete, radiant heated floors, gypsum, and OSB.
- Heavy load support
- Made with non-toxic ingredients
- Doesn’t emit odors or harmful gasses
- Prevents mold & mildew formation
- Blocks moisture from passing through the grout
- Prevents contraction and expansion in the subfloor from cracking the tiles
- Comes in different sizes
- Nothing remarkable
2. Heated Floor Uncoupling Membrane for Heated Cable
Tiles are mainly used in wet rooms like bathrooms and kitchens, yet they tend to become inherently chilly. For this reason, tile floors have been among the most commonly heated floor coverings over the years.
Thankfully, there are uncoupling membranes that are specifically designed for that purpose in mind. And this heated floor decoupling mat from Snap Products is one such!
First, this decoupling mat provides a flexible solution for underfloor electric radiant heating. That is because it’s fitted with a convenient snap grip that allows your heated cable to snap into place with ease.
More importantly, you can either install the heating wire vertically or horizontally.
This gives you a convenient way to accommodate various spaces while increasing heat retention. Another benefit of using this tile underlayment is that it forms a durable, moisture barrier to protect your subflooring. Not to forget that it’s compatible with various surfaces like gypsum, concrete, OSB, and wood.
In addition, you can use any mortar to install this high-quality decoupling mat on your subfloor surface. Thanks to the anchoring fleece underside and professional-grade grid layer that is compatible with any thin-set mortar.
Besides, this 2.5 ” thick mat lays down flatter and faster, easing the installation process further. Note, this decoupling membrane is available in 2 different size options. That is; 108 sq ft (1 X 10 m) and 1 x 15m (3X 15 ft.).
So, consider the size of your tiling project before you settle on any option.
- Works with any thin-set mortar
- Ideal for use on any substrate
- Easy installation process
- Increased heat retention
- Designed for underfloor electric radiant heating
- Limited size options
3. Schluter Ditra 54 sq. ft. 1/8” Underlayment
Like the other tile underlayment from Schluter DITRA we reviewed earlier, this membrane is made up of polyethylene. But that should not come as a surprise since polyethylene is one of the most common plastics available out there. On top of that, this mat is quite simple to use compared to other alternatives like cement backer board.
The first unique thing about this decoupling mat is that it comes in 3′ 3” X 16’ 5” (54 sq. ft) size. However, it’s available in different packaging options, namely 1-ack, 2-pack, and 4-pack bundle. For that, it’s another great option when you’re handling tiling projects of different magnitudes.
Getting into the mat itself, the underside of this decoupling membrane features an anchoring fleece. While its top surface has a grid structure of square cavities. As a result, the mat forms a strong and durable mechanical bond between the tile and the thin-set mortar.
Even better, this tile underlayment has incredible water-resistant properties.
Therefore, you can use it for tiling projects that involve moisture-sensitive subfloor surfaces like OSB and plywood. At the same time, it’s only ⅛” thick, which helps to reduce the thickness of your tile flooring. More importantly, its performance delivers a tile floor with incredible resistance to cracks as well as outstanding longevity!
- Suitable for exterior and interior stone and tile installations
- Protects tile flooring from moisture and cracks
- Easier to use than cement backer boards
- Enhances the longevity and structural integrity of your tile flooring
- Bonds well with various subfloor surfaces
- Only 3 sizes
4. Snap Products 1/8” Decoupling Membrane Underlayment
Available in orange color, this decoupling membrane from Snap Products provides incredible vapor management, waterproofing, and uncoupling properties. In addition, it ensures dense load distribution, while preventing tiles from cracking after a long time of use.
For that, it’s perfect tile underlayment, both for residential and commercial use. That said, here are some top features of this waterproofing mat!
To start, this uncoupling membrane is crafted from polyethylene material. This helps to prevent moisture and water from leaking through the tiles to the substrate. Therefore, you can install this mat under the floor of wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
Talking of installation, this mat is quite simple to cut, seeing that you can either use a knife or a pair of scissors. Besides, it comes into different size options; 1 X 10m (108 sq. ft) and 1 X 5M (54 sq. ft). That way, you can easily choose the perfect option for you depending on the circumstances of your floor.
Lastly, this decoupling mat is 3mm (⅛”) thick and bonds well with any type of thin-set mortar.
At the same time, it’s highly versatile and adheres to various substrates including gypsum, wood, OSB, and concrete. Moreover, it uncouples the movement of the substrates from stone, porcelain, or ceramic tiles. This will prevent any movement from reaching the tiles, thus preventing them from cracking.
- Crack – and water-resistant
- Simple and quick install
- Made of high-quality polyethylene material
- Multi-function decoupling mat
- Adheres well with any thin-set mortar
- Only 2 sizes are available
5. Gauti Uncoupling Membrane
Unlike the decoupling membranes we’ve reviewed on our list so far, this mat from Gauti only comes in 1 size option. That is; 1 X 30M (3’ 3” X 98’ 5”), which is equivalent to total coverage of 323 sq ft. So, if you’re working on a small tiling project, it may not be the perfect option for you.
But, if you’re handling a large project, it will be such an excellent option for various reasons.
For instance, this mat is made up of polyethylene material, providing reliable waterproofing for outdoor and indoor use. In other words, it will protect your flooring from any moisture that penetrates through the tiles.
At the same time, it allows any excess vapor and moisture between the underside of the mat and the flooring to escape. That way, the vapor, and moisture will not cause any damage to the tiling surface above the mat.
Moving on, this ⅛” thick membrane serves as a virtually incompressible layer within your tile flooring. Therefore, it will support and distribute any heavy loads, while protecting the structural integrity of your tiled surface.
Moreover, it protects the tiled surface from any major cause of delamination and cracking. Lastly, the Gauti membrane is easy to cut and install on various subfloor surfaces. However, if you want to achieve a completely crack-proof and moisture-sealed finish, remember to use laminate tape and thin-set mortar.
- Simple installation process
- Distributes and supports heavy loads above the tiled surface effectively
- Prevents tile surfaces from cracking
- Reliable waterproofing for outdoor and indoor use
- Not suitable for small tiling projects
6. JJ Care Uncoupling Membrane for Under Tile
Wood substrates expand when exposed to water, while other substrates like plasterboard and plaster lose their cohesive strength. Such factors will cause your tiles’ floors to crack or fracture over time.
The good news though is that you can protect your tile floors from these challenges by installing uncoupling membranes. And this waterproofing mat from JJ Care seems to do the trick! So, if you are planning to install stone or ceramic tiles in your home, we’d recommend that you give this membrane a try.
First and foremost, like most decoupling mats on our list, this membrane is simple and fast to install. In addition, it’s very lightweight, making it easy to carry around during the installation process. Besides, you only need your standard tools to install it.
Not to forget that the anchoring fleece on its underside and grid structure on the top surface has great adhesion to thin-set mortar.
Secondly, this 3.3 X 98.8 ft (323 sq. ft) membrane acts as an excellent waterproofing layer. For that, you can use it to protect moisture-sensitive subfloor surfaces like metal, asphalt, and wood. Similarly, it’s suitable for use in shower floors, bathrooms as well as steam rooms/saunas.
Last but not least, this underlayment mat absorbs any movement that occurs in the substrate. On the same note, it prevents the transfer of these movements, stress, and pressure to the tiles, protecting them from cracks and fractures.
- Forms an outstanding waterproofing layer
- Easy and fast to install
- Lightweight & easy to carry around
- Prevents cracks & fractures
- Suitable for stone and ceramic tile installation
- Comes in one size option only
7. DITRA-HEAT-TB Insulation Membrane Roll 108 sqft
Manufactured by Schluter Systems, DITRA-HEAT-TB is a revolutionary new decoupling membrane that offers a thermal breaker. To be precise, it can reduce a heating unit’s warm-up time by up to 70%. At the same time, it’s quite easy to install, just like the original DITRA-HEAT decoupling membranes.
Also, this insulation membrane offers integrated sound control, thus reducing the impact of sound transmission to the floors below. For that reason, it’s an excellent option for condos, apartments as well as multi-story homes.
Even better, this insulation mat integrates electric floor heating with all the functions offered by DITRA uncoupling membrane products. That includes; waterproofing, decoupling, and vapor management. More notably, it supports heavy loads to ensure a durable installation of stone or ceramic tile floors.
Another thing that makes this mat stand out from other DITRA membranes is that it has a thickness of 5/16”. Nonetheless, it has the same stud structures as the initial DITRA-HEAT uncoupling mat. In addition, it allows the cable to fit into the mat with ease for faster installation compared to the traditional DITRA mats.
More importantly, you can use it when working with laminate flooring, LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tiles), LVP (Luxury Vinyl Planks), Stone Plastic Composite Tiles, engineered wood, and vinyl.
- Easy installation
- Reduces underfloor heating unit’s warm-up time by about 70%
- Offers integrated sound control
- Suitable for multi-story homes & apartments
- Extends the longevity of stone & tile floors
- 108 sq. ft coverage (33 x 33 ft)
- Thick compared to other decoupling membranes
8. JJ Care 175 sq. ft. Tile Underlayment Mat
JJ Care is well known for its dedication to producing products at affordable prices. More importantly, they only use superior quality materials and carefully inspect their merchandise before it’s released into the market. Well, their 175 sq. ft decoupling mat is no exception!
To start with dimensions, this particular decoupling membrane is ⅛” thick, 3.3 ft wide, and 53.5 ft long. Interestingly, you can find it in 5 different roll sizes as well, depending on your tile installation needs. This includes 16.5 ft long, 32.8 ft long, 45.9 ft long, and 98.5 ft long.
However, whichever size option you choose, the mat will effectively protect your tiled floor from cracking. Thanks to its ability to prevent any movement in the substrate from reaching or damaging your tiles. Besides, the mat offers an extra layer of security and protection between the substrate and your tile flooring.
In addition, this tile underlayment exhibits exceptional water-resistant properties. For that, it’s ideal for use when installing floor tiles in showers, saunas, bathrooms, and steam rooms. Also, you can use it over subfloor surfaces that are vulnerable to moisture and water like metal, wood, and asphalt.
Bottom line, if you want a top-quality, durable, and easy-to-install decoupling membrane, this mat from JJ Care is a great option! Besides, it will ensure uniform load distribution to prevent your tiles from cracking or fracturing.
- Ideal for use over water-sensitive substrates
- Easy installation
- Ensures uniform load distribution on tiled surfaces
- Forms an excellent waterproofing layer
- Available in different roll sizes
- One fixed size
9. DITRA-HEAT DH512M-Schluter Uncoupling Membrane
The DH512M is a modern, advanced waterproofing membrane that’s specifically designed for under-tile floor heating units.
More notably, it allows you to secure the Ditra-Heat heating cable with ease. Best of all, compared to similar heating systems that were manufactured 10 years ago, it’s easier to install. On the same note, it’s thinner, yet completely waterproof!
Specifically, this decoupling mat has a thickness of around 5.5mm (¼”). This helps to reduce the thickness of your tile assembly while minimizing transitions to the lower surface coverings. As for dimension, the mat comes in a roll size measuring 3’ 3” X 41’ 1”, giving you total coverage of 134/5 sq. ft.
Another unique feature offered by this DITRA-Heat membrane features a cut-back stud structure. This allows it to keep the heating cable intact even without using fasteners or clips. Even better, this makes it easy to install the mat without the use of a self-leveling compound.
All these factors ensure quicker installation and minimize the thickness of your tile floor.
In addition to being the perfect inlay for under-tile heating wires, this mat performs other functions as well. As an example, it’s associated with vapor management, decoupling, load-bearing, and waterproofing of tiled surfaces.
This eliminates grout problems and ensures less tile breakage.
- Allows for faster and easier installation
- Ideal for use with Ditra-Heat underfloor heating cables
- Crafted from polypropylene
- Available in roll to suit various room sizes
- Reduces thickness of tile floors
- Comes in one roll size only
10. JJ Care 108 sq. ft. Crack Isolation Membrane
Despite being ranked on the list, this JJ Care decoupling membrane is another great crack isolation mat for tiled floors. For that, you can use it to keep stress on the substrates from reaching your tiles. Something that will help to keep your stone/ ceramic tiles from fractures and cracks.
In addition, it forms a water-resistant barrier, thus keeping moisture from seeping through your subflooring. On the same note, this makes it the best uncoupling membrane for use on moisture-sensitive substrates.
For instance, you can use it to protect metal, asphalt, or wood substrates. Better still, this makes it suitable for use in shower & bathroom floors, including steam rooms and sauna.
You’ll also find this underlayment mat to be very lightweight and simple to carry around. Besides, it’s only ⅛” thick and measures 3’ 3” X 32.8’ (108 sq ft.). And when it comes to installation, you only need your standard tools and you’re good to go.
Best of all, it bonds well with thin-set mortar and you can even install your tiles right away.
Above all, this underlayment mat will certainly prevent your tiled floor surface from cracks and fractures. All thanks to its ability to absorb any movement of the substrates and prevent the transfer of stress to the tiles!
- Reasonably priced
- Easy and fast installation
- Creates an excellent water-resistant layer
- Bonds well with thin-set mortar
- Protects tiles from cracks & fractures
- Lightweight & easy to carry around
- No custom sizes so might not be a great option for small projects
Things to Consider in an Uncoupling Membrane
That brings us to our list of the top 10 best uncoupling tile underlayment mats out there. However, this doesn’t guarantee that choosing the perfect mat for your project will be a simple task. Especially if you’ve no idea what to look for in the products.
Don’t worry though! In this section, we’ve highlighted the most important factors you should consider before making your final decision. They include;
1. Ease of Installation
Tile underlayment mats have varying ease of installation. Similarly, some membranes don’t bond well with thin-set mortar and peel off after installation. As a result, your tiles will not have adequate protection from any movement and stress that may occur in the substrate.
With that in mind, it’s good to choose a decoupling mat that is relatively easy to install. More important, it’s made up of polyethylene, make sure it adheres properly to the thin-set mortar.
In that regard, look for features like fleece webbing or anchoring fleece since they give such mats stronger adhesion. More importantly, its installation process should be straightforward and require a few standard tools.
If you’ve been keen enough, you might have realized that uncoupling membranes have varying thicknesses. For instance, most mats are ⅛” thick, while others are 5/16” or ¼” thick.
Whichever the case, thickness is an important factor to consider when choosing the best decoupling membrane. That’s because it will determine the overall thickness of your tile assembly as well as transitions to the lower surface coverings.
In general, the most commonly used tile underlayment mats are ⅛” (3mm) thick. This helps to reduce the thickness of your tile installation and keep out moisture. In addition, these mats provide basic sound reduction and a sturdy, but comfortable layer for your tiled flooring.
3. Sub-floor Surface
Some decoupling membranes don’t adhere well to certain substrates. For that reason, it’s good to choose an underlayment tile that is compatible with the subfloor in your home. Fortunately, most products on our list are suitable for use on various substrates.
As an example, you can install them over wood, concrete, OSB, vinyl as well as laminate flooring. However, before you settle on a certain mat, make sure you check its compatibility with the specific type of substrate you’re working on.
If the underlayment mat cracks during use, it will certainly affect the structural integrity of your tiled surface. To avoid that, look for a strong & tear-resistant mat that will last for years. That way, your tiled floor will have the ultimate protection against cracks and fractures for several years to come.
Having the best underlayment for tile installation will protect you from damage, thus preventing costly repairs. At the same time, they protect your floor from water leakage, making them ideal for use in various places to install.
And as you’ve seen, most products on our list are quite simple to install. Not to forget that they have outstanding tear-proof features, giving your tiles stronger protection.
You can also use these mats with electric underfloor heating units. That way, the mats help to relieve increased stress due to thermal movement. More notably, the membranes absorb the stress and allow any residual moisture under the mat to escape.
This helps to prevent the cracks ensuring the heat produced by the underfloor heating unit is distributed uniformly across the entire floor surface.
1. Do I need an uncoupling membrane/ Underlayment?
You don’t have to install an uncoupling membrane between the tile and the subfloor. However, this will increase the chances of tile cracking or fracturing due to any movement in the substrate. In addition, any uncontrolled moisture in the subfloor will destroy the mortar, thus loosening the tiles. For those reasons, it’s good to install underlayment before you place tiles on your subfloor surface.
2. When would you use an uncoupling membrane?
An uncoupling membrane is mostly used during floor tile installation. It creates a waterproof and uncoupling layer to protect the tiles from damage and cracks caused by any stresses or movement in the subfloor.
3. Do I need an uncoupling membrane on plywood?
Plywood is susceptible to water damage, which makes the installation of uncoupling membrane over such surfaces a good idea. Also, you can install the mat over other substrates like OSB, backer board, cement mortar, and vinyl flooring.
4. Can I use uncoupling Membrane Mortar with DITRA?
Yes, you can use uncoupling membrane mortar with DITRA since it’s an unmodified, dry-set mortar. However, avoid using modified thin-set mortar when installing DITRA membranes. That is because modified mortars must air dry for proper curing. So, they will take a long time to cure when sandwiched between the DITRA underlayment mat and tile.