Schluter Systems

Topic: Schluter Systems continues to impress the Carey Brothers, and they’re back with their newest innovative products. Morris and James discuss with Jeff the reasons they love their older products and the ways they can envision themselves using their new ones!

Guest: Jeff Styles, Regional Manager – Southwest Region for Schluter Systems


3 Points for Success – Jeff Styles:

  1. Knowledge is king. The more information you can gather and present to your customer, the further ahead you’ll be from your competitors.
  2. Reach out to the younger generation and get them involved. There is a labor shortage in this country and we’d like to see that gap get smaller, not larger.
  3. If you come into a project with enthusiasm, the homeowner is going to sense that and they’re going to lean towards that enthusiasm and remember you for it.


Show Transcript


James [00:00:00] So good to have you with us for another episode of CareyBrosPros. I’m James Carey.

Morris [00:00:05] And I’m Morris as professionals were always looking to give our pro listeners great information to help them work smarter instead of harder. On this edition of CareyBrosPros we’re going to talk about building the best shower and how Schluter products can work with so many different installation problems, saving you time and money and I mean that because I’ve done it.

James [00:00:33] By the way, if you hear a little bit of noise in the background that’s because CareyBrosPros is on the road broadcasting from the Pacific Coast Builders Conference at the Mosconi Center in San Francisco. It’s our thirty-fifth year attending the show our thirty third year to broadcast. We’re delighted to be here and we want to invite you to visit their website, or better yet visit our web site at CareyBrosPros for a link to the PCBC. Jeff Styles is here. He is the regional Manager Southwest Region for Schluter systems. Jeff welcome to the program!

Jeff [00:01:14] Well thanks for having me. So good to see you guys again.

James [00:01:16] Now we’ve had you on the consumer program on the house with the Carey brothers and you’ve talked a little bit about advantages to the Schluter Products to the consumer. Today with CareyBrosPros, we want to talk turkey with our specifiers, architects, designers, pros, contractors remodellers. And share with them the value proposition I can go down the list. So if you miss any you can be sure that I’ll be your safety net. The value proposition associated with using an alternative to traditional floated mortar or even pre cast mortar board.

Morris [00:01:59] I will never use mortar board or finished in place mortar ever again. Ever not once. I was very very leery 30 years ago when shooter approached me about their product because of our radio program, and I couldn’t figure out how it was going to work. And I thought flimsy board. Thin. Light as a feather. This can’t be what I’m used to. I’m used to building showers that way 7000 pounds, you know. But finally I was given the insight into why the product works how it works. And I tell you it’s an amazing system. And I think every builder who has any brains at all ought to be using this system instead of anything else that’s available. Tell us all about the system.

James [00:02:58] Do you even have anything to share now? [laughs].

Jeff [00:03:00] Well of course we do. I mean you know we can talk about where we started in the industry and.

James [00:03:04] That’s a good place to begin. Go ahead.

Jeff [00:03:06] We could talk about a floated system and a two stage drain and we can you know that that’s essentially-

Morris [00:03:11] I hate a two stage drain.

Jeff [00:03:15] [laughs] They’re a challenge.

Morris [00:03:15] They clog.

Jeff [00:03:16] They do get clogged you know back in the day it was a system that worked for.

Morris [00:03:20] You know that they call it a Roman drain. You know why they do? Because it was developed a thousand years ago.

James [00:03:27] 2000 years ago [laughs].

Morris [00:03:27] 2000 years ago in Rome. Yeah and nobody thought to do something better until you guys came along.

Jeff [00:03:33] Yeah. Back in the day we had waterproofing systems that were underneath the mortar bed and the mortar got saturated and of course we relied on the two stage drains with the we Poles. And what we’ve done is we’ve taken the waterproofing portion and we’ve brought it on top of. If you’re still gonna do mortarbed we can still do that. And we tie it into what is our Kerdi drain.

James [00:03:53] So what you’re saying to our listeners is that they can still do a floated shower pan.

Jeff [00:03:59] They can.

James [00:03:59] They can. And there are reasons to do that by the way sure. Although you have some solutions.

Jeff [00:04:06] We do.

Morris [00:04:06] I like your solutions better than any floated pan.

James [00:04:09] You can do a floating pan and then put the waterproofing membrane on top of that and then your drain is affixed to that waterproofing membrane.

Jeff [00:04:22] Yes it’s integrated in and basically our membrane if you’re doing a float the membrane will go on top of the float and then on top of our flange which is our Kerdi drain.

James [00:04:31] Right.

Jeff [00:04:31] The other option is is we have 22 different configurations that can all be expanded upon and they can also be cut down. Yeah. So depending on you know the needs of the shower the perimeter you know the footprint that we’re looking at.

James [00:04:43] They have the waterproofing membrane attached.

Jeff [00:04:46] We now have the waterproofing the Kerdi membrane is actually adhered to the foam.

James [00:04:50] Which was not always the case.

Jeff [00:04:52] It wasn’t it’s a big time saver. Yeah. And earlier you spoke about working smarter not harder and this is one of those little steps that Schluter has come up and these trays are sloped.

Jeff [00:05:02] They are pre sloped.

James [00:05:04] And you even have an offset drain.

Jeff [00:05:06] For tub shower conversions Absolutely.

James [00:05:08] Talk about that for a moment. So that’s important to remodel like us.

Jeff [00:05:11] It absolutely is. I mean you know now we’re looking at aging in place and we have a lot of us baby boomers that want to remain in our in our house that we bought maybe 20 years ago and we don’t want to have to move into an assisted living location.

Morris [00:05:25] And we don’t want a bathtub.

Jeff [00:05:27] Right.

Morris [00:05:27] So we want to shower because it’s easier to get into. But unfortunately our bathtub is sitting on concrete and we don’t want to dig out the entire concrete slab to do that and in some concrete you can’t. OK.

Jeff [00:05:43] Yes.

Morris [00:05:44] So you’ve made an offset drain that allows. The drain to be moved from a tub location to a more central location in the shower.

Jeff [00:05:53] Well you can do that but we also have the pans that are what we call the tub shower conversion pans.

Morris [00:05:58] Oh do you?!

Jeff [00:05:59] We do and that allows you to not have to move the plumbing. You can leave it there it’s basically 10 inches on center away from the wall.

James [00:06:06] Got it.

Jeff [00:06:07] Offset.

James [00:06:08] Yes. And you know the question I know that some of our pros are listening say well you know hot tubs got an inch and a half drain and a shower requires a two inch drain. And that’s true. And. We’re faced with that configuration from time to time. But if you get beyond that inch and a half drain there typically is a two inch drain very nearby, if not right there.

Jeff [00:06:30] Absolutely we run into two inch primarily every once while you might run into an inch and a half.

Morris [00:06:35] Yeah actually I mean actually that happened I put an American standard walk in tub. That’s right. And they were looking for two inch drain because of the exhaust pump. And my one and a half inch line that was for my previous bathtub died into a two inch.

James [00:06:56] That’s right.

Jeff [00:06:56] OK.

Morris [00:06:57] So it was a cakewalk.

James [00:06:58] So that works.

Jeff [00:06:59] Yeah absolutely.

James [00:07:00] There’s a trend toward easy access. Walk in showers without a threshold.

Jeff [00:07:05] Yes.

James [00:07:06] You have a solution for that.

Jeff [00:07:07] We do and we were talking about aging in place and we want to be able to you know remove the tub and be able to have easy access into our new shower. And so what we have if you can’t resist the footprint we can always ramp up and still have even a wheelchair accessibility on the shower.

James [00:07:25] That’s really important for us as remodelers. For example, if we have a client who has a post tension slab and we don’t want to get in and disrupt that slab. Yet they want easy access. Having that ability to gradually ramp up works because what you’re doing is putting your tray in you’ve got the slope to the drain but then you’ve got you’ve raised the threshold what? An inch or three quarters of an inch.

Jeff [00:07:59] It is typically an inch.

James [00:08:00] Yeah yeah yeah.

Jeff [00:08:01] Inch and a half.

James [00:08:01] So we have to make that up. And you do that with a transition strip.

Jeff [00:08:09] Yes. It’s also made out of polystyrene and it is a ramp that goes up up to. And it meets the threshold or the elevation of the perimeter of the shower pan. So we ramp it up and then we’re we’re at the elevation and then of course the pan does the rest for you which is you know sloping to drain.

James [00:08:24] I wonder in a case and this is a configuration if you can do a return so that if you’re ramping and on one end of the ramp you’re against a wall let’s say. But on the other end of the ramp it’s open to floor area if you can do a return ramp perpendicular to the primary ramp going into the shower.

Jeff [00:08:48] You can it lends itself to a little bit of creating.

James [00:08:50] A little creativity and maybe some kind of a miter some special cut.

Jeff [00:08:54] Sometimes it’s that or sometimes you could just use mortar.

James [00:08:57] Yes.

Jeff [00:08:58] And if your slope off.

James [00:09:00] Otherwise it becomes a trip hazard. [laughs] a toe banger, but yeah I mean that’s the nice thing about. I’ll tell the story years ago when I was first introduced to your product and Kurt who you work with who does who is a really expert tile guy came out to my place and Morris and I had torn everything out and he was working on the electrical and I was doing the framing in this shower and I wanted to bench it was gonna be a steam shower and so I framed this beautiful.

Morris [00:09:33] Framed it out of wood.

James [00:09:35] Beautiful wood bench. I was so proud and I had a little bit of fall built into it so water wouldn’t collect on it because it was gonna be tiled and I mean I was so proud of it. Kurt shows up to the job and I by the way I had a wood pressure treated wood threshold fastened. Anchored to the concrete slab. Kurt comes up and looks at everything and he said who built the bench. I said I did that. How’s it look. He said well looks great but it’s in my way tear it up. So I tore the bench out. He said why you’re at it get rid of the threshold. I did that. And he proceeded to use the Kerdi board. Which comes in various thicknesses.

Jeff [00:10:23] Eight different thicknesses.

James [00:10:25]  Up to what thickness?

Jeff [00:10:26] Up to two inch.

James [00:10:27] Up to two inch. And he in a matter. Of minutes.

James [00:10:33] I spent you know an hour or so in a matter of minutes.

Morris [00:10:37] No you spent two hours.

James [00:10:38] OK. All right. All right. My nose is growing half a day.

Morris [00:10:42] Yeah.

James [00:10:42] Anyway in a matter of minutes he had this bench configured and installed and he used a product. Called Kerdi fix which was the adhesive to effect the connections to make the solid positive connections was just beautiful. And then he did the threshold out of Kerdi board. And of course the walls and so on and so forth. And then proceeded to build a double bowl vanity. Yeah. Out of Kerdie product with no cabinet no floating vanity. Just beautiful piece of art.

Morris [00:11:20] Yeah. He’s a he’s a great trades great skilled craftsmen.

James [00:11:23] The point is look at the stuff that you can build.

Morris [00:11:25] It’s endless. Yeah.

James [00:11:27] Now I’m going to say this to you listening especially if you’re remodeling and you go into a home. And you’ve been asked to remodel a bath and it’s under contract. And the bathroom is upstairs in the rear corner of the house. And you’re going to tile this shower. So you’re either going to bring pre cast mortar board up there or you’re going to do a float in place and we know about. The issues with that notwithstanding cost. But. Carrying those heavy panels or creating all the dust cutting those panels. It’s a real mess.

Morris [00:12:08] Now I want to say for my part of this. That I could care less about remodels with respect to this product because this is not only for remodels. This is for builders too. I mean.

Jeff [00:12:22] It is.

Morris [00:12:22] Everyone. Who puts a shower together whether it’s a brand new installation. Or a retrofit. Or a replacement. It. Is. The best system on the market.

Jeff [00:12:35] You’re absolutely right. We you know we deal with. We will we work with builders that do multifamily, single family homes. Obviously you know the one offs where we’re doing high end remodels.

Morris [00:12:48] You heard of the three year shower.

Jeff [00:12:50] Oh yeah.

Morris [00:12:50] The three year shower is tile on drywall.

Jeff [00:12:53] Oh yeah.

Morris [00:12:53] I don’t care what kind.

James [00:12:55] If it’ll last that long.

Jeff [00:12:56] Yeah exactly. Yeah.

James [00:12:58] But Mike My point was with the Kerdie it’s so light. It’s feather feather weight.

Jeff [00:13:05] It’s a game changer.

James [00:13:06] And and it’s so easy to cut.

Morris [00:13:09] And if you make a mistake. You don’t lose a fortune.

James [00:13:14] With fasteners and washers and you have the prefabricated niches and you have beautiful drains and shelves and trim bit about the drains and shelves.

James [00:13:24] And oh yeah you’ve got the Trim!

Jeff [00:13:26] Oh we’ve always had the Schluter profiles.

James [00:13:29] How many colors and finishes now? It’s gotta be 30 40.

Jeff [00:13:34] You’re right.Yeah it’s right around there. I mean we have a new trend line series that just came out and it’s really designed for.

Morris [00:13:41] Brushed nickel, polished chrome, white and black. Yeah you name it!

Jeff [00:13:44] And we can do two-tone, we can do an accent. We can do a lot of things. So it’s you know the options are limitless.

Morris [00:13:52] And today I saw for the first time. A massive array of stainless steel shelving. That can be used with your product that you guys make. And. I thought I think it’s amazing.

James [00:14:08] Soap shampoo.

Morris [00:14:09] Yeah.

James [00:14:09] Yeah yeah.

Jeff [00:14:10] We have a new series of shelves and they actually match with our new series of drain grates. So we have a floral, we have a cure, and I can’t think of the third one but it.

Morris [00:14:19] Doesn’t make any difference. It matches the drain grate.

Jeff [00:14:22] Yeah it matches the drain grate. And it just looks beautiful.

James [00:14:25] Is this going behind tile this flange?

Morris [00:14:27] Yes.

Jeff [00:14:28] Yeah. Yes so. So these setting legs will go behind the tile but we also have retrofit shelves as well.

Morris [00:14:33] Right. Yeah yeah.

James [00:14:35] It’s really sturdy. It’s attractive. Look at that. That’s a beautiful addition to your offerings.

Jeff [00:14:43] And they’ll be available at some point in different finishes as well.

James [00:14:47] So here’s what I hear from a lot of pros. I don’t use that. That’s expensive. That increases my costs. That stuff’s not cheap. It’s expensive. And here’s what I say. Pay now or pay later. Do you want to put your profit at risk because you’re going back to fix a leaking shower? Or worse do you want your customers to be exposed to a leak problem. Even if it’s a couple or three or four years after you.

Morris [00:15:23] I’m really sorry that we sound like an infomercial.

Jeff [00:15:27] I love hearing that.

Morris [00:15:28] You know if you listen to all of our podcasts on CareyBrosPros. You’ll find that there are products that every once in a while we’re very excited about. And I want you to know that we think a lot of Schluter, the Schluter product, and what it’s what it’s going to ultimately do for America. Once everyone is using the product. And we really want you to know that we really appreciate this new method of doing a higher quality product.

Jeff [00:16:02] Well the feeling is mutual. I’ve known you guys for some time now and it’s it’s always been great to work with you guys.

James [00:16:07] And the Carey brothers have the pleasure of working with the Styles brothers because they’re both employees of Schluter.

Morris [00:16:14] Yeah that’s right.

Jeff [00:16:15] Dave styles.

Jeff [00:16:16] Yeah that’s right.

Morris [00:16:17] Jeff here on CareyBrosPros we like to ask our guests to share three points for success. With our pro listeners. Can you share your three points for success.

Jeff [00:16:29] Well I think one of the main things within our industry is really knowledge is king. The more information you can gather and then present to your customer you’re always going to be one step ahead of your competitor the next contractor.

Morris [00:16:44] good advice.

Jeff [00:16:44] And any knowledge is really something and that’s what we are bringing, and so if you can come to you know any type of workshop I mean we have workshops as you guys know throughout the.

James [00:16:55] We’ve sent our employees to your workshop. Yeah I think yeah you’ve got one up in Reno if I’m not mistaken.

Jeff [00:17:00] We do we have many of them at Reno and Sacramento and all over the country.

James [00:17:03] Not that I did any gambling while I was there. But anyway point two.

Jeff [00:17:07] Secondly I you know we always we’re always searching for that younger generation to get involved with building materials and products. And I really feel that we we probably aren’t doing enough. I’d like to see more of that. And it’s something that if if we’re fathers we reach out to our sons daughters and.

James [00:17:25] Especially with the labor shortage in this country.

Jeff [00:17:28] Absolutely.

Morris [00:17:28] Good advice.

Jeff [00:17:30] Yeah absolutely.

Morris [00:17:30] And number three.

Jeff [00:17:32] Number three. I tell you what enthusiasm. I mean you know if you come in and you’re coming into a bit of better project maybe it’s a homeowner or whatnot. They can sense enthusiasm about what you do and chances are they’re going to they’re going gonna have a lot of leanings towards your enthusiasm.

James [00:17:50] Enthusiasm is infectious. Boy three great points. Our thanks to Jeff Styles with Schluter systems and you may learn more about them and their systems it’s simple go to their Web site it is

Morris [00:18:05] And remember you’ll find our guests information as well as additional podcasts, videos and articles on our web site at Thank you Jeff.

Jeff [00:18:22] Thank you. Thanks for having me guys.

About The Author James Carey

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