Mapei Aquadefense Vs. Redguard: Which Waterproof Material Is Better?

Dennis Howard
by Dennis Howard
Waterproofing products are hit or miss, but brands such as Mapei AquaDefense and Redguard are among the best. The differences come down to material, with Mapei AquaDefense being liquid rubber and Redguard being an elastomeric membrane. Whether it be style, function, or application, let’s take a look at the difference between Mapei AquaDefense and Redguard.

Getting a dependable waterproof underlayment is critical to a professional tile installation. There are several ways to ensure that water barrier. Two of the most popular methods of creating that waterproof barrier are Mapei Aquadefense and Redguard.

Mapei Aquadefense is a product of Mapei Industries. Aquadefense is a liquid-rubber fast-drying waterproofing material used for creating waterproof barriers and crack-resistant membranes. Redguard, a product of Custom Building Products, is an elastomeric membrane product used under tile and stone applications as a waterproof barrier.

Both products are popular for creating secondary and primary waterproof barriers in commercial and residential installations. Both products are proven technologies. However, each has s specific set of applications and situations in which they perform better. You should understand the advantages and disadvantages of each product before making your selection.

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Mapei Aquadefense

Mapei Aquadefense offers multi-purpose performance as a waterproof barrier in commercial and residential applications. Residential tile and stone applications in residential structures benefit from an application as a part of a substrate system. When applied as directed by the manufacturer, Aquadefense is useable under flooring, on walls behind tile or other surface treatments, on ceilings, and in high-temperature areas like saunas and steam rooms.

What are the Best Uses for Mapei Aquadefense?

Based on the Mapei Aquadefense product documentation, the best applications for Aquadefense are in these locations and for these uses.

  • Balconies and Terraces – Aquadefense is a perfect solution for decks and terraces. When applied according to the Mapei instructions, Aquadefense is resistant to rainwater one hour after the first application and three hours after the second coat.
  • Bathrooms and Shower Cubicles – Wet environments such as a bathroom, shower enclosures, and even saunas benefit from a coat of Aquadefense under the final finish coating. Aquadefense is even suitable for waterproofing standard wallboard for wet environment applications.
  • Laundry Rooms – Another wet environment that benefits from an underlayment treatment of Aquadefense is the laundry room.
  • Hot and Wet Environments – Aquadefense is suitable for hot and wet environments such as steam rooms, saunas, and kitchens.
  • Exterior Areas – Under some circumstances, Aquadefense can be applied to exterior areas to provide a water-resistant coating to walls, floors, or decking.

Mapei Aquadefense is a versatile solution for adding an extra layer of waterproofing to many different substrates and installations.

What are the Advantages of Aquadefense?

Mapei Aquadefense has a wide array of uses because of its many advantages. Some of the most important advantages include:

  • No mixing is required. Aquadefense is ready to use as is off the shelf.
  • You can lay ceramic coatings in as little as four hours after applying the Aquadefense to the surface. Follow the Mapei instructions for applying Aquadefense for the best results and shortest drying times.
  • You can apply Aquadefense to many existing surfaces and materials such as:

    Existing concretePlasterboardCement boardExisting coatings

For quick and easy application with a roller, short drying times, and superior coverage, Mapei Aquadefense offers many advantages to both professional installers and do-it-yourselfers.

Does Mapei Aquadefense Have any Disadvantages?

Almost all waterproofing products have certain limitations and situations in which the manufacturer recommends you not to use their product. Some disadvantages often appear in the amount of work you must do during surface preparation. Aquadefense may pose challenges in this area. In general, Mapei Aquadefense you should not use this product in these situations and under these conditions:

  • Mapei cautions against using Aquadefense where structural cracks over 1/8 inch exist, or vertical movement between portions of the substrate can occur.
  • If your substrate contains asbestos, you should not apply Aquadefense to the surface. Likewise, plank flooring, OSB surfaces, particleboard, metal, or Masonite do not make suitable substrates for Mapei Aquadefense
  • The substrate material must be relatively low in moisture. If measuring with a moisture probe, substrate materials must show less than eighty-five percent humidity or less than 8 pounds of water per 1000 square feet of the surface.
  • Aquadefense must have two coats applied according to Mapei’s application instructions.

As with any specialty product, following the manufacturer’s instructions for surface preparation, application, and specific uses is a requirement. Failing to follow these recommendations and instructions can void any warranty and may result in less than satisfactory performance.

Our Thoughts on Mapei Aquadefense

Without a doubt, we highly recommend Mapei Aquadefense when it is used as the manufacturer recommends. We like the ease of application and cleanup. The results are superior when used with other forms of water protection, such as a shower liner or membrane material. Mapei Aquadefense is a great addition to your toolset. We recommend this product when building areas where keeping moisture from your substrate and structural framing is critical.


Custom Building Products is the manufacturer of Redguard waterproofing products. Redguard is a liquid-applied elastomeric compound suitable for waterproofing both interior and exterior surfaces and can be applied in several different ways. The variety of different applications and materials to which you can apply Redguard makes it attractive to a range of installers and contractors.

What are the Best Applications for Redguard?

Examining the Redguard brochures and technical documents reveals the wide variety of applications for which Redguard is useable.

  • Redguard is suitable as a substrate waterproofing application in showers, steam rooms and saunas when you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation.
  • You can waterproof fountains and swimming pools before applying a finish covering using Redguard
  • Hot water exposure is not a problem for Redguard, making it suitable for hot tubs and spas. Use Redguard as a base coat covering with a proper finish coat.
  • Balconies and terraces are suitable applications for Redguard when you choose a compatible surface finish or material.

Redguard by Custom Building Products offers a simple solution to many waterproofing needs. Following the instructions that accompany the Redguard product will ensure a continuous flexible waterproof membrane for your project.

What are the Advantages of Redguard?

Installers and professional builders praise Redguard for its many advantages on the job site. Among the most common advantages mentioned are:

  • The Redguard quick-dry formula saves time on the job site.
  • The ready-to-use formulation of Redguard doesn’t require mixing or agitation before application, further reducing preparation time.
  • You can apply Redguard using a roller, trowel, or sprayer to find the most efficient application for your needs.
  • The Uniform Building Code rates Redguard as a suitable shower pan product.
  • Redguard makes a great substrate preparation material to seal and waterproof swimming pools and hot tubs before applying a final finish coat.

Redguard is a versatile and easy-to-apply waterproofing product that is suitable for a wide array of applications.

The Downsides of Using Redguard

Redguard does have its limitations and shortcomings. It pays to be aware of these downsides before choosing Redguard for your project.

  • Don’t apply Redguard when the environmental conditions may bring temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit within 72 hours of applying the product.
  • Surfaces that are too wet or suffer from hydrostatic pressure are not candidates for the application of Redguard. See the manufacturer’s technical data for more information.
  • The application of Redguard of expansion joints is not a suitable use of Redguard. Custom Building Products offers better options for sealing expansion joints.
  • Redguard must have a suitable finish layer installed. Redguard is not suitable as a finish coat and must be protected by another material.
  • Redguard has no adhesive qualities and you should not use Redguard to hold materials together.

Consult with Custom Building Products for any questions concerning the applicability of Redguard for a particular application. In many cases, Redguard can be used if certain preparation or companion products are also involved.

Our Thoughts on Redguard from Custom Building Products

In many ways, Redguard is a more versatile product than Mapei Aquadefense. Redguard is useable as an undercoat for swimming pool and spa finishes. Redguard is suitable in high-temperature environments like steam rooms, spas, and saunas. We also like that Redguard can applications methods include rolling, troweling, and spraying. This kind of flexibility gives installers options that can make jobs faster and cheaper.

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Our Final Words

In our opinion, you won’t go wrong using either of these products for your waterproofing projects. The suitability and results always depend on proper preparation and the correct application methods. What we have found is:

  • Mapei Aquadefense is easy to use and provides quick application and short drying times. The best uses of Aquadefense are, in our opinion, in standard residential and commercial applications such as bathrooms, shower enclosures, laundry rooms, and as a rain guard on terraces and balconies.
  • Redguard from Custom Building Products is a bit more versatile than Aquadefense. Redguard offers multiple application methods giving installers more options for efficient operations. Redguard is suitable for different applications. The suitability of Redguard under the pool and hot tub finish coatings is remarkable.
  • Both products perform well when properly applied. However, Redguard is rated for installation as a shower pan by the Uniform Building Code. Using Redguard to build shower pans can save time and cost when building custom shower enclosures.

The final word is that we see Redguard as a better choice for most professional and do-it-yourselfers in most instances.

Dennis Howard
Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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