AquaDefense vs. RedGard: What’s Better for Waterproofing?

Aquadefense vs. Redgard for Waterproofing

Many homeowners find themselves asking if they really need waterproofing on their homes at some point.

If you live somewhere that gets a lot of precipitation, like snow and rain, or if your basement often floods after a storm, waterproofing is certainly something you should consider using.

There are actually a few signs—like cracks in the foundation, plumbing issues, or rotting floors—that you can look out for if you are unsure. Water might be the culprit here, which is getting into your house and causing the damage.

If you notice problems like these, and it turns out you need to waterproof your house – Redgard and Aquadefense are the two options you can seek help from.

Both of them are great in terms of performance, but I have noticed that Aquadefense does seem to have a slight edge over Redgard in certain conditions.

For instance, Aquadefense is more flexible than Redgard, and it’s well-suited for areas that experience issues with hydrostatic pressure.

That said, Aquadefense has more uses than Redgard, so it can be difficult to decide based on that alone.

For this reason, I’ve gone through the drawbacks and benefits of both products to compare and get a better idea before making a final decision…

Smell:Slight odorNo odor
Features:Ready-to-apply, quick-drying formulaPremixed, quick-drying formula
Applied with:Roller, paintbrush, airless sprayer, or a trowel Paintbrush or roller
Ideal for waterproofing:Tiles, stones, spas, pools, drains, steam shower enclosures, etc.Ceramic tiles, stones, walls, floors, ceilings, saunas, and steam rooms.


RedGard is a #1 liquid-applied waterproofing membrane that contains elastomeric material, making it ideal for both outer and inner surfaces in residential as well as commercial projects.

Due to its versatility and a large number of applications, it’s preferred by many people who do waterproofing as a profession.

Below are a few good things I’ve noticed about Redgard:

The Pros

  • Cheaper and easy-to-apply ready-made product
  • It has a quick-drying formula, so it takes less time to complete the project.
  • It works well as a substrate formation element while helping to waterproof swimming pools, fountains, hot tubs, steam rooms, showers, and saunas.
  • It bonds directly to clean metal drains, PVC, stainless steel, and ABS drain assemblies. You can use it in verandas and terraces to seal them from rain.
  • It’s efficient regardless of the size of the project and is compatible with a number of tools, like trowels, sprayers, and rollers.

The Cons

  • Surfaces prone to a lot of hydrostatic pressure or exposed to a lot of moisture are incompatible with Redgard.
  • It is not good for applying in cold weather environments and won’t work well if the temperature goes below 5 degrees Celsius once it’s applied.
  • It contains no adhesives at all. So, it doesn’t replace a proper finish coat and will actually need a separate finish layer in order to function as intended.

Application Tips

RedGard is a ready-to-use waterproofing membrane that does not damage if exposed to extreme wet conditions and hot water.

You can use it as a base coat before putting on a topcoat, but there are a few rules when it comes to using Redgard, as stated in its instruction manual.

Some of these guidelines and steps include the following…

#1. RedGard material can be used as a crack-prevention membrane (with one thick coat) or as a general waterproof membrane (with two thinner coats).

#2. Before coating, make sure the surface is completely dry and clean—free of any pollutants. This will ensure that your material bonds correctly and cures appropriately.

#3. If there are crevices, bumps, or cracks larger than 3mm in size, don’t forget to fix them. Once fixed, you can confidently apply the material.

#4. RedGard offers a bright pink hue that quickly dries to an intense red color. While the drying time may vary depending on whatever surface it is used on, it usually doesn’t take much longer than just a few moments.

#5. After applying the material, take careful note of your environment; it should not dip below 5 degrees Celsius within 72 hours. To avoid this problem, you can apply a curing blanket or heating system to ensure the material cures correctly within that time window.

#6. RedGard is a waterproofing system that is not designed to be painted over. If you paint over it, the waterproofing won’t be as effective as before. Plus, the waterproofing warranty will be reduced (or void) after painting it.

applying redgard

Mapelastic AquaDefense

Aquadefense (a product of Mapei Industries) is a versatile waterproofing membrane you can use beneath tiles, stones, flooring, and on walls and ceilings.

You can even use this waterproof membrane barrier in steam rooms and saunas where the heat is above average.

Below are a few of the benefits and drawbacks of Mapei Aquadefense.

The Pros

  • It’s a ready-to-apply formula, so you don’t have to worry about mixing it. Just apply as soon as you receive it.
  • Compared to Redgard, it takes much less time for Aquadefense to apply. This means you won’t have to wait all day for it to dry.
  • Though terraces and balconies are one of the strong suits of Aquadefense, it isn’t as good at it as Redgard. For everything else, it does just as good of a job as Redgard.
  • You can use it safely in humid, hot, and wet environments like kitchens, bathrooms, saunas, shower enclosures, and laundry rooms.
  • Existing plasterboard or cement board won’t impact the functionality of Aquadefense. And it works pretty well even when applied on pre-existing coats or layers of concrete.

The Cons

  • AquaDefense is pricier than Redgard, and you will need a minimum of two coats on everything you use it on.
  • Large cracks in the structure or any issues with substrate parts moving against one another might reduce the efficacy of Aquadefense. 
  • You can’t have a high percentage of moisture on the substrate for it to work. It’s not a suitable product for plank doors and OSB surfaces.
Aquadefense or Redgard Waterproofing Membrane

Application Tips

AquaDefense is a premixed easy-to-apply product that does not need to combine with other Mapei products for the application.

But for it to be more effective in areas that are constantly exposed to high quantities of water, it’s good to mix it with MAPEI’s optional Reinforcing Fabric or Mapeband, both of which are alkali-resistant and provide an excellent layer of extra protection from water and moisture.

Some of the guidelines and steps for the Mapelastic AquaDefense application include the following…

#1. If there are any cracks, crevices, or gaps, a suitable filler material should be applied with firm pressure. Smooth the surface using a trowel and let it dry before proceeding.

#2. Now stir the Mapelastic AquaDefense properly and apply it to the surface using a nap roller or a paintbrush. Not only can you use Aquadefense to waterproof tiles, screed, render, concrete and ceramic finishes, but also the wooden decks, plywood wallboard, support beams, etc.

#3. Allow the space to air dry for a few minutes, and then add an additional coat, focusing on the areas that are not fully covered yet. Let this layer sit for approximately 30-50 minutes. When done properly, each coat should be as thick as 20 mils – compare it with the thickness of a credit card to gauge accuracy.

#4. If you use AquaDefense for sealing and waterproofing around drains, ensure a secure connection between Aquadefense and the drain assembly by applying a bead of urethane sealant or silicone around the drain flange. Make sure there are no gaps in between for maximum effectiveness.

#5. For any excess AquaDefense, simply wipe it away with a damp sponge containing warm water and soap.

#6. After 12 hours, you can assess the application, which is usually the time it takes AquaDefense to dry and cure. Warmer temperatures will expedite drying time, while cooler conditions may lead to a longer duration.

RedGard vs. AquaDefense – The Bottom Line

I have worked with both of these products and can say they are pretty similar. Both of them are excellent at what they are meant to do – waterproofing.

But if I have to choose one, Aquadefense will be the preferred choice here, mostly because it can better handle hydrostatic pressure. In fact, the most noticeable difference between the two is how Aquadefense reacts to hydrostatic pressure. It’s capable of withstanding more of it, along with more moisture, than Redgard.

If you need a ready-made material that can be applied with ease and will dry quickly, Redgard is the perfect solution. Not only does it have an expeditious drying time, but its feature as a substrate formation element allows it to cover expansive surfaces efficiently.

However, if your area is prone to higher moisture levels, like bathrooms or showers, AquaDefense’s ready-mix formula would be ideal because it offers greater moisture protection than Redgard.

With this product readily available for use in extreme hydrostatic pressure areas such as shower enclosures and saunas, rest assured knowing that you are investing in quality materials made specifically for preserving long-term stability within these spaces.

Below you can find the official video and instructions on using MAPEI’s Mapelastic AquaDefense.

Using it correctly will ensure that your substrate is adequately waterproofed and can last for a long without any problems.

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