So this is my first blog so be kind! When you think of tile products (not tile itself but what's behind the tile, and accessories) what comes to mind? For me it's waterproofing, profiles, backer boards, and mortars/grouts. Now this might not matter much to the end user as long as the company you hire knows what they are selling and truly know the differences between different companies products. There are several manufacturers that makes very similar products: Laticrete, Schluter, Mapei, Tec, Profilitec, Great Lakes Metals, Dural, Custom, Ardex, Durock, Permabase, hardiebacker,Johns Manville, Wedi and I'm sure so many more! Now with all these different manufacturers what in the world do you as an end user look for?!? The first thing you should look for is if the products have been tested and meet ASTM standards (American Society for Testing and Materials) or ANSI (American National Standards Institute). Now if a manufacturer has met any ASTM standards in my mind it means they are a legit company and not just some guy in a garage pumping out products. That does not mean that the products are all the same. To go into every test that has been performed against all these materials would take a PHD just to explain so don't expect any company to know every single standard that has been tested! It is very easy to compare standards against similar products though. For example Schluter Kerdi Board ASTM E96 (water vapor transmission) results are 0.36 and Laticrete Hydroban Board ASTM E96 (water vapor transmission) results are 0.034. Now this again might not mean much to you but for me that number is a very large difference when you are talking about someones shower that if you use inferior products you could potentially have a failure and ruin someones house! Just to clear up this particular test the lower the number the less water vapor will be able to be transferred through, so Laticrete hydroban board wins that particular side by side. I will go more in depth on different products and side by side comparisons in different blogs but for now just realize as the end user you can very easily find different products and do your own side by side comparisons if you wanted! Every manufacturer brings something to this industry that is better than someones else's in my opinion so be open to using different manufacturers for different scenarios, or I don't be scared to let your installer do so!