Our target in this study was the preparation of electrodialysis ion-exchange membranes with appropriate properties for applications in water recovery and treatment. Composite mixed-matrix, anion-exchange membranes were prepared by a solution casting technique with acrylonitrile–butadiene–styrene as a base binder, resin powder as a functional group agent, activated carbon as an adsorptive filler, and an Ag nanolayer as a surface modifier. The Ag nanolayer was used with a magnetron sputtering method. The effect of the nanolayer deposition rate (Rq) and substrate and annealing temperatures on the physicochemical characteristics of the membranes were studied. The X-ray diffraction results show that average grain size of the nanolayer and membrane crystallinity were improved with increasing Rq. The atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy results show that the membrane roughness was enhanced with increasing Rq. The height distribution results also show the best height distribution for the modified membrane at low Rq. The selectivity and flux decreased with increasing nanolayer Rq in the membranes. The selectivity was also decreased initially with increases in the substrate and annealing temperatures from 300 to 325 K in the membranes and then showed an increasing trend. An opposite trend was found for flux with variations in the temperature. The modified membrane containing a 20-nm Ag nanolayer at low Rq showed better performance compared to the other modified membranes and the pristine one. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2014, 131, 40025.