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Backerboard for Ceramic Tile and Stone Installation

The Old Fashioned Way, Long Before Wallboard Panels ....
Work by Harry Dunbar Work by Harry Dunbar
Mud Wall (Started):
Wall mortar beds could be built plumb to fix ANY imperfections or uneveness on a vertical surface.
Mud Wall (Finished):
Skilled and experienced tradepeople were required for this kind of work
But now we have backerboard, and as the construction industry evolved other products were developed to create similar results in less time. Cement Board ultimately replaced the old way of doing things. Cement Board Units (CBU) were installed over top the studs with either a vapor barrier behind the cement board panel, or a moisture proof membrane was applied over top the cement board. This became the industry standard for ceramic tile or stone installation in wet or moist areas.
After awhile, other products came on the market that made the installation of backer board even easier. GreenBoard was one of them. Basically it is a glorified gypsum board which was never able to resist moisture as it claimed. Garbage in ANY wet area of application. DenShield was also a gypsum product which seemed to have a high succcess rate IF installed as recommended by the manufacturer.

Moisture has always been the greatest concern and the determining factor for failure or success of any ceramic tile installation in showers, saunas, tub surrounds etc. WEDI Board is waterproof, light-weight and super easy to install. Basically, the choices are many but it's important to understand which product to use for each installation requirement.
Most backerboards are an acceptable addition to floor installations, but never assume they stiffen or strengthen a floor. They are a good base for bonding and may act as an uncoupling membrane ... BUT they will not reduce deflection. That can only be accomplished with plywood, solid blocking, added support under the floor or additional (larger) joists.
Each ceramic tile or stone installation is unique as are the methods and materials used to create every individual sysytem. So before you start loading up the shopping cart .... find the correct solution for your project.

Remember to ensure all your studs are plumb and flat before installing the backerboard. Unlike the old fashioned mortar walls which could be applied plumb and flat ... backerboards will follow the contours created by your existing studs or other surfaces.

Backer Board for Floors
Cement Board for Floor Application ... WRONG!
This photo was sent in by Brian (forum moderator) and clearly shows the WRONG WAY to install ANY floor panel. In this case there are combined factors headed for failure. The cement board isn't set into a bed of mortar, and there is an underlayment (1/4" mahogany) which isn't meant to be part of a ceramic or stone tile system.
Most backerboards used for floor applications must be set into a thin bed of thinset mortar. This application of mortar is meant to fill in voids that usually exist between various layers thus removing the possibility of deflection. Screws or other recommended fasteners are still required for a mechanical bond.Visit the links below for each manufacturer's recommendations.

The following product descriptions are quoted in part from each manufacturer's website.
To find out how professional contractors feel about these and other products ...

Visit our Discussion Forum

Kerdi Board

Kerdi Board"Schl�ter-KERDI-BOARD gives an absolutely level substrate with straight and precisely angled inside and outside corners, providing an instant base for a perfect tile covering." See my shower project using Kerdi Board

Schl�ter-KERDI-BOARD(click for more information)

WEDI consists of a Styrofoam Brand Foam insulation core coated on both sides with a fibreglass mesh and polymer-modified mortar. The core is extruded polystyrene consisting of a closed cell membrane throughout, making it 100% waterproof.

WEDI Corp. (click for more information)

Durock is 1/2" or 5/16" thick and can be applied over 5/8" exterior grade plywood or 3/4" oriented strand board (osb) using a latex modified thinset. Use a 1/4" square-notched trowel to spread the mortar.

Place underlayment with joints staggered from subfloor joints. Leave about a 1/8" gap at all edges and fasten underlayment with 1-1/2" hot-dipped galvanized roofing nails or 1-1/4" Durock Brand Wood Screws spaced 8" in both directions. Try not nail or screw into joists.

Use fiberglass mesh tape on all the seams and then smoothed with latex modified thinset.

When 1/2" or 5/8" Durock is used in underlayment applications, follow the same procedures as above.

CGC Inc. (click for more information)

WonderBoard (1/2") has been rated by the Tile Council of America (TCA) for use as part of a ceramic tile installation system for plywood subfloors with 24" o.c. joists and 23/32" exterior grade plywood.

Similar to the other CBU's, WonderBoard must also be installed into a bed of fresh latex modified mortar, seams staggered, screwed or nailed every 8" o.c. and the seams taped with 2" fiber glass mesh tape and leveled with mortar.

Custom Building Products (click for more information)
HardiBacker HardiBacker contains portland cement, ground sand, cellulose fiber, and selected additives. HARDIBACKER � ceramic tile backerboard contains no asbestos or formaldehyde.

James Hardie North America (click for more information)

PermaBase can be fastened with either a 1-1/2" galvanized roofing nail or 1-1/4" cement backer board type screws are used with wood framing. If you are attaching the PermaBase to 20 gauge or heavier metal framing, use 1-5/8" S-12 cement backer board screws. DO NOT use typical drywall screws.

On the walls and floor/countertops, attach fasteners 8" o.c. in each direction. On the ceilings it's 6" o.c. in each direction.

As you apply pieces of PermaBase next to one another, leave a gap of 1/8". You will pre-fill this gap with mortar during the taping process.

You will need tape the seams with a 2" wide alkali resistant mesh tape. Using your trowel, pre-fill the gaps between the boards and coat the area with your mortar. Place the mesh tape over the joint and remove excess material using your trowel.

You can use a typical drywall utility knife score and snap the PermaBase cement board. Turn board over and make a second pass of this cut. The edge will be clean and smooth.

National Gypsum Company (click for more information)

PRO-Backerboard is a light weight cementitious backer unit (cbu) designed to provide a long lasting, moisture resistant and economical substrate for ceramic tile.

BPB (click for more information)

Fiberock is engineered to meet both water and indentation resistance needs under resilient flooring, carpeting, hardwood, laminate flooring and ceramic tile. This all-purpose underlayment - manufactured from a specially engineered combination of gypsum and cellulose fibers. It resists water damage such as the swelling and warping often seen with wood products.

CGC (click for more information)

DensShield� DensShield� tile backer is a mold-resistant tile backer board with fiberglass-mat facings and a unique acrylic coating that blocks moisture from entering the wall or floor cavity.

Georgian Pacific (click for more information)
GREENE-BOARD GREENE-BOARD is a better environmental alternative and upgrade to replace gypsum drywall and cement backer boards for walls, floors and counter tops. Meets and exceeds, IRC, ASTM and ANSI standards.
JONA Panel Sales (click for more information)

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