Cement Backer Board

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If you are looking for a durable, water-resistant flooring solution that is easy to install, a cement backer board should be your best option.

A cement backer board installation is not difficult and can be done by anyone with basic DIY skills.

In this article, we'll teach you how to install a cement backer board for flooring and give you tips for making the job easier. We will also discuss the different types of cement boards, where they can be purchased locally, and their pros and cons. Let's dive deep into this topic. 

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What is a cement backer board?

These specialized boards are made from cement and fly ash, a binding agent that creates a strong hard surface. They're installed over concrete subfloors to create a smooth, durable floor or wall for tile installation or an even surface to apply your finish.

Their popularity has exploded among home builders and remodelers because of their affordability, ease of use, and the fact that they can be used for both walls and floors.

These boards come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. You can purchase them at home improvement stores, flooring suppliers, and online retailers. Be sure to check out your local store's clearance displays for discontinued styles and colors that you might be able to get at a discounted rate.

How to install cement backer board for flooring

Cement backer board installation is relatively easy. Start by preparing your subfloor. It must be level, clean, and dry. Any gap or crack that will show through the tile can be filled with suitable material to provide a solid base for your cement backer board. If there are minor cracks in the concrete, they should be sealed before you install the board.   

Next, determine which side of your new backer boards will be their smooth faces. That means their rough sides will face out when installed on the wall or floor. Mark them accordingly so you avoid accidentally installing them backward.

The next step is laying down 10 mils plastic sheeting over your subfloor to protect it from moisture during installation. 

Then, if you are doing a wall installation, attach the cement backer board to the wall studs using cement board screws.

If you are installing it on your floor, use masking tape to secure the edges of your backer boards so they don't slip and slide around during installation.

Once installed and allowed to dry completely, use a round-edged trowel to apply thin-set mortar over the cement backer board seams and corners. The mortar will help fill in any gaps for a seamless appearance. Then lay down your tile(s) and grout as normal.  

Benefits of using cement backer board for flooring

Cement backer boards have several benefits over other types of flooring materials. They offer some excellent advantages for homeowners looking to put down quality material at a great value.

  • One great benefit is that they're waterproof which makes them the perfect choice for bathrooms and kitchens. There's no need to worry about leaks or spills damaging your new floors or walls with this material.
  • Another convenience is that they come in large sizes so you don't need to buy more than one sheet unless you are working on very large rooms. This saves time and money because it cuts down on seams and lipping issues associated with using smaller pieces.
  • You can also install them without expert help. If you have a weekend warrior friend who is into DIY projects, they might be willing to lend a hand with this one. It requires no special tools or know-how.
  • Another bonus is that the backer boards are light in weight and easy to handle for installers of any age. This makes it a simple do-it-yourself project for homeowners looking to save on labor costs when putting down new floors.
  • They come in moisture-resistant varieties so they're suitable for use in bathrooms and other areas where humidity can run high such as saunas and steam rooms.

Standard Drywall Sizes And Thicknesses

The reason you should know what thickness your cement backer board should be is pretty simple. It's all about achieving the look you want for your room.

If the floor only has a small area where you are tiling, then it might not be worth doing it with a thick tile to match the thickness of your backer boards. You will end up noticing how much thicker they are than the other areas where you have drywall up.  

You can use thinner tiles in those cases and that makes them lighter in weight. This is useful if any areas have dropped ceilings or if there are any second-story additions on homes that are definitely not new.

It also means less hassle when moving furniture around to clean behind it. If the tiles were thicker, anything larger than chairs would have a difficult time moving on top of them.

However, if you are planning on using thicker materials for your new flooring, make sure to purchase backer boards that are at least the same thickness as what you intend to use for your main tiles.

Using standard drywall sizes and thicknesses will help to eliminate the need for a lot of custom tiles. When you use backer boards that have been manufactured in standard sizes, you can find pre-cut drywall at any home improvement store that is large enough to cover your floor from wall to wall.

Retiling A Shower Step-By-Step

Having the right knowledge of how to get things gone in your home is definitely useful. With that in mind, another useful skill is knowing how to retile a shower. This job requires a bit more finesse than if you were just putting in a new floor, but it's doable.

The first thing you should do is turn off the electricity and the water supply.

You're going to start by knocking out all of the old tile, grout, and caulking left behind from your previous installation. Be careful not to damage the backer boards while doing so. You can use a hammer and chisel or a rubber mallet to make quick work of getting rid of it all.

Next comes cleaning up before installing new backer boards and tiles so everything fits snugly with no gaps in between them.

This will ensure that when you grout, there won't be any hairline spaces where grout can leak into areas that shouldn't have anything in them.

Retiring a shower does require you to have the right knowledge, tools, and plan available. With just some basic tools, you can get started on this project for your home.

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Final thoughts on cement backer board

In conclusion, a cement board is a valuable material to have in your arsenal of supplies for doing tile work. It's the only backer board that usually comes with a moisture barrier. Cement boards are also resistant to rot and mold and easy to clean.

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin is a household and appliance enthusiast and loves to follow the latest trends in kitchen and house decoration. He also loves to walk the isles of Home Depot and Lowes to review products and materials in person. Before joining Kitchen Infinity, Kevin owned a handyman company.

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