Tile needs to be installed on a backer board to keep the assembly stiff, otherwise the assembly will flex at the grout joints, allowing water to seep behind the tile and rot the substructure. Here's how to choose the best tile backer board for your project.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:April 1998
Cement board is the most durable, trouble-free tile backer for tub surrounds, showers, floors and all other wet areas. Its made from cement and sand, and is reinforced by fiberglass mats on both sides, so it’s impervious to water. It’s typically available in 1/2-in. thick, 3 x 5-ft. sheets. Other sizes are available, including 1/4-in. or 5/16-in. thick. For installation instructions, see cement board ceramic tile
Fiber cement board is a variation of cement board that’s made from compressed cement and sand, reinforced with wood fibers throughout. Its installation procedures and durability are similar to those for cement board, but be sure to read its product specification sheet for specific limitations. It’s only available in 1/4-in. thick sizes.
Glass mat gypsum board works well in damp areas, including tub surrounds, but not in areas that may be continuously wet or damp. The sheets are made from water-resistant silicone-treated gypsum, reinforced on both sides by fiberglass mats. The tile side is sealed with a waterproof coating. It’s typically available in 1/2-in. thick, 4 x 5-ft. sheets, but tile dealers carry other sizes, including 1/4-in. thick sheets.
Water-resistant drywall is a good choice behind sinks and other places where occasional splashing and high humidity could affect regular drywall. The sheets are made from a water-repellent gypsum core covered by water-resistant paper. Like regular drywall, it’s found at most home centers in 1/2-in. thick, 4 x 8-ft. sheets.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
Copyright © 2014 The Family Handyman. All Rights Reserved.