How to Choose the Right Backer Board Type for a Ceramic Tile Project

If you are adding ceramic tile to any surface in your home, consider installing backer board to provide a solid foundation for the tile. Backer board is used in the place of drywall or on top of a subfloor in most projects and provides a stable layer that will preserve the longevity of the tile you lay on it. For projects that will get a lot of wear or are expected to last more than five years, installing backer board is the best way to ensure that your tile continues to remain attractive and functional.

The type of backer board you should use depends on the project you are doing. Projects like tubs, showers, and bathtub surrounds require a completely waterproof backer board that is partially made of cement. Plan on using backer board that is at least Ã?½” thick and plan on adapting your plans to withstand the extra thickness and weight of the combined materials. You should remove any drywall that is in the area where you plan on installing backer board and install this material in its place. Keep in mind that you will have to use a waterproof silicone caulk to finish any seams between the pieces before you begin laying the ceramic tile.

Other projects, such as kitchen countertops, require a base for the backer board to sit on. In this case, it is best to use a plywood base upon which the backer board is installed with a combination of thinset and screws. With the plywood and then the backer board in place, you can continue laying ceramic tile as you would in any other project. However, for this project you only need material that is at least 1/4″ thick to provide a good surface for your ceramic tile.

Backer board should also be used underneath flooring tile and above a good plywood subfloor. This is an excellent way to prevent tiles from cracking or popping off of the subfloor. For ceramic flooring tile you want to be sure to use at least a Ã?½” cement based material. Plan on attaching it to the subfloor with screws and thinset cement. Butt seams together and be sure to stagger the seams between the subfloor and the pieces you are installing.

With home improvement projects on the rise by ambitious homeowners, it is important to realize that proper preparation is often the key to a successfully completed project. Tiling over an existing surface instead of using the proper foundational materials may be an easy way to save a few hours while remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, but in most cases it will drastically reduce the life of your ceramic tile.

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