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Home Improvement Tips: The Importance of the Backer Board

Selecting the perfect ceramic tile for your bathroom renovation requires careful consideration. A precisely selected tile size and color can make your bathroom seem larger and brighter or cozier and more intimate. With so much focus on the aesthetics of your bathroom, it's easy to forget about the additional components that support your beautiful new tile. If you haven't put much thought into what goes under your tile, you should: the reality is that the underlayment, such as backer board, is just as important to your home improvement project as the tile itself.

What Is Backer Board?

Backer board is a thin layer of concrete that has fiberglass mesh on its sides and is used under the tile to provide a firm and even surface. Due to its composition, it performs well in areas prone to humidity, such as behind shower walls and under bathroom floors. Backer board comes in multiple sizes and thicknesses, making it easy to use in a variety of room configurations.

Why Is Backer Board Important?

Installing backer board during your tiling project is integral to your tile's longevity, as it provides a solid foundation above your subfloor. Even if your plywood subfloor is new or in great condition, the thin-set mortar used to adhere the tile is not a great match for wood in the long run. Installing the cement backer board will help to ensure your new tile is set securely.

If you choose not to use backer board, you could experience popping tiles and loose grout due to the ineffective tile-to-floor bond. In addition, your subfloor could be damaged—especially in wet areas. Moisture getting through to the subfloor could lead to mold or mildew buildup underneath your tile, presenting a possible health risk to you and your family. These issues often require removing the tile, installing the proper backer board, and starting the whole process over.

How Do You Install Backer Board?

Installing your backer board correctly is crucial to its effectiveness. If you decide to lay the tile yourself, make sure you follow the backer board manufacturer's guidelines for installation. This usually includes setting it in a mortar bed and using galvanized roofing nails or specialty screws to fasten it to the subfloor.

As with all home-improvement projects, it's important to be diligent in your preparation and execution. Cement backer board is a necessary addition to your materials list. Consider it one of the most important items you'll need for your home improvement project and don't forget to follow the proper installation specifications. Doing so will ensure that you end up satisfied with your tile project.

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