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a few tiles bonded to a cement board with adhesive

Cement Board

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 12/29/2020

Unlike other backer board products, such as drywall, a cement board (hardiebacker) contains no organic fillers, making it much more resistant to mold, rot, warping, and deterioration. So, why don’t homebuilders use cement backer boards in every situation?

Definition

Cementitious backer units (CBUs) or cement boards (commonly referred to as hardiebacker) are typically used as tile backer boards. These cement boards are basically cement bonded particle boards, made from combining cement with other reinforcing materials, that are formed and cut into sheets of varying thicknesses and sizes. They are commonly used during the construction and repair of bathrooms and kitchens due to their water-resistant composition.

Weighing The Pros And The Cons Of Cement Board (Hardiebacker)

Whereas bathroom and kitchen projects may benefit from cement board, hardiebacker may not be the right choice for every renovation:

  • On one hand, cement boards (hardiebacker) are stronger than a typical drywall board and tiles adhere to them better. They won’t warp, they’re resistant to mildew and moisture, and they can provide more strength and stability to the structure of the room.
  • On the other hand, cement boards (hardiebacker) are heavier than typical drywall boards, making them more difficult to lift and causing unnecessary strain on the structure of the house. They can also be more difficult to cut and drill because of their composition.
  • Lastly, cement backer boards (hardiebacker) tend to be more costly upfront. But those costs can be recovered over time if used for the right project, as less repairs means more savings. However, not all projects require the strength, resistance, and price of cement backing boards, so plan accordingly.
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