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Backerboard versus Greenboard

 

The Different Applications, Installation Methods and Sizes for Cement Backboard and Greenboard

 

By Mark J. Donovan

 

Cement Backerboard and Greenboard drywall are often misunderstood by do it yourself homeowners. They are not interchangeable and are designed for specific applications. Cement backerboard is a type of wall or floor sheathing that is specifically engineered for wet or heavily moist tile environments, such as ceramic tiled shower stalls. Greenboard drywall, on the other hand, is designed for damp areas such as on bathroom and basement walls.

Greenboard drywall, versus backerboard, should never be used in shower surrounds or ceramic tile showers.

 

Greenboard drywall consists of gypsum material sandwiched between water resistant paper. The paper is not waterproof. Consequently if greenboard drywall is used in a tiled shower stall, water will eventually wick its way through the tile grout and water resistant paper and begin to breakdown the gypsum material. When the gypsum material becomes wet the structural integrity of the greenboard will crumble and mold growth will occur. In addition, the ceramic tiles will eventually begin to separate from the greenboard drywall and create a disaster of a mess.
 

Cement backerboard, on the other hand, can literally be placed in water indefinitely and it will not break down. It is also more rigid and porous and thus does a better job of supporting ceramic tiles.

 

Cement Backerboard versus Greenboard Drywall Installation


Cement backerboard is more difficult to install than greenboard, however with a sharp utility knife and a straight edge it can be cut effectively the same way as greenboard drywall. Just make sure to wear a rugged pair of work gloves when handling backerboard as it can do a number on your hands.

 

To make straight cuts on backerboard material, simply score it with a utility knife on both sides and then snap it along the scored line.

 

With greenboard drywall score it on the front side. Then snap it along the line by tapping it on the back side along the cut line. Next, with the board slightly folded along the cut, use your utility knife to cut the back paper with the utility knife to complete the cut.

For small punch hole cuts use a drill and drill bit to create pilot holes and a jigsaw with a diamond tip blade to cut out the punch hole.

How to Install a Shower Pan Ebook

 

Cement backerboard should be fastened to walls and floors rough side facing the tiles when using thinset mortar and smooth side facing the tiles when using an adhesive. Fasten the cement backerboard to the walls or floors using corrosion resistant screws such as Rock-On screws or hot dipped ringed shank nails. Screws or nails should be installed every 6 to 8 inches along wall studs or floor joists.

 

Make sure to leave about a 1/8 inch space between backerboard panels. Use thinset mortar and 2 inch wide alkaline resistant fiberglass tape to tape and mud all the seams.

With greenboard drywall installation the process is basically the same, but instead screws / nails can be placed every 12 to 16 inches and you can use all purpose joint compound for taping and mudding seams.

  Cement backerboard, versus greenboard drywall, should be used in a custom ceramic tile shower.

Photo by Mark Donovan

 

Cement Backerboard versus Greenboard Drywall Size Dimensions


Greenboard drywall is available in inch and 5/8 inch thicknesses and 4 feet widths. Greenboard drywall lengths include 8, 10 and 12 feet panels. Cement backerboard is available in and inch thicknesses and is commonly found in 3x 5 panels.

 

See My Shower Pan Installation Ebook to Learn How to Install a Mortar Shower Pan:  For a detailed set of instructions on building a shower pan, including pictures and a detailed cross-sectional view of the make-up of a shower pan, see my Shower Pan Membrane Liner Ebook.

 

For more information on tiling a custom ceramic tile shower, see the How to Tile a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com.  It provides detailed instructions for every step in the process of tiling a custom ceramic tile shower and is loaded with instructional pictures!

 

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Additional Backerboard and Greenboard Drywall Information from Amazon.com

 

 


Backerboard and Greenboard Drywall Tools and Supplies from Amazon.com

 
   

 

 

  

 

 

 

    

- Backerboard versus Greenboard -

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