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Plasterboard, Plywood & Fibre Cement

Plasterboard, Plywood & Fibre Cement


Installing a new bathroom is one of those jobs that can cause a big headache for homeowners. It can be costly, disruptive and stressful with many decisions to make; overall design and colour scheme, bath and shower types, which style of tiles to choose, and of course fixtures and fittings. Then on top of this is the stress of finding good contractors to ensure the installation runs as smoothly as possible.

Once your dream bathroom is complete, there’s nothing better than sinking back into a hot bubble bath and relaxing after all the hard work. As a homeowner, the one thing you don’t want to contemplate is having costly remedial works should things go wrong.

Whilst it’s one of the last things you want to think about, there are a few simple precautions homeowners can take prior to installation to ensure no contractor call backs. Remember, where water damage is concerned, it is what’s hidden behind your tiles that makes all the difference.

When it comes to protection from water, traditional building materials have never performed well. Where builders or tilers would once have opted for simple plasterboard or plywood, contemporary performance tile backer boards offer a breadth of benefits over these materials, ensuring that your bathroom remains in perfect condition for decades to come.

It is for this reason that the new British Standard for the tiling industry, British Standard 5385-1, now advises against using plywood as background material for the direct fixing of ceramic wall and natural stone tiles.


Why use a performance board?

There are many reasons to opt for using performance boards as the tile backer board of choice for your project:

Tile hanging weights

Current design trends for tiles are moving towards larger format or heavier premium tiling materials such as porcelain or natural stone. The higher the hanging weight, the more support is needed behind the tile to ensure dimensional stability with no slippage.

Standard plasterboard or plywood hold up to 30kg per m2, whereas Hardie® Backer tile backerboard is the strongest substrate on the market; offering up to 200 kg per m2 of tile hanging weight, more than double the tile hanging strength of any competitive product.

In real terms, this means that when you choose HardieBacker board, you can use any tile finish you like: from ceramic, travertine, porcelain and slate to marble, granite, onyx and quartzite. If it’s a tile available on the UK market, you can use it, no matter the material or size.

Avoiding damage

Hardie® Backer tile backerboard contains no paper facing, which you would find with plasterboard. a food source for mould which causes unsightly damage.

Preventing cracked tiles & grout

The primary cause of cracked tiles and grout is due to water damage of the substrate.

Plasterboard and plywood are neither water resistant nor waterproof, offering no protection against water penetration. Once water ingress occurs, the gypsum core of plasterboard rots and disintegrates, eventually causing tiles to become unstuck. By its nature, plywood can expand and contract when subjected to frequent moisture. This can lead to cracks appearing in tiles or grout lines, and often replacement is the only solution.

In contrast, Hardie® Backer is an engineered tile backerboard made from cement and special chemical additives, which allows for proper bonding of the board and tile. It does not rot, swell, warp or de-laminate like plywood even in the wettest conditions.

Using a standard building material like plasterboard or plywood might seem like a cost-effective solution, but in the long term, it is a false economy. The smartest and simplest way to protect your bathroom is to ensure the correct preparation has been undertaken prior to final installation. Using Hardie® Backer fibre cement tile backerboard comes down to this: do it once, do it right.


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