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What lies beneath?

TSJ surveys the broad range of options available when it comes to selecting a purpose-made tile backerboard.

When it comes to creating a reliable, stable and water-resistant substrate for ceramic tiles or natural stone, the preferred professional choice is a purpose-manufactured tile backerboard.

There are three basic types of tile backerboard: cement-based, gypsum-based and plywood.  Cement-based backerboards are constructed from light-weight concrete with a mesh reinforcement.  These products can be used on walls, floors and kitchen worktops and perform well when exposed to moisture.

There are two main gypsum-based alternatives.  One is similar to plasterboard and is often referred to as Greenboard or Blueboard due to the colour of its water-resistant paper coating.  It is only suitable for wall-tile installation.  Although often used for shower enclosures, this product has a limited lifespan and will eventually fail if subjected to continual exposure to moisture.  The second type of gypsum board is constructed from gypsum, cement and glassfibre.  This type of backerboard offers enhanced moisture resistance and a smooth, regular surface for tiling on floors, walls or worktops.   

As a general rule, tile backerboards do not add to the structural strength of sub-floors.  If additional structural strength is required, exterior grade plywood, at least 12mm but preferably 18mm, thick should be used.

Get on Board with BAL
“Tile backer boards are being used more and more in tiling project due to their versatility and range of benefits,” explains Stuart Ross, Technical Advisory Service Supervisor, Building Adhesives Ltd.
They can be used in wetrooms, over underfloor heating, as dry lining and insulation, and as a flat surface for tiling.

Innovative, new tile backer boards – such as BAL Board – are perfect for tiling because they can be fixed to timber stud work or solid walls and also various floor types.

Tile backer boards can hold substantially more weight of tiling than plaster board, gypsum plaster and wood-based sheets.  For example, BAL Board can support combined tile and adhesive weights of up to 100kg per sq. metre.  This far exceeds the recommended tiling weight for plasterboard (32kg/m2), gypsum plaster (20kg/m2), wood-based sheets (up to 30kg m2) and some foam-cored tile backing boards (up to 60kg/m2).

This means that users can install a wider variety of tile coverings, including larger and heavier tiles such as porcelain and some natural stone.  The boards are also designed with tile adhesives in mind, so the bond created with adhesive is maintained due to their strength and stability when subjected to changing moisture conditions or thermal changes.

Tile backer boards also provide a flat, even surface, meaning that unless tanking is required tilers can tile as soon as the boards are installed.

Many tile backer boards on the market are also suitable for use in wet areas.  BAL Board, for example, is water resistant, meaning it won’t warp, rot or degrade over time even in the wettest conditions.
In wet areas all water-resistant boards should be made water proof.  For this BAL would recommend tanking with a waterproofing kit before tiling, especially installation as showers, wet rooms or swimming pools.  This provides an extra layer of protection and stops water penetrations from causing tile failure.

Thermally-resistant boards provide a substrate which is suitable for use in conjunction with underfloor heating systems, whether below electric-heating mats or on top of water-fed heated screeds to create a level surface for tiling.

When using electric heating cables, fix the board onto the substrate in accordance with the advice given in BS 5385-3 2014 and lay the heating cables on top before levelling with a suitable levelling compound (such as BAL Level Max).  Tiles may then be fixed with a flexible tile adhesive such as BAL Rapid-Flex One or BAL Pourable One.  Always follow the heating manufacturers recommendations with regards to installation of the heating system.

Another great benefit of tile backer boards is their ease of installation.  For example, certain tile backer boards, like BAL Board and foam boards, can be simply scored and snapped, with no specialist cutting tools required.

With BAL Board, in particular, no specialist screws are required.  It can be simply screw fixed with suitable stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanised screws to timber studwork.  This helps reduce costs.

Unlike alternative cement-based boards, BAL Board is also extremely lightweight.  In fact, it is 15% to 35% lighter per m² than cement-based boards.  This means fixers can carry more from their vans in one go, producing considerable time savings.

Coming in 1,200 by 600mm sheets, 6mm or 12mm thick, BAL Board is also easy to fix at 300mm centres in both directions onto existing timber floors in accordance with BS 5385-3: 2014 guidance.

The key to fixing backer boards, particularly to walls, is to install them in a “running bond”, off-set pattern.  This is to ensure that no corners meet where there can be an inherent weakness.

When fixing onto stud work or floors, ensure fixings are minimum 20mm from bottom and 15mm from the side and make sure they are countersunk.

Multiple uses
Several backer boards on the market are also designed for alternative uses.  For example, BAL Board can also be reversed to allow finishes to be applied such as paint or wallpaper as required.   This means that they can be used for an entire bathroom or kitchen, even if the room is not completely tiled.

BAL Board and some other tile backer boards are also fire-rated, non-flammable and non-combustible.  This means that, unlike plywood, it can be used around multi-fuel or log burning stoves as finish to the fire opening or as a reference plate on the chimney itself creating a fantastic room feature.

It is vital, whatever backerboard you are using, to always follow the manufacturers guidance on cutting.  This is because some cement-based backerboards are recommended to be cut outside with the use of breathing protection to prevent harmful dust from being ingested.  You may also need to use a power grinder when cutting thicker cement-based boards (12mm thick).

Other boards, such as BAL Board, there is minimal dust created when cutting, meaning it can be cut indoors.

BAL’s Technical Advisory Service is fully equipped to provide support to contractors, architects and tilers; including NBS M40/M10/M20 specification assistance, on-site consultancy and expert technical advice on all tiling projects.  If you wish to contact the service, please call: 0845 600 1 222.

Moisture and mould sensitive areas, like kitchens and bathrooms, are particularly prone to the negative influence of water on tile backer boards.  Whereas traditional materials, such as plywood and plasterboard, are liable to break or disintegrate when wet, James Hardie advocates using a board that stays strong and firm, no matter how damp or wet it gets.  The company claims that tilers get the best protection against moisture damage when they use HardieBacker board.

HardieBacker board has no loose aggregates or fillers, making a strong and uniform tile backerboard.  Made using 90% Portland cement and sand, Hardiebacker claims to have the highest flexural strength, and up to three times the compressive strength, of competitive cement boards

It is also easy to cut to any size: just score and snap; while clean cuts allow edges to align tightly.  

Hardiebacker also boast that it generates less dust and debris when cut.  In addition, the use of MouldBlock Technology is said to provide outstanding mould and moisture resistance; while the boards also claim excellent heavy tile adhesion.

Knauf Aquapanel interior cement board are said to be an extremely durable tile backer, providing a solid substrate for wet indoor areas such as bathrooms, shower rooms and wet rooms.  Resistant to mould and mildew, Aquapanel will not deteriorate in water.  Indeed, it is said to retain its strength even if fully immersed.

Knauf Aquapanel is said to be easy to cut,  and fast to install; while offering high impact resistance.  The new board is 25% lighter at 11kg per sq. metre.  It bends to a radius of 1m and is supplied ready keyed to take tiles up to 50 kg per sq. metre.

Dukkaboard is an innovative tile backer board system complemented by an extensive range of accessories and waterproofing products.  Dukkaboard is used as a substrate for tiles and render finishes for walls and floors.

The Dukkaboard Original-Panel and Shower Tray Ranges are manufactured from a high-density extruded polystyrene, coated on both sides with polymer-modified glass fibre reinforced cement, which adds rigidity and strength.

Dukkaboard is suitable for use behind any tiling in contact with running or residual water.  The Dukkaboard System is broken down into six product categories:  Original-Panels, Shower Trays, XL, Aqua77, Accessories and Soundproofing.  Dukkaboard provides a complete range of accessory products to be used in conjunction with Dukkaboard Tile Backing Products.

GTEC Aqua Board
GTEC Aqua Board is promoted as a gypsum-based board that provides outstanding water-, mould- and fungal-resistance.  It is thus said to be an ideal tile backing system for applications with exposure to high levels of humidity and water, including bathrooms, kitchens, wet rooms and swimming pools.

The GTEC Aqua Board system offers excellent performance and meets Building Regulation requirements for impact, sound and fire resistance.  Designed as a direct replacement for cement particle boards, GTEC Aqua Board can meet the performance requirements of both commercial and domestic applications.

Lighter and easier to handle than cement particle boards, it is easy to cut, using the score and snap method.  It can be left directly exposed to all weather conditions, once installed, for up to six months.  No pre-drilling is required, as panels can be fixed using drywall fixings.

GTEC Aqua Board is available in a variety of sizes, including a 15mm thickness.  They are 12.5 by 1,200 by 850mm, 12.5 by 1,200 by 2,400mm, 12.5 by 1,200 by 2,700mm, 15 by 1,200 by 2,400mm and 15 by 1,200 by 3,000mm.

The USG Durock brand cement board offers architects, builders and tile contractors a strong, water-durable, tile base for floors, walls, worktops, bath and shower areas.

USG Durock brand cement board is moisture- and mould-resistant, that is said to make it the perfect choice for wall tile and flooring in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms.  It cuts easily and installs quickly with USG Durock Tile Backer Screws, self-drilling fasteners or nails.

Gyproc Moisture Resistant is a gypsum plasterboard with water repellent additives in the core and special green lining paper for easy recognition.  This enhanced plasterboard with water repellent additives in the core is recommended for use in intermittent moisture applications where additional performance is required, such as in kitchen and bathroom walls and ceiling installations. It is also suitable for use in external soffits that are in sheltered positions

There are two ranges; 12mm and 15mm thick.  The 12mm boards are available in 1,200 by 2,400mm, 1,200 by 2,700mm and 1,200 by 3000mm  The 15mm boards measure 1,200 by 2,400mm.

Siniat Hydropanel is a cement fibre board for use internal use in wall, ceiling and floor applications.  Hydropanel offers high levels of moisture, impact and acoustic resistance along with Class 0 fire performance.
Hydropanel is easy to handle and work and can be fixed using standard tools to a variety of timber or metal fixing systems.  The board’s smooth surface and tapered edges allow for decoration in the same way as standard plasterboard. It is available as complete system including Hydropanel joint compounds, fixings and sealers

Only one board is required for all applications offering impact, fire, moisture and acoustic performance.  Resistant to extreme temperatures, the board is also rot-proof, freeze-proof and resistant to mould, bacteria, insects and vermin, providing safety and security.

The board has high impact resistance, providing durability for high traffic areas such as corridors and communal areas.  It is also said to be ideal as a tile backing board for kitchens, bathrooms, shower and changing facilities.

Hydropanel’s simple single skin walling solutions can meet stringent Building Regulations.  It is also adaptable to ceiling and floor applications for both new construction, refurbishment and renovation projects.

No More Ply
NoMorePly by STS is said to be one of the fastest growing brand of 6mm fibre cement board in the UK.  6mm NoMorePly fibre cement boards are used to prevent cracked tiles and grout lines by removing the ‘bounce’ in timber floors before tiling.  They are slim, to prevent any unwanted step into the tiled area, yet provide the same strength as much thicker plywood alternatives.  NoMorePly is also water resistant.  NoMorePly is said to be quick and easy to lay, plus it is covered by a lifetime guarantee.  

NoMorePly is fixed into position using a strong polyurethane adhesive called Mega Strength.  Just a few screws are required to hold boards in position until the Mega Strength goes off.  Boards are then primed and installers are ready to tile in just 10 minutes.  NoMorePly is said to be quicker to fit than alternative makes of boards that are fixed using traditional tile adhesive.  

Norcros Pro Ply Tile Backer
Norcros Pro Ply Tile Backer, a recent launch from Norcros Adhesives, is claimed to provide a strong, stable background for all types of projects, especially installations in bathrooms and wetrooms.

Norcros Pro Ply Tile Backer Board is a high performance, mineral-based, water-resistant backerboard, that is both mould-resistant and exceptionally strong.  The product is also manufactured using a process that produces very little in the way of CO2 emissions, unlike cement-particle and gypsum boards.  The board is silica and asbestos–free, and has a Class A1 non-combustibility fire rating, making it ideal for use with underfloor heating and in build-ups for fire resistant systems and firewalls.  As with all Norcros Adhesives products, Pro Ply is covered by a lifetime guarantee.

Norcros Pro Ply Tile Backer is suitable for use internally and externally on both walls and floors.  It can be fixed using Norcros Rapid Porcelain or One Part Flexible adhesive, or with mechanical fixings.  The strength and rigidity of the board allows bathroom accessories to be fixed through the tiles into the backer board.  It is also highly versatile, being suitable for overboarding new and existing timber floors, covering concrete floors, stud walls or masonry walls.

Norcros Pro Ply Tile Backer is available in 6mm and 12mm sheets, 1,200 by 800mm in size, with 6mm boards normally used on floors and 12mm boards on walls.

Schluter Kerdi-Board
Tiling can offer up some interesting surprises at times: you can never truly appreciate the challenges of a project until you step into that space, trowel in hand.  Fortunately, with Schlüter-Kerdi-Board in your arsenal, you’re covered for all eventualities.

Schlüter-Kerdi-Board is the multi-functional installation board, saving time and hassle for tilers since 2008.  Easily cut with a utility knife, this unique combination of a foam core with a fleece bonded surface requires no additional finishing to make it a CE marked waterproof solution: taking you from pieces to project-ready in a fraction of the time needed for working with other substrates, such as plasterboard.

The light weight of Schlüter-Kerdi-Board is coupled with considerable strength: it’s capable of supporting up to an impressive 60kg per sq. metre.  Add to this a choice of seven thickness options, ranging from 5mm to 50mm, and you’ve got a backerboard that can be used on the trickiest of backgrounds with the utmost ease, whilst also allowing for maximum creativity and craftsmanship.

Schlüter-Kerdi-Board accepts screw fixings with washers without breaking, resulting in less wastage than with brittle cement-faced boards and the whole ensemble is cement-free, eliminating dust and allowing tilers to maintain a healthy working environment as well as increase productivity.

The hero of tiling preparation, Schlüter-Kerdi-Board has got your back. For more information, email [email protected], call 01530 813396, or visit www.kerdi-board.co.uk

Marmox Multiboard
Marmox Multiboard is ideal for many applications.  In addition to being a lightweight tile backer board, it is used for waterproofing, dry-lining and to provide thermal insulation.  As a tile backer board, Marmox Multiboard provides an effective decoupling layer to prevent tiles and grout from cracking due to horizontal movement in the floor.

The patented surface of Marmox Multiboard allows heavyweight tiles to be safely and securely fixed to walls. Being completely impermeable to water, the boards are said to be doubly useful in tiled areas prone to moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms where they will act as a moisture barrier protecting the walls and floor.

Marmox Multiboards can be used to insulate and waterproof walls, floors and ceilings and noticeable benefits will be gained by using any thicknesses of 10mm and above. The thinner 4mm and 6mm boards are mainly designed as waterproof tile backer boards but do provide some thermal insulation and even the thinnest boards, when used with UFH wire, will reduce heating costs.

PCS DeltaBoard
PCS is a UK based manufacturer of high performance construction products.  PCS produces a diverse range of products that are thermally insulating, lightweight and waterproof.  The company’s products are designed for use as a lining and overlay system for walls and floors that require the application of natural stone, ceramic and porcelain tiles etc.  The portfolio includes DeltaBoard, a versatile Thermal Construction Board, and DeltaTray performance shower tray formers.  Within the construction industry, these products often referred to as Thermal Tilebacker Products.

High Performance Construction DeltaBoard, often referred to as tilebacker boards, are manufactured from high density extruded polystyrene.

The rigid insulating core is coated with a specially-formulated reinforced cementitious coating that provides a hard wearing robust surface perfect for the application of tiles/plaster and synthetic render.

The foam core has excellent thermal insulation properties, while also providing high compressive strength with very low weight.  The cement coating enhances the fire resistant properties of the DeltaBoard and creates a tile ready surface.  The cement-based coating also gives the product excellent impact resistance, ensuring that the boards stand up to the rigour of the site environment.

DeltaBoard can be used anywhere were tile is applied; on floors, walls, ceilings and even counter tops.  It should be used especially in wet areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, where walls and floors are particularly exposed to moisture. Typically, 10mm is used on the floors and 12.5mm on the walls, but boards are available from 4mm right through to 80mm to suit any project.

Nicobond Tile Backer Board
Constructed from extruded polystyrene and coated with a glass-fibre mesh reinforced polymer-modified cement mortar on both sides, Nicobond Tile Backer Board can be used universally as a conventional tile backer board or construction panel.  With excellent thermal properties it is the ideal insulation layer beneath undertile heating systems.

Nicobond Tile Backer Board is said to offer the perfect alternative to timber or gypsum substrates to receive tiling.  It is lightweight, rigid, dimensionally stable and waterproof; all necessary to meet the requirements of BS5385.

Ideal for tiling to in all areas. it comes in a range of options including 600 by 1,200 by 6mm, 600 by 1,200 by 10mm, 1,200 by 2,400 by 12.5mm and 600 by 2,400 in 12.5, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70mm thicknesses.

Pre-cut or pre-slit panels are available to create curved shapes, ideal for bath surrounds or rounded partition walls. these measure 1,200 by 600 by 20mm with both vertical and horizontal cut versions.

Elektra Thermopanel is designed to complement the Elektra range of underfloor heating.  Elektra Thermopanel construction boards are high performance, reinforced, insulation boards made of waterproof extruded polystyrene, each side faced with fibreglass mesh embedded into a cement polymer mortar.  They are perfect for all areas but especially for areas that are subject to moisture, such as basements, bathrooms, lofts and dwellings without cavity walls.  The boards measure 1,250 by 600 by 10mm.

Warmup Insulation Board
Warmup Underfloor Heating Insulation Boards are manufactured from water-resistant extruded polystyrene, finished on both faces with a thin layer of fibreglass reinforced cement. The insulation boards are available in a range of thicknesses, from 6mm to 50mm suiting any individual project requirements. The board is designed to withstand a load of 30 tonnes per square metre.

The 0.5mm thick cement coating provides an excellent surface for tile adhesive, plaster and levelling compounds, with no priming required.

Wedi Tilebacker Board
The Wedi board provides both peace of mind against leaks and damp, but also provides a solid platform for interior design.  Composed from unique materials, the performance of Wedi Tile Backer Board is claimed to be unsurpassed in wet conditions, giving peace of mind when creating a wet room or shower space.

One of its most useful features of the board is that it can be cut precisely to size with ease, allowing the installer to fully insulate and water-proof the areas required to safeguard against water.  The board’s tile-mounting surface is designed to be as user-friendly as possible, and mounting tiles and straightening uneven surfaces is much easier than traditional methods of rendering or applying straight to plaster.  It also acts as a thermal barrier, reducing heat loss.

Wedi boards are designed to repel water and keep houses secure from water damage, as well as giving natural thermal insulation and acting as a barrier against steam and vapour.  Available in a wide variety of sizes and thicknesses at an affordable price, this is an invaluable component in any bespoke bathroom or wet room space.

The boards are available in 2,500 by 900 by 30mm, 2,500 by 900 by 50mm, 2,500 by 1,200 by 30mm and 2,500 by 1,200 by 50mm sheets.

Versa Backer
Available from Euroform, Versa Backer is a new generation of high performance backer board that performs like traditional cement backer board but only weighs a fraction of the weight.  The company claims that this reduced weight simplifies delivery and handling.

Versa Backer is manufactured from closed cell PIR foam with a reinforced calcium carbonate exterior surface to both faces.

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