Cement backerboard

Using cement backerbord for the bathroom floor tile

A 'good enough' moisture barrier or penny wise and pound foolish

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With the bathroom shower stall floated with mortar and ready for tile, it's time to take a look at the bathroom floor, and what kind of work the contractors have done to prep this are for the tile flooring to come.

Some remodeling contractors will differ in opinion on wether or not to float the bathroom floor in mortar vs using cement backer board. Be sure to know what the contractor is bidding on doing. One contractor will bid reinforcing the floor and floating with mortar. Others will say reinforcement isn't necessary and that cement backerboard is sufficient. These difference will cause the bid cost to vary.

Since the bathroom floor is - for the most part, exposed only to water drippings, instead of constant exposure to water like the shower stall, it is less prone to moisture infiltration resulting in rot. For this reason some contractors believe it is safe to go with cement backer board rather than the more labor intensive solution of floating mortar.

At least that's where opinions differ. Some contractors believe the floor is safely done in cement backer board, others will still float mortar on the floor anyway. If your contractor of choice bids using backerboard but you prefer the security of floating mortar on the floor, then ask him to bid both ways - he'll be happy to accept the additional work.

In the case of our bathroom remodel, the contractor used cement backer board. With today's pictures you can see the cement backer board in place over the bathroom floor. The boards are standard 4 x 8 feet in size, just like plywood sheets. The cement backer boards are cut to fit into the floor space, leaving the seams clearly visible. Then special screws are used to bore through the board and into the wood securing each sheet in place.

Note also, that Durock cement backerboard has been around for a long time now, and that nowadays there are some alternative materials available. Cement, or concrete backer board is predictable brittle when you're trying to work with small or narrow pieces like lining a window sill. The newer materials are made of sand bonded into a sheet and are far less brittle at the same time offering better protection from moisture intrusion. You might want to ask your contractor about using some of these alternative backer board materials for your bathroom remodeling project.

Cement, or concrete backer board is installed on the bathroom floor, ready to accept the tile. If you're a DIY type, these could be all the pictures you need to go ahead and prep your bathroom floor for tile.

Picture 1: Bathroom floor tile prep 1
Picture 2: Bathroom floor tile prep 2
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