What do you put behind tile in a shower?

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    In order to properly instal tile in any room of your home, you will need to start with a specific substrate or base layer. Tile backer, which is also known as cement board or cement backer board, is the most common substrate used in showers.

    Ceramic and porcelain tile, more than almost any other type of surface material, requires a substrate that is stable, flat, and flex-free. Even the tiniest amount of movement in the building structure can be transmitted to the tile, which can then cause it to crack. A substrate that is resistant to damage from moisture is necessary for wet areas such as bathrooms, such as showers and bathtubs. This is necessary in the event that a tile or grout crack allows water to penetrate the backer of the tile.

    Tile backer is typically manufactured under brand names such as Durock, Densshield, HardieBacker, and WonderBoard. This type of tile backer is referred to in the industry as a cementitious backer unit (CBU). When exposed to moisture, none of these items will rot, shrink, delaminate, or decompose in any way because they are made entirely out of inorganic materials. Cement board can be utilised in the shower in a number of different ways that are considered acceptable.

    Renovating a bathroom by installing tile on the wall of the shower is an excellent way to give the space a fresh new look. A tile wall will not only have a great appearance, but it also has the qualities of being long-lasting and durable. However, installing the appropriate kind of drywall board behind the tile can be difficult. This is especially true when one considers the amount of moisture that the wall will need to tolerate over the course of its lifetime. The good news is that there are several varieties of drywall, such as blue board, green board, and cement board, that are excellent choices for use in showers of any style.

    Looking for the best tiling renovations? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.

    Tiles Floor FAQs

    Do you need to tile behind a toilet? No, tiles are only necessary where, because of damp or splashes, the wall must be protected from water ingress.

    The three toughest tiles are granite, ceramic, and porcelain with porcelain winning hands down as the toughest. However, porcelain can be hard to work with when installing, so it's possible you'll have uneven cuts in some sections.

    Grout doesn't last forever. You can expect a lifespan between eight and sixteen years. Its lifespan will vary depending on how you treat your shower. Odds are, you have no idea when your grout was installed.

    Matte tiles don't show grime the way glossy tiles do. The reflective surface of the glossy tile will show soap scum and water stains very quickly. If you're someone who doesn't like to clean the shower in-between uses, matte tile is the best way to go.

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    Type of Drywall Board

    Shower Tiles

    Regular Drywall

    The use of regular drywall as a base for tiles in a shower is possible, but doing so should only be attempted as a final resort. Even in the best case scenario, the tile and grout will eventually wear down, leaving a clear path for water to seep through and soak into the drywall. This can happen even if you take good care of the tiles and grout. If you cannot use a different type of drywall, you will need to instal a water barrier behind the regular drywall as well as the wall frames. This is done in order to assist in preventing water from causing structural damage to the wall. In addition, the use of regular drywall can put the tile's structural integrity at risk because water will cause the drywall to deteriorate.


    A tile wall in a shower typically consists of blueboard, which is a kind of drywall that is frequently used for the purpose. The blue board is not only resistant to water, but it is also simple to find and inexpensive, making it an excellent choice for those who are working with a limited budget. In addition, mounting the blue board does not present any significant challenges. The process of installing blueboard is comparable to that of installing regular drywall, and it requires only a minimal amount of expertise to accomplish. Even though it is water-resistant, you will still need to make certain that all seams are adequately covered and that there is some kind of water barrier placed between the tile and the blue board. The good news is that numerous products, such as the RedGard and Kerdi membranes, are available to fulfil this requirement.


    The primary distinction between greenboard and blue board is in the manufacturing process; otherwise, the two types of board have a number of similarities. Because it is made from recycled materials, greenboard is an excellent option for those who are concerned about their impact on the environment. The process of installing the green board is identical to the process of installing the blue board. Additionally, a water barrier will be required in order to prevent moisture from penetrating the board. Both blueboard and green board are compatible with the same kinds of water membranes and can make use of them. Because water will seep through the tiles if there is not a water barrier behind them, installing a water barrier is an essential step in the process of installing any kind of drywall. The most important thing to keep in mind is this.

    Cement Backerboard

    Cement board is the type of drywall that is most commonly used in tile wall applications because it is both the heaviest and most resistant to water. The installation of cement board is very similar to the installation of drywall, with a few minor exceptions due to the board's heavier weight. To get things started, a jigsaw will be required in order to cut the cement backer board to the appropriate dimensions. Next, using concrete screws, securely fasten the board to the structure of the wall in the appropriate manner. Unfortunately, drywall screws won't work in this application. In order to stop any leaks from occuring, you should first apply some seam tape to cover the joints, and then add a waterproof membrane. Behind the cement board, it's a good idea to instal a vapour barrier in addition to the water barrier. This will prevent moisture vapour from seeping through. This can take the form of plastic sheets and will assist in reducing the extent of damage incurred in the event that water is able to penetrate the board.

    Best Types of Tile Backer Board for the Shower

    Cement Board and Plastic Sheeting

    Installing a moisture barrier made of plastic with a thickness of 4 or 6 mils directly on top of the wall studs is a method that is praised for its ease of use, low cost, and widespread adoption. After that, the cement board is mounted on top of the plastic sheeting that was previously laid down. Cement board is attached to the wall studs with the use of screws. Tile is installed using thin-set mortar or mastic to adhere it to the cement board.

    Cement Board and a Liquid Membrane

    Cement board is attached to the studs in this particular application by means of a direct installation method. Behind the cement board, there is no plastic sheeting to be found. On the cement board, a liquid membrane for waterproofing, such as Hydro Ban, is applied, and then the surface is allowed to cure. After that, tile is laid down on top of the membrane.

    Cement Board and a Sheet Membrane

    There is no plastic sheeting placed behind the cement board when it is installed because it is attached directly to the studs. Thin-set adhesive is utilised in the process of covering the cement board with a watertight sheet membrane such as Schluter Kerdi. When the thin-set has had enough time to dry, the tile is adhered to the sheet membrane using thin-set. Kerdi can also be installed directly over standard drywall in a shower because, when it is correctly installed, it creates a continuous waterproof barrier. This allows for Kerdi to be installed in a variety of different applications.

    Membrane-Faced Board Only

    One variety of tile backer board is constructed with a water-resistant facing on both sides of the board. This style of backer board is also known as a "dry backer." DensShield, made by Georgia-Pacific, is an example of one such product. You won't need to instal a separate layer of plastic behind the tile backer or a sheet membrane on top of the backer because the facing itself functions as an integrated waterproofing membrane. After that, thin-set mortar is applied to the surface of the board, and after that, tile and grout are applied. This process is similar to the other applications.

    Unacceptable Shower Backer Boards

    Several traditional tile installation methods used materials that are no longer considered acceptable for shower applications.

    • Drywall: All that's needed is a trace amount of moisture for the paper facing of the drywall to start falling apart and growing mould. Even a very small amount of water that seeps into the drywall through a fissure or hole in the tile will cause it to swell as soon as it comes into contact with the paper facing and gypsum core of the drywall. Paper is an organic product, so it will quickly become mouldy after being exposed to moisture.
    • Greenboard: There is some debate regarding the acceptability of greenboard as a shower backer board. Greenboard offers only a marginal improvement in water resistance over standard drywall. Green Board is constructed with the same gypsum core as drywall and features a paper facing. On the other hand, the facing is infused with waxes that repel water more effectively than the paper used in traditional drywall. The green board can be used as a tile substrate in showers, which is permitted by many local building codes. However, because there are many other types of shower backer boards available besides organic ones, there is not much of a reason to use the green board.
    • Plywood: Using plywood by itself as a substrate under tile in showers is not an acceptable practise. Some homeowners are under the impression that painting or priming plywood will make it suitable for use as a backer board in a shower or tub. This is not the case at all. Some people who do their own home improvement projects may believe that plywood can also be used for shower wall applications. This is due to the fact that plywood is frequently used as an underlayment for floor tile.

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    Mistakes To Avoid For A Waterproof Shower Floor

    Assuming Grout, Tile And Sealers Alone Make A Waterproof Shower

    Tile and sealed grout are water-resistant, but without the proper preparation and installation, water will find its way around them in no time.

    • Taking your time to properly instal the tile is essential. Shower pans, waterproofing membranes, and backer board for the shower walls are all covered in the comprehensive instructions that can be found in the Tile Council of North America Handbook. These instructions cover how to properly prepare a shower floor for tiling as well as how to instal waterproof bathroom tile.
    • Maintain as much consistency as possible by purchasing components made by the same manufacturer. It is possible that the shower pan and the waterproofing will not be compatible with one another if you purchase them from different manufacturers.
    • Check again to make sure you have the correct amount of waterproofing and sealing. It's possible that one coat won't be enough.

    Forgetting To Calculate The Proper Amount Of Slope For The Drain

    In the event that the floor of your shower does not have the appropriate grade, the water will not drain effectively. Leaving water to sit around allows for the growth of bacteria as well as the development of leaks.

    • Make sure the floor of the shower has a pre-slope of 14 inch per foot (slope before application of any materials).
    • If you are unsure about your ability to complete the task, you should hire a contractor.
    • In order to enable drainage, pea gravel or spacers should be installed around the drain and weep holes.

    Forgetting to Do A Flood Test Before Installing Tile

    Test whether or not the shower space is watertight after you have finished preparing the space for the shower but before you begin installing tile. It takes only about twenty minutes for a hole that is the size of a pin to begin to leak. Fixing leaks in your shower pan before installing the tile is much simpler than doing so afterwards.

    • Perform the test for a full day.
    • Fill the shower pan with water and check it at regular intervals after you have plugged the drain with a test plug that also blocks the drain's weep holes.
    • To ensure that there are no leaks in the drain, fill the shower pan all the way to the very top. Any reduction in the amount of water present is likely an indication of a leak.
    • Remove the plug and check to see that the slope is appropriate and that any weep holes in the ground are clear.

    Breaching The Waterproof Membrane

    Once you've created a waterproof zone, be careful to protect it from any breach while you are tiling a shower.

    • When attaching cement boards to shower walls, you should never use nails or screws.
    • When you are attaching curbs or benches, try not to use nails or screws.

    Selecting Improper Tile For The Shower

    Because each type of tile is designed for a specific application, you need to make sure that the tile you select is suitable for the shower. Take note that the rating given to tile for the shower wall is different from the rating given to tile for the shower floor.

    • Check the product specifications of your tile to see if it is rated for use in wet environments.
    • You can use distinct tiles for the floor and walls of your shower, or you can use a single tile that is suitable for the shower floor for both the floor and the walls.
    • Regular application of sealants to your tile and grout can further increase its resistance to water damage.

    We have a wide range of Melbourne tiling renovations to help you choose in creating a new design for your house.

    Poor Mortar Coverage

    It may seem like it's extra work to get full and even coverage with the mortar, but never take shortcuts when tiling a shower. Any empty spaces behind the tile are opportunities for bacteria growth should any water get through.

    • When applying mortar, you should avoid using the "dot" or "back buttering" methods.
    • In order to function properly in damp environments, tile must have a mortar coverage of at least 95%.
    • Particularly important for the coverage of large-format tiles is using sufficient mortar.

    We have worked on a number of bathroom remodelling projects over the years, and the majority of them have been in homes that were only five to fifteen years old. Tile being installed over drywall in showers or other wet areas is, by far and away, the most common issue I've come across in my experience. This is the case the vast majority of the time, and as a result, whenever someone tells me over the phone that they have tiles in their shower that they can push in with their hands, that the tiles are falling off the wall, or that they appear "squishy," the first thing that comes to my mind is the image of the very common 4-inch ceramic tiles that have been installed over drywall. And in the vast majority of instances, this is precisely what they have.

    Despite the fact that this method of tiling is not only inefficient but also a poor practise, it is by far the most common situation I find in bathrooms that we have to rip out. One and only one factor accounts for the prevalence of this practise among those who construct new homes and those who remodel existing ones: it is economical. There are no other benefits besides the price.

    In a number of these installations, there is evidence of water damage in the wall, on the studs, wet drywall, spots of mould or mildew in the wall, ants, and other insects that are drawn to water present in the wall (at least this is what we have found in many occasions). Another issue is that there is an endless black discoloration of the caulking at the bottom of the tiled shower wall (at the point where the shower base is caulked against the shower wall). Even if you re-caulk this joint, it will only take a few short months for the caulk to turn back to its original dark colour. The issue is that water does seep through the grout joints, which then causes the drywall to become wet. Because of the pervasive dampness and the frequent showers that occur every day, nothing can ever get completely dry. (You should also take a look at the benefits of having a bathroom exhaust fan of a good quality.)

    In a nutshell, drywall of any kind—including drywall treated to resist moisture—should never be installed behind tile in areas that are subject to moisture (showers and tub-shower combinations). The utilisation of a product such as Hardi-Backer or concrete board is the method that is recommended. However, with these products, it is important to correctly build in the proper vapour barrier. If there isn't a proper vapour barrier, water vapour will migrate through the wall, and under certain temperature conditions, the dew point (which is inside the wall assembly) will cause condensation of this vapour inside the wall. If there isn't a proper vapour barrier, water vapour will migrate through the wall (on outside walls). If used as directed, these products should function without a hitch. Too many of the installations that I've seen used Hardibacker and concrete board, but the methods that were used to instal them were incorrect and did not adhere to the recommendations of the manufacturer or the standards set by the industry.

    As a tile substrate in showers, "Wedi Board" is our material of choice. Insulation in the form of "blue board," which forms the core of Wedi Board and is responsible for providing a continuous layer of insulation, This closed cell insulation has the benefit of being 100 percent waterproof, in addition to providing a "vapour stop" that prevents water vapour from entering the wall cavity. Not only is this an advantage, but it is also provided by this insulation. This is of the utmost significance in a shower that is situated on an exterior wall, but it is of assistance even if the shower is situated on an interior wall. You could instal Wedi Board in a shower and not tile the shower at all (not that you would do this) – and take showers for years with just the Wedi Board in place (no title) and you would have a shower that is leakproof to a one hundred percent degree. The beauty of this is that you would have a shower that is leakproof to a one hundred percent degree. This indicates that by tiling over the Wedi Board, you are merely providing an aesthetic look to the shower, but you are not relying on the tile itself to do the waterproofing of the shower. Instead, you are simply providing an aesthetically pleasing appearance. The tile does provide an additional layer of waterproofing protection, but the Wedi Board that is placed behind the tile is where the system's true power lies. When you compare this to the common practise of tiling over drywall, you can get an idea of what a difference it makes to have a product that is designed to function in the shower as opposed to the traditional method.

    The Wedi Board and Wedi Shower system includes special bonding agents (referred to as "wedi caulk," though it is much more than caulk) that waterproof the seams in the corners as well as the joints where the 3x5 board pieces join together. These bonding agents are referred to as "wedi caulk," though they are much more than caulk. This binding of the pieces throughout the shower helps to keep the system acting as one unit behind the tile, which helps to prevent the tile from cracking as well as the grout between the tiles.

    Before beginning the installation of your drywall, there are a few things you need to keep in mind, regardless of the type of drywall you select. To begin, the process of ripping out old tile and drywall can be a messy one. Maintain a window open to ensure there is sufficient ventilation, and put on the appropriate protective gear for the task at hand. Second, the installation process will probably take a few days to finish, which means that you may or may not have access to a shower for a day or two during this time. In conclusion, ensure that any nearby electrical outlets are turned off, as well as the water supply, in order to prevent any accidents.

    The presence of moisture is the one factor that must be considered despite the fact that there is a wide variety of choice when it comes to the kind of board that is appropriate for a shower wall. Behind the tile there must be a waterproof barrier that is installed, and the type of board that you use does not affect this requirement. This will not only prevent the backboard from becoming ruined by water, but it will also make certain that the structural integrity of the wall is not compromised. In addition, it is a good idea to instal an additional water barrier behind the drywall in order to prevent water from damaging the structure of the wall. This can be done in order to prevent water from causing damage. You can save time and money by following these straightforward steps, which will also give you the peace of mind that your wall will be properly sealed.

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