Does Your Kitchen Backsplash Need A Backer Board? (Solved!)

A kitchen backsplash will shield your walls from steam, water, and other types of moisture that can soil and damage them. 

If the wall above the counters and sink in your kitchen is smooth and solid, you do not need to install a backboard before applying tiles to create a backsplash.

Backsplash Need A Backer Board

Here’s If your Kitchen Backsplash Need A Backer Board:

Ideally, you don’t have to use a backer board for a tile backsplash. Typically, these are lightweight materials that cannot withstand the extra weight.

What Is A Backer Board?

Backer board is a mineral-based prefabricated wall unit that is 3 feet by 5 feet long and 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch thick. It’s made of cement, water, silica, limestone flour, and fibers like Kevlar or fiberglass for added strength.

Backer board is a low-cost, convenient building material that speeds up and improves the appearance of tiling, flooring, and countertop jobs.

Backer board is a tile substrate material. Unlike plywood and other wood substrates that might warp, the backer board is rigid and flat, so it will not buckle. 

Its resilience allows you to adhere tile using a thin-set mortar, making it reasonably straightforward to produce a level and consistent tile surface.

The backer board is often referred to as a cement board. In contrast to drywall, which contains some wood, the concrete backer board has no organic material. This indicates that it is less prone to rot, decompose, or foster mold growth.

Types of Backer Board

Cement and gypsum are the two most common types of backer board. As it is commonly known, the Cement board is the tougher and heavier of the two. Both varieties come in a range of thicknesses and sheet sizes. 

Use a backer board with a water-resistant core and a waterproof finish for high-moisture regions.

5 Reasons Why Do You Need A Backer Board

Backer board is the most often used underlayment for porcelain and ceramic tile for several reasons, including:

  1. It’s water-resistant

The majority of concrete backer-board brands are made of a fibrous reinforcing cement mixture that has been molded into sheets.

It is highly durable and water-resistant, which means it will not deteriorate over time when exposed to water, making it perfect for use in high-traffic areas prone to moisture damage.

However, this does not exclude the boards from being wet. In fact, they can get wet since the cement board absorbs moisture efficiently, has great drying capabilities, and will not dissolve when exposed to water.

Even though the boards absorb water, they are exceptionally resistant to moisture damage. The biggest issue with cement boards not being waterproof has nothing to do with the boards themselves but rather with the substrate that the cement board is installed on.

Because tile and grout are not waterproof, a barrier or sealant must be utilized to prevent moisture from penetrating the cement board and reaching the wood or metal studs beneath.

  1. It creates a smooth, flat surface with excellent adhesive properties.

Backer Board provides a smooth base for tile installation while also being exceptionally compatible with a wide range of tiles such as marble, limestone, granite, and many more. Its adaptability allows it to be used on floors, walls, and in odd locations and corners with curved backer boards.

  1. It’s not too pricey

This product is not pricey. You do not need to spend much money because the backer board is inexpensive.

  1. Insulating

The backer board is an excellent insulation material for dry lining buildings, damp insulating rooms, and boosting the efficiency of underfloor heating.

  1. It imparts stiffness to the tile substrate, which is necessary to prevent grout and tile breaking.

Laying splashback directly on a surface, like plywood or drywall, might lead to severe complications in the future.

Backsplash tile laid directly over wood will most likely buckle as it absorbs moisture, and the wood will become mold and mildew prone. Furthermore, wood substrates expand and contract with variations in temperature and humidity, making them an inappropriate surface for tile.

If the surface contains air pockets or is prone to moisture, a backsplash installed immediately over an old linoleum or vinyl wall may move and shatter. Directly laying backsplash on drywall can pose issues if the tile is heavy or supports heavy furniture.

A backer board will cause the tile substrate to stiffen, thus preventing breaking and grouting of the backsplash tiles.

When Should You Use a Backer Board?

A Backer board is required whenever interior tile is installed that will be in direct contact with water. This includes the flooring and walls of the shower. Any exterior walls with tilework or tile accents are also included.

  • Use a specific waterproof backer board wherever tile will be directly exposed to water or rain.
  • To prevent water damage to your property, shower floors and walls must be backed with a waterproof backer board.
  • A waterproof backer is required for outside tile walls.
  • Kitchen and bathroom backsplashes do not require a watertight backer board.

A specific backer board is not necessary if your tile will not be immediately exposed to a spray of water. You may install tile on the drywall in your kitchen because the backsplashes and tile walls are only exposed to a small amount of water.

Water-resistant drywall should be used in all non-shower parts of bathrooms. This water-resistant drywall can be used to build a bathroom backsplash. In certain areas, there is no requirement for a cement backer board.

Do You Need A Cement Board For Backsplash?

A specific backer board is not necessary if your tile will not be immediately exposed to a spray of water. Because your kitchen’s backsplashes and tile walls are only exposed to a small amount of water, you can install tile on drywall.

Behind the tile in your shower, you must install a cement board or another waterproof backing board. You may tile straight onto drywall in most other applications, including kitchens. Do not try to save money by tiling over drywall in your shower.

Cement backer board, also known as cement board, is the most often used backer board for ceramic and porcelain tiles.

When utilized in your shower, both conventional and moisture-resistant drywall will begin to mildew and deteriorate. If this happens, mold may infiltrate your home, and your tile project may come apart as the drywall underneath it collapses.

Even though it is slightly more expensive than drywall, a cement board should be used with water and tile. 

Cement backer board, like drywall, can be fastened or screwed. It is available in smaller 3 by 5 feet sheets (drywall comes in 4 x 8 ft sheets). Cement board, like drywall, comes in a variety of thicknesses for a variety of applications:

  • Walls and ceilings require at least 1/2′′ thick or 5/8′′ inch planks. The boards should be fastened or screwed into the studs or joists of the wall.
  • Tile kitchen counters should be built with 1/4′′ or thicker backer board on top of 3/4′′ exterior-grade plywood.
  • Kitchen backsplashes — Because sinks are not considered wet areas, they can be put over 1/4′′ backer board (recommended) or over clean, level drywall.
  • Flooring — demands the installation of a 1/4′′ or thicker cement backer board over a 5/8′′ plywood sub-floor. Exterior-grade plywood is preferable since the layers are joined together with a waterproof adhesive that prevents delamination from water exposure.

It is not necessary for you to use a cement board for your kitchen backsplash. The kitchen sink is not considered a wet area in the house. So it does not require a lot of protection from watered areas.

Should the backer board go over drywall?

Tile backer boards should never be installed over existing drywall. This can result in trapped moisture and waterlogged drywall, both of which can contribute to mold, mildew, and rot in your property.

Remove all old drywall and wall material before installing the backer board. You must first strip the wall down to the studs before installing your waterproof backer board straight onto the studs.

  • The backer board should not be installed over drywall.
  • Before installing the backer board, remove all drywall and strip the wall to the studs.

The backer board will most likely cover only a piece of your room. If you’re using a cement board, use our advice to seal the joints between the backer board and the drywall.

Is it possible to tile directly on drywall?

Tile on drywall is okay in any place that is not immediately exposed to running or spraying water. Kitchen backsplashes, bathroom backsplashes, surrounding fireplaces, and accent tiles in interior decor, for example, can all be put directly on drywall.

  • You can tile on drywall if the surface will not be subjected to direct water spray.
  • Tile over drywall for backsplashes, accent tiles on walls, and fireplace surround.
  • The backer board should be used for shower walls and flooring.

The only area in most homes where the backer board is required is in the shower. It is one of the few areas in your home where water is sprayed directly. Compared to your shower walls, the amount of water that comes into touch with a backsplash is tiny.

Bottom Line

The Backer board contributes to a long-lasting tiling job. It aids in the prevention of cracks in the tile and grout caused by moisture, humidity, and temperature. Cement backer board is a strong, waterproof base suitable for any tiling project, indoors or out.

It is often necessary to install a backer board before laying your backsplash if you have drywall.

The backer board, which is typically made of concrete, increases the load-bearing capability of the wall, allowing you to add a backsplash or other heavy objects to the wall while remaining upright.

Although kitchen sinks are not considered wet spaces, such as showers, that require backer board, a tile backsplash in the kitchen can be laid over clean, level drywall.