How to Install a Backerboard for Concrete

Lead Image for How to Install a Backerboard for Concrete

Before installing tile in a wet area such as the bathroom or kitchen, it is necessary to install a concrete backerboard. This makes a sturdy surface for tiling so that your tile job lasts for years. Installation can be tricky because of the weight of the backerboard, but it is well worth the effort.


Take the measuring tape, and measure the area where you will install the concrete backerboard. Be sure to measure for any pipes or faucets if necessary.


Transfer the measurements to the backerboard using a pencil and a straight edge. A 48-inch level, a yardstick, and a piece of scrap lumber can serve as a straight edge.


Cut the backerboard by scoring it along the pencil lines. Do this by using a straight edge and a scoring knife with a carbide tip. It is important to use a carbide tip because the backerboard will damage other cutting tools. Lay the straight edge along the pencil line. Hold it firmly in place and score along the line at least five times. The objective is to cut through the top layer of fibers that hold the concrete backerboard together.

After scoring one side, stand the backerboard on its side with the scored line perpendicular to the floor. Use your knee to brace the backer board on the side that was not scored, and bend the backerboard along the scored line. The will cause the backerboard to break cleanly along the scored line, but the fibers on the side that was not scored will need cutting. Next, take the scoring knife and cut the fibers on the opposite side to separate the pieces completely.

To cut holes for pipes or faucets, use a drill and a jigsaw. Using your measurements and a pencil, draw a square around the area to be cut. Drill a hole at each corner of the square. Insert the blade of the jigsaw into one of the holes, and cut along the pencil line until the blade reaches the next hole. Remove the blade and reposition it in the hole to cut along the next pencil line. Continue until you have cut along each pencil line. The cut portion of the concrete backerboard should fall out after the last cut. If it does not, push it out with your fingers.


Position the backer board on the wall. It is very heavy, so you may need help. Use the drill and galvanized screws to attach the backerboard to the wall. Drive the screws into the wall studs. Space the screws six to eight inches apart. If you need to attach another concrete backerboard directly beside the first, space them 1/8 of an inch to 3/16 of an inch apart so that the boards do not touch. Fill all gaps with silicone caulk.

Installing a concrete backerboard is hard work, but the procedure is simple.