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If you plan to do something with the tile base, you need to choose the right material, as you can't just lay the tiles as they are. Two popular materials for tile flooring include cement board and Kerdi board.
Both share the same purposes occasionally, but they are not the same. Let's find out what these two materials are, what makes them different, and which one to use for specific applications.
Kerdi board and cement board: basics
Before we start talking about the similarities and differences between Kerdi board and cement board, let's first find out what they both are.
What is the Kerdi board?
What is very interesting to note is that Kerdi board was actually created as a way to help mitigate the flaws that cement board has. Kerdi board is a multifunctional tile substrate and building panel. It is often used for tile cladding and can be used with glued down waterproofing kits.
Simply put, it is used for floor and wall tile coverings. However, it can also be used in showers, bathtubs, vanities, shelves, countertops, and more.
The Kerdi panel is made of extruded polystyrene foam that has a special reinforcing material on both sides, as well as a felt screen inside, which allows effective anchoring in fine mortar, among others.
One of the biggest advantages you get with the Kerdi board is that it is extremely lightweight and therefore easy to use and install.
In addition, this material is also waterproof. It can handle exposure to high humidity, which is obviously perfect for things like bathrooms and kitchens. Many people also use it as a waterproof barrier for other applications.
What is also interesting about the Kerdi board is that it has drawn lines that allow for easy cutting and measuring.
What is cement board?
Cement board is another material that is often used to cover tiles, usually in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as normal floors. Cement board is an extremely inexpensive subfloor option, which is one reason many people might consider it, along with its long history of use. Durock, which you may have heard of, is one of the most popular cement board brands out there.
Cement board is made by mixing Portland cement, water, and reinforcing mesh, which is in between. Cement is poured over the mesh, allowed to dry and cure, then a solid panel is formed.
When using cement board, you first apply thin-set mortar to a wall, then cement backboard, then another layer of thin-set mortar, and then tiles, with the idea being that the tiles have a hard, durable surface to hang on. That being said, cement board can be extremely heavy, which is why many people have started using Kerdi board as a substitute.
What's also interesting to note is that while this material is often used for tile floors in kitchens and bathrooms, it's actually not 100% waterproof. Yes, it can handle a bit of moisture, but not too much. Also, while hanging pieces of cement backer board isn't too difficult, if you need to cut it, things can get messy.
Similarities Between Kerdi Board and Cement Board
Now that we know what these two materials are, let's find out what makes them similar.
1. They can come in many sizes
While it's not a huge similarity, both motherboards can come in various sizes to accommodate a variety of needs and space requirements.
2. They can serve the same purposes
Of course, the main purpose of cement board and Kerdi board is to function as a base for tiles.
Both are now commonly used in kitchens, bathrooms and for regular tile flooring, although Kerdi board has become more popular over the years due to the many advantages it has over cement board.
Differences Between Kerdi Board and Cement Board
Now that we're familiar with the similarities, let's determine what makes these two options different.
One of the main differences between cement board and Kerdi board is that Kerdi board is much lighter in weight and therefore generally much easier to work with. Your average piece of cement board that comes in at 3' x 5' and 1/2” thick will weigh up to 60 pounds. The Kerdi board, on the other hand, will weigh about 1/3, if not less. You can easily take multiple pieces of Kerdi board at once, which you certainly can't do with cement board.
2. Ease of cutting
Another thing to keep in mind is that cement board is quite difficult to cut, requiring a circular saw with a masonry blade, plus it creates a lot of dust and mess when cutting. The Kerdi board, on the other hand, comes with pre-drawn lines and requires no special tools to cut.
3. Ease of installation
Because it is so much lighter, the Kerdi board is generally much easier to install. Kerdi panel can be easily installed by one person, while two people are normally required to install cement backer board. If the cement backer board is not properly applied to a wall below it can fall due to its weight.
Although cement board is popular and often used as a base for tile on kitchen and bathroom floors, it is not 100% waterproof, not even close. Yes, it can handle a bit of moisture, but not too much. Kerdi board, on the other hand, while not 100% waterproof, is much more waterproof than cement board. Therefore, it is a much better option to use in bathrooms and kitchens.
5. Fire resistance
One thing that stands out about cement board is the fact that it is much more resistant to fire and combustion than Kerdi board.
6. Overall Durability
While the difference here isn't huge, the fact is that cement board is a bit more durable than Kerdi board. Therefore, if you are laying a tile floor in a high traffic area where many people will be walking, cement backer board may be the best option. Although cement board can still crack under very strong impact, it is still stronger than Kerdi board.
One of the reasons that cement board remains a very popular option is because of its cost effectiveness. Generally speaking, you can expect Kerdi board to cost about twice as much as cement board. Your average piece of Kerdi board will run you up to $40 (or more), while an average piece of cement board usually runs $15, maybe $20 tops.
Of course, there is also the fact that the cement board is made of cement with a mesh lining in the middle, while the Kerdi board is mainly made of polystyrene. One is made of cement and the other is a type of durable foam with reinforcement.
Can kerdi board be used instead of cement board?
Yes, you absolutely can use Kerdi board in place of cement board, and in fact, it's becoming a more popular choice over the years. Sure, it may be more expensive, but it's also much lighter, easier to install, and significantly more waterproof.
The one place you might not want to use Kerdi board is if you have a tile floor that gets a lot of foot traffic, since cement board is a bit more durable and impact resistant.
Kerdi board vs. Cement Board: Which Should You Use?
If you are covering a tiled floor or wall in a kitchen or bathroom, especially any area that has high humidity, Kerdi board is the better of the two. However, when it comes to common flooring, such as in a living room, cement board is probably still the best option due to its higher level of durability.
You may also consider othercement board alternativesmiAlternatives to the Kerdi boardbefore settling on either of the two materials discussed here.
As you can see, both of these tile facing materials have their pros and cons. Which one you choose really depends on the exact circumstance in question.
How does cement board compare to other materials?
You may also be interested in seeing how cement board compares to:
- green frame