The Importance Of Shower Backer Boards

By their very nature, bathrooms are places prone to high moisture levels. Even with good ventilation, a shower creates a humid environment that can wreak havoc over time if the right materials aren't used. 

Shower backer boards, a specialised type of tile backer board, are your bathroom's hidden heroes, protecting against the unseen threat of moisture damage. 

What Are Shower Backer Boards?

Shower backer boards are specially designed panels installed behind tiles in shower and bathroom areas. Made from materials like cement, fibre cement, or foam, they provide a stable, waterproof surface, preventing moisture from seeping into walls. 

Backer boards replace traditional drywall or plywood, which can deteriorate when exposed to water.

Why Shower Backer Boards Are Essential in Bathrooms

Shower backer boards prevent the expensive and sometimes hazardous consequences of water damage. Here's why they are so vital:

1. Maintaining Structural Integrity

Shower backer boards are an essential defence for your bathroom's structural integrity. They provide a water-resistant shield, preventing moisture from reaching the building's framework.  Moisture can:

  • Compromise materials like wood, metal, and even concrete

  • Weaken structures

  • Lead to rot

  • Cause hardware and other metals to rust

This hidden damage can become expensive and pose severe safety risks to your home. Investing in backer boards now is a cost-effective way to prevent major problems later.

2. Preventing Health Risks

Moist environments are breeding grounds for mould and mildew, which thrive in the spaces behind tiles and panels that lack adequate protection. This poses serious health risks, including:

  • Respiratory problems, like breathing difficulties, coughing, and wheezing

  • Triggering allergies

  • Complications for those with pre-existing conditions

Worse still, removing mould and remediating its effects is costly, disruptive, and may even require temporary relocation. 

3. Preserving Aesthetics and Functionality

Shower backer boards ensure a beautifully finished bathroom that lasts. Tiles and other finishes rely on the stability and support that backer boards provide. Without this, tiles may detach, crack, or leak, failing the waterproofing barrier. 

This not only affects the bathroom's visual appeal but also its functionality, as water leakage can damage adjacent areas and fixtures. Therefore, backer boards work to protect your bathroom's appearance, your home's assets, and your wallet.

How Shower Backer Boards Prevent Moisture Damage

Shower backer boards create a multi-layered moisture defence system. This is how they work:

1. Material Composition

Shower backer boards are constructed from materials like cement, foam, or fibreglass. These materials have an inherently low moisture absorption rate, preventing the deterioration that would occur with traditional drywall or plywood.

2. Surface Treatment

Manufacturers further enhance water resistance by applying special surface coatings to shower backer boards. These can include waterproof coatings that seal the board's surface or embedding fibreglass mesh into the surface for strength and stability while inhibiting moisture absorption.

3. Physical Barrier

The boards act as a physical barrier between the wall's structural components (studs and insulation) and the moisture in bathrooms. When installed correctly, they cover the entire surface area that will be exposed to water, preventing water from causing rot or mould growth within the wall.

4. Seam Sealing

During installation, all seams and gaps between the shower backer boards are meticulously sealed with waterproof tape, membranes, or sealant. Even if water manages to get past the tile and grout, it will encounter this waterproof layer, preventing it from reaching the structure of the wall.

5. Compatibility with Waterproofing Systems

Shower backer boards are designed for seamless integration with additional waterproofing systems. Liquid or sheet membranes can be applied directly over the backer boards, providing a redundant layer of protection should any moisture pass through the tile or grout.

The Importance of Correct Backer Board Installation

Even the most robust shower backer board won't protect your bathroom if installed incorrectly. Proper installation is crucial to ensure a completely waterproof system. Key points include leaving small gaps between boards and the shower base to allow for expansion, staggering the joints to prevent continuous weak spots, and using the correct screws and fasteners specifically designed for the backer board material. 

Most importantly, all seams and joints must be sealed with waterproof tape and thin-set mortar. Overlapping the tape and creating a smooth mortar application prevents any chance of water from finding its way through.

Beyond Moisture Protection: Additional Benefits of Backer Boards

Beyond their crucial role in safeguarding your bathroom against moisture damage, shower backer boards offer a host of valuable advantages:

  • Tile choice freedom: Backer boards accommodate most tile types, including ceramic, porcelain, stone, and glass, allowing for design flexibility.

  • Ease of installation: Lightweight and simple to cut, backer boards offer faster, more convenient installation than traditional methods.

  • Insulation properties:  Foam-based backer boards boast excellent thermal insulation, improving bathroom comfort and potentially reducing energy costs.

  • Multiple applications: Backer boards aren’t just limited to showers. They are also beneficial for tub surrounds, kitchen backsplashes, and countertops.

  • Sound dampening: While not a primary function, thicker backer boards can modestly contribute to soundproofing your bathroom.

  • Fire resistance: Many backer boards offer fire resistance or are non-combustible, enhancing bathroom safety.

Seal the Deal with Shower Backer Boards from Wetroomstop

Choosing and installing the right shower backer boards is a vital step in safeguarding your bathroom. Although unseen, backer boards offer a long-term return on your investment by preventing costly moisture damage.

For specialty wet area construction products, Wetroomstop offers XPS foam boards with high-performance cement coating to waterproof shower walls and floors. Paired with our full line of compatible waterproofing kits and drainage products, our tile backer boards reliably protect new and ageing structures from leaks and flooding.

If you’re looking to install backer boards, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced team today for more product information or installation recommendations.

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