Selecting a Tile Shower Backer Board

At Alderidge, we take care of many different components of a person’s home, but we have found that we go through stages where we are on a specific task on many different jobs at the same time. Lately we have been performing quite a few bathroom renovations. We have been doing a lot of tile setting, and before tile setting comes the ripping out of old showers. Some old showers have been in ok shape (just outdated and minimal water damage), but with other showers we have found significant signs of water egress behind ceramic tile surfaces. How can you as a home owner ensure that your new shower is going to be waterproof for years to come?

If installed correctly this product is water tight and is a far superior product in comparison to some other water proofing applications (though without taking a specific course with Schluter on the application of the product, install is not recommended).

Many times in a bathroom a specific shower base size cannot be found, and to make the bathroom space the most effective, a customer would prefer not to be limited to the measurements of a specific shower pan size. The Ar shower can be used for those unique shower shapes and sizes.

If you’re repairing or building a new tile shower enclosure you know that pay me later can cost you big time (ripping out a shower from water damage is very expensive)! What you don’t see with a shower stall (the materials behind the finished wall) is every bit as important as what you do see. Follow these 5 tips to choose the right tile backer board:

Tip 1 – Don’t be cheap up front – We all want to save money on materials and in backer boards a traditional cement board is definitely less costly than a waterproof tile wall board. The key is to remember the cost of a failed system – buy the waterproof material up front and you don’t have to worry about the long run costs of failure.

Tip 2 – Know the difference between waterproof and water resistant– Close may work in hand grenades – but “almost waterproof” (i.e. water resistant) will not help you if your tile shower takes on water behind the wall and leaks into the subfloor and rooms below. New extruded polystyrene wall systems are made of Styrofoam insulation and are 100% waterproof – put it up and “fuggitabout it.”

Tip 3 – Consider what’s involved in the installation – Traditional cement board is heavy (about 50 lbs/sheet), hard to cut (you need a carbide jigsaw) messy (cutting kicks up a lot of dust) and can be time consuming to install. On the other hand waterproof wall boards are light (less than 9 lbs/3 foot x 5 foot sheet), easy to cut (use only a carpenter knife), and very quick to install. If you’re doing the project yourself or want to hire a professional bathroom remodeling contractor you’ll save time, effort and hassle choosing waterproof backer board.

Tip 4 – Think about your shower accessories when choosing wall boards – Shampoo and soap niches and corner or bench seats can make a shower safer, more luxurious and easier to use. Shower accessories can either be custom cut and made out of wood framing and cement board (not the easiest process in the world) or you can purchase factory made expanded polystyrene niches that are 100% waterproof without the time, engineering or installation hassle – you make the choice.

Tip 5 – If you’re unsure – call an expert – Let’s face it – most people don’t install a new shower enclosure every day. If you need help – do you Internet research and/or call a qualified bathroom remodeling contractor or wall backer board supplier.


waterproof shower pan

Waterproof cladding panels can be fitted as a AR shower project, but for best results, consider paying extra for a professional installation.

Tiles are not always easy to clean. Grout attracts dirt and grime and the tiles themselves can crack or become chipped over time. Wall cladding panels offer a smooth, sealed surface that is easy to wipe down and disinfect.

Wall cladding is tough, durable and great value for money, plus it comes with a ten-year guarantee.

Decorative moldings and window trim kits add function and style to a solid surface shower.

Corner and bench seats

Adding a solid surface corner seat (or a bench seat) creates the benefit of a spa-like experience by having a place to sit down and relax. The seats come in over 60 different colors in 4 standard sizes (including 14”, 18”, 16” x 26” and 18” x 26”) which can be used in matching (or contrasting) colors to a solid surface base and wall system. Another benefit is seats provide a safe transfer area for a loved one with mobility challenges (for someone who uses a wheelchair or walker).</>

Shower caddies, shelves and recessed niches

Having the right shower storage solutions is critical to the function, safety and neat appearance of an enclosure (nothing detracts from a shower quite like cheap hanging shower trays or a bunch of bottles stacked up along the shower floor). Using the right combination of solid surface corner caddies, shelves or even recessed niches (which are neatly tucked into the wall cavity) is an excellent way to get soap and bottles off the floor and into a safe space. These products come in various sizes and 60 different colors and shapes for the maximum amount of design flexibility.

Decorative moldings and trims

If you have any wood trim in your bathroom which is pealing, chipped, cracked or just deteriorating before your eyes you know wood and a wet environment like a shower just don’t match. Using a decorative solid surface trim or crown molding it is possible to get a classically elegant look without worries about the trim breaking down over time. Some options include inside and outside corners, rope trim and crown molding.

Window trim kits

Usually the wood which is in the worst shape in a bathroom is the area surrounding a window which is close to (or inside) the shower or tub area. No matter how much painting, caulking and maintenance is done the water and condensation win out in the end. Eliminating this problem can be as simple as removing the existing wood trim and replacing it with a solid surface window trim kit.

Today if you need a more universal design that is useable and accessible to everyone you don’t have to choose between safety and stylish design. Here’s 5 tips to help you select safe bathroom accessories which are stylish as well.

Select your features and benefits-The first rule in bathroom remodeling is it’s all about you. You’re spending your hard earned money so make sure the finished product will look and function as you’d like it. When choosing accessories use the following criterion to help evaluate product choices:

An ergonomic design – Rounded, curved or C-shaped grab bars, towel bars, soap dishes are easier for people of all abilities to grab than straight units.

Choose between a smooth or textured grip

Figure out what size works best – handrail and bar lengths can vary from 24” to 54”.

Looks – Which decorative grab bars matches best with your remodeled bathroom and shower space.

Think ahead – A little more money spent during the remodeling process can save you large dollars down the road. If you don’t need these safety accessories at this time – but think you might in the future then have your remodeling contractor add wood backing during the rough framing process. This will help you to add these safety features later without having to open up any finished walls.

grab bars can vary between 250 and 350 lbs. Consider who will be using the bathroom/shower space to make the best selection for your family.

If the accessories’ finish doesn’t fit you must acquit – Don’t put up with an ugly straight white grab bar with a little chrome ring if you’re using beautiful oil rubbed bronze plumbing fixtures. You can choose decorative or “wave style” grab bars in stylish finishes like oil rubbed bronze, polished brass, polished chrome, polished nickel, wrought iron, and satin nickel.

Don’t use rookie contractors and designers who have no idea about universal design concepts– In the old days if you were look for a safe and stylish universal design you were on your own to do the research and attempt to find knowledgeable people to help you find and install decorative bath safety products. Today better resources can be as close as your phone or keypad. A dedicated web site for universal design to check out is the Universal Design Living Laboratory. If you’re looking for a quotation look for a design/build contractor that is has experience, time and training with universal design

The shower pan is the base of the shower that catches the water and funnels it to the drain. A special liner is available to cover the shower pan area in a tiled shower. It is placed beneath the tile and used as a water barrier between the subfloor and drywall to prevent mold and deterioration. The installation of a shower pan liner is a relatively simple process that must be completed prior to shower installation. Different size liners are available, so measure the shower pan area and purchase a line that is appropriate.

1.Position and place the shower pan liner in the desired location for the shower pan. Slide the liner so it is centered over the basin. Cut a hole through liner so it is just large enough for the drain opening.

2.Smooth the liner along the floor to the back wall of the shower. Continue to smooth the liner up the back wall. Nail the top edge of the liner to the wall beginning in the center and working toward both ends. Stop nailing approximately 6 inches from each corner.

3.Smooth the liner to the corner. Smooth the liner from the side wall to the same corner. A section of the liner protrudes outward. Manipulate the liner to make a 45-degree fold on the back to create a sharp corner. Fold the liner to create the corner. Nail along the top edge of the folded corner. Repeat the process with the remaining corner.

4.Smooth the liner along the floor to one side of the shower. Continue to smooth the liner up the side wall. Nail the top edge of the liner to the wall beginning in the center and working toward both ends.

5.Measure and cut a piece of heavy plastic sheeting to cover the entire surface of the shower from the top of the shower stall to approximately 1 inch below the top edge of the shower pan liner.

6.Hang and secure the heavy plastic sheeting to the shower walls. Secure the heavy plastic to the walls by nailing along the top edges and down each stud.