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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prepping for Tile Surround

My bathroom project is taking shape. I got the drywall sanded and even did some painting today. Tomorrow I'm planning to tile, so I also did some prepwork for that.

Tile needs a very solid surface to support it to keep it from moving and forming cracks in the grout. For a bath surround, some type of cement board is recommended because it's much more resistant to water and mold. For this surround I used 1/2" Hardipanel from James Hardie.

Before installing the cement board, make sure your framing is as level and straight as possible. Then, install a moisture barrier of 4 mil plastic. I just stapled it to the studs, making sure that it went over the lip of the tub and that the corners were not bunched up.

Now, time for the Hardipanels. These commonly come in 3' x 5' sheets. I planned my tile surround to extend 5' high so I used the sheets vertically. This worked well because the ceiling in this bath is lower. You can use two sheets horizontally if you do a 6' high surround.

I cut the sheets by scoring and snapping them. They are much more difficult to score than drywall, so pick up a carbide-tipped scoring knife made especially for cement board. Don't use power tools on it if possible because you'll soon have a dust cloud of harmful silica.

Of course, wear your respirator for this. (Not your flimsy dust mask. Get the good one for this project!)

The cement board was attached with special 1 1/4" corrosion-resistant screws designed (or at least marketed) for this purpose. I covered the joints with 2" mesh tape that will get sealed with thin-set tomorrow.

Those are the basics. Soon we'll be tiling!


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