A backer board is one of the most common products used in a construction project. It can be used to support flooring, walls, and tile installations.
Backer boards can be used in kitchens, bathrooms, and ceilings. Backer boards contain various ingredients such as cement and reinforcing fibers.
Most backer boards are strong and are a superior choice to drywall. If you are interested in using a backer board in your construction project, you will come across different options.
Our focus today will be on two popular backer boards; Fiberock and HardieBacker. This review will explore the difference/similarities between these two and help you make an informed choice.
What is Fiberock?
Fiberock is a product of USG, a leading manufacturer in the American construction industry. It is a fiber-reinforced gypsum board that boasts superior durability and excellent water-resistant capabilities.
Fiberock can be used in both dry and wet areas. This is one of the features that makes it a popular backer board.
Besides being strong, Fiberock is extremely flexible, and with it, you are assured of great performance, even in showers and bathtubs.
Using Fiberock is pretty straightforward since it’s easy to cut. After installation, Fiberock can be painted or tiled. Since it creates a uniform surface, the latter projects should be easy to carry out on Fiberock.
Fiberock isn’t your typical water-resistant gypsum board. USG utilizes a set of unique ingredients that guarantee unrivaled water resistance.
This is the type of backer board that will withstand exposure to water without deteriorating. Also, it doesn’t have a paper face that can scratch or tear.
For those keen on sustainable living, you will be glad to know this backer board is made from 95% recycled material. Some of its key highlights are how it bonds extremely well to tiles. It’s a popular choice amongst both professional and DIY contractors.
And finally, it can be used on a wide range of properties, from homes to commercial buildings such as restaurants and hospitals.
Before we look at HardieBacker, it’s important to know that the Fiberock tile backer board also comes with an underlayment.
You can use the underlayment as a protective layer between the top covering and the unfinished subfloor. USG’s 20-year warranty backs both the Fiberock backer board and underlayment.
What is HardieBacker?
Even if your line of work doesn’t fall under the construction industry, you must have heard of HardieBacker. This product made by James Hardie is the most preferred backer board all over the US.
It has been recognized by construction magazines and associations in the past. A clear indication that it’s a great product. But what’s so special about HardieBacker?
This is a waterproof cement backer board that is infused HydroDefense tech. According to the manufacturer of this backer board, they are certain it will hold its shape even when regularly exposed to a lot of water.
This can be quite beneficial for contractors and property owners when building showers, tubs, and kitchen countertops.
HardieBacker comprises 90% Portland cement combined with sand. It’s free of fillers and is pretty strong. The installation of HardieBacker is also quite straightforward since it’s easy to cut.
One feature that makes HardieBacker stand out is the unique formula that makes it resistant to moisture damage. Besides the above, HardieBacker boasts excellent adhesion to tiles.
You can buy HardieBacker from Home Depot and Lowes. It’s also available in any specialty tile shop near your home. With a HardieBacker board on your walls, you are assured of zero mold infestation.
The other thing is that HardieBacker is pretty heavy. That’s mostly attributed to the fact that it’s made of cement. If you doubt your ability to hold the board during installation, never be afraid to ask for assistance.
There are two ways to install HardieBacker. You can use nails or screws. We prefer the latter since it’s much easier. For added security, don’t hesitate to use some thinset.
Similar to Fiberock, HardieBacker can be tiled or painted. You can even install wallpaper over it.
How Are They Different?
• HardieBacker is Made Using Cement, and Fiberock Comprises Mainly Gypsum
The main difference between Fiberock and HardieBacker is that the latter is made using cement, and the other comprises gypsum.
Most of the other differences, such as weight and durability, stem from this difference in the main ingredients used.
• Fiberock is Lighter than HardieBacker
When you lift a HardieBacker and Fiberock boards of the same size, you will notice that Fiberock is lighter. This lightweight aspect of Fiberock can be advantageous during installation since you won’t need any help.
HardieBacker, on the other hand, can be heavy for the average person. And it may be challenging to install HardieBacker by yourself.
• It’s Easier to Cut Fiberock than HardieBacker
Because of its composition, the Gypsum board is much easier to cut through than HardieBacker. Many installers who have interacted with both have admitted that HardieBacker is more difficult to cut through.
When you consider these two differences, it’s clear that Fiberock is easier to install than HardieBacker.
• HardieBacker is More Durable than Fiberock
Fiberock may be lighter and easier to cut through, but it’s not as durable as HardieBacker. The presence of cement in HardieBacker contributes to its superior strength.
If you are interested in a backer board that will withstand the test of time, you should consider HardieBacker.
• Most People Prefer HardieBacker to Fiberock
If you go through various online forums or inquire from professional constructors, most people prefer HardieBacker to Fiberock.
The main reason behind this is that HardieBacker is stronger; therefore, it’s a lasting solution to your tiling or flooring needs. HardieBacker has been recognized as the best cement board by tile magazines and associations.
How Are They Similar?
• Both Support Tile Installation
Fiberock and HardieBacker may have some notable differences, but they are both used for the same job, which is to support tile installation. Both brands are known to adhere to tiles well.
If the tile installation job is done correctly, the HardieBacker or Fiberock should serve you for years. Besides tiles, HardieBacker and Fiberock can be painted and wallpapered.
• Both Boards are Water and Mold Resistant
Another feature that these two boards share is resistance to moisture and mold. Even when used in tabs, showers, or the kitchen, HardieBacker and Fiberock won’t be damaged by continuous exposure to moisture.
These boards will not swell, and neither will they deteriorate. Moisture is often a threat to most walls. But that doesn’t have to be the case when you use either of these options.
A pro tip you need to keep in mind is that even though these boards are waterproof, the materials behind them aren’t.
For instance, if there is wood behind the boards, water can seep through and damage them. Therefore, don’t forget to waterproof the walls with Kerdi or RedGard.
What’s Better about Fiberock?
There are certain elements of Fiberock that make it a better choice. For instance, it’s pretty lightweight and easy to cut. These two benefits make it easier for you to install Fiberock on your walls.
One person can install this gypsum backer board without them requiring additional assistance. This advantage comes in handy amongst DIY installers who often work alone.
There are more perks to using Fiberock. It can be used in wet and dry areas. That makes it a versatile backer board. It also has a strong adherence to tiles.
However, Fiberock isn’t durable. Many people have complained that it’s too fragile for a backer board. You should be careful about how you handle it.
What’s Better about HardieBacker?
HardieBacker wouldn’t be the preferred backer board for construction experts if it didn’t have several benefits. One of the features that make HardieBacker the best choice is its durability.
With HardieBacker on your walls, you will never have to worry about deterioration or damage. The formula used to make HardieBacker allows it to withstand all sorts of pressure.
It may be heavier than Fiberock and can make installation more tiresome. But once fitted o your walls, it does a marvelous job of holding tiles, wallpaper, or bonding to paint.
Who Should Get Fiberock and Why?
Even though these two backer boards perform the same role to support tiles, paint, and vinyl, each has certain attributes that make it ideal for various applications.
Fiberock is ideal for DIY property owners interested in a versatile backer board. Fiberock is easy to use, and that makes installation a breeze.
Many DIYourselfers lack the skill or manpower to install a heavy cement board that won’t cut easily. If you have not contracted anyone and are handling everything yourself, you should opt for Fiberock.
It boasts excellent water and mold-resistant properties. That will go a long way in ensuring your project lasts long.
Who Should Get HardieBacker and Why?
HardieBacker was built for professionals and anyone who would like a long-lasting cement board. Working with HardieBacker may be challenging, but it’s worth all the effort and time. This cement board is much stronger and will hold up for years if installed correctly.