How to Do Cement Board Skirting

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Cement board, also known as backer board, is an integral part of any ceramic tile or natural stone installation. Skirts are vertical sections of cement board used to create a cement-based substrate for the thinset mortar to adhere to when installing your tile or stone. While the type of cement board you use varies by manufacturer, the installation methods for all cement and fiber boards remains the same, regardless if it is mold-resistant or regular cement board.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Hand-held hole saw
  • Straight edge
  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses
  • Drill
  • 1 1/2 inch screws
  • Measure your skirt area to determine how much cement board you need to purchase. Calculate the square footage and add 15 percent extra to ensure you have enough for waste, just in case. Purchase screws depending on the type of material you are attaching the cement board to (wood screws or metal screws, for example).

  • Measure a piece of cement board to cut it to fit. Start at the bottom of your installation area and work your way up. Mark your pieces of cement board with a pencil and tape measure, then hold the straight edge against the board and run the utility knife down the length of the board for vertical or horizontal cuts.

  • Snap the board along the cut (bend it away from the cut with a sharp, snapping motion), then cut the back side of the board with the utility knife. Make any cuts around fixtures or receptacles with the hole saw.

  • Slide the board into place. Screw it onto the studs (metal or wood) on the outside corners of the piece to hold it in place. Use the level and pencil to mark the location of the vertical studs and then attach a screw every 4 to 6 inches up the vertical mark to mount the piece firmly onto the wall. Repeat the process for each individual piece of cement board you install.

Tips & Warnings

  • For additional strength you can install each additional piece of cement board slightly off-center in comparison to the piece below it, so that you have a jigsaw type pattern as you work your way up the wall. Avoid installing sliver pieces of board (less than three inches in width).
  • Wear protective gear when cutting and working with cement board to avoid injury.

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