Hardiebacker VS WonderBoard: 4 Differences You Should Know

When choosing a cement board for your construction project, there are numerous factors that you need to take into consideration.

In addition to quality and durability, there’s also maintenance, ease of installation, suitability for a specific task, and the inevitable factor – cost.

Choosing between Hardiebacker and WonderBoard can be challenging since we’re talking about two reliable, durable options. However, we’d like to discuss some mention-worthy differences between the two.

The main differences between Hardiebacker and WonderBoard are overall versatility, use, structure, and price.

What is Hardiebacker?

If you’re not familiar with cement boards, they are a popular type of material used in construction that is made out of Portland cement, water, and either wood fibers or paper, depending on the brand. 

Cement boards are often used as a base for tile floors and other tile projects because they provide a stable surface that won’t expand or contract with changes in temperature or humidity. They’re also impervious to water, so they won’t rot or mildew like drywall.

Hardiebacker is one of the most popular types of cement board, and it’s a good choice for projects where tile or any other surface will be exposed to a lot of moisture, such as in a bathroom or a kitchen.

This cement backer board comprises Portland cement, silica sand, and fiberglass mesh. It is denser and heavier than other cement board types, making it more resistant to impact damage. 

Hardiebacker board is generally used for two primary purposes: as a substrate for tile and protection against water damage. Hardiebacker provides a stable, level surface that is resistant to moisture when used as a substrate. 

This makes it ideal for use in areas where tiles are susceptible to cracking or chipping, such as bathrooms and kitchens. 

When used as protection against water damage, Hardiebacker helps to prevent moisture from seeping through walls and causing mold or mildew growth. It is often used in basements and other areas where flooding is a concern.

Hardiebacker boards are available in many different sizes and thicknesses, making them suitable for various applications. 

When it comes to Hardiebacker installation, it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle, even for beginners. If you’re installing it as a substrate, you’ll first need to ensure that the area is clean and free of debris. 

Once the area is ready, you can begin installing the boards. It’s essential to start at one end and work your way down so that the boards are evenly spaced. You may also want to use screws or nails to secure the boards.

When it comes to protection against water damage, Hardiebacker is an excellent choice. It’s important to remember that it’s not 100% waterproof. 

That means you’ll still need to take steps to protect your home from flooding, such as using a sump pump or waterproofing paint, depending on the area.

They are also easy to cut and install, making them a good choice for do-it-yourselfers. While Hardiebacker is more expensive than some other types of cement board, its durability and moisture resistance make it worth the investment.

What is WonderBoard?

WonderBoard cement board is an excellent alternative to traditional plywood or drywall for bathroom and kitchen backsplashes. 

It’s waterproof, fireproof, and relatively easy to install, even if you’ve never installed cement boards. Plus, it’s an inexpensive way to add style and personality to your space.

Wonderboard has multiple applications in the construction field and is used as an underlayment for different types of flooring. 

It can also create a level surface for installing tiles on walls. Additionally, WonderBoard can be used as a backer board around bathtubs and showers

Some of the critical benefits of WonderBoard include its fire resistance, waterproofing properties, and mold and mildew resistance. It is also easy to cut and install, making it a popular choice for do-it-yourself projects. 

If you are considering using WonderBoard for a construction project, it is essential to understand the available types and how they can be used. Wonderboard comes in two main types: 

Type X: This type of WonderBoard is made with a layer of gypsum core surrounded by fiberglass mats. It is typically used in applications where fire resistance is essential, such as commercial construction. 

Type C: This type of WonderBoard has a cementitious core surrounded by fiberglass mats. It is typically used in wet areas, such as bathtubs and showers, because of its waterproofing properties. 

When choosing WonderBoard, selecting the type best suited for the intended application is essential.

Keep in mind that, as opposed to Hardiebacker, WonderBoard is entirely water resistant, which means that you will not have to use any waterproof sealants to ensure that there won’t be any water damage.  

When it comes to the potential disadvantages of WonderBoard cement boards, you need to be aware that they’re not as fire-resistant as some other types of cement boards. 

While they offer some level of fire protection, they’re not going to be as effective as other options.

Another potential downside of WonderBoard is that it can be a bit more expensive than some of the other options on the market. While it’s not necessarily the most expensive option, it can still be more costly than others.

Finally, WonderBoard cement boards are not as widely available as some of the other options out there. 

What are the differences between Hardiebacker and WonderBoard?

When discussing the two options separately, you may feel we’re talking about two identical materials.

However, you should consider some critical differences between these two types of backer boards before deciding to install either. 

Let’s compare Hardiebacker and WonderBoard in the most critical aspects, considering all their main characteristics (both pros and cons). 

1. Price

Price can be a rather tricky subject to discuss, as it will vary depending on the brand, manufacturer, design, and thickness of the boards you choose.

Generally speaking, Hardiebacker is usually a more expensive option. However, the difference in cost may not be a deciding factor, especially if you find that Hardiebacker is more suitable for your intended application.

Furthermore, both Hardiebacker and WonderBoard are rather pricey options, but their cost is more than justified, considering their quality, resilience, and durability.

2. Composition

Both Hardiebacker and WonderBoard are popular types of fiber-cement boards used for construction. 

While they may look similar, some critical differences in their composition make them suited for different applications. 

Hardiebacker is made from a mix of Portland cement and cellulose fibers, while Wonderboard is made from Portland cement and silica.

3. Water resistance

WonderBoard is fully waterproof as opposed to Hardiebacker, which is only water resistant. When installing Hardiebacker boards in areas with high humidity and moisture, it is necessary to use waterproof sealants to ensure that the water won’t damage the surface. 

WonderBoard is ideal for bathrooms, pool surrounding areas, and other wet areas. It is also mold and mildew-resistant, making it a good option for areas susceptible to these problems. 

Since WonderBoard requires no waterproof sealants, it could be considered more cost-efficient, as you don’t have to purchase these additional materials to enhance its water resistance.

Since Hardiebacker tends to be a more expensive option, additional expenses such as waterproof sealants may be a dealbreaker if you’re trying to save money and time.

4. Installation

If you’re wondering which is easier to install, the answer would have to be Hardiebacker. This is because Hardiebacker is made of a material that is much lighter and thinner than WonderBoard.

 In addition, Hardiebacker can be cut with a utility knife, making it much easier to work with. On the other hand, WonderBoard can be a bit more challenging to install because it requires special hardware.

You may find it more challenging to get the desired shape of the WonderBoard due to its dense composition, unlike Hardiebacker, which is easily cut into any shape you need for your project.

Overall, it is safe to conclude that Hardiebacker offers more flexibility in installation, making it more suitable for your DIY projects – especially if you wouldn’t want to have a professional involved. 

Hardiebacker vs WonderBoard: Are they the same?

The final verdict would be that these cement backer boards cannot be described as identical, even though they have many similarities.

You will notice that these two options often look the same and have similar applications. They’re suitable for tile installation, walls, floors, exterior, interior, pool surrounding areas, and many other projects.

However, there are also key differences that you, as a potential buyer, will have to consider before making your purchase.

While both options belong to the more expensive category, Hardiebacker is often more costly than the WonderBoard.

Remember that, to enhance its water resistance in a wet area, you will have to use waterproof sealants when installing Hardiebacker, which adds to the overall cost.

Then again, the installation (including the cutting and shaping) of the Hardiebacker is something you can do yourself without too many professional tools.

WonderBoard is a waterproof material, but its installation can often be challenging, so you may have to hire a professional to help you with your project – or take over.

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