Many KERDI board alternatives are available if the KERDI board is out of your home project budget. However, while KERDI boards might be the best solution in a perfect world, they don’t appeal to everyone.
Using KERDI Alternatives
Using a KERDI prevents water from penetrating the mortar bed and forming mold. It’s also forgiving and easier on the hard-working body. However, they are cost-prohibitive for some professionals and DIYers.
You have options if the KERDI boards are too expensive for your project. There are many Schluter® KERDI board alternatives that will also get the job done just as effectively. Here is our list of the best alternatives to the KERDI board.
Cement boards are one of the most traditional building materials used for the same application as a KERDI. A cement board is preferential over paper gypsum or drywall. Showers and bathrooms need a water-repellent action for tiling jobs.
A cement board or CBU (cementitious backer unit) is porous. This feature makes thinset, mortar, and grout stick to its surface. CBU boards nail or screw to the cinder blocks, brick, or concrete.
- Available at building supply stores
- Cuttable with common saws
- Used with an extra waterproofing membrane for extra assurance
- Heavy (45lbs)
- Will crack when dropped
- Abrasive debris from boards can scratch delicate tubs and tile
- Not waterproof (suitable for tiling walls and floors)
Cement boards come in a few standard sizes like 3′ X 5′ in ¼” or ½” thickness. Boards are pre-fabricated. They contain cement, water, silica, limestone powder, and Kevlar or fiberglass for durability.
The dry-pack mortar method is the original tile backboard. Workers first staple a felt liner paper to the floor and add a metal lath. Next, a coarse mixture of cement, sand, and water forms the second layer. This method is very time-consuming and takes considerable energy to perfect.
- No cumbersome and heavy boards
- Ideal for uneven surfaces in older homes
- Great for sloping floors
- Time-consuming and skill set required
- Uses metal lath and screed, an antiquated method
- Labor intensive
SLU, or self-leveling underlayment, is another industry standard for uneven floor surfaces. Using an SLU takes a bit of planning, and you’ll still be using a metal lath. Once you mix the powder into a semi-fluid compound, you pour the mixture directly onto the floor.
The liquid levels out and fills any divots or uneven spaces. However, there is some prep work you will have to do first.
- Inexpensive (as opposed to solving the uneven floor)
- Requires less effort and skill than dry-pack mortar
- Covers a large surface in a short time
- Evens sloped and wavy ground
- Hardens fast
- Must prepare the surface and fill and seal any holes to prevent leaking
- Hardens fast (Yes, it’s a pro and con)
Fiber Cement Board
Fiberboard is a cousin to cement boards (find everything that you need to know about using fiberboard in your bathroom here). They come with the added benefit of wood fiber to build stability and strength.
Fiberboards, like cement boards, cover a larger surface quickly. They’re heavy to maneuver. They come in standard sizes and are cuttable in ½” and ¼” thicknesses.
- Readily available
- Efficient to install
- Fairly durable
- Ideal for floors and kitchen counters
- Must insert screws at least 1″ from the edge
- Not as versatile as a KERDI-type material
Foam boards are a great alternative to KERDI boards in suitable building projects. Foam boards are super lightweight and cut to fit with a blade.
Foam boards use polyisocyanurate, which is a waterproof material. However, some cautions apply because they are flammable, so check your local building codes before using them.
- Insulating factor
- Environmentally friendly
- Must waterproof and seal joints
Glass Mat Gypsum
Glass mat boards are non-combustible panels made of moisture-resistant fiberglass. The mats are treated with a coated fiberglass mat that reinforces their strength.
The silicone-treated gypsum sheets are mold resistant. They’re easier to cut and handle than cement boards. Always consult building codes regardless of personal or professional applications.
- Readily available
- Moisture barrier
- Easy to use
Brand Name Alternatives to KERDI
Several brands on the building material market mimic KERDI boards that tradesmen and DIYers both recommended.
WEDI is a foam board product coated with cement resin and fiberglass mesh. WEDI boards are waterproof boards ideal as a base layer for tiling projects in bathrooms, showers, and flooring.
GoBoard® is another waterproof tile backer board that is an excellent alternative to KERDI. These lightweight boards of Polyiso foam are 80% lighter than their cement counterparts. They’re perfect for professionals and DIY projects and easy to cut, handle and install.
Durock® is an American-made cement backer board. It’s used for subflooring and wall foundations for ceramic, porcelain, and stone tiles. Gypsum Company, whose parent company is USG Corporation, dates back to 1901.
DensShield® is another brand name tile backer with a proven moisture barrier made from a specialized acrylic coating. DensShield Tile Backer boards prevent moisture from penetrating through the coating.
A LATICRETE® is a waterproofing membrane. It is ideal for floors and walls in showers, bathtubs, or pools. They’re used for occasional or continual water submersion. It’s also the first to receive the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute certification.
KERDI has an industry reputation for being a quality product. As a multifunctional building substrate and panel, it is an ideal partner for tiling projects. Yet, it’s not for some building projects. The cost is high and inexperienced installers may hesitate to use KERDI.
As you can see from our list, many KERDI board alternatives exist. Just as you would use KERDI, you can use these alternatives in bathrooms, tub surrounds, platforms, vanities, commercial kitchens, and wash stations.
Always consult building codes before tackling any project. Preparation and planning are two of the best and least expensive tools–use them.