Hardie backer board is used instead of drywall in showers and tub enclosures to prevent water damage, rot, and mold growth. It is a highly durable, water resistant material made of a mixture of cement-like material and silica. If you plan on installing HardiBacker Board, there’s a few things to know, because it is not the same as installing drywall.
First of all, Hardie Backer Board is very hard which makes it suitable for showering areas. This also means you need special tools to cut and install the material, as regular drywall screws and a razor will not do the job. If someone tells you differently, don’t listen it’s just not true.
Unless you have the grip of a world-class arm wrestling champion, you will find it extremely hard to cut HardieBacker Board with a razor, if not impossible. Use nothing less than a power saw for a faster, cleaner and less painful installation.
Cut Hardie Backer Board with a reciprocal saw or circular saw with a masonry blade. A reciprocal or reciprocating saw is by far the best tool to cut Hardi Backer Board bar none. It’s fast, accurate and you can cut the material from any angle, instead of having to set the awkward board on sawhorses, and finagle it through hallways, etc. If you use a circular saw, plan on spending lots of time going from your installation point taking measurements to the saw table.
Secondly, always use cement screws or cement board screws, available in the hardware section of any home improvement store. You will find these screws have a square head (not a Phillips head). This is because a regular Phillips head will strip and round out very easily. Spend the extra money to buy a matching square head bit, you’ll eventually want to buy one anyway, and getting it right up front will save you time–enough to make up the cost difference.
Charge up two or three batteries prior to the installation so you have them on hand. Your battery will wear down fast screwing in the Hardie Backer Board screws because it takes more energy to drive them through the board. Which leads me to the next point: drill pilot holes.
Drill pilot holes in the Hardie board and then hand screw a few screws into them. Then place the board on the wall and screw them in. It’s just much easier this way.