Tile over plywood can be an excellent solution for many projects. For one, it’s cheaper than installing tile directly on concrete or mortar. This type of project may be preferable because there are fewer restrictions on what material you can use to create the flooring surface, anything from wood to vinyl and even carpet.
However, one downside to using this method is that if your floor needs any repairs down the road (and the chances are good that it will), you’ll need to remove all the layers before making any changes. It also means more work when cleaning up spills because you have so many layers to deal with at once.
On the other hand, a Cement board is a better choice if you’re looking for a long-term solution that is less likely to need repairs down the line. It’s also more resistant to water and moisture, making it a better option in areas where these things are happening.
The one downside to installing cement boards is that it can be more complex and time-consuming than using plywood as your base layer. It’s also a bit more expensive. So, which is the best option for you tile over plywood or cement board?
You will learn the differences between tile over plywood vs. cement board in this article, so you can decide which one is best for you.
What are The Differences Between Tile Over Plywood Vs Cement Board?
There are some differences between tile over plywood and cement board. Plywood is cheaper and easier to work with, while cement board is more durable and moisture-resistant. Cement board can also be more difficult to install than plywood. There are some differences between installing tile over plywood and installing tile over cement board, and you will learn about them in this following section.
What is Tile Over Plywood?
Tile over plywood is a type of flooring installation in which you install tile directly on top of a layer of plywood. The plywood serves as a base layer for the tile, and it can be installed over any type of surface, including concrete or mortar.
This is a cheaper and easier alternative to installing tile directly on concrete or mortar, and it’s a good option for homeowners looking to save money on their projects.
Types of Tiles That can be Used with Tile Over Plywood
Tile over plywood is a sound installation method for just about any type of tile, but you need to make sure that the type you use can handle direct exposure to moisture. You can’t use vinyl or other types of title that aren’t meant to be installed directly on top of a water-resistant surface.
If you’re not sure whether the type of tile you want to use is moisture-resistant, then consult with a professional before making your final decision.
What is Cement Board?
Cement board is a durable and moisture-resistant material that can be installed similarly to plywood. You can use it as a base layer for flooring, countertops, or even walls sometimes.
It comes in multiple forms of cement board; you have to screw sheets together to create the base layer, self-adhesive sheets that are easy to cut or shape until you have the right size, and even pre-made corners so you don’t have to stress about making a perfect 90-degree angle.
Types of Tiles That can be Used with Cement Board
Just like with tile over plywood, you need to use moisture-resistant tiles if you’re going to install them over a cement board surface. Consult with a professional if you’re unsure whether the type of tile you want to use is appropriate for a cement board installation.
Installing tile over plywood is a relatively simple process that most homeowners can do with a few essential tools. All you need is a level, a straight edge, and a saw to cut the plywood to size. You can use just about any type of tile with this installation method, as long as it’s moisture-resistant.
Installing tile directly on mortar or concrete is more time-consuming than installing tile over plywood. You will need to use mortar or concrete adhesive to lay the tiles, and it takes longer for the material to dry and set.
Installing cement board is a bit more difficult than installing plywood. It requires some special tools, like a belt sander and a miter saw, and it’s a bit more challenging to get the boards to line up perfectly, so there are no gaps. Some types of cement boards also have to be taped and muddled, which adds a bit more time to the installation process.
Cement board is a better option for more humid climates because it can handle exposure to water and moisture much better than plywood can. If you install the correct type of tile over cement board, then you can use the installation method to create a completely waterproof flooring surface.
Cement board is also more durable than plywood, which will last longer in high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms. However, this increased durability comes at a higher cost because the material is more expensive than plywood.
The installation process for tile over plywood is pretty straightforward, and it doesn’t require an enormous time commitment. If you follow the correct procedure outlined by a professional, then you can expect to spend about eight hours completing your project from start to finish.
It may not suit tile over plywood for everyone’s DIY skill level if they don’t have the right tools or aren’t comfortable using them. Tile saws need to be used for this installation method, and most people don’t have one of their own, so you may need to rent one from a local tool rental store if you plan ongoing this route.
What are The Benefits of Each?
Tile over plywood offers some distinct advantages over cement board. The installation process is easier and requires less special equipment, it can be installed on top of nearly any surface, and it’s more economical for the homeowner.
Plywood is a much more cost-effective option when you’re looking for just a basic underlayment for tiling. It’s also easier to work with since you don’t need any special tools or skills to install tile over plywood. Homeowners may decide to use this installation method if they want a basic surface that can stand up well to daily use and weather changes.
Cement board is a better option for homeowners who want to install their tile flooring in a very humid area like a bathroom or kitchen. It’s more durable than plywood, which means it can take more abuse from daily foot traffic or spills that occur in high-moisture areas.
Cement board is a more durable and moisture-resistant material than plywood, making it a better choice for areas that are exposed to water or high levels of humidity. It’s also more expensive than plywood, but it will last longer in high-traffic areas. Installation is a bit more complex than plywood, but it can still be done without special equipment.
How Much Does Each of These Installations Cost?
Installation costs depend on the number of materials you need to purchase and your contractor’s rates for labor. You should be able to find the average prices for both installation methods below:
- Tile over plywood = $4-$6 per square foot, approximately depending on the type of tile and labor rates.
- Cement board = $5-$8 per square foot depending on labor rates and contractor preference.
Plywood is a much more affordable installation method if you’re just looking for a basic surface to tile. Cement board will cost a lot more, but it will also provide a more durable and moisture-resistant installation. Homeowners should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each installation method before making a final decision.
Which is Better for Your Project?
That depends on your climate and how humid the room you want to install tile is. Both tiles over plywood and cement board have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to weigh these factors before deciding which the best option for your installation is.
If you’re looking for an easy installation process with a basic surface that will last, then tile over plywood is a good choice. If you need a more durable and moisture-resistant product, then cement board is the better option. Talk to a professional contractor to see which installation would best suit your specific needs.
Is It Worth It to Pay a Professional?
Tile over plywood can be a DIY installation project for homeowners with no prior experience and only basic tools. Cement board requires more accuracy and skill, so hire a professional if the job seems too complicated.
The average costs for both installations are about the same, but homeowners should factor in their particular circumstances to determine which options are more affordable.
If you need a durable surface that will stand up well to daily use and high-moisture areas, a cement board may be worth the extra money. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a basic installation that will last for a few years, tile over plywood is the better option.
Which Materials are Used for Each Type of Installation?
Tile over plywood uses regular tiles and adhesive to adhere to the surface. Cement board requires setting materials like cement backer board, screws, thinnest mortar, and caulking.
Which Type of Surface Do Professionals Prefer?
Cement board is considered a professional’s preferred installation method because it offers sturdier support that can stand up to daily use and weather changes. Tile over plywood is a more straightforward DIY installation method for homeowners who avoid paying expensive labor costs.
Is It Easier to Install Tile Over Plywood or on Cement Board?
Tile over plywood is a straightforward installation process that anyone with basic DIY skills can complete. Cement board is more difficult to install and may require the help of a professional contractor.
How Long Does The Installation of Each Surface Last?
Both tiles over plywood and cement board are durable surfaces that can withstand high-traffic areas. If installed correctly, both surfaces will last for several years. However, cement board is more durable than plywood so that it will last longer in high-moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens.
Do I Need a Professional to Install Tile Over Plywood or Cement Board?
It’s up to you. If you’re a DIY homeowner with no prior experience, tile over plywood may be a good option. Homeowners can also install cement boards, but it requires more accuracy and skill, so hire a professional if the job seems too complicated.
In the end, the choice between tile over plywood and cement board comes down to preference and budget. If you’re looking for a simple installation that can be done with just about any type of tile, then tile over plywood is the way to go. If you’re looking for a more durable and moisture-resistant installation that can handle heavy traffic, then a cement board is the way to go.