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How to Install WonderBoard Lite Backerboard for Tile

Video Transcript

Proper surface preparation is the first step to a successful tile installation. WonderBoard Lite provides a stable, flat and level underlayment that protects your investment in tile or stone. It’s moisture-resistant for use in wet areas, and can be installed both indoors or out. Use ¼-inch thick WonderBoard Lite for crack isolation on top of wood subfloors or countertops. 7/16-inch thick WonderBoard Lite is designed for use on walls, including shower walls.

Review the Installation Guide or the Technical Data Sheet before getting started. You’ll find easy-to-follow, step by step instructions along with important information about subfloor preparation. You may need the following materials, depending on the needs of your project.
• A scoring tool or utility knife
• Straight edge
• A circular saw with a carbide tip blade
• An electric drill with box-beater and masonry bit
• 1-1/4-inch cement backboard screws or 1-1/2-inch galvanized roofing nails
• 2-inch wide fiberglass mesh tape
• Waterproofing material, such as polyethelene sheeting or RedGard
• ¼ x ¼ x ¼-inch square notch trowel
• Polymer-modified thin-set mortar

Measure and pre-cut all WonderBoard Lite panels before fastening to the floor, counter or wall studs. To cut, score through the panel on one side and snap it off. A circular saw can also be used if you are making a number of cuts or cutouts. Exterior grade plywood or OSB subfloors or counters should be a minimum of ¾ of an inch thick. Plywood subpanels should be gapped 1/8th-inch at seams with joists spaced no more than 16-inches on center.


Mix polymer-modified thinset mortar, such as VersaBond, according to the directions. Apply a leveling bed of polymer-modified mortar to the surface with a ¼ x ¼ x ¼-inch square notch trowel. Place the ¼-inch WonderBoard Lite panels firmly into the mortar. Lay them perpendicular to the plywood sheets to offset the seams in the floor. Leave a 1/8th inch gap around each panel and stagger them in a running bond pattern, like brick. Fasten each panel to the subfloor with backerboard screws or roofing nails every 6-8 inches. Place screws within 2 inches of the edge around perimeters. Fill gaps between panels with thin-set mortar. Embed fiberglass mesh tape and smooth the surface. Be sure to leave a 1/8th to1/4-inch gap at walls to allow for expansion joints.

When installing WonderBoard Lite in wet areas, such as showers, nail or staple 15-pound roofing felt or 4 mil polyethylene sheeting the to the studs first. Or, you can apply RedGard Waterproofing and Crack Prevention liquid to the face of the WonderBoard. Fasten the panels onto the studs using the same 1/8th-inch spacing as a floor installation. Be sure to fill the gaps between panels with polymer-modified mortar and embed fiberglass mesh tape. Leave the perimeter gap open for expansion joints. Once the panels have been fastened and the seams taped, you’re ready to begin tiling.

The type of tile or stone you’re setting - and whether it’s on a wall or a floor - will determine the materials needed. Be sure to use the right polymer-modified mortar and the correct sized trowel for the job. These will both be based on the size and type of tile you’re installing. Once the tile is set and grouted, fill movement joints with a flexible caulk or sealant.

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