Updated On

March 30, 2023

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    When it comes to home renovations, you’re already scratching your head at what needs to be done. With so many brands to choose from, you’re probably wondering which option is best for your project. Even if you’re hiring a contractor to do all the home renovations, you must still be well-informed about your material options. 

    Durock, HardieBacker, and Wonderboard are three popular cement-based backer board companies. We’ve developed this extensive comparison to help you decide between the brands for your next renovation project. Read on to learn more about the benefits, setbacks, and product specs of each to decide on the best material to use for your home.

    When Do You Need To Use Cement Board?

    The main reason that cement board is used is due to its impact resistance and strength to a wall surface or floor. The thickness of the cement board will vary based on the application, such as a half-inch application for walls and a quarter-inch for floors. They are even used in place of plywood because they are waterproof and can withstand high-moisture environments. 

    Organic materials such as wood tend to rot and decompose in a short period of time. This is far from sustainable or ideal for a house. Cement boards tend to be out of inorganic materials which helps, as it doesn’t decompose. This can include materials such as fiberglass, cement, or limestone flour. The materials can vary based on the cement board.

    Cement Board vs. WonderBoard: Are They the Same?

    While Durock and HardieBacker are two different types of cement board, what does that make WonderBoard? From Wonder Board vs. cement board, which is better? Well, WonderBoard is a type of cement board. It’s primarily used for wet tiling areas such as a bathroom. While they’re mostly used for high moisture areas, these can be used for decks, pools, and floors. But, there are different types of backers for cement boards, such as HardieBacker and Durock. Both of these will vary in their qualities and where they are better suited.

    Is There a Difference Between Durock vs. Hardiebacker vs. Wonderboard?

    Even though WonderBoard is a type of cement board, how does it differ from HardieBacker and Durock? What about WonderBoard lite vs Durock or WonderBoard lite vs HardieBacker? Well, there are some very clear differences between these three brands. Even with the two biggest cement board brands, however, there is one major difference: HardieBacker is only approved for indoor use and cannot be used for outdoor purposes. This alone shows that there is a massive difference. But let’s dive deeper into the three of these.

    Durock Qualifications

    Durock is the heaviest out of the bunch, and that’s due to the glass mesh it contains. This is tough to maneuver, so it’s not recommended that Durock be used if you are doing the project alone. It’s going to need multiple people handling it at once. This alone can make the installation process difficult and even messy. The quality of Durock is abrasive, meaning it is strongly recommended that it’s not used for vinyl, porcelain, or other softer material.

    Hardiebacker Qualifications

    Hardiebacker is significantly lighter than Durock and WonderBoard, leaving this the lightest out of the bunch. How light it instantly makes it one of the most popular brands on the market. Since there isn’t any glass mesh in it, unlike Durock, it makes the job much smoother and even minimizes the cleanup. While it’s lightweight, it contains plenty of strength and doesn’t leave for jagged edges or uneven lines.

    WonderBoard Qualifications

    Rising in popularity would be the WonderBoard. While this backer works perfectly when water penetrates the tile, it remains fine. While most cement boards can withstand water, WonderBoard was created to be able to be submerged in water and remain found. From shower and tub tiles, pools, and decks, this is arguably considered the best choice for a job, especially when renovating a bathroom.

    Pros and Cons of Each Brand

    These three brands have unique benefits that can enhance your next renovation project. However, their benefits are accompanied by some notable drawbacks, too. Dive into each brand’s pros and cons below.

    Durock Pros & Cons

    Pros & Cons


    • Works for internal and external applications
    • Highly versatile


    • Higher cost
    • Difficult installation

    One major benefit of Durock is that it can be used for internal and external situations. This makes it exceptionally versatile when you need a good cement board with reinforcement. However, be warned that this can cost you some additional money.

    Durock can admittingly be a hassle to use. The installation process needs multiple people; smoothing can be challenging, and clean-up isn’t great either. Plus, it can’t be used with enamel, porcelain, or vinyl, as it could cause damage.

    Hardiebacker Pros & Cons

    Pros & Cons


    • Lightweight
    • Easy to install
    • Mold resistant


    • Potential water damage
    • Only suited for internal use

    A significant benefit of HardieBacker over WonderBoard is that it’s very light and considered the best-selling brand for cement boards. It brings flexibility and ease compared to the competitors. Plus, this ease of installation does not sacrifice the integrity of the product either. It’s perfect for tiles and countertops. Additionally, this is also mold resistant.

    While the packaging suggests that HardieBacker is waterproof, the cement and fiber mixture in the contents makes that doubtful. If some areas get exposed to moisture, there could be a possibility of significant damage. HardieBacker cannot be used outside, as it is for internal use only. While this can be used as an underlay for showers and tubs, the waterproof sealant may not be enough.

    WonderBoard Pros & Cons

    Pros & Cons


    • Waterproof


    • Can't be used with drywall fiberglass tape
    • Not durable against high winds

    Wonderboard is the only material that will not fail if the water penetrates the tiling. While one of the competitors can handle moisture, once the water penetrates, it instantly increases the risk of damage. But the WonderBoard does not have this flaw.

    There are some limits, such as not being able to use drywall fiberglass tape with it. A wallboard joint compound cannot be used with WonderBoard either. Plus, if you’re planning on using WonderBoard outside, it can only handle wind loads up to 30 lb/ sq ft.

    What Is Best for Shower and Tub Installation?

    A cement board is great for situations where it will need to be submerged in water. There won’t need to be the worry of mold growing, warping, or even rotting once it gets exposed to water. So, what will be the best for bathroom installation, specifically the shower? While HardieBacker can technically be used for the shower, as it is resistant to mold, there will need to be some precautions, such as obtaining waterproof sealant. Durock isn’t flexible, but it can withstand water. 

    But of course, the third option, and the most common, would be WonderBoard. It’s perfect for the job as even if water gets to the tiles, no damage is done compared to the other two brands. However, it will also come down to personal preference and what your contractor is most familiar with.


    Between Durock vs. WonderBoard vs. HardieBacker, the choice for the best product is just going to depend on the job that you’re doing. It’s important to know the exact demands of each project that you’re taking on. Thus alone will make the process significantly easier as it will help you narrow down which option would be best.

    Editorial Contributors
    Alora Bopray

    Alora Bopray

    Staff Writer

    Alora Bopray is a digital content producer for the home warranty, HVAC, and plumbing categories at Today's Homeowner. She earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of St. Scholastica and her master's degree from the University of Denver. Before becoming a writer for Today's Homeowner, Alora wrote as a freelance writer for dozens of home improvement clients and informed homeowners about the solar industry as a writer for EcoWatch. When she's not writing, Alora can be found planning her next DIY home improvement project or plotting her next novel.

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    Roxanne Downer


    Roxanne Downer is a commerce editor at Today’s Homeowner, where she tackles everything from foundation repair to solar panel installation. She brings more than 15 years of writing and editing experience to bear in her meticulous approach to ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and engaging content. She’s previously edited for outlets including MSN, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, Roxanne is now an Oklahoma homeowner, DIY enthusiast, and the proud parent of a playful pug.

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