How to Cut Holes in Cement Backer Board with a Jigsaw

To cut holes in cement backer board to use under tile, equip a portable jigsaw or sabre saw with a metal cutting blade.

To start the saw in cement backer board, drill a hole though the backer board large enough for the jigsaw blade or make a plunge cut with the blade in the backer board.

Always be sure to wear dust and eye protection when cutting cement backer board. Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Joe Truini: I’m about to cut a hole in this cement backer board for a toilet flange. This is going to go down on the bathroom floor. And there are several specialty tools you can buy to make that hole, but I’ve gotten really good results using a jigsaw and a metal cutting blade.

Now, the first thing you need to know when you’re working with cement backer boards, you have to protect yourself from the silica dust using a dust mask and safety glasses. I’m going to put that on first. And then I’m going to make the cut. Now, you could drill a hole—start a hole for the blade—but I just as soon use a plunge cut method. And then just follow the line.

There you go. Nice clean cut. Very little dust. And this works not only with circular cuts but also with straight and square cuts.


  1. WOW! Thanks Joe. Never seen the plunge cut method. I’ll have to try it. This man does in :57 seconds, what takes me a half hour!

  2. I tried this method and just ended up stripping the teeth from my jigsaw blades! What sort of blades do you use and did you have pendulum on?

  3. There are special jigsaw blades for this material. From Popular Mechanics: use a jigsaw fitted with a metal-cutting blade or carbide-grit blade. I’ve used a jigsaw with a metal blade on several occasions to cut 1/4-inch-thick backer board. The saw cut slowly but smoothly and with minimal dust, but after six to eight cuts I had to replace the blade.

  4. If you only need to make one cut, or just a few small/short ones, using a jigsaw with a metal blade will probably get you by. In fact, this probably is one of the best methods for cutting a circle. TIP: Don’t try to cut the hole the exact same size; add 1/8″- 1/4″, which will give you some room to ‘square’ the sheet and it will fit much easier/better.
    BUT – cement board chews through the blades as fast as you can switch them out, so you are going to spend more time buying and changing blades than actually cutting the board. You can use a standard utility knife to score the board before you snap it (like drywall) , but your going to have to make several cut. So, consider using a carbide tipped scoring tool or a circular say with a masonry blade, instead. The saw will create a lot of dust, so you might want to do it outside.
    Good luck!!!


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