This builder’s special brown tile has got to go! We’re replacing with stacked stone and different floor tile to match the kitchen tile.

I’m planning to rip this down to the stud and use a cement backer. Do I fasten the cement backer directly to the studs or does the cement board need a backer? enter image description here

  • If you are only replacing the tile you are complaining about, there may not be any studs, depending on construction - this might be tile over masonry, depending on the nature of the fireplace.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 22, 2022 at 20:00
  • This is a gas fireplace (failed to mention the post).
    – EMAW2008
    Jan 22, 2022 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


You can do as you mentioned about stripping it down to the studs. Even if it is a full masonry backer, the new facing can still be applied, it just uses a different technique.

All this material is most likely already on cement board, including the floor. Demoing the walls should be straight forward, the floor however may be more difficult if thinset is used under the backer. If thinset is not present, it will go relatively simple as well.

To directly answer your question, the tile backer does not need a backer, it goes directly to the studs. You can use roofing nails to attach the new material, but I prefer using the screws that are specific to be used with cement board.

This is a tip I would try to pull off. Since when removing tile, it will never "go nicely". When it pops off, very sharp chips of tile will go flying quite a ways. I would get a roll of 3" (not 2")gray duct tape, some cardboard, wide enough to go around all 3 sides of the mantle keeping it back from the hearth about 2". This cardboard needs to be about 3' wide all around, wider the better, for this will be you work surface for the duration. It will keep your carpet clean and will contain the sharp chips during demo AFTER you put up some kind of temporary wall so the chips will not fly out over the protection on the floor. Back at the duct tape. Before any temporary wall is set up, take the 3" duct tape and cover the 2" carpet strip, and bring it over the cardboard 1". Carpet does not like to let duct tape hold onto it, using 2" duct tape with 1" on the carpet and 1" on the cardboard will come back up quite readily.

Ideally, if it were me doing it, I would get 8 studs and set a bottom and top plate, the bottom plate will be on the edge of the cardboard away from the tile. When the studs are sprung into place, 2 at the walls, 2 at the corners, 2 for the long top and bottom plates and 2 cut in half for the sides. Using no screws, unless 1 or 2 of the studs are a little loose, then a short 2" screw will keep them steady at the top. The bottom plate setting on the cardboard will keep the cardboard from scooting around. That way the duct tape around the edge has a better chance of staying in place. Also, the cardboard I speak of is large cardboard, like the kind a refrigerator comes in is ideal floor protection.

  • The cement backer board is somewhat flexible. Will that be an issue? I’ve only really used it for flooring tiles.
    – EMAW2008
    Jan 27, 2022 at 2:58
  • There are typically 2 thicknesses of cement board. 1/4" and 1/2" Some have 5/16" and 7/16" but it is still practically the same. I only use 1/4" for the floor. It is flimsy but when it has full backing like on a floor it does not matter. I use only 1/2" on the walls. If you use Wonder board brand, it will be 7/16' so it stays a little behind the surface of the sheetrock so the thinset does not throw the tile out too far. This will not matter in your case for the walls I think
    – Jack
    Jan 27, 2022 at 3:26

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