Home remodeling and improvement is an exciting prospect that most homeowners look forward to. The choice of materials typically determines the success of the project and often how long the results will last. Be it flooring, countertops, backsplashes or whatever else needs replacing, a wide variety of materials are available for every imaginable house remodeling need. This article is aimed at establishing the correct way to cut cement boards while providing additional information about this popular home improvement material.
What Are Cement Board?
Cement boards are comprised of reinforcing fibers; often fiberglass, and cement. Being inorganic, cement boards are resistant to mold, warping, U.V radiation, salt sprays, rain, and heat. Cement boards are also immune to extreme (and reasonable) temperature changes. These versatile materials are available in varying textures, colors, shapes and designs.
The uses for cement boards are well spread across the spectrum. Cement boards have been used for various purposes that include;
1. Exterior Siding Material
Cement boards are perhaps the most popular exterior siding materials. This can be attributed to their mind-blowing durability that by far outlasts other traditionally accepted siding materials such as vinyl and wood. Cement boards are also popular because they are a great deal cheaper compared to stone, brick, and stucco. Other than being popular because of their durability and affordability, cement boards also look pretty good.
2. Underlay For Flooring
Cement boards have been described as the perfect substrate for tile flooring. This is because cement boards adhere perfectly to other materials such as wood and tile. Cement boards provide a sturdy and smooth surface upon while tiles and other flooring materials can be placed. This prevents the likelihood of the flooring materials breaking while also providing a rigid and flat surface for working on. Besides being the perfect flooring underlay candidates, cement boards can also function as countertop underlays for materials such as Formica and marble or even countertop tiles.
3. Subtrate For Tile Walls
Similarly as in flooring underlays, cement boards can be used inside the house as backing boards for wall tiles. They are particularly handy in kitchens and bathrooms. The main reason behind this is because cement boards are water resistant and also immune to mold growth, mildew and don’t deteriorate over time due to constant exposure to moisture. Cement boards also help the tiles to stick better and therefore last longer. Major points for durability.
The Tools You Will Need
Before jumping right into the cement board cutting business, you will require a couple of tools to effectively handle the specifics of the task at hand. You obviously want to achieve professional grade results afterward, therefore, the prime objective is to use the correct tools and methods. Generally, you will need the following power tools;
Circular saw: A circular saw with thin kerfs preferably using a carbide blade is recommended. It is recommended to use a circular saw with as few teeth as is possible. Circular saws are meant to make straight cuts on the cement boards. Another trick you probably won’t hear anywhere else, dip you saw blades in water before commencing work on your cement boards. This applies to both circular saws and jigsaws. This trick allows you to cut smoothly with minimal dust production.
Jigsaw: Jigsaws are a class of power tools that are particularly useful when working with cement boards. A jigsaw is great for cutting circles or round holes on the cement boards. It is also important that the saw is carbide tipped as is the case with circular saws.
Portable power drill/driver: This class of power tools is useful in cutting holes or other shapes on cement boards. Metal cutting blades should be preferably used when working on cement boards. On the same, carbide tipped blades also come highly recommended when working with cement boards. Different brands and models of power drill are available on the market. So depending on your preference and the specifics of your project, pick a drill that best works for you.
As a general rule, always see to it that you have protective gear and follow safety guidelines when handling power tools. Where power tools are involved, rest assured there are debris, dust and material pieces flying around. Cement boards produce quite some dust so a respirator is highly recommended.
How To Cut Cement Boards; The Specifics
1. Straight Cuts
When dealing with cement boards, it is recommended to use power tools as often as possible. You’re assuring of clean smooth cuts and also the efficiency that comes with the same. As far as straight cuts are concerned, no power tool is better suited than circular saws. As mentioned earlier, you will need carbide tipped circular saw with as few teeth as you can get. The fewer the teeth, the lesser the amounts of dust produced. When cutting cement boards using a circular saw, handle the saw as you normally would; pushing it slowly and evenly through the cement board.
2. Cutting Circles
You might find yourself in need of holes for piping or electrical wiring. In this case, you will need to cut round holes in your cement boards. To achieve this, you need specialized power tools. To begin with, mark the intended area using a pencil. Soon afterward, drill a hole using a portable power drill. Follow up with a jigsaw to widen the area of the hole on your cement board.
The ideal jigsaw should be carbide tipped. The main advantage you’ll realize while using a jigsaw is that the hole can be cut to your custom specifications and needs.
3. Drilling Holes
As soon as you’re done working on your cement board you will need to firmly attach it to the desired surface. In this case, you need to drill holes where the screws will firmly hold the cement boards. Driving nails straight into cement boards isn’t rally recommended as this could result in breakage and damage to the cement board. A power drill comes in handy in such a case. Mark out the places you want the holes to go. Be careful not to space the holes too close as the drill might cause the holes to merge and collapse which isn’t what you want.
It is important to note that the dust emanating from working on cement boards contains crystalline Silica. This compound is extremely irritating to the eyes and lungs. Ensure that you have goggles on and a dual cartridge respirator at hand. Where possible, work on cement boards in well-ventilated areas preferably outdoors. Concerning the power tools and particularly the circular saw, pack extra blades if your project is big; where large numbers of cement boards are involved. The teeth wear off after a couple of runs.
In conclusion, cement boards are extremely versatile and durable construction materials. Their popularity is well justified by their numerous applications. To achieve great results, care while cutting and installing cement boards is necessary. Remember, safety first; you’ll work with a couple of power tools and therefore the risk of personal injury is always present.
I hope you found this article as fun and enlightening. Feel free to share any thoughts, comments and suggestions and comments in the section provided. Share the knowledge!