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Can You Paint Cement Board? (Helpful Tips!)

 Cement board is an integral part of home décor made from a mixture of cement sheets and multiple other fibers for reinforcement. As it is typically used for tiling houses, cement boards are also known as tile backer and Cementitious Backer Unit (CBU). Cement boards increase the strength and durability of kitchen counters, floor tiles, and wherever it is used.

Because cement boards don’t have any natural element to them as compared to drywall or plywood, they don’t rust, rot or mold even after years. Paint can’t be applied to natural cement material, but can you paint cement boards? Let’s dive into it and find out.

Can you paint cement boards?

You can paint cement boards because the surface of the board contains pores. Cement boards have a fibrous texture as they are made using fiberglass and Kevlar. When you paint a cement board, the pores absorb the adhesive ingredients of the paint, making the paint job much more solid.

Cement board Siding:

Cement board siding is a long-lasting product that is frequently used to coat the exterior of homes and sometimes even commercial buildings. It is made of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers. This makes the outside of the house sturdy and protected.

Cement board siding provides a wooden feel to the exterior of the house and it’s a low-maintenance material compared to the other options in the market.

Cement board in the shower:

The tiles in the shower require some sort of backer to protect the structure of the house from water leakage. When you’re tiling a floor or wall, it needs additional support and a flat surface. Cement backer boards can provide all of that and in addition, it also keeps the wall water, fire and rot proof.

Cement boards like drywall:

Cement boards are quite similar to drywall in their functionality as both of them are used as the base layer in housing. However, as drywalls are made from organic elements they are prone to water leakage and rotting, whereas, cement boards are specifically designed to use in bathrooms, kitchens, and shower flooring.

Cement board behind wood stove:

Cement boards can be used on the kitchen countertop, and behind the woodstove. Wood stoves can produce excessive heat and without a substrate layer behind the tiles, you might be one mistake away from a fire risk. Using a cement board behind the woodstove will protect your building’s structure from any kind of small fire.

Cement board walls:

Generally people use drywall or plywood on walls underneath the tiling. But unlike these materials, cement boards won’t deteriorate over time. They are ideal for an interior setup where the moisture content is high.

Durock cement board:

Durock is a well-known brand in the cement board wall. They produce quality tile backers for in-house use including bathroom walls, showers, and tubs. Durock and Hardibacker have been going toe-to-toe to gain a larger segment of customers since their inception.

Exterior cement board:

You can use cement boards on both the exterior and the interior of your building. They are easy to install and can tackle almost any weather condition for decades. Resistance to rotting, swelling, and other elements have put the cement board on everyone’s priority list while building.

Should you paint cement boards?

Painting a cement board adds an extra layer of protection that keeps it safe from weathering. So, just to be on the safe side, you should paint cement boards.

Sometimes, people want to change the look of cement boards before they put them on a kitchen or the exterior. It is difficult to know whether painting them will affect the strength and durability of cement boards.

Do you paint it? Or you can leave it as it is?

The simplest solution would be to paint it and you’ll probably have to repair some minor flaws here and there as well as repaint it periodically after 10-12 years. Painting the cement boards with a coating similar to your house’s color palette will make them usable even when the upper layer deteriorates.

How often do you paint cement boards?

Cement boards generally have a lifespan of fifty years whereas paint coatings last for 10-15 years depending on the quality. So you can expect to paint cement boards after every decade.

Cement boards can be used as the only layer on the walls or you can add another layer of tiling or contemporary wooden layers. No matter which approach you take, painting the cement boards will help them blend with the home décor.

There are two types of cement boards/siding available, one that comes painted and one that doesn’t. In both cases, you’ll have to bring out the painting buckets after a decade or so to repaint the cement boards.

How to paint cement boards?

If you know the proper methods, you will be able to paint your cement board all by yourself. Here’s a detailed instruction for you to follow.

Cleaning the surface:

One of the very first things that you’ll need to do is, clean the cement board surface thoroughly. Cement attracts dirt and particles, so you will need to use a cleaning agent. You can use cleaning solutions specifically made for cement surfaces or you can opt for a general cleaning product.

Letting the surface dry off:

Once you’ve completed cleaning the cement boards, now it’s time to dry them off. Take as much time as you need to get rid of every bit of moisture from the surface otherwise, the paint coating won’t set. It can take up to two days for the cement boards to dry completely.

Preparing the surface:

Conditioning the cement board with a good primer will adhere to the paint better. You can either make a primer using plastic resin and solvent cement or you can buy it from a shop. Primers come with instructions on how to apply before a paint job.

Painting the cement boards:

After completing all the preparation, you can start painting with a roller or a brush. Brush 3-4 layers of paint with strokes from one end to the other to make the paint stable and deep. Look out for cracks and bubbles because you will have to repaint the entire thing from scratch.

Dry the paint:

It normally takes a couple of days for the paint to dry completely. Wherever you keep the cement boards for drying, make sure it’s out of the reach of water and moisture.

Adding sealant to the surface:

As the final step, you will have to add a paint sealer after drying the board. The sealant will also need time for drying. From painting to installing the cement boards can be completed in under a week.

What kind of paint do you use on cement boards?

Now that you know how to paint cement boards, let’s find out what type of paint you should be using.

Acrylic Paint:

Commonly used paint on cement board is acrylic paint. It sets on the surface easily and doesn’t take too long to dry off. The fibrous nature of the boards make it prone to oily elements and that’s why 100 percent acrylic is the ideal paint.

Latex Paint:

Exterior latex paints are comparatively thicker than conventional paints. Applying only one paint layer is equivalent to multiple layers of acrylic paint. This category of paint is better suited for keeping the exterior cement board safe from weathering.

Epoxy Paint:

Epoxy paints are generally applied on garage surfaces. The paint finish is shiny and has quite a bit of endurance to it. You would find epoxy paints in high-end garages and car shops.

Acrylic latex paint:

As the name suggests, this is a mixture of acrylic and latex paint where you get the best of both worlds. It’s less durable than the epoxy paint but the price is also far more affordable. You can get a non-slip variant of the acrylic latex paint in some shops as well

Does cement board need to be primed?

Priming a cement board fills the pores with adhesive which makes the acrylic paint stick to the surface better. Applying a quality latex primer will result in a better paint finish.

Using a primer has become a necessity because of the way cement boards are made nowadays. The fiber cement boards without a primer won’t be able to adhere to the paint. So, if you’re going to paint the cement board, it needs to be primed.

How to finish cement board for paint?

The finishing step of painting a cement board requires you to apply a paint sealant on the board surface. The sealant takes roughly two days to dry. It protects the paint and increases longevity.

You can paint your cement boards any color and even add a design to each board to make your home look unique. Remember, additional costs will be incurred if you have to change or cut tiles, and replace them with new boards.

You can also receive old tiles of cement board from a local builder waste management company for free. In this case, you will need some tools such as an electric saw, hammer drill, and a chisel that can cut through the back of cement coats layers without causing damage or damage to the cement board underneath or on top of it.

Do you need to re-caulk the cement board before painting?

Builders and architects suggest not to use caulk on fiber cement boards. Adding a primer prior to painting is enough, you don’t need to re-caulk the cement board.

Caulking requires a solid plain surface unlike the porous surface of the cement board.

Final Thoughts:

In short, because the surface of cement boards has pores, you can paint them. Cement boards have a fibrous feel as they are comprised of fiberglass and Kevlar. The pores of the cement board absorb the adhesive components of the paint which increases the longevity and durability of the cement board.