How to Safely Cut BackerBoard: Tools, Techniques and Safety Tips

Backer Board must be cut using the right tools

How to Cut backerboard
How to Cut backerboard. Photo Lowes

Backer board is now used on floors, walls, countertops and many other applications. However, as easy as could look, the material must be carefully cut to avoid damaging or having issues with your installation once it has been completed. Here we have some tips and hints on hot to cut backerboard that can make your life easier and will allow you to generate a great smooth cut. 

Regular Standard Cuts

To perform and regular cut on the backer board sheet, start by measuring and mark each end of the cut.

For best results use a carbide scoring tool or also you can use a felt-tip pen; however a simple utility knife will work too. Draw a line on each side of the backer board and use a straightedge as a guide to as a guide to score the face of the board. Score several time and repeat as needed on both sides of the board. Once you feel that the score is enough, snap the panel and use your knee near the score line. Lift along the edge of the panel and if needed finish bu cutting on the other side of the board.

How to Do Straight Cuts on Backerboard?

If a straight cut is needed, then you must use a circular saw with a carbide-tipped blade. Normally, you will use the blade with more teeth that can generate a nicer cut, but you might want to try a blade with fewer teeth, so it can cut faster and will generate less dust. There is no need to mention, that when cutting backerboard  you must always wear required PPE.

Cutting backerboard will generate lots of dust, containing crystalline silica, which can irritate your eyes and lungs. Use your googles and a respirator, preferably a dual-cartridge one, that will maintain you out of trouble and healthy. For better results, cut outdoors away from open windows and doors.

Cutting Large Holes

To cut large holes in backerboard, use a tool to mark the backerboard and draw the circumference on the panel. Using a 1/2 inch diameter carbide bit, drill several holes as close as possible inside the circumference mark. If you don't have a drill available, you can also use a screwdriver to make the holes. Once you have go around the circle, knock the waste or inside part of the hole with a hammer.

When using the drill, you will need to drill slowly and apply light pressure to avoid damaging the backerboard. A good recommendation is that you drill half through one side, and then turn the piece over to drill the backside. The drill bit in the center of the hole saw is longer than the cutting arm itself, so when you flip the board you'll see the hole to use as a guide to finish the cut. Sometimes a jigsaw equipped with a metal-cutting blade can also be used. But remember always to cut slowly to prevent damaging the board. The advantage of jigsaw over the drill, is that it will generate less dust and the cut can be even smoother. Remember, the tools and techniques will vary depending on how big or small the desired hole will be.