James Hardie vs. Durock

Oftentimes, the distinctions between HardieBacker and Durock boards filter down to a matter of contractor preference. A contractor may have become accustomed from the start to using one product over the other, and that familiarity results in product bias. Occasionally, a shoddy installation process will also influence the views of a contractor who, upon viewing the poor results, may blame the product rather than the installation. It should be noted early on that HardieBacker and Durock are different products, which are often used for the same work. These differences are not necessarily subtle either.

HardieBacker vs Durock

There are a few key distinctions that put HardieBacker board in a different realm than Durock. It should be noted from the beginning that HardieBacker is intended and approved only for internal use. Durock can be utilized for both internal and external jobs.

Durock is a sturdy reliable cement product, but it does contain glass mesh and it is the heavier of the two materials. This boils down to a difficult and more unwieldy product. You will have a harder time cutting Durock board, and the installation process will be messier because of the breakdown. Expect particulate during cutting and smoothing. HardieBacker is currently the best selling and lightest brand of cement board available. It cuts far more cleanly because it is not a glass cement aggregate. Its fiber cement composite allows for a smooth precise job with minimal mess. HardieBacker board offers its own patented EZ Grid pattern that takes the guesswork out of cutting and installation—another additional bonus.

Flexibility and Strength

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The fiber cement makeup of HardieBacker board also leads to two other key advantages: flexibility and strength. HardieBacker is lighter and more flexible than Durock boards. This not only reduces the messiness of the product, but also contributes to the inborn strength of the board. These features make for an easier, more efficient installation without any sacrifice to the product’s integrity.


HardieBacker board is definitely the go-to choice when it comes to tiling and counter tops. The Durock board is abrasive and can damage certain surfaces—particularly porcelain, vinyl, and enamel–whereas HardieBacker does not contain any abrasive materials and is, therefore, the preferable board for underlaying. In fact, HardieBacker’s warranty extends over the use of vinyl tile applications, a guarantee that Durock cannot boast.

Moisture Exposure

Areas that may or will become exposed to moisture remain the tricky issue for HardieBacker boards. HardieBacker’s cement and fiber composition makes it a water-repellent material, which is different from a “waterproof” claim. HardieBacker is also highly mold resistant. This means that the product can be used to underlay showers and tubs and bathroom areas, much like Durock. However, it may be advisable to apply a waterproof membrane over the HardieBacker to ensure the most sanitary and effective installation possible.

A Leading Edge

Both Durock and James Hardie are very reliable companies, but James Hardie still maintains the sales edge. HardieBacker remains the best-selling board and is insured with a lifetime limited/transferable warranty. To make the most of your James Hardie products, it is always advisable to employ a certified James Hardie contractor. This is because the warranty for James Hardie products depends largely on a proper installation. The company cannot be held responsible for construction damage which is the not the fault of HardieBacker material but that of poor application.

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