What Type of Drywall Board Is Needed to Tile a Shower Wall?

A side-by-side comparison of a bathroom under construction and the finished product.

Adding a tile wall to the shower is great way to breathe new life into a bathroom. Not only will a tile wall look great, but it also has durable and long-lasting qualities. However, adding the right kind of drywall board behind the tile can be challenging, especially considering all the moisture the wall will have to withstand over the course of its life. Luckily, there are a few types of drywall that are perfect matches for any shower, including blueboard, greenboard, and cement board.

Regular Drywall

Regular drywall can be used as a base for tiles in a shower, but only as an absolute last resort. Even in the best of scenarios, the tile and grout will eventually wear down, leaving behind a clear route for water to seep through and soak into the drywall. If you have to use regular drywall, then a water barrier must be inserted behind the drywall and the wall frames. This is done to help prevent water from damaging the structure of the wall. Additionally, using regular drywall can compromise the integrity of the tile as water will disintegrate the drywall.


Blueboard is a type of drywall that is frequently used for a tile wall in a shower. Not only is it water-resistant, but blueboard is easy to find and inexpensive, making it an ideal option for those on a budget. Furthermore, blueboard is not difficult to install. The process of installing blueboard is similar to that of regular drywall and can be done with little prior experience.

Although it is water-resistant, you will need to make sure all seams are properly covered and place some kind of water barrier between the tile and blueboard. Fortunately, there are plenty of products for this purpose, including RedGard and Kerdi membranes.


A bathroom construction zone with greenboard.

Greenboard shares some of the same qualities as blueboard, with the main difference being how the material is made. Greenboard is created with recycled materials, which makes it ideal for an environmentally-conscience choice. The installation process of greenboard is the same as blueboard, and a water barrier will be needed to keep moisture away from the board.

The same types of water membranes can be used with both blueboard and greenboard. The important thing to keep in mind is that without a water barrier the tiles will leak water, making a water barrier behind the tile a critical step in installing any type of drywall.

Cement Backerboard

Cement board is by far the heaviest type of drywall used in tile wall applications and the most resistant to water. While it may be heavy, installing cement board is just like installing drywall, with a few minor differences.

For starters, the cement backerboard will need to be cut to the proper dimensions with a jigsaw. Next, properly secure the board to the wall’s structure via concrete screws. Unfortunately, drywall screws will not work.

After applying some seam tape to cover joints, a waterproof membrane should be added to prevent any leaks. In addition to the water barrier, it's a good idea to install a vapor barrier behind the cement board. This can be in the form of plastic sheets and will help minimize damage if water does make its way through the board.


No matter what type of drywall you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind before installation. First, tearing down old tile and drywall can be a messy process. Keep a window open to provide plenty of ventilation and wear the appropriate safety gear for the job. Second, the installation will likely take a few days to complete, which may or may not leave you without a shower for a day or two. Lastly, make sure to turn off any electrical outlets close by and turns off the water to avoid accidents.


a handyman grouting tile in a bathroom.

While there are a number of different options when it comes to the type of board suitable for a shower wall, the one thing to keep in mind is moisture. Whatever type of board you use, there needs to be a waterproof barrier installed behind the tile. Not only will this keep water from ruining the backboard, but it will also ensure that the structure of the wall is not comprised.

Furthermore, it is also a good idea to install another water barrier behind the drywall in order to keep water from damaging the structure of the wall. By following these simple steps, you can save both time and money knowing that your wall is properly sealed.

Drywall Board Used to Tile a Shower Wall FAQ

What kind of board do you use for shower tile?

Bathrooms are a little bit different than every other part of the house, particularly in the shower area. All the moisture in bathrooms means that some special extra steps need to be taken to keep the room dry, which prevents the growth of mold and bacteria that can be harmful to you.

Because showers are such excessively wet places, backer boards are used to create a waterproofing barrier between the wall and the shower. Backer boards, also called shower boards, are typically made with cement or fiberglass.

Can you use regular drywall behind shower tile?

Standard drywall and even moisture-resistant drywall are not typically used in bathroom shower areas and should not be used here. Drywall absorbs moisture and can be damaged by water, which means it is highly unsuitable for use in the shower.

Regular drywall is not used in shower areas for just this reason, even with waterproof membranes and other protective barriers. Cement or fiberglass boards, along with waterproof barriers, are used in shower areas to keep the structure of the room dry and mold-free.

How do you waterproof drywall for a shower?

Though drywall is highly unsuitable for shower areas, it is sometimes used and you may not be in a position to change drywall if it is already in place. Waterproofing primer can give the walls some protection from moisture in the room.

Waterproof primer is applied the same way as standard paint and you can find it with the paint at home improvement stores.

Can I put wall tile directly on drywall?

It is very much possible to tile right onto drywall and in fact, this is a perfectly acceptable and usable surface for holding tile. But in shower areas where there is a lot of moisture, you should not tile right onto the drywall.

Shower areas should have walls made with concrete or fiberglass boards, which resist moisture, rather than moisture-absorbing drywall. The water will weaken the drywall and ultimately cause mildew to grow and could even make the room start to fall apart.

What holds tile to drywall?

Tile is laid on floors or on walls with a mortar-like adhesive. This is typically a combination of cement and fine sand, with latex added in, to create a paste-like substance that dries very hard to securely bond the tile in place.

This substance is used to place tile on drywall, cement board, and other types of walls.