Tile walls are everywhere. From bathrooms and steam showers to mosaics and murals, ceramic and stone tile are becoming standard commercial and residential wall finishes of choice. The appeal of their versatility, beauty and durability should sustain year after year.

Unfortunately, too many homeowners will experience the heartache of watching their beautiful tile applications crumble away. To ensure that the drama of your tile finish remains on the wall and not in your pocketbook, make sure to select a high-performance tile substrate that delivers a uniform surface.

United States Gypsum Company offers two tile backerboards that keep tile walls looking good and lasting longer while also offering superior protection from moisture and mold.

DUROCK® Brand Cement Board, preferred for its tile-holding strength and ease of installation, features a Portland cement core sandwiched between two layers of reinforcing glass-fiber mesh. Because cement board resists mold and moisture, it is especially ideal for use as a tile backer in areas exposed to intermittent moisture such as backsplashes and tub surrounds. Should water seep through the grout, the cement board won't buckle, swell or expand.

In addition, United States Gypsum Company has recently introduced FIBEROCK® Brand AQUA-TOUGH™ Tile Backerboard, which is made from 95 percent recycled materials. Installed like traditional wallboard, the panels are engineered to provide increased resistance to abuse. While other panels rely on their facing material for strength, the FIBEROCK panels have no face layer to separate from the core and won't lose their strength.

The unique AQUA-TOUGH formulation provides outstanding water resistance through the core. Moreover, the American Society for Testing and Materials has certified them to be mold resistant.

While organizations such as the Tile Council of America and National Tile Contractors Association have long recommended installing cement board and other materials that comply with ASTM standards governing moisture and mold on surfaces, new changes to the 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) have made the use of these water-resistant products even more compelling.

The IRC no longer recognizes moisture-resistant, paper faced drywall (commonly known as "green board") as a suitable tile backing material in wet areas such as tubs and shower surrounds. Instead, products such as DUROCK Cement Board and FIBEROCK Brand AQUA-TOUGH Tile Backerboard must be specified to meet IRC requirements.

Given the groundswell of concern about mold and mildew in residential and commercial buildings, these products will protect your investment and help ensure the long-term performance of your tile walls.