How to lay ceramic tiles on concrete steps

Written by jason gillikin
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How to lay ceramic tiles on concrete steps
Ceramic tiles make concrete steps come alive with style. (Hermés/

We all walk on concrete steps--they are functional and durable but ... boring. You can spice up your steps and significantly increase your home's property values by adding ceramic tiles on top of the concrete. By following just a few easy steps, your concrete staircase can go from blah to bling in no time.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Heavy-duty cleansers
  • Ceramic tiles
  • Grout
  • Tile glue
  • Tile sealer
  • Spade (grout trowel)
  • Tile cutting tool (optional)

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  1. 1

    Thoroughly clean and dry the existing concrete steps. Dirty or wet steps can degrade the glue's adhesiveness and weaken the grout between tiles.

  2. 2

    Lay the tile glue on the tiles and on the concrete steps according to the manufacturer's directions. Different glues have different modes of application (e.g., a caulking gun or a bucket-and-trowel) and different curing times, so read the instructions carefully.

  3. 3

    Put the glued tiles on the concrete. If the tiles have a decorative pattern, follow that pattern. Use the thin edge of a tile to serve as a spacer. Use a tile-scoring tool to cut any tiles that will not fit the available space, and put the cut tiles along the inside edge of the step.

  4. 4

    Grout the tiles after the glue sets. Wipe up excess grout quickly to avoid damaging the tiles.

  5. 5

    Seal the grout and the tiles with a wax or other environmental sealant, if this is recommended by the grout or tile manufacturer. Some tiles are outdoor-ready, so check the package instructions to see whether your particular brand of tiles needs to have a seal, especially if the tiles will be outdoors.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider adding some sort of toe kick to the top side of the steps to protect the ceramic from impact damage.
  • Make sure that the tiles or the concrete have enough slant to redirect standing water off the steps.
  • Avoid using polished, glazed tiles--these can be a serious slip-and-fall accident waiting to happen.

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