How to tile wooden stairs

Written by cadence johansen
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How to tile wooden stairs
(Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Tile installed on wooden stairs can be practical and beautiful. Tile is moisture resistant and makes cleaning dirt a breeze. However, tiling on wooden stairs can present many challenges.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Vacuum
  • Measuring tape
  • Cement backer board
  • Construction adhesive
  • Thin set mortar
  • Notched trowel
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Tile (check for slip ratings)
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile saw

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  1. 1

    Inspect the wooden stairs. It is best to fix any potential problems with the stairs before installing tile. Sink any loose nails or screws and replace cracked or broken stair treads.

  2. 2

    Vacuum the stairs to remove dirt, dust and debris.

  3. 3

    Measure the stairs and install a cement backer board. Cement backer board can be attached with construction adhesive or with thin set grout applied with a notched trowel. After using adhesive or grout, screw the backer board into place on the stairs. It is important to install cement backer board before laying tile on wooden stairs. The backer board helps to level the stairs and prepare the space for tile. Instead of cement backer board, you can also install a mortar bed on the stairs. However, it is easier to work with cement backer board.

  4. 4

    Mix the thin set mortar. Apply the mortar to the top tread of the stairs. All work should be done from the top of the staircase downward. Install the tiles on top of the mortar. Once the tread has been installed, apply the mortar to the stair riser below and install the tiles. Line up the grout joints on the treads and risers, using tile spacers between the tiles. Use a tile saw to make any necessary cuts to the tiles. Repeat this process, installing stair treads and risers all the way down the staircase. Let the thin set mortar dry overnight.

  5. 5

    Mix the grout. Fill the tile joints by applying the grout with a rubber float. Once the grout is in place, use a sponge to remove extra grout from the surface of the tile. Let the grout dry for 24 to 48 hours before everyday use.

Tips and warnings

  • Many professionals do not believe that wooden stairs can handle the load that tile can put on a stairway, according to Kirsten Kapsin of Find Any Floor. For the best installation, make sure your wooden stairs are sturdy.

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