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How to lay tile on exterior concrete steps

Updated July 19, 2017

Tile is a commonly used finish material in just about every region of the world, and is made in a seemingly endless array of colours, sizes, shapes and designs that can suit the need of just about any aesthetic environment or purpose. Exterior stairs are most commonly made using concrete, as concrete is among the most durable and long lasting building materials. The application of tile to exterior stairs is a generally straightforward process that can usually be completed by just about anyone with a basic understanding of tile application and tools.

Mix the mortar as directed on its packaging, using the mortar hoe in the wheel barrow.

Apply the tiles to the face of a vertical step riser, lining up the upper edge of the tile flush with the edge of the horizontal stair tread, and using the mastic trowel to apply mortar to the back of the tiles. Space the tiles about 1/4-inch from each other, to allow for grout. Trim any tiles to fit, using the tile saw; always wear protective safety glasses when operating the tile saw, and refer to the tile saw owner's manual for any additional operating and safety instructions.

Apply the tiles to the stair tread surface, lining up the edge of the tile flush with the edge of the vertical stair riser tile (installed previously), and using the mastic trowel to apply mortar to the back of the tiles. Space the tiles about 1/4-inch from each other, to allow for grout. Trim any tiles to fit, using the tile saw. Repeat this process, working your way from the top of the stair set to the bottom.

Refer to the mortar packaging for set curing times, and allow mortar to fully cure as indicated before moving on.

Mix the grout as directed on its packaging, using the mortar hoe in the wheel barrow.

Evenly apply the grout to the joints left between each tile, using the grout bag. Work your way from the top of the stair set, to the bottom, cleaning any excess grout from the tile surfaces with the sponge; rinse the sponge in water as you work.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheel barrow
  • Mortar hoe
  • Mortar mix
  • Mastic trowel
  • Safety glasses
  • Tile saw
  • Grout mix
  • Grout bag
  • Sponge
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About the Author

J. Cavan Barry is an architecture student with over a decade of experience in the general construction field, and four years in architecture. Barry also has nearly a decade of automotive repair experience and is an avid auto enthusiast. After finding an interest in creative writing, he began writing a novel and recently finished the first draft.