How to Tile Porch Steps

Updated April 17, 2017

Tiled floors lend a classy, uniform look to a room. This style can even be extended to the outdoors. You can cover your whole porch, including your steps, with any one of many patterns of tile. Laying tiles is a straightforward job, but a few elements are necessary to make the installation successful. If you are using ceramic tiles, make sure they are frostproof to prevent cracking during harsh winters. Regardless of the material, tiles require a dry surface for application. The steps' surface should be completely dry before you install the tiles.

Run a spirit level across the porch steps to check for level. For points that are higher than the rest of the stairs, grind down the surface with a grinder. Fill low spots with concrete and level it off with a trowel.

Lay the tiles on the porch steps and make sure they fit properly. If any tile extends over the edge of the step, make a mark with chalk on the tile where it should end. Cut along the chalk mark with a wet saw fitted with a diamond blade.

Spread thinset on the surface of the steps. Apply a thick layer and smooth it out with a trowel. Butter the underside of each tile before placing it on the thinset. To butter, dab small patches of thinset randomly over the underside of the tile.

Lower the first tile on top of the thinset and firmly press the tile down. Insert plastic spacers along the edges of the tile. Lay the next tile so it is right up against the spacers. Continue to lay tiles and spacers until the surface of each step is covered.

Apply more thinset to the rise of the steps. The rise is the vertical surface going up from the back of one step to the front of the step above it. Butter the tiles to be mounted on the rise. Press the tiles into the thinset until the rise is completely tiled. The tiles on the rise should be separated with plastic spacers as well.

Wipe any excess thinset from the surface of the tiles. Use gentle strokes with a cloth to remove the thinset to avoid disturbing the spacers. Let the thinset dry for 24 hours.

Apply grout into the gaps between every tile, using a grout float, and let the grout set. After 10 minutes or so, wipe a damp sponge over the steps and the rise to remove grout residue. Let the grout dry for at least 12 hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Spirit level
  • Grinder
  • Concrete
  • Trowel
  • Chalk
  • Wet saw
  • Diamond blade
  • Thinset
  • Plastic spacers
  • Cloth
  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
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About the Author

Based in New Jersey, Robert Raphael has been writing health and technology articles since 1993. His work has appeared in “Natural Living” magazine and “Extreme PC” magazine. Raphael received the Jonathan Melman Literary Award in 1994. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brandeis University.