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How to lay terracotta tile on cement steps

Updated February 21, 2017

If the current steps leading up to your front door are cement and have no aesthetics, you can create steps that add emphasis to your home. Terracotta tiles are popular as both inside and outside home decor because of their appearance and their durability. One good thing to remember is to have more tiles than needed. Since terra cotta is typically made by hand, the bottoms and edges can be extremely uneven, so having more than you think you need can come in handy.

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  1. Gather your terra cotta tiles, and place them on the steps. You should place them where you will cement them down so you know how many you need on each step, and to choose the shapes you want to use since they are uneven.

  2. Soak the tiles in water. Terracotta is highly porous. Soaking them before using them will prevent them from soaking up moisture from the cement, causing the cement to crumble instead of hardening properly. As the tiles dry out, the cement will dry on its own as well without losing moisture.

  3. Mix the cement in the bucket. Combine the sand and cement in a four to one measurement. You can mix it with your hands until it becomes thick and pasty.

  4. Lay the cement over the steps one at a time in a layer that is between 6 mm and 1.2 cm (1/4 inch and 1/2 inch) thick. Use the trowel to lay the cement, make it even and smooth it out over the step edges so it does not harden jaggedly.

  5. Place the tiles over the cement, pressing down on them very gently. If a tile happens to break, use a spare tile rather than trying to glue it back together or place it together on the cement hoping it will bond once the cement dries.

  6. Fill in the spaces between the tiles with tile grout. You can use a grout gun to easily shoot the grout in a straight line between the tiles. Instead of grout, you can use the cement mixture to fill in the cracks and make the steps even across the top. Wipe away cement that gets on the tiles with a wet rag before the cement dries.

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Things You'll Need

  • Terracotta tiles
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Bucket
  • Trowel
  • Grout
  • Rag

About the Author

Joshua Bailey resides in Pennsylvania and has been a professional writer since 2007. His writing focuses on topics in film, entertainment, music and religion. Bailey has been published on eHow and has written numerous articles for three universities. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in business and creative writing from Moravian College.

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