Installing Tile Flooring on Stairs
Tile flooring installation on stairs is similar to installing tile on the subfloor. Before you can begin the installation process, assess the staircase and determine whether or not it's strong enough to support the tiles. You also want to make sure that each stair is flat and level.
Recommended Stair Types for Tile Installation
Concrete stairs are stable and usually best for tile installation, while hardwood stairs can be a little tricky. Many flooring professionals advise against installing tile on wooden stairs believing that they're not strong enough to support the weight over time. In addition, hardwood has a tendency to shift with vibrations. This can loosen the grout and consequently dislodge and crack the tiles.
When installing tile over a hardwood staircase, make sure that you first lay down a cement backer unit (CBU) or a mortar bed. This will help level the stairs and provide a solid base for the tiles.
Tips Before Getting Started
A number of tile types are not generally recommended for stair installation as they can be very slippery. "Slippery" and stairs are probably not the best combination for a safe home. You may want to consider installing non-slip nosing on each step to reduce risk of slipping. Anti-slip nosing is usually made of rubber and can go on the edge of each step.
Refer to the following steps when installing tile on stairs. For more detailed information, see our "Complete Tile Flooring Installation Guide" located in our Tile Flooring section.
- The tile should never extend over the edge of the stair. Once the subfloor is properly prepared, lay mortar on the top riser and start installing the tile (try to use whole tiles before using tile pieces).
- Lay down mortar and install tile on the tread. If you're using rubber or metal nosing, do not let the tile overlap the riser.
- Lay down mortar on the next step and install the tile. For stability, make sure that the riser tile extends beyond the back edge of the tread tile.
- Continue to lay down mortar and install tile until you reach the bottom of the stairs.
- Let the tile set according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Then apply grout.
- Let the mortar and grout cure; seal if needed.