How to Tile Stair Treads


Tiling your staircase treads adds a striking look to your house, while allowing you to avoid the scuffs that come with wooden stairs and the cleaning problems with carpeted stairs. Several types of tile are available with a finished edge for the exposed fronts of the stair treads. Choose bullnose tiles, V-cap tiles or stair tread tiles, depending on whether the treads extend past the risers and on your style preference. If your staircase isn't enclosed by walls on both sides, use tiles with a second finished edge for the exposed side edges.

Things You'll Need

  • Thinset mortar
  • Trowel
  • Bullnose tiles
  • V-cap trim tile
  • Stair tread tile
  • Tile spacers
  • Rubber mallet
  • Beater board
  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Apply thinset mortar to the back of a tile with a trowel. Place the tile on the topmost tread, arranged with the finished edge at the edge of the tread. Place tile spacers on the left and right sides of the tile.

  • Place additional tiles on the tread as you did the first one until the tread is covered in tiles. Lay a beater board across the tiles and gently hit it with a rubber mallet, pushing the tiles into the tread and making them flush with each other.

  • Repeat the process for the other stair treads, working your way down the staircase. Let the thinset mortar dry overnight, following the instructions on the package.

  • Pull the tile spacers out from between the tiles. Press grout between the tiles using a grout float, starting with the top stair tread. Use the edge of the float to scrape extra grout from the tops of the tiles.

  • Repeat Step 4 for the rest of the stair treads, working your way down the stairs.

  • Press a tile spacer or the corner of a damp sponge into each grout line on the top stair tread, creating an even depth to the grout. Clean the remaining grout residue from the tiles with a wet sponge before it hardens. Repeat for the rest of the stair treads, working your way down.

  • Let the grout dry overnight, following the instructions on the package.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bring a picture of one of your stairs with you to the tile supply or home improvement store. The photo will help you select the right type of tile for your stair treads.
  • If your wood stairs have extremely worn and cracked treads, screw cement backerboard over the treads before laying the tile.
  • For cement stairs, level and patch the cement before laying tile.
  • Select tiles that will cover each stair tread in one row for an attractive, easy to install look.

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  • "Tiling"; Editors of Sunset Books; 2009
  • "Tiling: Step-by-Step"; Better Homes and Gardens; 2004
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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