How to Build Simple Entry Steps

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An inviting entry to a home enhances its curb appeal. Entry steps must be able to withstand weather conditions and heavy use. Many materials are available on the market for building attractive entry steps, such as bricks, concrete and wood. Creating tile entry steps over old, worn concrete provides one of the most attractive choices. Exterior-rated, unglazed and skid-resistant tiles come in a large variety of colors that complement the landscape.

Things You'll Need

  • Pressure washer
  • Masonry trowel
  • Notched trowel
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile rippers
  • Square-notched trowel
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Caulk gun
  • Latex caulk
  • Latex bonding adhesive
  • Isolation membrane
  • Tile spacers
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Field tile
  • Bull-nose tile
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Chalk
  • Broom
  • Patching compound
  • Measure the area to be covered. Tiles will need to be at least 1/2 inch thick to handle walking stress. Choose tiles slightly shorter than the step risers, if possible, to minimize the need to cut tiles. Risers are the vertical step sections. Your home improvement center will help you identify your tile choices.

  • Pressure-wash the concrete following the manufacturer’s instructions. The concrete must be clean and free of any previously applied curing agents.

  • Dig debris out of the cracks using the screwdriver. Sweep the area. Check the concrete surfaces to make sure they are level. Fill any small cracks and low areas with patching compound using a masonry trowel. Allow the compound to dry completely.

  • Spread a thin layer of isolation membrane over the concrete using a notched trowel. Smooth the surface with the flat edge of the trowel. Allow the membrane to dry completely.

  • Set the tiles. Mix a batch of thin-set mortar and bonding adhesive following the manufacturer's instructions. Trowel a coating of the mixture onto the step sides. Press the tiles into the mortar, starting at the top and working down. Use spacers if necessary.

  • Install tiles on the step risers using the process outlined in Step 5. Position the first tile in the center of the riser, working out to the edges. Use spacers between the tiles.

  • Set the tread tiles using the process outlined in Step 5. Treads are the top surfaces of the steps. Place bull-nose tiles across the front edge of the step where the riser meets the tread. Tile the remaining portion of the step surface with field (standard) tiles, aligning the spaces between tiles with spaces in the risers. Repeat this process on each entry step. Allow the mortar to set following the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Remove the spacers. Apply grout in the spaces between the tiles using a grout float. Wipe away any excess with a wet sponge and allow the grout to dry completely.

  • Seal the grout with an exterior-rated grout sealer.

  • Fill in the gap between the house and tiles next to it with caulk. Tinted caulks are available that will match your grout.

Tips & Warnings

  • All project items are available at local home improvement centers. They can answer any questions concerning the tiling project. Often these centers offer free classes on installing tile.
  • Tile cutters, rippers or a wet saw can be used to cut any tiles to adjust for fit. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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References

  • "Black and Decker Complete Outdoor Builder"; Editors of Creative Publishing; 2009
  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
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