How to Install Ceramic Tile on Stair Risers

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Stair risers are the notched boards on your stairs that your stair treads or the stair boards attach to. Adding ceramic tile to your stair treads will provide a completely different look than the normal wood stained or painted surface. Installing ceramic tile onto stair treads follows the same process for installing ceramic tile onto a countertop or backsplash.

Things You'll Need

  • Tile cutting saw
  • Thinset
  • 1/4-inch notched trowel
  • 1/4-inch tile shims
  • Grout bag
  • Grout
  • Moist rag
  • Utility knife
  • Test fit each piece and then cut all pieces that require specific angles or trimming with a tile cutting saw. Keep in mind, when testing fitting and cutting, you will have a ¼-inch grout line between each tile.

  • Apply thinset mortar to the stair riser with a ¼-inch notched trowel. Allow the thinset to set for the specified amount of time on the packaging to ensure it will adhere to the tile efficiently.

  • Place the bottom row of tile along the floor against the thinset. Place a ¼-inch shim between each time and on the top edge of each time on the top row. Wipe any excess thinset off the face of the ceramic tile with a damp rag while you work.

  • Place the second and each subsequent row above the last. Remember to place a ¼-inch shim between and above each tile.

  • Pull out all of the shims and discard them. Allow 24-hours drying time for the thinset.

  • Fill a grout bag with grout and then cut the corner of the bag off with a utility knife.

  • Squeeze the grout into the grout lines between each tile. Run the tip of your finger over the grout to remove the excess and to create a slight indentation. Wipe away all excess grout with a damp rag. Allow 24-hours drying time.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider installing the ceramic tile in a diamond pattern, or using multiple colors.

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