Tiling Stairs


Using Tile On Stairs

CREATE a staircase that looks amazing, is easy to clean & lasts a lifetime

When choosing stair tiles, thought should obviously be given to the overall aesthetics, but undoubtedly, safety is the most important consideration. Luckily, with the right direction and planning, you will not need to choose one over the other. You can have beautiful stairs that complete your design vision, are easy to maintain AND are SAFE for you, your family and your visitors.

stair riser tile - bullnose tile

Through body porcelain tiles are fired at much higher temperatures than ceramic tiles. The color pigment is present throughout the tile and hence can be bullnosed (rounded) to remove the sharp edges and make the tile safer for stair installation.

Profiles brand tile for stairs

Profiles, like those sold by Schluter Systems, provide a nice finished look to the end of each stair. Profiles come in a variety of colors, finishes and materials in order to match any type of design style; they also offer additional slip resistance to your tiled stairs.

tiled stairs with custom tread or tape

Custom tread can either be applied to the stair tile as a tape or can be fabricated into the tile to create grooves that improve the slip resistance. This type of solution can be used in interior or exterior applications, for both residential and commercial installations.

Safe Stair Edges

Falling on stairs is dangerous – no matter what the material – but the damage can be reduced dramatically by ensuring that there are no sharp edges. Hence, when installing tile on a staircase, it is highly recommended that all the edges are rounded; in industry jargon – all edges should be bullnosed.

Bullnosing is a special technique used by contractors to profile and round off an edge using special blades. Natural stones are perfect for this technique because the beauty of the stone runs through the entirety of the tile. Porcelain can also be used with this technique so long as it is a Full Body tile. This means the color of the tile is dyed into the porcelain allowing it to be bull nosed and all around more durable. You shouldn’t be turned away from porcelain tile if it isn’t a full body tile, because there are other options to consider.

Bullnose Tile Options

  1. Purchase stair tile that has pre-bullnose trim pieces as part of the same color and series. This is the ideal solution, though these pre-bullnose trim pieces are becoming harder to find and often do not match the color and sizing perfectly.
  2. Ask your tile contractor to bullnose (round) the edges of the tile. Not all tile contractors can do this so make sure you discuss this prior to installation. The alternative is to send the tile pieces to a fabricator to have this done professionally for a small fee. Please be aware that only natural stone and tile that is full-body (i.e. the color pigment of the tile is present through the entire tile and not just glazed/painted on the top) can be bullnosed.

The sales staff at San Diego Marble & Tile can help you plan the tile for your staircase – find a location near you.

Staircase Grout Lines

Grout lines and/or shade variations in the tile are very important when planning your tile staircase. To ensure that your staircase is as safe as possible, the following 2 factors will help you decide on the best stair tile choice.

  1. The height of each stair.
    If an individual stair is too high or too low, it is easy to ‘clip’ or ‘miss’ a stair and this can cause you to fall. According to general code practice; stair riser heights shall be 7 inches (178 mm) maximum and 4 inches (102 mm) minimum. The riser height shall be measured vertically between the leading edges of adjacent treads.
  2. The illusion of where one step ends and the other begins.
    When looking from the top of the staircase down, the individual stair visibility is vitally important yet can match the direction of the grout lines on the top level. However, when looking at the staircase from the lower level, the stair riser grout lines should differ from the grout lines of the tile on the actual stair so that your sub-conscious can differentiate between the height of the stair riser and the actual stair that you are stepping onto.

Slip Resistant Stair Tiles

Slip resistance is probably the most important aspect of your stairs – no matter what material is used. Stairs should always be kept free of moisture and liquid as this will make any staircase slippery. Choosing a tile that has a high Coefficient of Friction (COF) rating is very important.

There are additional options that can be added to make a staircase less slippery and these involve using special grit tape (can be colored or clear), specially treaded tile (see above) or Schluter profiles. Depending on your design style and tile preference, our sales staff at San Diego Marble & Tile can advise and help you choose the best option for your home or building.

In addition to all these options other materials, such as wood, carpet and rubber can be added to tile stairways in order to add unique design touches and even potential safety improvements.

San Diego Marble & Tile showroom

With 3 showroom & warehouse locations across the county, you can now ‘Shop here, and Pick-up there’ — we have the reach and convenience to suit all our local customer’s needs — we are local.

small green glass tiles in bowl and on countertop

We work closely with your contractor and/or designer to ensure your project stays on schedule & your design concept becomes a reality for you to enjoy for many years. Think of us as part of your team.

backyard pool with outdoor tile from San Diego Marble & Tile

By following some basic care instructions, you should be able to keep your tile looking as beautiful as the day you installed it. Tile care differs slightly depending on material & whether installed inside or outside.

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