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Is Tile Bad for a Staircase?

Stairs with properly applied tiles can be very imposing. If you consider tiling your stairs, check out these considerations that could help you make a decision.

Stairs with tile in a luxury home.

Tile is a potentially very attractive and very durable way to cover the stairs inside your home. Stairs with properly applied tiles can be very eye-catching and help to boost the value of your home.

Tiled stairways are much more durable than carpeted stairways. Even wooden stairs suffer wear and tear over time. Not tiled stairs, though. Tiled stairways work equally well indoors as well as outdoors and give you the following benefits:

  • Versatility in look and style.
  • Durability in high-traffic areas.
  • Anti-slip options.
  • Resists fading, scratching, fire, and frost.
  • Maintainable with replacement tiles and grout.

Tiled stairways could withstand a lifetime of use and beyond. Only solid stone stairways could be more durable. But solid stone stairs indoors also could be very impractical due to weight and cost. Ceramic tile is much more affordable and lighter than stone.

But tiled stairs do have potential downsides, starting with preparation and cost. If you are considering tiling your stairs, the following considerations could help you to make a final decision.

Three Kinds of Tile Give You Lots of Options

Choosing the best tile for your stairway goes beyond its size and decorative elements. You could choose ceramic, porcelain, or stone tiles and get excellent results with either one. The cost could be the deciding factor on which type you choose.

Ceramic tiles are made from a mixture of clay materials that help to make it durable. Glazed surfaces seal the porous surfaces of raw ceramic tile. But you could obtain non-glazed ceramic tile, too. Ceramic tiles generally are the least expensive type of tile but can produce exceptional results.

Porcelain tile usually costs more than ceramic tile. It generally is much stronger and more durable than ceramic. Its greater density generally makes porcelain tile more resistant to stains, water, and chipping or cracking. Many homeowners use it on outdoor stairways.Luxury, granite stone stairs.Stone tile often is made from limestone, slate, granite, or marble and is the most expensive of the bunch. But it is exceptionally durable and could be used indoors or outdoors. Stone tiles generally get better over time and last for as long as your home is standing.

Factors to Consider for Tile Choice

different types of ceramic tiles

All types of tiles are rated for their respective durability, resistance to scratching, and porous nature. You need to assess your needs and have a good idea of which type of tile will fulfill them.

Durability is rated across five levels and helps you to choose a suitable tile just by looking at its durability rating. A level-one tile is the least durable and a level-five the most durable. Most homeowners find a level-three tile with moderate durability will work fine.

The scratch resistance is rated along a 10-point scale with a 1 being the easiest to scratch and a 10 the hardest. Talc is the softest and earns a 1 rating. Diamonds are the hardest and earn a 10 rating. But no one makes tiles using those substances for obvious reasons. You would do best to find a tile rated between a 4 and a 6 to withstand the potential wear and tear of being placed on a stairway.

Porosity refers to the tile’s ability to resist water. Tiles that are either non-vitreous or semi-vitreous are the most porous of the bunch. Such tiles only should be used indoors – but not in the bathroom or kitchen where water is more likely to affect the flooring. Vitreous tiles are non-porous and ideal for outdoor use or in kitchens or bathrooms. They are frost-proof and can withstand any outdoor climate.

Is it a Do-It-Yourself Job?

If you are among those who like to save money by doing your own home improvements, you might want to reconsider that approach when it comes to laying tiles. That is especially true on a stairway.

The stairway has to be perfectly level and plumb for the tiles to fit and work properly. If the steps are uneven and the stairs out of plumb, they need to be adjusted until they are in perfect condition to proceed with tiling them.Measuring tiles with L-square

If you have experience laying the tiles and using grout, you have a better chance of doing quality work on your stairway. You will need a wet saw to cut the tile and other trade-specific tools to enable you to do the job correctly.

Given the potential cost and need for the tiles to last for a very long time, most homeowners are best advised to obtain the services of experienced tile-setters. A well-designed tile stairway can be a great investment and a terrific home improvement project that helps to make your living space look and work much better.