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I have an old staircase in my home and to dress it up, I'm thinking of tiling the risers.

Since they don't get stepped on, but likely bumped by feet, what is the best way to prepare them to hold the tile?

20 comments
  • Woodbridge Environmental Tiptophouse.com
    Woodbridge Environmental Tiptophouse.com Colonia, NJ
    on Dec 13, 2011

    using tiles on risers may seem like a good idea, but stairs get a lot of use. With that use there is a lot of movement. Although you do not feel this when walking up and down, it does exist. I would suggest that using tile on them may not be such a good idea for fear of cracking. Also someday if you ever decide to do something else, even carpet, the tile will be real dog to remove and if you wanted to go back to stain, it would be even worse. But you you still want to do this, may I suggest that you cut thin plywood and fasten it to the backs of the stairs and then apply the tiles to them. This way they will be less likely to move as the stairs will and if you even decide you do not like the tile, you can simply crack a few and then pull the entire board off leaving the clean wood on the original stairs behind. Or simply tile the small boards that fit in the space and using wood trim trim the tiled panel out to hold it into place. This way you can tile everything on a table and when dry simply put them in place and fasten them in. Like any tile job, clean and no bumps on the wood. Using a good quality thin set should do the trick. Be sure to back butter the tiles so they stick as good as they can.

  • Natalie W
    Natalie W Joliet, IL
    on Dec 13, 2011

    hmmm, thank you very much for your insight, and now I'll reconsider doing this. I just don't know what I'm going to do with this old staircase, it's rather ugly, and it will be a while before I can have it redone..... It's painted, rather than stained, and the wood is old and bumpy. I was guessing I would have to plywood all the risers, as I've done tiles quite a few times and found I'm actually rather good at it .... which is why I've thought of taking this on .... but if they do move, you're right.....it won't work.

  • Harold M
    Harold M Franklin, NC
    on Dec 13, 2011

    I agree with Woodbridge. The slightest movement and you'll have grout cracking. I'd stay away from tile on stairs. You could tear out the treads and risers (and railing) and redo it, when you have the money or carpet?

  • Bob and RodMan S
    Bob and RodMan S Tucker, GA
    on Dec 13, 2011

    Taking Woodbridge's tactic of facing the riser with a thin plywood sheet would allow you to select from several decorative elements. Tile might still have a tendency to pop but you could consider wood moulding, veneer, or a faux finish duplicating tile, stone,etc. applied to the false front. Then you always have the option of easy removal with this approach.

  • WallsTreat Studio/ Kass Wilson
    WallsTreat Studio/ Kass Wilson Alpharetta, GA
    on Dec 14, 2011

    Have fun with it. Here are some ideas for paint. Do the steps, the risers or both!

    risers

    risers

    steps

    steps

  • Kevin M. Veler, Law Office of
    Kevin M. Veler, Law Office of Alpharetta, GA
    on Dec 14, 2011

    Okay Kass, I have to say that the stencil and the advertising look nice. The stripes would just throw me off. I wonder how the steps would be perceived by the eye (dang this legal training) and the last is not my style but great to see some out of the box thinking.

  • Lisa M
    Lisa M Newport, NH
    on Dec 14, 2011

    Painted canvas stair risers work great! http://canvasworksfloorcloths.com

    Each canvas piece was painted , then installed. email lisa@canvasworksfloorcloths.com for more info

    Each canvas piece was painted , then installed. email lisa@canvasworksfloorcloths.com for more info

  • KMS Woodworks
    KMS Woodworks Nederland, CO
    on Dec 14, 2011

    to throw yet another option into the mix...tin ceiling type panels...these are flex resistant and could be easily attached with some construction adhesive..and if you need the remove them the substrate will clean up. @wallstreat....that stripped one would have me cross-eyed and falling down those stairs ...resulting in countless broken bone and bruises....the first one is trick however

  • WallsTreat Studio/ Kass Wilson
    WallsTreat Studio/ Kass Wilson Alpharetta, GA
    on Dec 14, 2011

    KMS and Kevin, I couldn't live with it either. . . but that's why there are 57 flavors!!!!

  • Laurie B
    Laurie B Brattleboro, VT
    on Dec 14, 2011

    All purpose Adhesive OR Tile Adhesive & use 4x4 Tiles , easy to work with !

  • Natalie W
    Natalie W Joliet, IL
    on Dec 14, 2011

    Thank you for all the help and awesome ideas... Walls treat, I love those stenciled steps .... I just don't think paint is enough to make these old stairs look any good, and if I did that much work on them, I'd want it to be permanent....those are gorgeous. tin ceilings sound nice too, and I know they come less shiny too .... may look into it.... thanks again!

  • Harold M
    Harold M Franklin, NC
    on Dec 16, 2011

    KMS I like your idea, but how do you deal with the edges of the metal tiles? Make a trim?

  • KMS Woodworks
    KMS Woodworks Nederland, CO
    on Dec 17, 2011

    Harold...if they are cut straight and true the tops and bottoms will be against the tread and the underside of the tread overhang. the sides could be bent over or a small piece of molding could be applied if the risers have "exposed" edges.

  • Natalie W
    Natalie W Joliet, IL
    on Dec 23, 2011

    I like the ceiling panel idea! Thanks everyone!

  • Diane B
    Diane B Dublin, GA
    on Jan 2, 2012

    I like the stenciling best of all.. it would not cause me to fall up the stairs, I hope. Very nice. Like he strips, but would cause visual dilemma. Good luck.

  • Judith O
    Judith O Glenview, IL
    on May 6, 2012

    Love the 1st pic, looks like inlay.

  • Kelly S
    Kelly S Bremerton, WA
    on May 6, 2012

    we are replacing the treads on ours with hard wood (ash) and facing the risers with 1/4" plywood stained to match the treads. It's an enclosed staircase. It used to have cheap carpet. I have already removed that. I tried to talk my husband into tiles or paint or something but nope just wood.

  • Rosemary N
    Rosemary N Klamath Falls, OR
    on May 6, 2012

    These are really cool! Wish my house had stairs....

  • Kathy R
    Kathy R Lockport, IL
    on May 6, 2012

    Someone must have a lot of time on their hands...

  • Marissa H
    Marissa H Dundee, NY
    on May 6, 2012

    I think it would be cool to make them look like books stacked on each other.

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