Staircase Makeover

6 Materials
25 Hours

My front curved staircase is the first thing you see when entering my home. The staircase was the reason I fell in love with my house initially but keeping carpeted stairs cleaned and vacuumed was a giant frustration. After looking into replacing with wood, I decided on tile. A hardwood replacement would have been far more expensive and required additional tools. I wanted to create a statement look and love Spanish tile detail. There are a lot of options for tile, but in the end I didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on high end tile for the stairs. I ended up buying my black and white tiles from Lowe's for $1.29 per tile and the larger tiles ran about $30 per tile from Home Depot.

Before Pic
Prep the stairs/Remove carpet/clean surface

Remove all staples and hammer in remaining nails. The carpet can easily be removed by using a small crowbar or flat head screw driver to get a corner of the carpet up and then easily pull the rest up.

Plan and Purchase your Tile

Decide on type of tile and how best to position the tiles. I wanted the top of each step to match the new flooring we installed upstairs, which was a walnut color laminant. So I chose a tile that was long enough to fill the full width of each stairs ( 48 inches long). This way there would only be one grout line for the large steps and none on the smaller standard width. I chose a detailed tile for the face because I wanted a statement look. If this style is too bold for you, consider using the same large wood looking tile for the face of each stairs.

Apply mortar for tile and schluter edging

Start by applying mortar with a trowel to the top side of stair.

This step is much easier if you have a partner who is measuring and cutting the tiles with a wet saw, while someone else installs.

Install schluter edge and tile.
Place the tile on top of the schlutter edge

You will need to make sure the schluter edge and the tile stay about 3/8 of an inch over the step, to cover the black and white tile that will cover the face of each stairs. We improvised by making a small cheater guide with wood, cut to the correct distance. This was easier than measuring each step.


For more of my grouting tutorials:

Finishing Touches

I used a white caulk on the face (edges only) and a dark/wood colored caulk on the steps. I ended up painting the banister black and staining the final step a similar walnut color as the wood colored tile. We will refinish the lighter hardwoods on the first floor eventually but for now I don’t mind the difference. Overall, I’m super happy with my new staircase, which is beautiful and very easy to clean!

Resources for this project:

See all materials
Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.More info

Flawless Chaos
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

3 of 8 questions
  • Sjr Spike Sjr Spike on Jun 10, 2020

    Gorgeous! I love this look! But did you really pay $30 for each of the walnut tiles?

  • HandyGirl HandyGirl on Jun 11, 2020

    That’s beautiful! Wonder how the tiled treads will hold up over time? Say that because those treads tend to flex because of the constant stepping in one zone and flex causes tile to crack. It appears you set long tile strips on particle board rather that using a cement based backer board—which would have eliminated that flex. Absolutely love the tiles on the risers and as long as you allowed a gap between the riser tiles and the tread (you can use sanded caulk that matches your grout to fill gaps), the riser tiles should be ok. One alternative would be to use real wood treads or wood-look vinyl treads. What you did looks fantastic and I hope it holds up!

  • Debra Debra on Jun 11, 2021



Join the conversation

2 of 63 comments
  • Mary Coakley Mary Coakley on Jun 12, 2021

    WOW.i did like the.original.too beautiful work

  • Ellis Ellis on Jun 12, 2021

    It looks striking.

    Builders should be required to finish stairs with wood treads and risers. Leaving unfinished wood that must alway be covered by carpet is a cheap practice, unfair to homebuyers.