Tiling Over Stairs

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Old 08-20-12, 05:46 AM
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Tiling Over Stairs

We are finishing out our basement right now and are going with a travertine tile for the flooring. Because we have dogs, we wanted to tile the stairs as well down to the basement (as opposed to wood or carpet) for durability.

I am hiring out the tiling for the floor to a professional (still getting quotes) but want to make sure I was correct in thinking tiling over the stairs would be a wise approach before starting the stair preparation which I will do myself to save on some labor time.

The best approach I have gathered so far is:
1. Cut the stair tread lip on each stair flush with the riser.
2. Screw down 1/4" backer board over the entire staircase
3. Tile the stairs installing the riser first and overlap the riser tile with tile on each step.

The travertine is higher end and very durable compared to some of the less expensive travertines on the market. It is also a distressed style so it is not smooth like some travertine so I am not as concerned with slippage on them.

Is my general approach inline with how this installation should be performed? I will of course consult the professional tiler on the job as well but like to educate myself ahead of time....and again, havent picked out the tiler just yet. Thanks for any advice. The picture below represents the general look we are looking to achieve.

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Old 08-20-12, 05:51 AM
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How thick are the treads? What's the spacing of the stringers? what type of support do they have?
 
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Old 08-20-12, 07:13 AM
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the treads are 1" thick.

The stringers appear to be about 41.5" apart but there is some sort of support in the middle of the staircase...here is a pic...

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Old 08-20-12, 09:24 AM
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I think you're going to need better support for tile. Wood can flex a little but tile/grout can't.
 
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Old 08-20-12, 10:23 AM
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What would be the best method to provide better support?
 
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Old 08-20-12, 02:39 PM
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You definitely don't have enough support for tile, and I wouldn't allow that much span between my stringers for wood. You will have to install stringers at no more than 16" on center, which will entail removing those cute little runners they have there for no reason and the air conditioning ductwork so you can get in there. Dismantling the entire staircase would be my choice to ensure the stringers went in properly, and you could cut the treads with them off the staircase (easier).
 
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Old 08-20-12, 05:01 PM
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I'm not a stair guy but I believe that stringers for closed stairs can be spaced wider than stringers for open stairs. The thought being that the riser provides additional support for the tread. I might be wrong though because 36" for two stringers keeps popping up in my mind.

With that said, I agree that they may not be stiff enough for tile. If you have room you could try stiffening the treads more with transverse supports like a 2X4 on edge under the middle of each joist.

Have you tried to measure tread deflection? Lay a straight edge across the treads lengthwise and then check out how much it deflects with your full weight on it. My guess is not much.
 
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Old 08-20-12, 05:24 PM
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I'd demo the stairs and start over so as to ensure proper strength for the tile. For starters, I'd recommend using four 12" LVL's as your stair jacks, spaced evenly across the opening... roughly 14" OC for a 42" opening.

After all 4 stair jacks have been cut, sandwich all 4 together with clamps and grind the treads and risers with a grinder and flap sander so that all 4 are exactly identical. This will help eliminate any shimming or bending of the subfloor as you glue and screw the subfloor to the stair jacks.
 
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Old 08-20-12, 08:01 PM
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Haven't tried tread deflection yet but will look into that.

There is zero chance I would demo and rebuild the stairs at this point....it was at least be the last last resort.

Guess i need to start considering other options...
 
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Old 08-21-12, 04:20 AM
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IMO, tile would be the LAST thing I would want on a staircase for treads and risers. A nice stained oak bull nose tread and poplar risers painted white would make it jump out, plus it won't require any modifications.
 
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Old 08-21-12, 05:10 AM
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Stained oak treads are great until you have dogs going up and down them on a regular basis scratching them up. That is what we have on the main staircase in our house and they are anything but dog friendly...may just have to suck it up and go with oak regardless. Oak treads are my plan B at the moment.
 
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Old 08-21-12, 09:45 AM
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You can take a 1/4 sheet sander [or even hand sanding] and easily refinish the steps if you catch it before the scratches get thru the stain. Just sand out the scratches in the poly, dust and apply a fresh coat.
 
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