How to Install Stair Nosing on Tile

What You'll Need
Enough tile nosing to finish each stair tread
Wood saw to cut the nosing
Measuring tape
Tile adhesive
Tile grout
Notched tiling trowel
Rubber float or spatula
Damp cloth

When tiles are used on stairs, a stair nosing is required to protect the edges from damage caused by wear, things being dragged on them, and general temperature contraction and expansion. The edge of the step is vulnerable; it is an exposed corner that takes all the knocks of people walking up and down. Tiles on the steps are easily cracked and broken off; therefore, they must be capped with a hardwood cap, called a stair nosing. A stair nosing is typically about 3 inches wide and ¾ inch thick. It has a rounded nose to prevent catching shoes and causing a tripping hazard. There are metal stair caps available with a rubber tread which can be used as an alternative to hardwood nosing. Follow these steps to add stair nosing to your tile.

Step 1 - Clean the Stair Treads

Start from the top step to avoid stepping or leaning on the nosing as you go. Stair nosing should be installed prior to gluing the tiles. It is embedded in the mortar, along with the tiles. Clean the area with a degreasing cleaner to make sure the area is free from oils and dust. Allow the space to dry thoroughly before proceeding.

Step 2 - Cut the Stair Nosing

Measure and cut the nosing to fit across the treads. If the nosing is too short to fit across the entire step, center a piece on the stair and cut two equal pieces to fit each side. Allow for grouting if desired.

Step 3 - Lay the Nosing

With a notched trowel, apply tile adhesive to the back of the tile nosing. If you have several pieces, lay the center piece first, then the side pieces. Press the nosing into place.

Step 4 - Place Spacers

Allowing for grout lines, place a spacer on each side. For neatness, the grout lines should match with the lines on the stair tread and riser. Skip this step if you do not want grout lines. Install the tiles and spacers until the whole stair edge is covered with the nosing. Remove the spacers.

Step 5 - Install Nosing on Each Stair

Working from the top of the stairs downward, install all the tile nosing on every edge of the stair treads for the whole stair. Leave the job for 24 hours to allow the adhesive to cure.

Step 6 - Install Tiles

If you have any other tiles to install on the stairs, do so now and leave them to cure for another 24 hours.

Step 7 - Grout the Channels

Grout any channels created by the spacers. Don’t mix too much grout at one time; you can always stop and mix some more. Use a rubber float or spatula to push the grout into the channels between the tiles and nosing pieces. Smooth the grout with a damp cloth and wipe away any excess grout. Make any lines slightly concave.