How to Install Ceramic Tile on Stair Risers

Lisa Wampler

Stair risers are the notched boards on your stairs that your stair treads or the stair boards attach to. Adding ceramic tile to your stair treads will provide a completely different look than the normal wood stained or painted surface. Installing ceramic tile onto stair treads follows the same process for installing ceramic tile onto a countertop or backsplash.

  1. Test fit each piece and then cut all pieces that require specific angles or trimming with a tile cutting saw. Keep in mind, when testing fitting and cutting, you will have a ¼-inch grout line between each tile.

  2. Apply thinset mortar to the stair riser with a ¼-inch notched trowel. Allow the thinset to set for the specified amount of time on the packaging to ensure it will adhere to the tile efficiently.

  3. Place the bottom row of tile along the floor against the thinset. Place a ¼-inch shim between each time and on the top edge of each time on the top row. Wipe any excess thinset off the face of the ceramic tile with a damp rag while you work.

  4. Place the second and each subsequent row above the last. Remember to place a ¼-inch shim between and above each tile.

  5. Pull out all of the shims and discard them. Allow 24-hours drying time for the thinset.

  6. Fill a grout bag with grout and then cut the corner of the bag off with a utility knife.

  7. Squeeze the grout into the grout lines between each tile. Run the tip of your finger over the grout to remove the excess and to create a slight indentation. Wipe away all excess grout with a damp rag. Allow 24-hours drying time.