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Old 01-03-2007, 02:19 PM   #1
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Ceramic tile on a little step...


I'm working on tiling my new laundry room and am happy with the results so far... but I've come to a bit of a difficulty... The contractor installed a small step up into an adjoining room, and I'm uncertain how to tile it so that it looks professional... I'll attach a couple of pics.

You see, the tile that is already on the floor doesn't line up with the step, so I'm not sure where to put the tile lines, and the tiles fit exactly on the top of the step if they're placed centered and not hanging over the edge, but I understand that the tile on the tread should overlay the edge of the tile on the riser... if I line up the tiles to do that I end up with about an inch and a half gap (second pic) I'm hoping that there's an easy solution to this that I'm not seeing... any suggestions are welcome!!! Thanks!

Ceramic tile on a little step...-img_1579.jpg

Ceramic tile on a little step...-img_1580.jpg

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Old 01-03-2007, 03:35 PM   #2
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Ceramic tile on a little step...


I would go with the first picture... ignore the aligning with the floor... as you cannot really consider aligning tiles in 3 dimenionally... things not align 3 dimension does not necessary look not as good than when it is align... in fact... when it is align, you may not see the step and someone got kick on his/her toes because of the step...

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Old 01-03-2007, 05:28 PM   #3
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Ceramic tile on a little step...


I agree with Silhanek buil a new step and make it fit the tile
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Old 01-03-2007, 05:32 PM   #4
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Ceramic tile on a little step...


Anybody else notice the tile direct to wood? The step is the least of the problem.
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Old 01-03-2007, 05:36 PM   #5
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Ceramic tile on a little step...


I think they are just layind their to see how it looks because isnt that something sticking out from the middle white tile or maybe I amjust seeing things ??
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Old 01-03-2007, 06:20 PM   #6
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Ceramic tile on a little step...


What I was told by 2 contractors, plus Rona and Home Depot was that you can lay tile direct on wood as long as the wood is thick enough to have no flexion... an inch and a quarter ply total, made by 2 layers of plywood laid at right angles to each other, glued and screwed, I think is what they told me.

Anyways, the "prep" work was done by a reputable pro... the wood is laid on top of cement with a layer of an insulation stuff in between. I wanted to save money since I pretty much know how to tile... but this was an uncertainty.

A friend has suggested just laying the tile as it fits on the tread and just filling the front right angle edge between the tread and the rise with grout at a 45 degree angle... My husband suggests doing it that way and putting some sort of metal trim around the edge, which I suppose would look ok, since the planned decor is 50's style...

I'm not keen on taking out and rebuilding the step as it would have to be an inch and a half narrower which would look odd under the existing door, AND it's an awful lot of "screwing" around for me (female here ) especially since the surrounding tiles are already cut and ready to lay...
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Old 01-03-2007, 09:35 PM   #7
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Ceramic tile on a little step...


If that tile has already been installed on the floor without centering it to the step that was the first error. It could have been centered to the step which is a focal point and allowed to be slightly out of balance along the walls and no one would ever notice the walls.

Now the only thing to do is to rebuild the step, it's not a big deal woman or not.

Deflection is always an issue of all wood floor structures and tiling over wood is an issue that shouldn't be approached by a DIY'er. I can see from here that that tile is being installed over CDX plywood and that's a no-no. To install tile over plywood sucessfully the plywood must be exterior grade underlayment plywood and no less. CDX contains voids and will blister easily when moisture is present.

The thickness of the plywood is great but the top layer should have never been glued to the first. It should only be nailed or screwed and not attached to the joists below, only attach it to the plywood below. The laying at a right angle is a good thing though.

Installing plywood over concrete usually isn't the best thing to do because all concrete on or below grade will repeatedly contain moisture that is naturally trying to evaporate. That evaporation process will likely work on the plywood detrimentally over time and that type of plywood won't take the moisture issues for very long. The tile installation will heave in a short time compared to how long it would have lasted if done properly due to the plywood seperating and blistering from the moisture.

That "reputable pro" has never heard of the Tile Council of America's Handbook for the Installation of Ceramic Tile obviously. And you also can't depend on getting any kind of a straight answer from the HD employees, last week they were flipping burgers at Burger King for minimum wage and this week they are tile pros.

Your only hope for the tile staying with the plywood until the moisture causes an upheival is if you are using unmodified (dryset) thinset and mixing it with a polymer additive. That's the standard your "pro's" should have told you about.

Metal tile edging is available at HD at around ten bucks for an eight foot stick, you can see some of the tile edgings at http://www.schlutersystems.com click on "PRODUCTS".

You could install a decorative band (four inches wide, or so) around the bottom step (on the floor) using all the same color tiles (black) that you already have, this would disquise the offset step location and make things look a little more professional. It would also take the spin out of somebody that is trying to negotiate that step in a checkerboard room. A four inch wide band on the floor on three sides of the step, white risers on three sides of the step, black tread on the top of the step. I realize this isn't in keeping with the checkerboard design but I think you are dealing with an optical situation that will rapidly become a safety issue.

The metal edging would go around the black tread tile on three sides as the tile overlaps the riser tile. The two riser corners would also need metal edging down to the floor to hide the raw edge of the tile. The tiles on the front of the riser would overlap the tiles on the side of the riser.

Last edited by Bud Cline; 01-03-2007 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 01-04-2007, 12:21 AM   #8
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Ceramic tile on a little step...


Yeah, I realized the error after we'd already started laying the center of the floor... problem is that DIY books don't seem to cover anything but a plain square room ... I've done a little tile before, but the step thing just didn't occur to me until too late. So now I've got to fix it >_< I think it's a typical complaint of DIYers

I'm hoping that the tile will last "long enough"... at least the tile I laid with the same method in the adjacent room 3 years ago is still fine... There IS a vapor barier under there too, I missed mentioning that, so I hope the moisture from the cement won't be such a problem.

I'll assume that we haven't heard of that handbook you mention because it has "American" in the title, and we're in Canada... we don't see a lot of stuff from down south up here I know you can't trust HD, that's why I asked several people, and received the same answer... I'm guessing that that's the way a lot of people would do it here, without the standardizing in the industry that you guys have down there

I have seen that trim stuff at HD... it's a lot more expensive here, but it's not a bad idea... I like your idea for changing the color of the step too, that hadn't occured to me either! It would add visual interest, Thanks!
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Old 01-04-2007, 10:45 AM   #9
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Ceramic tile on a little step...


OK, it's not my intention to beat you up. The truth however is that Canada in addition to recognizing and adopting the standards of the Tile Council of North America many many years ago also has their own organization that does the same thing.

The TTMCA (Terrazzo Tile & Marble Association of Canada) also publishes guidlines in great detail. There is more than one guide in Canada coming from the TTMCA but the guide pertaining to your type of installation would be the "Tile Installation Manual 09300". Infact there is a brand new update on the shelves now. Your "Tile Pro" should have and be guided by this information. For these guys to claim there are no guidelines in Canada is ludicrous.

In the future for tile help you might also go to
http://www.ontariotilesetters.com where there is a great DIY FORUM available for your use. The Forum was set up by a well known and seasoned tileguy from Ontario several years ago. Harry Dunbar would be happy to answer any of your questions. You will also dip into the resources of guys like BRI and Rob Z and RandyL over there. These guys are tops and very knowledgeable in the tile industry.

The tile industry of both countries has many organizations and sources for accurate information that you will never find at the likes of a Home Depot. We work very hard on the Internet to try and make the consumer aware of specifications that do exist in our industry and to try to weed out the shoot-from-the-hip tile guys that tend to hack their way through life without any discipline. These organizations and websites are anxious to educate both the consumer and the tradesman at any opportunity.

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