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tiling outdoor step

4722 Views 6 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  kristinmcdonald
I would like advice about how to tile a front step leading into our front door, approximately 8 feet by 4 feet, with a 6-inch vertical area on the front of the step. We recently removed tile from the step and found some rotted out wood. We are in search of a contractor who will repair the wooden step before tiling, of course. We can't pour a concrete step since the step is directly above our basement.
A few questions:
What type of tile is best for an outdoor step such as ours? We live in Iowa, so weather can get very cold and very hot.
What type of grout should be used? I've been told epoxy grout.
What type of underlayment do I need to put down? Some type of rubber mat that is waterproof was suggested.
Do we need to seal the whole step with some sort of waterproof sealer?
Since it will be tiled over wood, are there any other recommendations for us? Do I need to treat the wood in a certain way first? What type of wood is best to use?
Thank you so much for your help!

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We recently removed tile from the step and found some rotted out wood.
Doesn't this tell you anything about tiling out doors over a wood structure???:huh:
The reason (I think?) there was rotted wood was because:
1) the step sloped toward the house and occasionally water pooled there.
2) the tile/grout were not waterproof.
3) the whole business was not sealed.

Whatever the reason, it is what it is. We bought the house four years ago and didn't know about this. We're looking for any option at all. Any suggestion would be helpful! We don't HAVE to have tile, but we do need a secure step to get into the house. Please help, anyone!
Installing tile over a wood structure can be difficult at times. The structure must be very very strong and lack movement and deflection more-so than a floor tile installation.

Doing it out doors puts even greater demands on the tile installation because the structure is vulnerable (very vulnerable) to temperature and moisture extremes.

1) the step sloped toward the house and occasionally water pooled there

Obviously not a good thing and must be avoided at all costs.:)

2) the tile/grout were not waterproof.
No tile and grout combination is waterproof and you can't make them so.:)

3) the whole business was not sealed.
No sealer would make difference. Sealers are for stain prevention not waterproofing or weather proofing. Sunlight will quickly destroy any sealer under these circumstances.:)

Whatever the reason, it is what it is.
I understand...just be prepared to do it again in another four years.:)
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Thank you for your post. A couple of things:
1) The step is not a "step" as you would think it to be (going up, standing alone). It's between two walls, with our front door regressed from the house about four feet. That 4x8 foot area is the "step" I'm referring to.
2) Because the area is regressed, it is protected by our roof (and an additional 4-6 feet of overhang approximately) and doesn't get wet often. Apparently the previous owners hosed down the step, however, :furious: and caused it to get wet occasionally, when the water pooled toward the door and not away from it.

If we don't tile that area, do you have any other suggestions? And when I say "we, " I mean "the people we hire to do this." We are not DIY people, we just want to know what we can expect a carpenter/tile layer to throw out at us.

A photo would be dandy but I get your drift.

How about rebuilding the "step/platform" using some composite decking material. There are several good products on the market that will take the every day abuse and won't decay.:)
Thanks, yes, I was just talking to my husband about that today. I do think that will be our best bet. We're having a contractor stop by tomorrow to look at the scenario. (Sorry, I don't have a photo, but I might try tomorrow if I have time and post it for you to see the "big picture" literally.) I'm hoping and praying that either A) he will be able to fix the rotted wood platform without having to go under the floor INSIDE our house; or B) if he has to repair some wood inside the house, that he can do it from underneath (basement) and won't have to take out our front door. I can see the damage when I remove the ceiling tiles from our suspended ceiling in our basement and I HOPE he can get to it there and make the necessary repairs. From what I can see, the floor joists, which extend out to the step/platform area, are in good shape. It's just the wood subfloor that was placed on TOP of it that has gotten wet and rotted over the years. I will keep praying for him to find a solution that won't completely blow our budget. We'll be in touch. Thanks again, Bud.
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