Outdoor Tiles For Steps: How to Tile Outdoor Steps (& Which to Choose)

outdoor tiles for steps

Whether it’s pathway steps leading up to your home or patio steps connecting decking and lawn, outdoor steps are a design perk and a practical necessity. 

This means that picking the right material for your outdoor steps is crucial – it needs to have the functionality to ensure safety and longevity, as well as the aesthetic style to complement a range of garden designs. 

Outdoor step tiles effortlessly tick all the right boxes – it’s why so many homeowners choose outdoor tiles for steps in the garden, yard and patio areas. 

That’s why, in today’s post, we’re exploring the best tiles for outdoor steps and offering up some advice on how to tile outdoor steps around your home. 

What are the best tiles for outside steps? 

The best outdoor step tiles are those that boast high levels of durability and versatile visual features. 

Ideally, you want outdoor step tiles that require minimal maintenance, too – nobody enjoys a never-ending chores list. 

When choosing which outdoor tiles to use when tiling steps, we recommend opting for one of the following:

  • Slate: with 100% natural beauty, slate outdoor step tiles offer an authentic aesthetic right at home in luxury and rustic exterior designs. While requiring slightly more upkeep than their counterparts, slate outdoor step tiles can withstand impacts and regular footfall 
  • Porcelain: porcelain tiles are perhaps the most popular tiles for outdoor steps. That’s because they deliver an incredibly non-porous, hard-wearing and robust hardscaping material impervious to harsh weather conditions and, of course, everyday splashes and spills. Unlikely to ever crack or break and resistant to water and UV without requiring any additional sealing, porcelain outdoor step tiles ensure longevity in both the practicality and style of your garden steps
  • Quarry: Non-porous, incredibly strong, versatile and featuring an R-rated non-slip finish, quarry tiles are tried and tested tiles for outdoor steps. Ideal for recreating a traditional style in rural and period property gardens, patios and yards, outdoor steps made of quarry tiles are sure to stand the test of time

How to tile outdoor steps

Ready to don your DIY hardhat and tackle tiling outside steps yourself? 

It’s worth noting that tiling steps isn’t the easiest hardscaping task to undertake but, with these tips, you’ll be on your way to achieving a long-lasting and stylish outdoor step solution.

Tools you’ll need 

At a minimum, you’ll need to ensure you’re stocked up with the following tools and accessories when learning how to tile outdoor steps:

  • Tiles
  • Water
  • Thinset mortar
  • Safety gloves and eye protection
  • Drill, with mixing attachment
  • Bucket
  • Rubber hammer
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout float
  • Tile cutter
  • Spirit level

Step 1: prep 

First things first – you need to clean your surface before tiling your steps. Take a brush and wipe down your stairs with soap and water before you lay your first take.

Secondly, you’ll need to ensure a level surface. This is an especially important step when tiling outside steps, as tiles installed on uneven surfaces are far more likely to crack – especially in areas of heavy footfall.

For assured accuracy, use a spirit level, placing it on top of each step. If the bubble is off-centre, you’ll need to apply a levelling mix to achieve a smooth and balanced surface.

You’ll also want to mark the centre of each surface before laying any tiles – find this by measuring the vertical length of each rise with a tape measure. 

Step 2: apply adhesive

Using a wet sponge, add a few drops of water to bond your tile adhesive to your staired surface. Be sure not to add too much water here – this can prevent the adhesive from sticking. 

Now you can begin applying your adhesive. Grab a notched trowel and, using its flat edge, apply a layer of adhesive to your first stair rise.

We recommend applying with a semi-circle motion to ensure an even and consistent layer, covering an area approximately 2 inches wider than needed to accommodate any misjudgements and miscalculations. 

Step 3: lay your tiles

It’s best to cut your tiles to size before you begin to fix them to the adhesive as they can set quickly, leaving little room for error. 

Use a tile cutter to ensure accurate cuts with neat edges. 

Working outwards from the centre of each rise, fix your outdoor step tiles by laying them carefully on the surface, ensuring not to press down too hard – this will result in the adhesive seeping out of the sides. 

Again, guaranteeing a straight and even finish is vital here. If your tiles appear slanted, use a rubber hammer to gently tap across the surface of the tile.

Tiling your outdoor step edges requires extra focus and know-how, but you typically have 2 options. 

Option A is to use the top of the step to overlap your riser tile, while option B is to use a rounded tile trim to add strength and supply added support.

Remember to remove any excess adhesive from around the tile edges, too – a wipe-down with a damp cloth is all that’s needed. 

Step 4: grout

Allow your adhesive to dry before checking all your outside step tiles are securely in place. 

Once you’re happy your tiles are stable, you’re ready to apply your grout – this will go between each tile, helping to seal and prevent any movement.

Use a grout float to smooth over the application, ensuring it’s pressed firmly into each joint. Leave time to set, then wipe away any excess with a damp cloth. 

Allow a full 24 hours for the grout and adhesive to fully set before performing a final wash down to prevent any polymers from being left within your grout. 

Outdoor tiles for steps provide a solution as stylish as they are practical – it’s why tiling outdoor steps is the best option for homeowners sprucing up their garden, yard or patio space. 

Take the time to learn which outdoor step tiles are best suited to your needs and carefully follow our tips on how to tile outdoor steps to turn your stairs into the star of the show.

Ready to begin your hunt for the best tiles for outdoor steps? Start by browsing our range of outdoor tiles today!

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