Staircase MakeOver

My front curved staircase is the first thing you see when entering my home.  The staircase was the reason I fell in love with my house initially but keeping carpeted stairs cleaned and vacuumed was a giant frustration.  After looking into replacing with wood, I decided on tile.  A hardwood replacement would have been far more expensive and required additional tools.  I wanted to create a statement look and love Spanish tile detail.  There are a lot of options for tile, but in the end I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on high end tile for the stairs.  I ended up buying my black and white tiles from Lowe’s for $1.29 per tile and the larger tiles ran about $30 per tile from Home Depot.

Before Pic (stairs with carpet):


Step 1

Prep the stairs/Remove carpet/clean surface

Remove all staples and hammer in remaining nails.  The carpet can easily be removed by using a small crowbar or flat head screw driver to get a corner of the carpet up and then easily pull the rest up.

Carpet removed



Step 2

Decide on type of tile and how best to position the tiles.  I wanted the top of each step to match the new flooring we installed upstairs, which was a walnut color.  So I chose a tile that was long enough to fill the full width of each stairs ( 48 inches long).  This way there would only be one grout line for the large steps and none on the smaller standard width.  I chose a detailed tile for the face because I wanted a statement look.  If this style is too bold for you, consider using the same large wood looking tile for the face of each stairs.


Step 3

Start by applying mortar with a trowel to the top side of stair.

Apply mortar


Step 4

Install schluter edge and tile.  This step is much easier if you have a partner who is measuring and cutting the tiles with a wet saw, while someone else installs.



You will need to make sure the schluter edge and the tile stay about 3/8 of an inch over the step, to cover the black and white tile that will cover the face of each stairs.  We improvised by making a small cheater guide with wood, cut to the correct distance.  This was easier than measuring each step.

Step 5

Grout – see my last grouting project for specific instructions.



Step 6

Finishing Touches

I used a white caulk on the face (edges only) and a dark/wood colored caulk on the steps.  I ended up painting the banister black and the final stair a similar walnut color as the wood colored tile.  We will refinish the lighter hardwoods on the first floor eventually but for now I don’t mind the difference.  Overall, I’m super happy with my new staircase, which is beautiful and very easy to clean!

Final Stairs



  • chaosqueen

    The tiles have some texture and not a shiny surface, so they are really easy to navigate and not slippery at all.

  • Char

    Why did you use caulking on the stair edges rather than grout? And do you have a tutorial on how to apply the caulk? Beautiful makeover!

  • Char

    This is Char again. I think I figured out the answer to my question. You used caulk along the trim board detail of your banister and wall board, instead of grout, which makes sense to me. But still, am wondering if you have any tutorials on how to do the caulking so it’s not too thick or crooked? Thanks.

  • chaosqueen

    Hi Char – I use painters tape on each side and then using a caulk gun without too big of a hole in the tube, fill the space between each piece of tape. Then get papertowel and a cup of water with dish soap. Only do a small section at a time, dipping your fingers in the soapy water and smoothing the cault between the tape strips. Once it looks very smooth and the right level, peel the tape off ever so careful and you will end up with perfect caulk lines. I plan to do a video…stay tuned.

  • Paula Castillo

    how were you able to do the bottom curved step, that is my dilemma, I want to pull off the carpet but I have three bottom steps that curve out at the bottom and don’t know how to make those work.

  • chaosqueen

    Hi Paula,
    My very bottom curved step was originally hard wood, which was left alone other than sanding and staining. The other stairs that start to angle out (for the curved turn), are pretty triangular, so the cuts on the tiles were still straight. I think with curved steps it will just take a bit more patience and perhaps more cuts. Good luck!

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