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tile or laminate?

I have stairs and 6 (big) dogs. I DESPISE vaccuuming (see, I can't even SPELL it!!!) Tile is my "look" of choice, but I don't want any broken hips when the kid runs down with wet feet or the dogs race up the steps. Laminate is my 2nd choice....far distant.

Any experience out there with slippage/safety on tiled stairs? Also, if we don't bullnose the edge but merely butt the tile edges together and grout appropriately, will that stair edge be extra vulnerable/prone to chipping, breaking down, etc?

Hey, they used to put stone steps in castles, didn't they? And of course, my home is my...

Thanks for any wisdom out there. I've asked 13 "box store" people and been provided 13 differing opinions. It would be a costly mistake to undo tile if it really proved to be dangerous or fragile in this application.

Anonymous (not verified)
Re: tile or laminate?

Ah! tile nor laminate are not a good idea on stair trends. Try Laminiate Wood on the tred and tile the risers. I think your hips, tail bone and back of head will much appreciate this choice. You will definetly fall with tile and laminite.

Re: tile or laminate?

Vacuuming isn't my favorite pastime either! Neither stone, tile, or laminate is a good stair tread surface because of it's traction issues and you'll regret doing it after the first unnecessary injury from a fall. You might want to peel away a bit of the carpet and see what's underneath. You might have a restorable hardwood stair under the carpet which would give you a better surface than tile or laminate and would be as easy to clean. You could also paint the stairs but that will require repainting often and will be as slick as tile etc. You'll also need to keep the kids and dogs at bay till the paint dries(the old trick of painting one side at a time won't work here since the dogs can't understand not to walk on the freshly painted side). Does your stair have nosing(where the tread extends past the riser)? If so there's no good way to tile that nosing and if you cut it off you make the treads smaller and less safe(maybe to the degree of not being up to building codes anymore!) More than 1/4 inch of unsupported tile will probably break off and it will hurt a lot when(not if)someone falls on it. If you use bullnose tile there it may fall off because of the tread flexing at the nose(thus causing a fall). Perhaps laminate would be OK here but I've never tried it on a stair. Again the nosing would be where problems would arise. Castles had stone stairs because it was there, as were the stone layers, and they didn't have too many other options back then. Carpeted stairs are definately the safest way to go which is why you see so many of them.

Another option to consider would be to put down a cheap runner on top the carpet and replacing it when it's too far gone. A well stocked stair part supplier will have little 'bars' that retain the runner where the tread meets the riser above it. These have a screw on each side and hold a runner securely; the screws are easy to remove with a cordless drill(which everyone needs; IMHO it's the best invention on the 20th century!)when you need to change the runner. Look for cheap runners at your local 'dollar store'.

Yeah, vacuuming stairs isn't fun, but if you get a lightweight machine with a hose, attach the hose to a short stick so you don't have to bend over, set the machine on a stair and move it only as needed, then vacuum from the top down you'll find vacuuming stairs takes only a minute or two and isn't a big deal. Start the job by putting the teapot on and you'll have a nice reward(and a clean stair)by the time you put the vacuum cleaner away!


Re: tile or laminate?

I would only caution the choice of tile you use. I have rough surfaced tile in the kitchen and it's still slick, I have terra cotta tile on the front porch and it's very treacherous when wet as well. (plus the installer installed risers outside the bullnose cover with the cut edges up to slice little feet and paws.)

I also have high gloss smooth finished tiles in my bathroom which are incredibly scary for me to step on in socks or with wet feet.

If you can avoid it, don't use tile unless you're willing to shell out the extra cost for the good and safe stuff.

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