Porcelain Stairs Design

Development of outdoor stairs tiles, Before and after
Before and after installing stairs tiles for ORIGIN DESIGN office entrance. Gaza 2019

This project is stairs porcelain tiles as application for Using Tiles for stairs, the project is outdoor stairs for ORIGIN DESIGN office entrance. The old situation as shown in the before and after photo is black tiles and four steps of Rosa Beta granite. We have redesigned the stairs and garden to have four steps each in size of 120*150 cm. Beside the steps, will add grass in sloped level to enhancing stairs beauty, this beside rearrange and developing the landscape. Through this topic we will discuss stairs building stages from drawings, selecting tiles, building blocks, tiling and finishing.

Prepare Drawings and Selecting tiles

Stairs drawings designed according to available tiles at the market, usually designers have knowledge about tiles sizes at the market. The process after choosing the tiles size, is to select the proper tiles texture and color. In this project, I have selected parquet in size of 15*120 cm to fill area of 90*120 cm. Unfortunately, choices were limited in this size, and I haven’t like tiles texture and color for this size. As an alternative I have found 120*20 cm parquet tiles in color I like, but this size doesn’t fit the drawings. 4 tiles pieces will cover area of 120*80 cm, in addition to cut a piece to 120*10 cm, but it won’t look professional.

Drawings for stairs tiles using 15*90cm parquet and white matt tiles in surrounding
Drawings for stairs tiles using 15*90cm parquet and white matt tiles in surrounding. GAZA 2019

Another alternative in the market was a Spanish parquet tiles from UNDEFASA in size of 15*90 cm. This mean we can rearrange tiles where 8 tiles will cover area of 90*120 cm perfectly. For border tiles and risers, we selected light gray 120*60 cm Italian tiles from ABK in thickness of 7 mm. Both tiles color and texture match, and they add to stairs design beauty. 120×60 tiles need to be cut in size of 15*120 cm and few in size of 30*120 cm. In order to have a clear edge cut, we sent the tiles to marble factor to cut tiles using saw machine. Now tiles are ready for the next stage.

Building the Stairs

After ordering building materials from cement blocks, cement, lime and sand. And demolishing the old steps, in order to prepare the site for building as shown in the drawings. The block walls top-level built to be lower than tiles level by 5 to 10 cm. This due to block dimensions and to allow craftsman adapting the steps levels. Then to fill sand between steps walls, and top 10 cm was mix between sand and cement. The mixture between sand and cement will enhance the ground strength, If there is a water leakage it will become a concrete surface. After finishing these works, now we are ready for tiling stage.

Building large step oudoor stairs
Building large step oudoor stairs. Gaza 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes for ORIGIN DESIGN office

Stair’s Tiles

Usually craftsmen begin to install stairs from first step at the bottom then going upward. in this case, it’s more convenient to use downward method by installing step tread then the riser. Another advantage of building upper level going downward because there is a certain upper level and flexible lower level. 

Tilling stairs tile going and rizer using cement mortar
Tilling stairs tile going and rizer using cement mortar. Gaza Palestine 2019. at ORIGIN DESIGN office

First of all craftsman arrange tiles at straight level, matching parquet colors together making area of 120*90 cm. Then add gray tiles around them, we face a problem where the gray tiles are 119.5 cm instead of 120 cm. Also parquet make area of 121×90 cm, we planned to install parquet without grout, but still there is a millimeter between each. The solution was to cut a 1.5 cm from a parquet tile to have area of 120*90 cm. Together with the light gray tiles it made an area of 150*120 cm. 

Installing cement grout, Vitra CG1 in light grey color
Installing cement grout, Vitra CG1 in light grey color. Gaza Palestine 2019. at ORIGIN DESIGN office

After installing the step tread, for the riser we use regular connection, where tread will lay over the riser gives straight angle. Also risers between each other will gather using 45 degrees method, to appear as one mass. 

Tiles Finishing

Finishing showing the beauty, especially for tile edges details. Grout is important, we used Vitra Cement grout CG1 white color for the stairs. Using liquid colors to give it a color similar to tiles, The parquet color is mixed using black, brown and mustard color. For the gray color we mixed to the black and a little brown color to the white cement grout. Notice that to have a well bond cement grout to the tile, you need to clean cement and sand between tiles. Then to fill the grout probably and leave to setting well. Then using metal sponge, clean the rest of the grout, you need to clean tiles well because they are rough.  

outdoor large stairs tiles using parquet and white matt tiles
outdoor large stairs tiles using parquet and white matt tiles. Gaza 2019 by ORIGIN DESIGN.
Why tile size is 119.5 cm instead of 120 cm ?

This is related to shipping and size of shipping container. Tiles pack by cardboard to reach 120 cm, then it could fit the wooden plate. These few millimeters will save a lot of money. And sometimes this happens during cutting tiles at factory, Saw cutting will have the blade thickness around 3 mm. Therefore i prefer laser cutting tiles where it’s more accurate and thinner during cutting. 

Why not using a tile adhesive for the grout?

Tile adhesive will crack when sun rays reach it, so it doesn’t fit outdoor applications. Another reason not to use tile adhesive, that tile adhesive has fast setting, and it couldn’t clean the rest of the grout by metal sponge. It need to grind the material, this fit marble but tiles can’t be grinding.

Marble edges finishing

Decorations using marble are majestic, marbles’ colors, veins and glossiness and much to space beauty. Marble wall cladding appear elegant when it appear as it build out of marble blocks, try to avoid to appear as tile cladding. Although contemporary interior designers like to have lightweight materials feeling, this through appear the thickness of marble tiles. Edges connections affect feeling of marble materials, this topic will discuss some edges connections techniques. We could classify marble corners types as traditional method, 45 degree method, half on half method and fillet method. 

Traditional Marble Edges Connection

Traditional connection is to install marble as shown in the photo above, it’s simple connection and easy to install. However it’s simple, marble appear cheap as it’s a cladding of few centimeters. Usually marble’s face is polished or treated, but edges need to be polished at site. Some types of marble will polished at site and appear as it face. Other types like Crema Nova, Omani marble, black marble and granite or any high strength marble won’t give good results. Polishing high strength marble requires to polish using different grades sanding papers to get to smoother surface. If the results are unsatisfactory, craftsmen paint edges by lacquer to get glossiness, however lacquer won’t last long. Edges need to be polished before installing, to avoid ruin glossiness of other marble tiles during polishing. Therefore designers and craftsmen looking for other edges connection methods.

Traditional Marble Edges Connection
Traditional Marble Edges Connection
Traditional Marble Edges Connection
Traditional Marble Edges Connection, Gaza

45 degrees Marble Edges Connection

45 degrees edges connection fit marbles that have veins, it gives the continuity of surfaces  appearing as a marble block. This connection doesn’t need to polish edges as in traditional connection. Implement this connection by trimming both edges at 45 degree then to install them together. The connection will be very thin, and require to fill either by tiles grout or marble adhesive. When edge cut at a 45 degree thin as pencil, soft marble will cut perfectly, but high strength marble will fragment. Alignment is another problem face this connection, where if angle is less than 90 degrees craftsman can’t install it. Therefore craftsman like to make narrower than 45 degrees to align easier, however it will fragment easier during edge cutting. Also 45 degrees connection used for ceramic and some types of porcelain, when tiles body is different than tiles face.

45 degrees Marble Edges Connection
45 degrees Marble Edges Connection
45 degrees Marble Edges Connection
45 degrees Marble Edges Connection, Gaza 2016

Half on Half Marble Edges Connection

All of the above connections have disadvantages make designers looking for new solutions. Half on half is a new connection method that require a groove at on end or by two ends. Advantage of half on half that craftsman could modify the edge after installation, where it will show a nice detail. Shade and shadow appear the beauty of this connection, as a tiny edge effect either in outdoor or indoor. This connection is expensive compared to previous connections because it requires a skilled craftsmen and wet table saw.

Half on Half Marble Edges Connection, Gaza 2016
Half on Half Marble Edges Connection, the two ways to implement this method, Gaza 2016
Half on Half Marble Edges Connection
Half on Half Marble Edges Connection, Gaza 2016

Fillet Marble Edges Connection

Fillet method is by creating a 45 degrees connection then to polish the edge either on angle or round edge. This method will give safe edges, hard to break and will not allow people to notice where the connection is. This connection requires well polishing of the edge to appear nice, and since this it need to polish a marble workshop. Then this connection is suitable for kitchen top and freestanding applications.

 Fillet Marble Edges Connection
Fillet Marble Edges Connection
 Fillet Marble Edges Connection
Fillet Marble Edges Connection, Gaza 2016
Why we don’t use tiles trim for marble?

We can, however tiles trim look cheap compared to marble lavishness. Simply it doesn’t fit marble.

How to select marble edge type for building elevation?

It’s a game of scale. Basically view difference where close view like ground floor need to be well implemented. On the other hand, marble installed at far distance from eye will not appear if it’s not well polished. Generally in far distance from eyes use simple edges connections, and expensive connections at close distance.

How to install Palestinian Stones edges

Palestinian stone usually has rough surface, i prefer to install it half on half. In traditional edges case, make sure to rough the edges like in the right hand side wall.Palestinian stone edges