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DIY: Installing Fireclay Tile Cuerda Seca on My Front Steps!

By Guest Blogger and Fireclay Tile customer Tricia Creason-Valencia

We are proud first-time homeowners of a charming 100-year old house. When we bought the property, it was an abandoned foreclosure that simply needed a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint on the inside. The exterior, on the other hand, needed a major makeover. We spent days clearing out debris and overgrowth in the yard, rebuilt the back fence, and began filling a three-ring binder with ideas for “Do-It-Yourself” home improvement projects and a detailed plan for our dream California native garden. 

As a visual artist, the project that most excited me was tiling the front steps. I’d heard about the Fireclay Tile “Boneyard” sale since I moved to San Jose five years ago, but this year my heart leaped when I saw the article in the San Jose Mercury News. I tapped the page excitedly and declared “We have to go to this tile sale, TODAY!” Luckily for me, my mother, a DIY home improvement expert, was visiting us and eager to come along as my consultant. The long Labor Day weekend stretched out ahead of us during which we could execute our plan. The goal was steps with beautiful Cuerda Seca tiles.

Picture of steps before Fireclay Tile Ceurda Seca

BEFORE: Guest Bloggers Existing Stairway and Entrance to Home

We took some quick measurements (not surprisingly, 100-year old steps are not uniform in shape or size) and headed out to the Boneyard sale equipped with our scribbled notes. Once we arrived at the sale, we called my husband, Hugh, to verify our measurements; the artistic endeavor of tiling involves a lot of math!

The sheer quantity of tiles in the Boneyard was both overwhelming and thrilling—the hunt was on! Over the next 4 hours, my mom and I laid out various patterns, taking care to balance my desire for beauty and my need for low-cost options. We worked and reworked our design ideas and came up with a pattern made from 60% recycled material tiles that was elegant, unique and economical. I figure I saved about 75% by buying the tiles at the Boneyard Sale.

Our installation process was a family affair. My mom and stepdad served as our mentors. Although they had lots of experience tiling tables, they warned us that they had not done vertical tiling before.

Grouting the front steps for tile installation

 

Laying tile and grouting the front steps

My six-year old daughter helped with the touch up painting of the stoop and sealed the grout as we finished. 

 

6 Year Old Daughter helps with stair tile installation

The combination of my parents’ coaching, my interest in learning the relatively simple but painstaking tiling process and the entire family’s commitment to doing-it-ourselves resulted in a super snazzy “curb appeal” upgrade to our home. 

Cuerda Seca Steps Final Installation Fireclay Tile

AFTER

Final Stairway and entrance after the home tile installation

Author

 

Link to my filmmaking website: www.flacafilms.com.

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Welcome to Fireclay Tile’s Design Blog, dedicated to sustainable and beautiful design for people + the planet. We have invited several of our staff + friends to share their stories and inspirations with us. Do you have a Fireclay Story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.

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