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Tile Stairs: Legal and Safe, or Not?

Updated on May 16, 2011

A townhome owner in Miami is getting her property ready to rent. She is getting married and her and her husband-to-be are buying a new house. As a potential renter and his pregnant wife are viewing the home, the man tells the unit owner that it is illegal for her to have tiled stairs. Is this true or untrue?

Safety

Tile comes in a variety of materials and design options. Especially in certain areas of the country, such as South Florida, tile is a very popular floor covering, including stairs. The thing about tiling your stairs is that safety is a concern. It is best to choose a tile that is not slippery. Obviously, when you wash the tile stairs and while the stairs are wet, the tile is going to be slippery. If you choose a flat or gritty material tile, however, these tiles are less slippery options—even when dry.

Liability

The potential renter informed the future landlord that the tile stairs are a liability. He told her that someone he knows is suing their landlord because they fell down the stairs in a home that they rent and that the stairs had tile on them. In short, it is a liability issue.

The Truth

Legally speaking, however, it is not illegal to install tile on the stairs of a residential property. Again, you may want to choose the type of tile wisely, but as far as it being a legal issue, it is not. Even when you have carpet installed on your stairs, the potential to fall down the stairs still exists.

Now, if you intend on installing tile on stairs in a commercially zoned building, then this is a different story. Commercial buildings have to follow a different building code than that of residential buildings. Before installing any floor covering on your stairs, contact the building code department for the county where your property is. Verify that there are no restrictions on stair covering installation materials, and if there are restrictions, be sure to abide by them.

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