Steps must be very strong, safe and resistant to abrasion and damage. For more than two centuries, clinker steps have been the popular and valuable tool for building the stairs. Numerous positive feedbacks, decades of impeccable service and excellent appearance make this material one of the most popular.
Clinker steps are made of special sorts of clay, which has unique properties. Raw materials and blanks are treated at a temperature higher than 1450С (however, it doesn’t include surface sealing). The process of clay treatment reveal all positive qualities of ceramics, and at the output, you will get the durable and strong facing material, recognized by many consumers (as pictured on the right).
The surface of ready steps is porous and dense. There are no voids inside the workpiece, which excludes the risk of its premature failure. This is especially typical of natural collections from Spain, Italy and Poland.
As stated above, the modern leading manufacturers of this product are Spain, Germany, Italy and Poland. There are many plants on the territory of these states. This is largely due to the accessibility of material for mass production of tile and brick. In Russia, clinker steps are made by the company “Stroeher”. This is the most famous trademark in the country with its own production bases in the largest cities. It has deserved positive feedback among the customers. In the right photo, you can see the famous Spanish clinker.
Advantages over other materials
Due to the features of the production, clinker steps obtained unique characteristics, which distinguish them from the common ceramic tile and bricks:
- high strength of the product due to the hardness of material and absence of internal air chambers;
- frost resistance permits to lay clinker on the steps in any climate conditions. However, you must choose proper troweling and glue. The residents of north provide positive feedback on this material, as it doesn’t crack even in a heavy frost;
- moisture resistance – this material doesn’t absorb moisture, which reduces the risk of cracking in case of temperature changes. This property is actively used in countries with hot climates, for example, in Spain;
- installation of clinker steps is carried out on the technology, similar to laying the common ceramic tile on the porch or garden steps with the use of glue or solution and classic troweling to seal the joints. This material is popular among the professionals and enjoys good reviews;
- safety and durability provide the long service life of material (which is hundreds of years) without losing its physical properties. It is confirmed by the ancient stairs in Italy and Spain.
Nowadays, clay mixtures contain special colorings that paint clinker steps different colors: red, ruby, yellow, orange, blue and green. Rich color palette makes this material universal!
Troweling and glue act as reliable fasteners of the product on the surface, providing the effective expansion and contraction of the tile under different conditions.
Where are the durable steps used?
Laying of clinker steps is relevant in private and multistory housing. In Spain, Italy, Germany and other European countries, clinker is actively used for decorating the porch, staircases between the terrace levels on the street, hallways and winter gardens.
In Russia, such materials were actively used in the Czarist era, but forgotten in the Soviet era. It’s only during the past few years that clinker steps become popular and widely available again. They are mainly used for facing the stairs in the house, on the porch and in the landscape design. It is important to choose the appropriate and solutions so that the front and horizontal details are safety fixed on the surface of the basis.
Unique properties of this material made their use justified at industrial and administrative facilities, where the most important factors are high reliability and ability to withstand a heavy load capacity. In the picture below, you can see the staircase under stress (in the facility).
Despite its modest size, one step can withstand the load of up to 2000 kg! Research conducted in Spain, Italy and Germany confirmed a phenomenal strength of this material.
Materials for the installation of steps with your own hands
Knowing the main methods of laying the ceramic tile, it is easy to carry out the high-quality work with horizontal and front clinker. Simple indoor and outdoor stairs, faced with clinker (as in our pictures) can be made by hand. For this purpose, you should prepare the material (horizontal bases and front elements), glue for internal and external works, trowel, level and mallet. Watch a video explaining how to build the steps. This will help you to avoid mistakes when working on the porch and in the house.
First of all, you need to prepare the basis– concrete stringers, molded under the formwork on the porch, in the house or on the street. Keep in mind that all surfaces (including the front ones) must be carefully cleared of dust and dirt to provide perfect fixation. Use the level and measuring stick to check the evenness and horizons of the basis and the sizes of future staircase.
Working process is as follows:
- clinker is laid on the steps from the bottom up. At first, you should apply the glue to the vertical part of the risers and level it with a trowel so that the basis and the material are safely interconnected;
- front part is fixed on the solution, and the excesses on the top are removed so that the height of the riser exactly matches the surface of the step;
- apply the layer of glue to the horizontal base; keep in mind that it doesn’t have to go beyond the side of the front tile;
- clinker steps are fixed with a solution so that the edge rests against the base of the staircase; it is necessary to leave the gap unfilled with glue, between the nose and the front tile. Then you need to move the next level;
- after drying the front and horizontal surfaces, joints between the tiles must be sealed with troweling, suitable for the service conditions (external or internal works).
When working with material, it is important to observe the distance between the tiles – the clearance must be at least 5-6 mm.
Ideally, the joints must be 8-10 mm wide so that the glue safely fix the clinker steps and front elements. This will prevent them from “staggering” during the operation. It is necessary to fill all the holes with high-quality troweling!
Clinker steps are installed at a low angle, which provides effective outfall in the rain and snow melting. This nuance can significantly extend the service life of material and the whole staircase on the porch or in the house. The front part is fixed strictly at 90 degrees to the horizontal surface. These are the world standards, actively used in Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and other European countries when developing the design of the staircase in the private house.
If you’re planning to make a good repair that is equal in beauty to the elegant houses in Germany and Spain, you should take a close look at the clinker. Stairs made of this material are both aesthetic and safe. They deserved the good feedbacks from the customers, which is the best recommendation. Use only the high-quality building materials for your house or facility!