Outdoor living spaces such as patios add incredible value to your home. But before placing your furniture, water features, or fire pit, you need to install a well-designed outdoor patio tiles floor first. Choosing the best type of floor can be an overwhelming process if you don’t know what to look for.
Stick through the end of this guide to help you in your buying journey for your exterior tile installation.
What are Outdoor Patio Tiles?
Outdoor tiles come in a wide range of materials, including stone, pavement, and decking. An outdoor tile’s surface is distinct for being more textured than an indoor tile. This feature creates more traction and a slip-resistant surface.
Other tiles are also more durable and resilient than indoor tiles. They can withstand harsh weather elements such as sun, wind, and rain without getting any damage.
For this reason, make sure that you install outdoor tiles on your patio. Otherwise, all your hard work may be lost.
Modern outdoor patio tiles
Modern outdoor patio tiles or pavers are what you need if you want a fresh and contemporary look. Not only does this style uplift your surroundings with pops of color and texture, but it also helps to structure your space.
There are plenty of varieties when it comes to tiles. But for a truly modern look, go for minimalist designs such as the smooth surfaces in natural stones. You can also create a streamlined indoor-outdoor vibe by using the same materials throughout the house and into your outdoor space.
Geometric shapes are trendy. The right choice of tile or pavers can really transform a garden and become a statement feature in itself. Bold patterns are also a terrific idea if you want something jazzy.
What Are the Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Patio Tiles?
Not all tile materials can withstand harsh temperatures. Knowing which tiles are appropriate to use inside and which ones to use outdoors can be challenging. If you install the wrong tile, your flooring could become damaged from corrosion because of extreme conditions.
Although indoor tiles are durable, they cannot handle frost and direct sunlight. On the other hand, outdoor tiles can handle these extreme conditions.
Outdoor tiles must have a textured surface for traction and slip resistance. But on the downside, slip-resistant tiles accrue more dirt and require frequent maintenance.
Since outdoor tiles must endure weather and temperature, they are more robust to withstand wear and tear.
Choosing an unglazed outdoor tile is a great option to help mitigate cracking from the continuous freeze-thaw cycles of winters.
Outdoor patio tiles over concrete
Tile can be directly installed over concrete. But there are a few caveats. First, it is crucial to determine if moisture buildup is coming up from the slab. You can determine if there is moisture by tapping all four sides of the slab with polyurethane plastic. Perform this test in an area with no sunlight and maintain a consistent temperature. Once you find moisture underneath the wrap, seek expert advice. But if you don’t have moisture issues but notice small cracks on the slab, you can utilize a modified thin-set with crack isolation components. For bigger gaps, apply a crack isolation membrane.
These products should protect the membrane against cracking and work as a vapor management system to defend the substrate from moisture seepage.
Types of Outdoor Patio Tiles
Once you start shopping, you will face a bewildering array of tiles built for outdoor applications. You might even come across material you may not have thought applicable for outdoor use. Your decision of the best tile for your property will depend on your climate and application. An unsealed sandstone style is appropriate for arid climates but not suited for damp environments.
Porcelain tile for outdoor patio is a form of ceramic notable for its strength and density. Most porcelain tiles rated for flooring can also work in outdoor applications. Excellent choices are textured matte tiles without a glossy surface. The gloss will be slippery when wet. Porcelain material is thick and sturdy, making them perfect for flooring.
Granite is a natural metamorphic stone that can is great for patio applications. Though it is a high-end premium paving material, there are downsides to it if you choose to use it outdoors. Granite tile is smooth, making it slippery when wet. Moreover, it is relatively porous than other materials, thus, sealing it regularly is a must to mitigate stain and water seepage.
Slate is a natural stone best to use for outdoor patio applications. It is a metamorphic rock created from extreme heat and pressure. It is hard, durable, and water-resistant. In contrast to other stones, slate comes with a natural texture that makes it slip-resistant. Many people mistakenly believe that slate is only available in dark gray or black. But there are more colors you can choose from, including purple, green, and orange.
This is a sedimentary rock used as a construction material for nearly a millennium. Limestone is highly ideal because of its relative abundance and ease of fabrication. This stone is available in the shades of tan, brown, red, and gray, as well as lighter colors. Limestone with light colors is terrific at reflecting heat. But limestone is softer than slate and granite and can be easily scratched or chipped. It is more appropriate for outdoor use in arid climates but unsuitable for harsh winters.
This natural stone has a beautiful texture and color is also a form of limestone. Travertine can be found near natural mineral spring deposits. Although this stone is beautiful and robust, the slightly rough surface may accrue dust unless it is thoroughly smooth. But this can also make the travertine very slippery.
The appearance of travertine can vary considerably depending on where it was mined. For patio applications, travertine from Turkey or Italy is considered more water-resistant compared to stones coming from Mexico and China.
Ceramic floor tiles can be a suitable choice for outdoor patio applications. But make sure they carry a PEI rating indicating their strength. In most cases, ceramic is best for patios where foot activities are less frequent since this material is not as strong as other materials. If you do go for ceramic tile, make sure it is built for patio use. Ceramic tiles for wall use are not good for floors or patios. Similar to porcelain, the cost of ceramic tile will vary though they tend to be less expensive than porcelain.
Acacia flooring can make your patio warmer and more inviting. This wood is notable for its prominent grain and knots. Acacia floors add drama to any room with their rich color and style.
Wood deck tile such as acacia wood is easy to install. The tiles lock together and can be installed quickly without needing special tools or skills. If you need to replace one tile, you can just snap in a new one.
Wood deck tiles can be installed over concrete, stone, brick, and wooden deck surfaces. Wood tiles are incredibly durable and nonslip.
The name Quarry is a misnomer these days. Quarry stone is no longer mined from natural quarries. Instead, they are processed from dense unglazed clay. Quarry is extremely strong and works well as a paving material for patios.
Quarry was, in fact, created specifically for outdoor applications in courtyards and patios. In contrast to ceramic and porcelain, quarry is only available in a limited range of colors.
Quarry tiles help create a Mediterranean look highly prized by many homeowners. Even though this tile comes unglazed, quarry tiles have incredible water resistance, and their texture makes them slip-resistant. Quarry stone is not good for climates with freezing winter temperatures. Another downside to this material is it stains easily. But in the right climate, quarry is one of the best choices for patio application.
This is a natural stone that got its name for its smooth and silky texture. It is nonporous and prized for being water and stain-resistant. Moreover, it has high heat resistance making it the best choice for scorching climates. It is superb for use around swimming pools and can withstand wet, freezing temperatures.
Perforated Interlocking Tiles
Interlocking tiles are a relative newcomer. It is built from plastic with interlocking edges. The main advantage of this tile is that the high friction surface effectively prevents slips and falls. Moreover, plastic tiles are easy for DIYers to install. Lay the tiles on a flat surface and simply interlock the edges. Although this may not be one of the most elegant patio solutions, it effectively covers an unattractive concrete slab patio. These tiles are durable and easy to remove when you need to. Moreover, the perforations enable water to drain through.
This material is often installed in sports courts and other activity areas. Rubber tiles are comparable to plastic with their interlocking design that can be joined together to form a streamlined and solid surface. Since rubber is very soft, it is this material is best for covering areas where children play. It can also be an excellent choice around pools.
Patio deck tiles
Patio deck tiles are massive squares of wood or composite planks fastened to a backing strip, usually with interlocking edges. These tiles are made of weather-resistant wood such as cedar and redwood.
Terracotta patio tiles
Terra-cotta creates a classic rustic charm when applied as a flooring material. The ambience it makes is both rugged and subtle. It is also an excellent material for building regional-style homes like Mexican, Mediterranean, and Southwest.
Terra-cotta is superb for rustic and natural settings as well as log cabin style decor. This material has seen vast application in living rooms and enclosed porches. Since terra-cotta is warmer than stone or glazed ceramic, it is ideal for hearth and home or earth-toned decor.
Terra-cotta can be utilized in outdoor applications but only in temperate climates. In freezing temperatures, the water that seeps into the terra-cotta can freeze and crack the tile.
Best Tile for Outdoor Patio
When looking for the best tile for your outdoor patio, you must consider your house’s style and the weather conditions in your area. The outdoor patio must complement your property’s overall design, landscape, architectural features, and materials. Select materials that consistently reflect the overall look of your home.
If your area is constantly exposed to freezing and thawing cycles, you will need to install an outdoor patio tile that can handle these extreme weather changes. For example, porcelain has high water resistance, whereas sandstone is relatively porous. When water is absorbed by a piece of tile and the water freezes, the process can damage and crack your tiles and even break the joints between the tile.
Outdoor Patio Tile Installation and Repair
When installing outdoor tiles, install them when outdoor temperatures are between 50°F and 100°F. A colder temperature will mean more curing time and negatively affect the strength of the mortar and grout that glues the tiles in place. However, high temperatures can cause the mortar and grout to cure too fast, resulting in a poor bond.
When it comes to fixing your outdoor patio tile, you can probably get away with using a simpler method if you only need to repair one or two tiles. Clean the area beneath the tile thoroughly and remove the grout around it. Apply adhesive to the site and press the tile in place. Allow the adhesive to set and use a ready-mix grout to fill the space around the repair.
Prepping Outdoor Patio
When prepping concrete for your outdoor tiles, you need to ensure the slab is free of dirt, oils, and other residues to make sure the mortar sets and cures well.
Clean the slab thoroughly by scrubbing it with a stiff brush and water or spraying the area with a pressure washer. You can also utilize a degreaser for tough stains. After the first wash, use either a garden hose or pressure washer to clean out lingering residue and allow the concrete to dry completely.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
When installing outdoor patio tiles, ensure not to do the following:
- Unprepared surfaces. Prior to starting your project, make sure to clean and smoothen the surface you will be laying the tiles on. Remove any coating beforehand.
- Grouting unevenly or too quickly. Apply the grout evenly and slowly utilizing a tool like a squeegee. If you apply the grout too quickly and grout a large area prior to laying down the tiles, the grout may dry unevenly on spots and result in an irregular surface. Moreover, it is crucial to get rid of excess grout at once after laying down each piece of tile since it will be harder to do so once it has dried.
- Choosing the wrong adhesive. You must apply the right adhesive for tiles in areas that receive a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms and swimming pools. In such cases, a waterproof adhesive is non-negotiable. Even tiles that are installed correctly and well fitted can have water seepage to the bond, leading to cracks and crumbling.
- Miscalculating the number of tiles needed. If you are installing tiles for the first time, you could be making the mistake of purchasing the exact number of tiles for the area you want to cover. But it is best to get 10% more tiles in the case of breakages, miscalculations, and errors. Having a store of tiles allows for replacing damaged tiles in the future.
Installing Over Gravel and Sand
To install tiles over gravel and sand, you must
- Ensure that the ground is compact and level.
- Lay down the tile sheet on the gravel or sand and make sure to maintain a gap of 1 cm or more.
- Affix the tiles in place utilizing a rubber hammer to eliminate unevenness.
- Fill in the tile joints with gravel or sand for greater surface stability.
Experts recommend a rubber mallet to help secure the tile without the risk of harming its surface. Once you are happy with your results, you can repeat the process with the rest of the tiles until the entire area is filled. Bear in mind to secure every tile in place with a rubber mallet.
The combination of outdoor tile and cement may not be sufficient to prevent water seepage to lower floors. Moreover, exposure to water clogs and damages the tiles themselves. It is best to prepare your outdoor area by waterproofing all your tiles.
Porcelain is the best choice if you want a tile with optimum water resistance. It is graded as waterproof by experts since the water does not impact the surface of the tile or its body. Porcelain tiles can be installed in patios and other outdoor areas as well as indoors.
How to avoid hardscape failures
Organic material is anything that will break down and decompose with time. These include grass, leaves, roots, and branches.
When excavating your property for installing hardscape structures, all organic material must be removed entirely. When these materials decompose, they will shift and impact the surface.
It is best to install a separation fabric between the soil and gravel foundation. In the absence of a separation fabric, the soil can seep into the gravel foundation, thus blocking proper drainage resulting in considerable shifting.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Can You Lay Outdoor Patio Tiles Over Concrete?
A concrete slab or walkway can be installed with tiles as long as water drains off from the surface and any flaws and cracks in it are stable and level.
How Do You Clean Outdoor Patio Tiles?
Outdoor tiles can be swept every few days utilizing a broom with natural bristles to prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime on the surface. Washing your tiles with clean, warm water and a mop weekly will also help your tiles look brand-new and fresh.
Is Soft Flooring Available for Children?
Rubber flooring with its softness and slip resistance is best for children.
But porcelain and ceramic tiles are also kid-friendly floorings because these surfaces are highly durable and easy to maintain if they become there is any damage.
How Do You Fix Tenting Tiles?
Tenting tiles are tiles that have become uneven or popped out. It is best to call in the experts once you encounter this problem. The priority of tile experts is to eliminate the pressure that has caused the tile to pop out. Once the pressure is released, the tented tiles are installed back into place, and experts begin injecting the area. Tile experts use a low-pressure injection gun to pump an injection mixture underneath your tiles.
This is a fast solution since your tiles are ready to use again within two to four hours. It is a no-mess and minimal disruption method to correct your tiles.
How Do You Prevent Silica Dust Build-up During Tile Installation?
When dealing with material that produces silica dust, it is best to apply wet methods. Wet methods are highly effective in cutting down the dust generated during sewing and tiling because it mitigates the exposure at its source. Wet dust is less likely to become airborne.
Outdoor Patio Tiles Conclusion
If you are looking to uplift the look of your patio, it is best to consult with a sales representative at a tile retailer or a tile expert. Explain your needs and emphasize that you need a tile specifically designed for outdoor use.
There is a wide variation of products from region to region with recommendations of what is appropriate for outdoor use. In many cases, if you live in a cold and damp climate, you are limited in your choice of materials, especially if there are frost-thaw cycles in your area.
For this reason, it is best to purchase tiles from a store that specializes in outdoor tiles. They might even offer installation services. Find a retailer with a strong interest to see that your installation will withstand the passage of time and advise you from purchasing products not suited for your application.