Outdoor porcelain tile is one of the most effective floorings for creating durable and beautiful outdoor spaces. Today, more people are seeking to utilize all the available space of their home, and patios have wonderful benefits of enjoyment and entertainment potential.
Making your patio or other outdoor spaces more beautiful is also a good way to increase your curb appeal for potential buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors, transforming your outdoor space into extra outdoor living space will create “eager buyers”.
Outdoor Porcelain Tile Basics
Porcelain tile is an ideal outdoor tile option. Be sure to choose tile that is made for the outdoors. Manufacturers create outdoor porcelain tile with different specifications than indoor tile.
Types of Outdoor Porcelain Tile
There are two main types of outdoor porcelain tile: glazed and unglazed.
- Glazed Tiles – Glazed tiles refer to tiles that have a colored or patterned coating that manufacturers have baked onto the tile. Glazed tiles will have different sheen levels including a textured surface, matte, and gloss. Glazed tiles mimic the look of other materials including wood, granite, and stone.
- Unglazed Tiles – There are two main types of unglazed tiles including full-bodied and double-loaded tiles. Full-bodied means that the color of the tile runs through the entire tile. Double-loaded tiles have two sides that are pressed together. This helps to keep costs lower as color or pattern can be limited to the top side.
PEI Grade for Outdoor Tiles
The Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) grades tiles for different types of use. Use tile that has a grade of 3 or higher for outdoor tiles. These are graded for high-traffic areas and for outdoor use.
Porcelain tile is part of the ceramic tile family, but it is a stronger and more weather-resistant version of ceramic. Porcelain tiles have a water absorption rate of less than 0.5%. This means that the tiles are considered impervious. They withstand water damage like cracking from freezing more than other outdoor tile options.
If you are installing tile in a wet area like a pool deck, consider using textured tiles. Texture makes these tiles more slip resistant than tiles with glossy finishes.
Porcelain tile is a durable outdoor tile option. It is a dense material that resists scratches and stains. It will maintain its color, so it is an ideal choice for areas that receive direct sunlight. Porcelain tiles are also fire resistant.
Outdoor porcelain tiles also have a more versatile look than other outdoor tiles. You can find outdoor porcelain tiles that mimic marble, wood, limestone, and other natural stone. Porcelain outdoor tile comes in a variety of size options including 20cm x 20 cm (8in x 8in) up to 60cm x 120 cm (24in x 48in). The multiple style and size options make porcelain tile a flexible element that works with many home design styles.
Porcelain outdoor tiles are easy to maintain. For regular maintenance, sweep free of debris like leaves that can stain the surface. You can wash with a mixture of soapy water for regular cleaning. For deeper cleaning use a water and vinegar mixture. Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar to 2 gallons of water. Apply with a tile cleaner or mop rather than a bristled brush.
Location for Use
Porcelain tiles have a varied look and style that works in many areas. Use porcelain tile for outdoor patio areas, garden spaces, around pools, and for the floor of outdoor balconies. Porcelain tiles work for floating floor installations on rooftops or uneven surfaces.
Laying tiles is difficult and time-consuming. Even above this, porcelain tiles are hard which makes them difficult to cut and install if you are not a professional. Specialized tools like a tile saw are required for installation.
Outdoor Porcelain Tile Cost
Porcelain tile costs range according to your location and type of tile. The cost for outdoor porcelain tiles ranges from $3-$10 per square foot for regular tile and up to $35 for specialized tiles with custom patterns and colors.
According to Angie’s List, labor to install your outdoor patio porcelain tile is $4-$25 per square foot or $30-$120 per hour.
Don’t forget about the cost for permits and for demolition in addition to your material and labor costs.
Outdoor Porcelain Tile: Pros and Cons
Outdoor tile is a versatile and durable choice for outdoor flooring, but there are some drawbacks to consider.
- Weather Resistance – Porcelain tiles are more weather resistant than other outdoor materials like wood or laminate materials.
- Low Maintenance – Porcelain tiles require little in the way of maintenance and will continue to look beautiful for years.
- Appearance – Porcelain tiles mimic the look of other materials like slate, wood, granite, and marble to give you multiple aesthetic options. There are also many different colors and patterns of tile to create patios with different design styles.
- Flexibility of Use – People use porcelain tiles in a variety of contexts, both indoors and outdoors. For outdoor tile, install it as a solid floor with grout. You can also embed them in the ground in separate sections for a more natural look.
- Cost – The cost of materials and installation of porcelain tiles is more expensive than options like concrete pavers.
- Heat – Outdoor patio tiles like porcelain tend to get hotter than more textured surfaces like concrete pavers or natural stone. This is an important consideration if your patio is in direct sunlight for multiple hours during the day.
Outdoor Porcelain Tile Ideas
Designers and homeowners are using porcelain tiles in outdoor spaces in beautiful and unique ways. We have gathered some to inspire you.
Wood Look Porcelain Tile
This design from Oregon Tile & Marble uses Italian glazed porcelain tile that mimics the look of petrified wood. They use inkjet technology to create Bark, one color version of this tile. This gives the tile the rough textured look of the outside of the tree.
Patterned Porcelain Outdoor Tiles
Patterned and mosaic tiles have a stylish look. Meridith Baer Home uses these black and white patterned tiles in these eclectic patio spaces. She uses the sophisticated pattern of the tiles to balance the modern and rustic style decor.
Porcelain Tile Landscape Pavers
Horizon Italian Tile produces these gorgeous porcelain pavers that have the texture and color of natural stone. You can use these to create a rustic style patio or a more contemporary look like this contemporary pool surround.
Outdoor Tiles for Grass
To create a more natural patio space, set your porcelain tiles in the grass. This approach from JDLA Landscape Architecture sets the porcelain tiles on a diagonal grid for a more contemporary look. This type of design is great for areas where you have uneven ground that would cause a floor with grout to crack.
Large Porcelain Tiles
Use large tiles to create a contemporary look. These La Roche Blanc tiles come in 80 cm x 80 cm (32 in x 32 in). This creates a more uniform look in your patio with fewer distractions from intersecting grout lines.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Where can I buy outdoor porcelain tiles?
DIY retailers like Floor & Decor as well as Home Depot and Lowes have a variety of outdoor tile options. To get a better supply, look at specialty retailers online.
What is the best outdoor porcelain tile?
For the best porcelain tile, look for tile that is graded for outdoor use including a PEI grade of at least 3. Also, consider the area of use. If your patio is around water, make sure that the tile has a non-slip textured surface.
What is the difference between outdoor porcelain tile pavers and outdoor porcelain tile?
Tiles for outdoor use ranges in thickness from 1/2 inch to 5/16 inch. Pavers are more textured than tile and are around 3/4 inch thick. If your tile will be in a covered area and there is regular foot traffic, use tiles. If your area gets heavy foot or vehicle traffic or if it is in an exposed area, consider using porcelain pavers. Also, consider using pavers if you are installing your floor over a flexible substrate like sand or grass.
Can I use porcelain tiles on a deck?
Yes, you can install tiles over a deck. You will need multiple layers in between the two including a plywood subfloor, a waterproof membrane, and a layer of mortar to attach the tiles.
Can I use indoor porcelain tiles outdoors?
No, experts recommend that you should not use indoor porcelain tiles in outdoor spaces. Standard indoor tiles are 1/4 inch thick. This is too thin to stand up to exterior weather conditions.
Outdoor porcelain tile is an ideal option for garden and patio spaces. It is durable, easy to maintain, and has beautiful and versatile style options. Because of its inherent qualities, you do not need to seal porcelain tile for it to keep its resistance to water.
Choose a neutral tile to complement the classic look of your home or go bold with a colorful mosaic. Whatever style you choose, outdoor porcelain tile is a long lasting option that will expand your outdoor living space for years to come.