Outdoor tiles are available in what may seem like a never-ending variety of materials. Each type is truly different and may only work in certain spaces and for specific uses. So how do you decide which ones to choose? Well, this guide will give you the info and tips you need on all of the top tile materials, along with much more, to help you get started.
Tile for outdoor use typically needs to be strong enough to be able to withstand the elements. This can often mean extreme heat, rain, snow, or all of these. However, this will depend on where you use them. We all also have different spaces, preferences, needs, and budgets. While many consumers want something that is both attractive and functional others may simply desire an option that is inexpensive and gets the job done.
Before you decide on any materials you may want to ask yourself a few important questions. While you may not know all of the answers yet, even just keeping them in mind will put you on the fast track to finding the best outdoor tiles for your project. They also may just give you some useful ideas.
How And Where Are Your Tiles Going To Be Used?
This is probably the most important of all the questions and answering it correctly will help you to save time and money. Some tile materials are super tough and can handle a ton of abuse while others are much more fragile and prone to being scratched, damaged, or breaking.
And while certain options are better for use on the wall others will work better on the floor. Knowing how and where your tiles will be used will help you to confidently choose a material and type of tile that has the traits you need.
Does The Area Need Extra Grip?
While this not a concern when adding tile on the wall it’s extremely important when choosing outdoor floor tile. Moisture and water can lead to slippery surfaces and a fall on hard tile can be very painful and even dangerous. If the space you will be tiling comes into contact with a lot of water or moisture you will most likely want to add non-slip outdoor tiles.
Weather can cause wet surfaces but so can installing your tiles in areas that are known to flood or where they are close to water features, swimming pools, and ponds. Stairs in particular are an area where you should definitely consider using a tile material that has grip regardless of whether or not they will be getting wet.
Do You Need A Flat Space?
Having outdoor flooring that is flat is sometimes very important. For example certain types of patio furniture will need a flat surface to rest comfortably on. Many natural stones in particular come in textures that are not level. If you don’t need a flat surface they could be an excellent choice that also looks very rustic.
What Is The Style Of Your Space?
The style of your home, space, or garden can have a big impact on your tile choice. Identifying the style you are working with and choosing tiles that match it can go a long way towards getting great looking and cohesive results.
Thinking about what style you need to match or that you would like to create will automatically help you to narrow down your list of possible outdoor tile materials very quickly since not every material will be able to work.
What Color Is Your House, And Do You Want To Match Or Contrast It?
Looking at the color of your home can help you to choose a tile color. Both matching and contrasting colors can look amazing. If the tiles you are looking at don’t match or contrast you may want to eliminate them from your list of choices.
Don’t forget that neutral colors such as brown, black, and grey are well-known for being able to work with just about all color schemes.
How Much Light Does The Area Get?
Most people don’t realize that using dark tiles in an area with poor or dim lighting can really take away from the appearance of their tiles, even ones that look spectacular before being installed.
The end result is all too often a space that looks dull and gloomy. A simple rule to follow when picking a color is: Choose lighter colored outdoor tiles for areas with low light, and darker tiles for areas with a lot of light.
Types of Outdoor Tiles:
Now that you know the right questions to ask, here are the top types you will want to check out. Be sure to take your time, read up, and choose carefully.
A choice that offers a lot of versatility are porcelain tiles. They also happen to be unbelievably well-suited for the outdoors. The use of extremely high temperatures during the manufacturing process helps to produce tiles that are stronger and denser than materials like ceramic and even some types of natural stone.
And because they won’t mildew or stain, and have such a low water absorption rate that they are close to waterproof, it’s not hard to see why so many people choose to install them on outside floors and walls. They are also resistant to freezing temperatures which may be very important depending on where in the world you live. A lot of consumers don’t realize that porcelain tile can be used as a substitute for stone and other materials.
Since porcelain can absorb dye so well it can be made to look just like real stone that would usually cost much more. Adding outdoor porcelain tile that looks like stone is a good idea for someone who likes the look of natural materials but wants something that is less costly, low-maintenance yet at the same time tough. Realistic textures can also be added to tiles which make them look even more authentic and increase their grip.
When shopping you will want to make sure you check the PEI rating of the tiles you are considering which will tell you how it can be used. This is a rating of hardness and durability made by the Porcelain Enamel Institute. The rating can be anywhere from one through five with one being the most fragile and five being the toughest. The best tile for outdoor patio use will have a PEI rating of four or five.
Ceramic tiles come in a diverse array of colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes. However when it comes to being used outside they will do much better on walls than on the floor. In general ceramic tiles are usually only used in areas that receive light use. If you do decide to use them on the floor it is very important that they are rated for outdoor floor use and are sealed to prevent staining.
Ceramic outdoor wall tiles though can be installed to add a splash of color. Other than wall spaces one spot that can really work for this is on stair risers. Adding them here will also be sure to increase the curb appeal of your home. Colorful Mexican tiles are an option that will work wonderfully for this job.
One of the most luxurious looking tile choices is without a doubt travertine. With outdoor patio tiles made from this natural stone you can transform the look and feel of your space dramatically. Normally you will see travertine ranging from brown to cream in color.
This material is well-known for its beauty but also its pitted surface which is a result of gasses escaping as the stone forms. Many people love the rustic appearance of these small pits but if you don’t, you can always choose tiles that have them filled in.
The edges of travertine tiles may also be straight for a uniform look or chiseled to make them appear older. Finishes include tumbled, honed, brushed, and polished but you won’t want to use a polished finish on floor tiles outside since it would be too slippery.
The natural texture of travertine actually provides grip making it an attractive choice for use as tiles for outdoor steps and around swimming pools. A favorite feature for many tile owners is how cool their tiles feel even on a hot summer’s day which is especially convenient around the pool so you don’t burn your feet.
They can also handle extremely cold temperatures without the risk of cracking. When thinking about this material you will definitely want consider installing your tiles in the Versailles tile pattern for which it works famously well.
Tiles made from slate are an excellent example of the stunning looks that natural stone has to offer. While most people think that they are only available in grey they actually can be found in everything from orange to black. Depending on what you prefer, you may want to choose tiles that are one uniform color or those that have many different color variations in each individual tile.
There are different finishes too so that you can find tiles that are totally smooth or have an uneven surface known as a natural cleft finish. Slate is very tough but also highly resistant to water. These traits along with the fact that it can be used to create both modern and rustic looking spaces make it a very popular outside choice.
Outdoor wall tiles made from slate can be used in outdoor showers, on decorative walls, and on the exterior of the house. Slate split-faced tiles in particular are one of the most frequently purchased choices for wall installations because of their appealing rough natural texture.
You will also see tiles made from this stone used on patios and as flooring in areas that are frequently wet. This is not just because of their looks and water resistance. It is also because they provide serious natural grip and this easily makes them one the best exterior tiles for steps.
Even though slate is stain resistant you will definitely want to seal your tiles to protect them from things like oils which can cause staining. You may want to consider using a stone enhancer which will give your tile a wet look. And don’t forget when installing slate tiles outdoors on your patio it is very important you do so over a concrete slab.
These are the strongest and most durable type of all natural stone tiles. They also can be quite expensive. Granite is naturally waterproof and just about impenetrable to bacteria. It also won’t chip or crack and is extremely scratch resistant. Unlike many other types of stone it will not stain or absorb oils easily.
These traits along with its looks also make it the most sought after material for indoor use on kitchen countertops. Most often tiles will be grey in color but can range all the way to pink. When used as outdoor patio tiles or to make walk and pathways they create spaces that don’t just impress but last a lifetime.
Limestone is formed underwater by shells, coral, algae and calcium carbonate. It is a material that has been favored by builders since ancient times because while it is easy to cut and work with it is also strong and durable. Usually gray, tan, brown, or red in color this strong, heavy material was used to make castles and even the Egyptian pyramids.
Their light color actually reflects sunlight and help to keep them cool even during very hot weather. Needless to say limestone tiles are very tough. However, care must be taken as they can be scratched. Limestone tiles need to be properly sealed as they are somewhat porous and highly susceptible to damage by acids.
They are easy to clean by sweeping or mopping with a neutral cleaner just be sure not to use anything acidic such as bleach or vinegar. Limestone is one of the best outdoor tile choices for creating a rustic appearance and its neutral colors make it a fabulous pairing for use with wood furniture.
Soapstone originally got its name for its soft texture, which can feel almost like soap to the touch. This comes from the fact that it is mostly made up of talc. It is a non-porous stone which makes it totally resistant to water but also staining of all kinds. Acids and chemicals will not damage it.
The high heat resistance of this stone and the fact that it’s naturally waterproof make it a great material for outdoor tiles in really hot, wet, or even extreme climates of all types. Soapstone tiles can be used in wet areas such as around swimming pools or water features. And their resistance to staining makes them a superb choice for outdoor patio floor tiles in areas used for dining.
Many homeowners will use mineral oil applications to bring out the natural beauty of their soapstone tiles. Applying mineral oil along with a light sanding can also help to eliminate any scratches in tiles as well.
Sandstone has been used to make tiles since ancient times. As a sedimentary rock it is made up of tiny particles of other rocks and sand which have been displaced by wind and water. Because these tiny particles have a huge range in colors, so do sandstone tiles. However they are usually available in white, tan, red, gray, and brown.
Their beautiful variations in texture and color make an eye-catching addition to gardens and patios. Outdoor sandstone tiles can be used in wet areas but they will need to be sealed first as this stone is highly porous and will absorb water if it isn’t. Sealing is also critical to prevent the absorption of salt which can cause serious damage to sandstone.
Plastic Interlocking Outdoor Tiles
With a grip that helps to prevent slips and falls, plastic interlocking outdoor tiles are always one of the most popular options. Because they interlock there is no need to pay a professional to install them for you. And you don’t need any skills whatsoever to do the job on your own. Just set them down on any flat or even semi-flat surface, interlock them, and you’re done.
You can place them right over your existing concrete patio or deck for a fast and functional upgrade. And like all interlocking options they can be removed quickly, taken with you if you move, or used somewhere else on your property. Individual tiles can also be replaced without a hassle if there is any damage.
They are typically made from extremely durable materials such as Polypropylene. This allows them to withstand all types of weather conditions from freezing to extreme heat and also a lot of abuse. Some but not all, are even strong enough to be used as garage tiles that can handle having vehicles parked on top of them.
Plastic interlocking outdoor tiles are designed specifically for providing you with the most grip possible. Unlike many other options they are perforated to let water drain through the body of the tile instead of sitting on top so that no matter how wet they get you will still have a textured grip to help prevent accidents.
This also makes them very easy to keep clean with the use of a hose. For anyone who is looking for a non-slip outdoor tile to place around areas that could be very dangerous when wet such as swimming pools, on balconies, or steps these can help to make them as safe as possible.
Another interlocking option that you can install without any skill are outdoor deck tiles. Many of these will actually snap together. When placed over a flat area they create a brand new flooring surface that looks like real decking but costs much less and won’t require you to use any tools, nails or screws. They are often installed right on top of older decks to give them a fresh look.
Many people also like to place them over concrete slabs, patios, balconies, or even on the lawn (if it is flat), to give the appearance of an expensive looking deck surface. And when used around the pool they can add a luxurious look and feel to your space especially when they are made from authentic wood.
The spaces between the slats in the tiles allow for drainage to help keep the surface of the tile dry. You can find wooden outdoor deck tiles in many handsome and sturdy wood varieties. Many of these are naturally resistant to insects, heat, and moisture which make them very well-suited for use outside.
When shopping, you will see choices like cherry, teak, oak, eucalyptus, acacia, and ipe, along with a handful of others. Each type has its own unique look and advantages. Different varieties of wood may require different care though.
There are other material choices too. Composite tiles for example, are made from a mixture of recycled plastics and sometimes real wood as well. They are often more durable and can be made with a texture for extra grip.
Some are even manufactured to look like real wood which make them an ideal choice for consumers who prefer the look of outdoor wood tiles but want something that is a little tougher. Nowadays there are also tiles made from materials like stone and even artificial turf.
Outdoor Rubber Tiles
In certain situations a softer tile material is the best solution. Rubber tiles will give you a flooring surface that has grip but that also is soft enough to prevent injuries if you do happen to fall which is of course extra important for children and the elderly. Adding them to children’s play areas will help keep kids safe.
There is even a special type known as rubber playground tiles that are designed to protect children when falling from higher heights such as a swing set. Rubber options can be also be used as outdoor patio tiles over concrete slabs and decks. And they can be crucial for keeping people safe around swimming pools and on balconies.
Wet areas aren’t a problem since water can drain right through them and installation is a breeze because they are interlocking and won’t need any adhesive. You can do this on your own without any help from a pro.
For those who workout outside, having outdoor non slip tiles made from rubber will not only prevent injury but also absorb shock. Many people actually prefer rubber to stand and walk on as well because it is much easier on the back, knees, feet, and joints.
Tiles made from rubber will also protect floors from damage from things like dumbbells or heavy tools if your garage is used as a home gym or workshop. Because they are popular for use indoors, when shopping you will want to make sure that the tiles you are looking at are designed to be used outside. Many are indoor/outdoor tiles so they are tough enough that they can be used in both.
Faux Paving Tiles
Stone is not the only choice when you’d like to add some pavers. Outdoor paving tiles made from materials like rubber are tough, heavy, and only a fraction of the cost. They can even imitate the look of real brick and different types of stone like slate are of course much softer. Faux choices are also sometimes manufactured from high density resin and mixtures of recycled materials.
Some tiles are made so that they can be placed on any flat surface such as a patio and interlock with one another. Others may need to be screwed or glued in place it depends on the specific model. There are also tiles that can be used on grass, soil, and sand which may have beveled edges or spikes that keep them solidly in the ground.
These can be installed to create patio spaces in the yard for events or left in place for more permanent use. Another way to use them is as outdoor path tiles which you can move whenever you’d like to make a new brick or stepping stone path.
When you want the look of natural stone but would like to spend much less, concrete offers a very budget-friendly solution. By using molds it can be made into tiles that look like just about any stone material. In fact it can even be made to look like materials such as wood.
The texture and colors of the tiles can look so much like the real thing that it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference. They can also handle very heavy use and foot traffic which is always a plus too. However, outdoor concrete tiles will have to be sealed to protect them from water, staining and mildew.
Because they are much cheaper than other options for manufacturers to produce they cost less to purchase. You can also buy your own mold and some concrete and use them to create your own patio pavers or outdoor floor tiles for very little money. If you do, you’ll want to purchase cement coloring to help you make your tiles look as real as possible.
While not actually coming from quarried stone as they did in the past, these unglazed clay tiles are very tough and function extremely well as outdoor tiles for patio use. Unlike those made from ceramic and porcelain, quarry tiles are typically only found in a few colors. Most often they are seen in red, but sometimes also in brown or gray.
It is these deep, rich, earth tone colors that help quarry tiles portray a unique Mediterranean look that many homeowners love. These tiles are also much thicker than other types usually ranging from ½” to ¾”. This thickness and the fact that they are very dense, makes them an extremely durable and strong tile that can take the abuse of the outdoors.
Quarry tiles also have a very low water absorption rate, allowing the homeowner to use them in wet areas without any problems. This added to the fact that their unglazed surface provides grip, makes them a very effective non-slip surface and one of the top choices when you need outside tiles for steps.
However, they must be sealed so they don’t absorb stains. Quarry tiles can be tougher to clean than other types of tiles though and may sometimes require a good power washing.
Outdoor Carpet Tiles
Unlike standard carpeting which comes in rolls, carpet tiles come in squares which can be much more convenient. If individual tiles become worn or damaged they can easily be removed and replaced. Dirty tiles can also be taken out, cleaned, and then set in place again with little effort. Since they can be removed they are a common choice for those who are renting.
Tiles that can be used outside will usually be advertised as indoor/outdoor carpet tiles and can be used in either space. Depending on the brand they may be peel and stick, require adhesive tape, or interlock. Carpet tiles can be installed over other surfaces such as concrete.
When made for the outdoors they will normally be UV resistant to prevent fading from the sun, easy to clean, odor and stain-resistant, and many are anti-microbial as well. They are usually used as outdoor non-slip floor tiles in areas like decks, patios, garages, workshops, outdoor work spaces, around pools, and even in the entryways of houses. Many homeowners also choose to add them to their porches or use them as tiles for outdoor structures like gazebos and pergolas.
As you can see, there are many types of outdoor tiles to choose from. While all have their good points, some might not be the right fit for your space or function. However, if you take it slow and ask yourself the right questions, you will find the right outdoor tile for your needs, your space, and save money and time in choosing correctly the first time around!
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