When it comes to choosing the right tile for your outdoor patio or pool area, you want to look for the perfect balance of form and function. To a degree, this is true when installing tile anywhere, but it’s especially important when you consider that the material will have to stand up to the elements. Here are some examples of the best types of tile for outdoors.
Porcelain tile is impervious to water, meaning it won’t absorb moisture. This is invaluable, particularly in climates that are prone to freezing during the winter months. Trapped moisture expands when frozen, which can cause porous tiles to crack. Porcelain is also durable and easy to care for—a plus for busy households, especially if your property requires a great deal of upkeep to begin with. The material is available in a variety of styles, making it easier to find one that suits your chosen décor.
This is an upscale option and can be cost-prohibitive as a result. If you can afford it, however, the right natural stone can be the ideal choice for outdoor use.
Some types of stone are better suited for the task than others, so here’s a basic primer on the types that are most commonly used for tile, and whether or not they’re worth the cost.
- Granite—durable, water-resistant, able to withstand cold temperatures, available in various colors. A great choice.
- Marble—also durable, but more porous than granite. Will likely need to be sealed for outdoor use.
- Slate—softer than either marble or granite, but still quite durable. Available in neutral shades, with no two tiles ever quite the same.
- Limestone—Exceptional eye appeal, but extremely porous. Would need a good sealing job if used on an outdoor surface.
Wood tiles can also be quite expensive, but they’ve gained popularity due to the fact that they lend the appearance of a rustic deck or porch. They’re crafted of hardwood for durability and strength, then sealed with high-quality decking oil to protect the naturally absorbent material from the elements. The oil also gives the wood a natural glow that’s impossible to duplicate.
Unlike porcelain and the majority of natural stone, wood tile for outdoors will require a great deal of maintenance. The surface should be power-washed at least once per season, and the wood treated every three years. For best results, install wood tile on a concrete or asphalt surface, to protect the base.
Ceramic isn’t the number-one choice for outdoor use, mainly because it’s more porous than porcelain and therefore prone to breakage. If the material is high-quality and well treated, however, it can be suitable for smaller low-traffic areas. Proper installation is also key—don’t allow any extra space between tiles for water to become trapped. Finally, if you do decide to use ceramic tiles for your patio, be proactive when it comes to maintenance. If a tile becomes loose or is cracked, replace it before it can lead to bigger issues down the road.
Once you understand the basics, choosing the right tile for outdoor use is fairly simple. The particulars—such as color and style—are a matter of personal taste, and will depend largely upon the size and logistics of the area to be covered. We hope your newly improved outdoor space brings you happiness and good memories in the years ahead.