Many of us will already have embraced the wonders of tiles in our homes as a practical, hardwearing and stylish decor choice, but this wonderful wall and flooring solution isn’t limited for use indoors - far from it!
Outdoor tiles offer a stunning solution for an easy-to-maintain, sophisticated and contemporary look that isn’t just suitable for warmer climates like the Mediterranean. Even in the UK, where our beautiful isle often throws up some volatile weather conditions, it’s entirely possible to achieve a sleek and stylish exterior with the use of the versatile exterior tile.
Before you dive in, though, tiling your decking, barbecue area or patio with any old type of tile, there are a few careful considerations to bear in mind. With exposure to the elements - sun, wind, rain, frost and even snow - choosing a suitable outdoor tile is essential if you want to pull off an outdoor space you can enjoy for years to come. It goes without saying that installing tiles that aren’t suitable for use outdoors could deliver disappointing results, with a greater chance of damage occurring.
We want your home to look beautiful from the inside out, so, to avoid any disasters, read on as we explain exactly what you should be looking for when it comes to choosing the perfect outdoor tile. From material types, essential properties and where to use them to installation tips, style ideas and much more, you’ll find everything you need to know when it comes to designing stunning exterior tiled areas, right here.
Which type of tile is best for outdoor use?
In principle, you can use all types of tiles outside your property - be that ceramic, porcelain or natural stone. However, each different tile material comes with its own unique properties that make it more or less suited for use in an outdoor environment.
For instance, some natural stones or ceramic tiles can be perfectly suited in moderate, dry climates because the softer material isn’t as affected by moisture and extreme temperature changes. But, with a higher level of porousness, these materials are more likely to absorb water, which gets into the tile during the freezing and thawing process - causing them to crack and blow.
While you can seal natural stones and tiles, this does make them a more labour-intensive option, as sealants need to be applied regularly to fully protect the surface from moisture and dirt.
However, a more reliable, low-maintenance choice for a climate like the UK - where we get more than our fair share of rainfall - would be porcelain outdoor tiles. Made from a finer and denser ceramic clay, porcelain tiles are fired at a higher temperature and pressure, to deliver an incredibly non-porous, hard-wearing and strong tile - beautifully designed to withstand all kinds of weather.
From blistering hot summer days to freezing winter temperatures, porcelain tiles are generally impervious to harsh weather conditions, making them less likely to crack and break. They also don’t require additional sealing to keep them looking pristine in the long term, and are available in a broad spectrum of styles and finishes - including beautiful travertine-effect tiles - giving you the striking features of a natural stone without the related maintenance.
At Tiles Direct, all of our outdoor tiles are manufactured from 20mm thick porcelain to deliver a strong, durable and weather-resistant solution for use outdoors - giving you peace of mind that you’ll have a tiled area that’s built to last.
Why use tiles outdoors?
Tiled exteriors come with a raft of perks for homeowners to enjoy - read on to find out more!
For anyone who’s spent hours pressure-washing patios and decking to blast away the remnants of moss, dirt and grime from the winter, outdoor tiles offer the perfect alternative - making time-consuming clean-ups a thing of the past.
With a smooth, sealed surface, exterior tiles are essentially designed to repel mould, moss and dirt - making the job of cleaning them an absolute breeze. A simple sweep and mop regularly should help to keep any dirt and grime under control.
Beyond cleaning, outdoor tiles bolster their easy-to-maintain reputation with outstanding water-resistance. With a dense interior, fewer voids and cavities means less moisture is absorbed into the porcelain. This alone makes them a stand-out choice for alfresco areas, including pools and outdoor showers (if you dare).
Stain and chemical-resistant
Being made from a non-porous material, porcelain tiles also boast excellent stain-resistance and are impervious to chemicals - again, making them suitable for pools and outdoor bathing areas. It goes without saying, though, that you should regularly clean tiles and mop up any spillages right away to keep your tiles looking their best for years to come.
High resistance to extreme temperatures
One of the key benefits of porcelain outdoor tiles is that, whatever the unpredictable British weather brings, they’re built to withstand whatever comes their way. Unaffected by extremely hot or cold temperatures, you can enjoy complete peace of mind that your tiles are both frost and heat-resistant - all year round.
Long-lasting, durable and sustainable
Porcelain is a material you can count on in the long term, thanks to its exceptional strength and lasting beauty - delivering a cost-effective and durable option for decorating alfresco areas. When installed correctly, outdoor tiles will retain their integrity and timeless style for longer - both saving you money on replacements and avoiding unnecessary waste heading for the landfill.
With a high chance of getting wet, outdoor tiles are also designed with built-in non-slip properties - allowing you to put health and safety at the heart of your exterior design. With all our exterior tiles featuring textured, anti-slip properties, you can feel confident walking on your wet tiles - even after heavy downpour.
With a wide variety of textures, sizes and colours now available, the design possibilities are limitless when it comes to achieving your desired look. Whether you want rustic chic, ultra-modern minimalism or an eclectic bohemian vibe, with the versatility of tiles, you can celebrate your favourite design trend with minimal effort.
Where and how to use outdoor tiles
The most obvious placement for outdoor tiles is as a flooring solution. Their unrivalled strength, durability and weather-resistance makes them the perfect material for creating fashionable and functional outdoor areas, such as patios, terraces, pathways and even driveways.
With a diverse selection of colours, sizes and finishes at Tiles Direct, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for reinventing the exterior of your property. From dramatic dark grey to soft beige, create the perfect ambience with classic colours to complement natural surroundings.
For front steps and pathways, why not add an elegant finish with a timeless dark grey tile? Alternatively, you could look to create a comfortable and contemporary outdoor area in your garden, ideal for relaxation and socialising on those warm summer days. Whatever your tastes or needs, a classic tiled floor will always add to the overall aesthetic - as well as the value of your home.
If you love the idea of ‘transterior’ design, where the lines between the inside and outside of your home are seamlessly blurred, try incorporating tiles in coordinated colours in nearby indoor and outdoor areas. Perfect for homes with patios or bi-folding doors, the symmetry between the two different areas will ensure a flawless flow from the inside out.
Of course, you can go the other way, using outdoor tiles as a zoning technique for a beautifully landscaped space. Whether you use different colours to define specific areas within your garden or simply create a distinctive contrast between the outside and inside of your home, cleverly styled zones can be highly effective at evoking a variety of moods - making your garden a place you love spending time in.
But bear in mind that outdoor tiles have potential that goes far beyond mere flooring solutions. From tiled exterior walls and benches to bars, barbecues and even flower beds, the world is your oyster when it comes to getting creative with outdoor tiles.
You might want to continue your tiled theme beyond the floor areas, by adding raised flower beds, box planters or decorative wall areas that are finished with tiles. The introduction of porcelain to a less conventional place will add class and character to your home, as well as adding an extra protective layer to this vertical surface - ensuring your latest renovations remain in mint condition for years to come.
Laying outdoor tiles: the dos and don’ts
Naturally, laying outdoor tiles comes with a few more complexities and challenges than installing them inside your home. First and foremost, they must be specifically designed for outdoor use - otherwise, they’ll be ill-equipped to face the elements. This also extends to the adhesive and grout you choose - check out our tiling accessories range for more details on suitable outdoor adhesive, and see grouting products such as our Palace Trade Flex Adhesive.
Next, think about where the tiles are going to be laid. For a successful tile installation, it’s vital to have a flat, level surface and a solid base for the tiles. With flooring projects, this could be an existing patio or decked area - or it may be that you actually need to create a custom-made concrete base. The latter will obviously be a bit more labour-intensive to make sure that it’s structurally sound, so it’s worth seeking professional advice when it comes to this process.
With a solid base in place, it’s time to plan your layout and decide on your aspirations for the finished look. With a variety of tile patterns, you can create a spectrum of different looks - from clean and classic, using symmetrical patterns, to brick lay or herringbone for a more unique and characterful finish. You can even incorporate different shapes and sizes to replicate a natural stone formation.
Whichever pattern you decide on, be sure to carefully calculate how many tiles are needed to cover the area, and the number of cuts required.
As with indoor areas, it’s recommended to mix and lay adhesive in small batches, laying a few tiles at a time - preventing it from drying out and ensuring the tiles line up as they should. Once all the tiles are laid, the adhesive must be allowed to dry fully before applying the grout.
Grout application is essential for sealing and protecting your tiles, preventing water and dirt from getting between the joints. Most grouts are suitable for interior and exterior use, but, when buying your product, be sure to check with a professional retailer or tiler in advance that it’s suitable for optimal protection.
For added protection, you can also apply grout sealant along the tile joints to prevent dirt from embedding into the grout lines - but if you’re particularly keen to have any dirt that does gather remain invisible to the naked eye, we’d recommend going with a dark-coloured grout. With a wide variety of shades on offer, you’re sure to find a colour that matches your tiles and suits your maintenance-related needs.
Understanding anti-slip ratings
On each product page, you’ll see that every outdoor tile is allocated an anti-slip rating - also known as an ‘R’ rating. This is used to indicate the level of resistance against slipping offered by each tile.
Understanding this system is incredibly simple - the higher the R rating, the more slip-resistant a tile is. While tiles with lower R ratings will still provide adequate slip-resistance around the home, for outdoor tiles and exterior environments, look to use tiles with a R10 marking and above - as these will offer the best resistance against the unreliable British weather!
Why choose Tiles Direct?
When it comes to investing in home renovations, you’ll want to be completely confident in a quality finish that is, quite simply, worth the money it costs. With Tiles Direct, you can enjoy exactly that - thanks to our winning combination of high-end products and pocket-friendly prices.
Whatever your personal tastes, our premium outdoor tiles are made for the job. From pale, travertine-style tiles to dark, matt porcelain, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect tiles to bring your outdoor space to life.
If you’re still deciding on the best colour scheme or tile finish, why not take advantage or our tile sample service? For just 99p, we’ll send you a sample of your chosen tile, giving you a chance to get a feel for the look and texture of the product before you buy in bulk.
Are you ready to get started on designing your dream garden or patio? Shop with us today and we’ll arrange for your tiles to be delivered direct to your door - with free UK delivery on all orders over £499.
For any more information on any of our outdoor tile products, simply gives us a call on 0113 253 0005 and our friendly, knowledgeable team of tiling experts will be happy to help!