A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Outdoor Tile
This year, more than ever, homeowners are looking to convert their tired or run down gardens into an extra living area - almost as an additional room where the family or friends can enjoy nature in contemporary surrounds.
One way of improving the condition of your outdoor space is by deploying trendy outdoor porcelain tiles, often in lieu of distressed decking or old unsightly concrete pavers.
The Betria tile shown recessed into a lawn, with matching tiles on the wall.
However, there is a large range of outdoor tiles on the market, and as homeowners do more and more research, they are encountering not only a large selection of patterns, colours, textures and sizes, but also poor or incorrect advice.
Making a costly mistake is very frustrating, especially when following a recommendation or tip from an unqualified or inexperience source, so we are here to help simplify matters, to put your mind at rest, and to make the purchase of outdoor tiles more enjoyable.
Firstly, you can read a little more on what we mean when we say "outdoor tiles" right here, but in essence we are referring to 20mm thick glazed porcelain floor tiles.
1 - Why Choose Outdoor Tiles in the First Place?
We can think of many reasons, but lets explore the rationale by comparing them to some alternatives.
- We can agree that a certain area of your garden should be hard, that is to say, not grass, soil, or bark area. From a purely practical point of view, it is almost always necessary to have an area which can withstand traffic, remain level, drain fully, and be able to carry a reasonable load of weight. So some hardscape is definitely better than none in a least part of your garden.
- 20 mm thick glazed porcelain, fired at above 1000 degrees celcius in a kiln, is extremely robust, on a par in terms of strength with stone or concrete products of the same thickness.
- While the range of natural stone and, to a lesser degree, concrete products, is extensive, there is an far greater number of outdoor tile products on the market. Glazed porcelain outdoor tiles can imitate slates, sandstones and limestones, while also offering patterned tiles with limitless colour variations and styles.
- Maintenance. No sealing. No sanding. No grinding a couple of millimetres off the surface in an effort to revive the original glory. Glazed porcelain is impervious to staining from the weather elements, organic matter buildup, moss, lichen, spillages etc. One quick powerhose, and even the dirtiest of tiles are back to new within a couple of minutes, even after a lengthy period of neglect.
- Unlike timber products, the tiles cannot rot or disintegrate. Why not choose a wood effect tile instead?
- The sharp edges achievable with rectified 20mm thick tiles means that the tiles can be installed very closely, delivering a sharp sleek look.
- Tiles can be mounted on pedestals. That is because of their uniform thickness. Natural stone often does not have this advantage. Pedestals are used where tiles need to have clearance below them (for cables, drainage, levelling reasons etc) or where a weight reduction is required, in which case hundreds of kilograms of sand, cement or hardcore will no longer be required. Using pedestals is also a far cheaper way of installing tiles.
- Also because of their uniform thickness, all outdoor tiles can be installed indoors. Running the same tile from a kitchen floor or living area into a patio area bestows an ultra modern seamless transition between indoors and out. In theory, natural stone could be installed in the same manner, but this tends to lead to a rustic appearance indoors, which obviously does not suit every home.
2 - Safety First - Choose a Slip Resistant Tile
There is a duty of responsibilty which falls on everybody involved in the choice of building materials. Very often, in in the search for the most beautiful, complementary, or durable, the crucial matter of safety is often overlooked.
As fantastic as polished marble might be, it is obvious that such a surface will be massively dangerous if installed in pedestrian areas outdoors, and lethal when wet. Glossy or smooth tiles will also develop a film of greasy residue from organic matter over time, so they needn't necessarily be holding rain water to still be treacherous.
Fortunately, all our outdoor floor tiles have certified high slip resistant surfaces. These ensure a good grip underfoot at all times, and peace of mind for the homeowner, especially when there is surface water present. Slip resistant porcelain tiles are our only recommendation for use in a paved outdoor area.
3 - Choosing a Suitable Colour
It is important that the general colour of your tile, rather than the specific pattern itself, is complementary to colour of your home's walls, doors and window frames.
Creams will go well with browns and sand colours, greys with black or white.
Also, consider how much natural light the area in question generally receives. If you are fortunate enough to avail of full sun almost all day long, then a bright tile might reflect too much light and cause uncomfortable glare. A darker slate effect tile might be better choice here than a light limestone style.
Conversely, a walled courtyard surrounded by tall buildings could benefit from a pale sandy coloured tile to reflect and maximise the available light.
4 - Choosing the Style
Finally, get the style right. We know there are myriad choices out there, but a rural cottage might look unusual with a metallic effect tile in the courtyard, every bit as much as a multicoloured slate effect tile would be out of place on the patio of a sleek ultra modern home.
If your garden has sharp angles, sleek rendered walls and perfectly manicured topiary, then a delicately mottled limestone tile is a perfect choice.
In contrast, a rambling country garden with ancient brick garden walls and a wild planting scheme would be in perfect harmony with a timber effect plank style tile.
The Vermont Tile above, looks fabulous indoors in a large country kitchen with exposed pine ceilings, and rustic chandelier.
There are no hard and fast rules, of course. Ultimately the choice is personal, and there is no real right and wrong. However, some tiles will feel and look better than others depending on the circumstances.
Hopefully you will have found our short guide here of use, and feel that you have been pointed in the right direction.
Check out our full range of outdoor tiles right here!