More and more homeowners are choosing to revitalise dull or dreary gardens into welcoming stylish spaces, where they can step out into nature, entertain friends, or just enjoy some down time. A simple way of achieving this revival is through the use of outdoor tiles. Unadorned outdoor spaces or tired-looking patios can be completely transformed with the use of the right tile.
But there’s such a wide range of outdoor tiles on the market, both natural and man-made, that some homeowners have become befuddled. In fact, so dizzying is the array of materials, textures, styles, and colours that more and more consumers are making the wrong choice - which is not only costly and deeply frustrating, but can also impact on the resale value of their homes.
So this article is for all those homeowners who don’t know which way to turn in their quest for the right outdoor tile. Just keep it simple, stick to the five key criteria below, and you won’t go wrong.
1 - Keep the Climate in Mind
Natural materials such as travertine, marble, and slate are alluring choices for outdoor tiles. This is due to their rugged beauty and famed durability. Fabricated materials such as terracotta are much sought after due to their sumptuous oranges, rich reds, and broody browns. However, these materials are all porous and absorb water. Although they look fabulous and work well in warmer temperatures, they suffer acutely in the cold. The freeze-thaw cycle in the UK gradually weakens both stone and terracotta tiles, eventually leading to cracking.
So climate should be the first criteria you address when choosing your tile material. Your choice will very much depend on your geographical location and its associated seasonal weather patterns.
The material that gets the best balance between beauty and elegance on the one hand, and durability and low porosity on the other is porcelain. Its low absorbency rate makes it extremely frost resistant, and thus it does not suffer from splinter or cracking that can occur with stone. Furthermore, its low porosity means there’s little chance of algae, moss, lichen, or rot staining those splendid surfaces.
But what material is best suited to hotter climates? Once again, porcelain comes to the fore. Whereas the captivating colours of natural stone tend to fade when exposed to direct sunlight, porcelain is UV resistant and maintains its vibrant tones over prolonged exposure.
Photo: Istria Outdoor Tiles
As can be seen in the image above, a porcelain patio offers the perfect chill-out zone, which can be used to host intimate gatherings and barbeques over a lifetime, without ever tiring of age.
2 - Select a Slip-Resistant Tile
Slip-falls, are the number one cause of accidents in the home, and slippery surfaces are a factor in the majority of all slip-falls. This critical factor of slippage is frequently overlooked by homeowners in their quest for the most beautiful and durable tile. However it deserves serious consideration, particularly by those who live in rainy, humid, or misty climates.
Natural materials such as travertine and marble can become dangerously slippery when wet. Fabricated ceramic and porcelain exhibit similar problems. So what to do? Whereas natural tiles cannot be modified, fabricated tiles can be made in such a way that their resistance to slip is increased. Furthermore, fabricated tiles are awarded slip resistance ratings. So for outdoor use - particularly in moist climates - make sure to pick a tile with a high slip-resistant rating. But this is not as simple as it seems, as there is no internationally agreed upon method of testing slip resistance. Different countries use different testing procedures that bear little correlation to each other, and can leave the consumer perplexed. We've demystified the conundrum with our overview of slip resistance ratings.
3 - Choose Colour Carefully
Colour is a critical factor that is often overlooked with it comes to outdoor tiles. This is rather surprising, as homeowners put enormous energy into the colour schemes within their homes to ensure that sofas, curtains, walls, and tiles match and contrast favourably. When it comes to outdoor tiles, a useful rule of thumb is to brighten dark areas with light coloured tiles, and to tone down brightly lit areas with darker tiles.
The Atelier wood effect tile fashioned by Spain’s Halcon Ceramicas (pictured below) has a colour to die for. Its warm natural tones exude the gorgeous rustic vibe of natural wood decking – while eliminating the rot, fading, and on-going maintenance associated with the traditional timber material.
Photo: Atelier Anti-slip Tiles
The Atelier range is presented in 3 different shades for those seeking alternative toning. And for those seeking something bolder, current sophisticated inkjet technology allows for almost any colour you can think of to be applied to porcelain tiles.
4 - Agree on the Desired Style and Design
Before you go out looking for the perfect tile, you need to be fully cognisant of the style and design with which you wish to lay out your terrace or patio. Is it a fresh summer style around a pool area? A meditation zone? Are you going for an Italian-style coffee corner, or a barbeque / entertainment area?
This question may seem very obvious, but many homeowners make the mistake of not thinking through it. If you’re not absolutely clear on the style and aesthetic you’re looking for before you begin, you may end up spending a lot of money on a patio or terrace that simply does not resonate with you.
5 - Synchronise with the Style of Your Home
There’s no point in choosing a tile that best suits the climate, garden hues, and desired design if it doesn’t fit in with the pre-existing style of the home. It’s more than likely that the homeowner is already satisfied with the aesthetic within the building, and wishes to now extend that design out into a patio space or terrace. A particularly smart and elegant way of achieving this is to simply run the same tiles from inside out into the outdoor area. If you use similar décor to your interior, you can beautifully create the effect of seamlessly extending your living space into the garden, as demonstrated by our oversized, limestone-effect porcelain tiles below.
The impression of greater space and the graceful, harmonious continuity between the living room and garden can be further enhanced by using regular sized interior tiles, but larger sizes for the exterior. Choosing a smooth finish for the interior and a matt slip-resistant R11 finish for the outdoor tiles promotes safety, but also adds to the cohesive flowing effect.
Whether you want to jazz up your porch, transform your backyard, revive your walkways, reimagine your decking, or install a patio, there’s a vast range of outdoor tile options available. Keep the above five criteria in mind, and you’ll discover that perfect outdoor tile with minimum stress, and achieve the transformation you’ve been dreaming of.