Our Guide to Laying Patio Tiles

Our Guide to Laying Patio Tiles

The first word that comes to mind with the arrival of summers is ‘outdoors'. When it comes to the exterior of your home and your patio, it's important to make an informed decision as to what to do with it. Simultaneously, if you are planning on laying outdoor tiles on your patio, you would need a comprehensive guideline walking you through the process or else you might ruin the exterior of your home.

This guide will not only tell you how to install exterior tiles but also tell you which kind of tile to use and the general plus points of having a tiled patio.

external marble effect tiles

Above: Algol Black Marble Effect Tiles

Which tile should you use?

Laying outdoor tiles isn’t the same as laying indoor tiles and requires special considerations when it comes to choosing which tile to use. This is because the indoor atmosphere differs a lot from the outdoor atmosphere. 

When it comes to laying outdoor tiles and how to install exterior tiles you need to take into consideration the amount of moisture and damp caused by watering the garden or washing the tiles.

Outdoor tiles are typically more likely to be subjected to standing water as well, which is why space beneath outdoor tiles can be extremely detrimental. These spaces can allow water under the tiles and weaken the adhesion. The foot traffic your patio goes through is also an important consideration when it comes to choosing outdoor tiles. 

For these reasons, it's important to choose tiles that are rated for exterior use. Some of the most popular and plausible tiles to use are as follows:

  • Porcelain Tiles
  • Stone Tiles (for instance Travertine Tiles)

The best of these are the porcelain tiles. Certain considerations when choosing which tile to use for laying outdoor tiles include; 

Strength

When it comes to outdoor tiles, strength is an important characteristic. This is because outdoor tiles are subject to a wide range of weather conditions. Simultaneously, the strength requirements for a retired couple pottering round the garden and a family with active children running around on the patio will also differ.

This is precisely why most patio tiles that are rated for exterior use are thicker and denser to withstand foot traffic and prevent absorption of water. 

Porcelain tiles are the best choices when it comes to strength requirements.

black-patio-tiles

Above: Charcoal External Stone Effect Tiles

Cost

When laying outdoor tiles, cost is an important consideration. Contrary to indoor space, the patio can be a huge area and covering it with a luxury tile can be quite impractical. This is why thorough research on the costing per square foot of the different tiles is recommended when laying outdoor tiles.

Surface Texture Requirements

The most important consideration you must make when installing outdoor tiles is moisture. Outdoor tiles are bound to be subjected to moisture, and this is why the ‘slipperiness’ of outdoor tiles is essential to consider.

Non-slip surfaces are a requirement for outdoor patio tiling. Due to this, outdoor patio tiles have unglazed surfaces as glazed surfaces are likely to become slippery when wet. You can see in our collections if a tile is suitable by the anti-slip rating (this should be R9 or R10).

When choosing outdoor tiles, make sure you pay attention to the texture of the tiles. It's important the finish is either a matt finish or textured. Gloss tiles are not suitable for external use.

Aesthetic

Finally, an obvious yet important consideration is that of the style of the tile and what makes aesthetic sense and what doesn't. Porcelain tiles come in a number of different designs and effects. 

From rustic brick effect porcelain tiles to the peach terrazzo effect porcelain tile, there is a variety of patio tiles available to appeal to your aesthetic sense.

There are a wide range for different applications, for walls go for a brick effect tile, brick slip or even a stone effect tile!

For the floors it has to be concrete, wood or stone effect to stay on trend!

beige-patio-tiles

Above: Algol Beige Exterior Tile

Installation Guide

There are a number of different intricacies that need to be accounted for when deciding the most efficient way of how to install exterior tiles. This guide will be divided into three parts ranging from Preparation to Installation to Finishing.

Preparation

Before you even begin thinking of how to install exterior tiles, you need to prepare your patio to complement the patio tiling. Firstly you need to make sure that all surfaces are clean. Then, you need to examine the concrete patios for any cracks or broken or crumbling concrete. If found, remove any loose concrete and seal all cracks. 

Next, you need to wash the concrete slab thoroughly before the installation process. 

In order to level the floor areas, use a floor levelling compound. If your patio has multiple cracks and isn't even, then you might be required to pour a sub-base over the existing concrete. A sub-base is basically a layer of floor-mix concrete. Before you start laying the outdoor tiles, apply a waterproofing membrane such as RedGard to the slab.

Installation

In order to minimise the amount of times you would have to cut the tiles, it's recommended to plan the tile layout. For instance, if your concrete slabs have expansion joints, you need to plan the tile layout process so that the tiles do not cover the joints.

In case you need to cut the tiles when you're laying outdoor tiles you will need a wet saw since patio tiles are thicker than indoor tiles. The adhesive that is recommended to be used is a polymer-modified, dry-set mortar adhesive that is rated for exterior use. 

Make sure that the slab is completely covered with the adhesive and apply the adhesive to the back of the tiles as well. The recommended grout to use is one that resists stains and fading. 

Furthermore, you should work in small areas while laying outdoor tiles, so that premature drying of the mortar is prevented. 

After laying the outdoor tiles, cover the tile with plastic sheeting for a day or two to allow for the mortar to set. When deciding on a process of how to install exterior tiles, this is the most efficient process.

Completion

After laying the outdoor tiles, apply acrylic grout sealer to the porous tile. Apply the sealer by using a paintbrush and make sure it is applied only to the top of the tiles.

It is recommended to use an exterior grade grout mixed with a latex fortified grout additive to grout the tiles. When you are done, clean additional grout from the tile and allow the grout to set in.

Benefits of Outdoor Tiles and their comparison with Paving Slabs

Laying outdoor tiles has undeniable exclusive benefits. These distinct benefits are what set them apart from other alternatives, for instance, paving slabs.

Permanence

Outdoor tiles are laid out properly on concrete slabs with the use of adhesive are permanent and will not be damaged if they experience high foot traffic. 

In comparison to this paving slabs are dry laid without adhesive and due to this impermanent nature of theirs, they are not recommended for areas that get high foot traffic.

Maintenance and Durability

One of the key benefits of outdoor tiles, for example ceramic and porcelain, is that they aren't very porous. Due to their non-porous nature, outdoor tiles do not trap dirt and moisture in them and hence either don't stain or are easily cleaned. Porcelain having a porosity of less than 0.05% and is the best tile to use for low maintenance.

On the contrary, stone paving slabs (since they are made of natural stone) vary greatly in porosity, making it difficult to choose a non-porous one. 

In case of natural stone, porosity, however, is generally high, and hence surface sealant will be required to keep moisture and dirt from entering the stone. This means that with regards to maintainability, laying outdoor tiles is more plausible. 

Their non-porous nature also makes them resistant to chemical and moisture absorption, which means, contrary to paving stone, they're more long-lasting and durable.

Environmental Considerations

One benefit that natural stone might have is that it is environmentally friendly. That benefit, however, is also not exclusive. This is because outdoor tiles in most cases are made from natural raw materials that excrete minimal waste, this waste is then recycled back into the manufacturing process. Porcelain for one does not contain any waterproofing agents, varnishes and resins. 

Furthermore, outdoor tiles are better than natural stone paving since they don't require lead polishing that gives off harmful gases (upon heating), unlike natural stone paving.

Cost Comparison

In the scenario that a concrete slab is ready to having tiles laid on it, the cost of tiles in comparison to natural pavers is much less.

Aesthetics

In comparison to natural stone paving, laying outdoor tiles is a much better option with regards to the aesthetics of your home. This is because outdoor tiles have a much larger variety of designs that might appeal to your aesthet. From sleek and modern look outdoor tiles to concrete or timber look tiles, the variety is unparalleled. 

In comparison, natural stone paving doesn't have a lot of designs to choose from hence making it the aesthetical inferior. Consequently, if the style is your priority laying outdoor tiles is the way to go about your patio.

Check out our full collection of outdoor tiles here!