Instructions for Building an Outdoor Tile Patio

Image: tile patio.
Picture of an elegant tile patio. George Gutenberg/Getty Images

Laying tile outdoors to build a new patio may seem like a daunting task. Indeed, it's a project that entails many steps, and you'll be challenged to make the right decisions along the way. Make the wrong decision (e.g., in selecting product X over product Y, when shopping) at any juncture, and the whole project could be jeopardized!

Prepare Concrete Slabs

Your first task in laying tile outdoors to build a patio will be to provide a solid base. The following article deals with preparing an existing concrete base, but it also links to a resource devoted to pouring a new concrete slab.

Choosing the Right Flooring Product

Novices will have to acquaint themselves with the pros and cons of the different materials available for this patio project. Your success in laying tile outside depends on, among other things, selecting a flooring material that will stand up to the elements. Consult the following resource for advice on this critical decision.

Selecting Adhesive for Laying Tile Outside

Similarly, you'll need to buy a proper adhesive, with which you can lay tile outside and have it hold tight! Consult the following resource for help with this aspect of the patio project, including how to mix the adhesive and how much of it you'll need.

Laying Tile Begins With the Layout

OK, you have a solid base in place, plus the materials needed to build on that base. What now? Well, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't trust myself just to start laying tile "by eye," hoping that the placement of each square ends up being right.

Mark Expansion Joints As Part of Your Layout

While many joints in your new patio will be grouted (see below), others will be treated differently: namely, as "expansion joints." Expansion joints should be marked as such during the layout.

How to Lay Tile Outside

Now the process of laying tile, properly begins. If you've followed all the steps above, this step should go rather smoothly.

Making the Cut: It's Easier Than You Think

The aspect of this patio project that probably troubles novices the most is making cuts. Power saws can be scary for those not used to handling such equipment, and I would be the last one to make light of someone's healthy fear of dangerous tools: Yard safety is no joke.

Penultimate Step: Grouting

You're almost home now! But first, you have to apply the grout and fill in those expansion joints I mentioned earlier.

Last Step: Using a Grout Sealer

We've come a long way since preparing that concrete slab! Your flooring is now bonded to the slab (using the adhesive), and the cracks between have been filled in. But after you apply the grout, you must use a grout sealer on it.