Outdoor Patio Tile

How to Choose Between The Different Types

Couple preparing for a meal
Provided that you select the right type, outdoor patio tiles can help furnish your family with years of backyard pleasure. Simon Battensby/Image Source/Getty Images

Outdoor patio tile is a great option for flooring in an area exposed to the elements. Easy to install and able to withstand extreme changes in temperature (if the right type is chosen), this material also provides endless design possibilities. With countless types to choose from, you can transform your leisure space into a beautiful backyard sanctuary.

But not all tiles are created equal. When installing your flooring, it is vital to use outdoor patio tiles that are manufactured for the express purpose of being installed outside -- something that will hold up against the elements in your region.

Characteristics to Look for in Outdoor Patio Tile

Choose a type of tile that has the following traits:

  • It is durable: Choose a type that will stand up to the elements. Some ceramic products and slates are simply too soft to be used successfully outside. But porcelain and solid stones like granite, slate, marble, travertine, limestone, and quartzite are good options. All sorts of colors are available, including gray, blue, red, green, and beige.
  • It does not absorb much water: If you live in an area exposed to the cycle of freezing and thawing, you will need an outdoor patio tile that can withstand extreme changes in temperature. Porcelain has a very low water absorption rate, which is good. If water is absorbed by a piece of tile and that water then freezes, the process can crack and pop your flooring.
  • It provides a slip-resistant surface: Do you have a tiled floor in your shower? Even though it is ceramic (and therefore a smooth surface), it probably doesn't get very slippery when you're showering. Why? Because it is composed of numerous, small tiles. Grout lines separate all of those tiles, thereby breaking up the surface. This provides more traction for your feet -- an important safety feature for a bathroom. Outdoor patios, however, typically are not built this way, being composed of fewer, larger tiles, which also means fewer grout lines. As a result, you have to look for some other way to render them slip-resistant. How do you remedy this problem? Use a type of tile that is slightly abrasive. A little bit of grit will provide traction when the flooring is wet.

    Getting Help With Your Selection

    Talk to your sales representative when shopping for outdoor patio tiles. When you are explaining what you need, be emphatic that you are planning to use the product outside. The rep should come across as helpful and knowledgeable, resulting in your being steered in the right direction.

    If not, take your business elsewhere. It is critical to begin this project with the right product. Trusting an unhelpful salesperson could end up costing you dearly, especially if an injury to you (think hospital bills) or to someone else (think lawsuit) were to result from your choosing the wrong type of outdoor patio tile.

    For quality help, your best bet is to make your purchase at a store that specializes in outdoor patio tile. But as long as you do your homework ahead of time (so that you will be able to determine right away when salespeople do not know what they are talking about), you can also buy the product at stores such as Home Depot.