Concrete Tiles Outdoor: 8 Things You Should Know

Concrete tiles can offer a beautiful covering for various outdoor surfaces. Their matte texture gives a more comfortable feel on the feet than other flooring materials. In addition to their beauty, these tiles are slip-resistant and durable if maintained well.

Concrete Tiles Outdoor

Concrete tiles, also called cement tiles, have been used in interior spaces for many years. Now they’re seeing a rise in outdoor applications, and there are concerns about whether they can withstand outdoor elements.

Made of cement, sand, and mineral powder, these tiles can be used on floors and walls. Color pigments are also added to the mix to offer various color options.  

When used outdoors, concrete tiles require a little treatment and care to last a long time.

1. Sealing Concrete Tiles Improves Aesthetics and Durability 

Concrete tiles can be used outdoors with proper installation and care, which includes sealing them and keeping them clean and dry. These tiles can decorate various exterior spaces and last a long time with proper handling.

Here are a few areas you may use concrete tiles outdoors:

  • Patio floors
  • Balcony floor
  • Outdoor kitchen floors and walls
  • Outdoor steps
  • Building walls

While cement tiles can be used in many outdoor applications, you shouldn’t install them in constantly-wet areas such as inside pools.

Sealing your outdoor concrete tiles comes with many other advantages. 

Sealed outdoor concrete tiles are more beautiful, retain their color longer, don’t build up dirt easily, and are easier to clean. Additionally, sealing reduces the tiles’ moisture absorption and ensures they dry quickly after rain. 

Since concrete tiles are porous, they can quickly absorb moisture in wet areas, and excessive moisture increases their rate of degradation. Moreover, tiles soaked in water can crack or pop up in freezing temperatures.

Concrete tiles installed in outdoor spaces should be sealed to reduce water penetration. Moreover, you should keep them dry. An effective way to do this is to ensure proper drainage on exterior surfaces covered with concrete tiles.

Some types of sealers have UV protection, which can reduce fading of deep color tiles in outdoor environments.

To achieve the best results in concrete tiling, hire a professional familiar with the material. Not every ceramic tile installer can give you the results you want. A common mistake you may encounter when you hire an inexperienced cement tile installer is tile surfaces stained with grout.

Concrete tiles aren’t waterproof, but you can seal them to enhance their water resistance. Sealing can also make the tiles less susceptible to staining. You should reseal the tiles regularly to ensure a long lifespan.

● Concrete Tile Sealing Tips

The market has a variety of cement tile sealant products. You should select the right sealant if you want the best results, which is why it helps to consult a professional for advice.

Tile sealing products come in two major options:

  • Topical sealers: This type of sealant only covers the tile’s surface. Although topical sealers make the tiles resistant to water and stains, they wear out quickly when exposed to the sun. Moreover, they result in more slippery tile surfaces.
  • Penetrating sealers:  This variety of sealants soaks into the tiles. Therefore, penetrating sealers offer greater water and stain resistance. They’re the best choice for sealing outdoor concrete tiles.

2. Light-Color Outdoor Concrete Tiles Help Hide Fading

Tiles installed in exterior spaces such as garden steps, open patios, and building walls are exposed to sun, rain, and other degrading elements. Light-color tiles are better for outdoor environments because they don’t reveal fading as easily as dark-color types.

You should particularly avoid blue and green tiles in outdoor spaces exposed to sunlight.

3. Uneven Surfaces Increase the Risk of Concrete Tiles Breaking 

Although concrete tiles are strong and durable, they’re also brittle. As a result, they can crack easily if installed on uneven surfaces. Prepare the foundation, making sure it’s firm and level before you install the tiles.

Place an uncoupling membrane under the tiles. Concrete tiles can last longer outdoors if installed on an uncoupling membrane. This material prevents cracks in the foundation from transferring to the tiles. Additionally, the material shields the tiles from moisture seeping through the foundation.

4. You Can Tile Directly Onto Concrete, But It’s Risky

You can tile directly onto concrete slabs. It’s a quicker and cheaper way to tile a floor. While you may cut your upfront costs by installing tiles directly on a concrete base, you may face expensive repairs down the road.

Common problems of tiling directly on concrete are moisture and cracking. As a result, it’s best to place a layer of uncoupling membrane under the tiles, which helps control moisture and concrete movement impact on the tiles.

5. Poured Concrete Is Cheaper Upfront But Costly Down the Road

Poured concrete is cheaper than tiles in terms of upfront installation costs. Pouring a concrete floor requires less time and labor than tile floors but can cost as much as tiling if you give the concrete a polished finish.

While poured concrete may have a lower upfront cost than tiles, repairing it can cost more if something goes wrong. With tiles, you’ll only need to lift the affected pieces to complete the repair. As for concrete floors, you may need to demolish a large area when repairs are needed.

Outdoor Cement Tiles Maintenance Tips

Although concrete tiles are porous and absorb water quickly, they’re easy to maintain. Since cement tiles differ from regular ceramic tiles, they require different handling to keep their beauty and ensure longevity. Here are some tips: 

  • Clean the tiles: Keep the tiles clean after installation. Remove dirt, sand, and other particles that can stain or scratch the tiles.
  • Use a sealant: Apply a sealant coat as soon as the installation has cured.
  • Use a soft broom: Sweep the surface daily with a soft broom to remove particles that can scratch or stain the tiles.
  • Remove liquid spills: Wipe out liquid spills promptly to prevent them from soaking into the tiles. Spills like soda and wine can cause permanent stains if allowed to sit on the tile for a long time.
  • Keep the tiles dry: Keep the tiles dry to prevent them from soaking and expanding, which can cause cracking. Tiles soaked in moisture can protrude from the foundation.
  • Remove stubborn dirt: Wash the surface regularly to remove stubborn dirt. Weekly washing is recommended. Wash with water mixed with gentle detergent.
  • Do not use acid solutions: Avoid acid-based washing solutions as they can weaken the seal coating or discolor the tiles.

Outdoor tiles require regular resealing because of their exposure to weather elements. Resealing helps maintain the beauty of the tiles and promotes their durability.

Besides regular cleaning, removing stains from cement tiles requires a careful approach. Outdoor tiles can pick up stains from beverage spills, rusted metals, oil drops, and molds.

Regular tile cleaning products will remove most staining substances. But stubborn stains require heavy-duty cleaning products and processes that may require professional skills.

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