Installing deck tiles can elevate your outdoor space. However, this task can be daunting for someone who has never done it before. Here’s how you can install deck tiles and complete a successful project.
Types of Deck Tiles
Before installing deck tiles, you should first decide on which kind of tiles you’d like to use. Your deck tiles should match your aesthetic preference and your budget.
- Wood. Hardwood is the most popular option for deck tiles. These tiles are made from specially-treated hardwood that can withstand UV exposure and are great for people who enjoy a more natural look. They can also withstand great amounts of foot traffic without getting too worn.
- Concrete. Concrete is a durable material, but it is extremely heavy and prone to showing signs of wear over time. It also isn’t always the most comfortable material to walk on.
- Porcelain. Porcelain is durable and low-maintenance, and it can be treated to look like wood or stone. However, it is expensive and extremely slippery when wet.
- Composite. Composite pavers are lightweight, easy to transport, and easy to install. Additionally, they’re resistant to damage and low maintenance.
Most deck tiles, no matter what material they’re made of, are square or rectangular-shaped, interlocking tiles. Once you’ve determined which tile material you’d like, it’s time to install them.
How To Install Deck Tiles
To install deck tiles, follow these steps:
- Step1. Remove large items: Remove any large obstructions in the area where you’re installing the tiles. Large items, such as rocks and furniture, can cause problems during installation, so it’s best to get them out of the way beforehand.
- Step 2. Chalk line: Snap a chalk line so you have a straight line to follow. I recommend this VANQUISH ABS Chalk Line Reel (available on Amazon.com) because its rewind speed is three and a half times faster than other chalk lines, and the rubberized ABS case is durable and long-lasting. I also appreciate that the purchase comes with a four-ounce (113 g) bottle of chalk.
- Step 3. Outside corner first: Start on the outside corner of the deck area and start laying down the tiles.
- Step 4. Secure connection: Line up the connecting tabs of one edge of the tile with the connecting tabs of the other edge and press them down to ensure that the connection is secure.
- Step 5. Cut where needed: If you come across an area where the tile doesn’t fit, such as when you come up against your house, measure how large the tile needs to be and then cut the tile down to size. In most cases, you can cut a tile with a handsaw or power saw, and then you can use sandpaper to smooth out the edges.
- Step 6. Apply decking oil: Apply a decking oil or sealant to the tiles once you’re done with the installation.
I use Storm System Stain and Sealer (available on Amazon.com) because it protects your deck tiles from the elements, including rain and UV rays, preventing fading and damage. I also appreciate that it is a ready-to-use formula that is easy to apply—all you need to do is mix the formula thoroughly and then use a brush or roller to apply the mixture.
Installing Interlocking Deck Tiles
If you’ve never worked with interlocking tiles, putting them together may be a bit confusing. Here’s what you need to know:
- Connecting tabs: Most interlocking tiles have connecting tabs on their edges that correspond with the connecting tabs of their partner tile.
- Push to lock: You must push the tiles together firmly, so they lock together.
- Patterns: You can customize the look of your deck by determining how you’d like to attach your tiles (if you want them in a vertical or horizontal pattern or if you want to use both patterns).
Once the tiles are connected, you can start installing them in your deck area and enjoy your new outdoor living space!
Installing Interlocking Deck Tiles on Dirt
If the area you’re working on is covered with dirt, it won’t be completely smooth and ready for deck tile installation. In this case, follow these steps before proceeding with the installation:
- Step 1. Remove obstructions: Remove any large rocks, sticks, or other obstructions in the way.
- Step 2. Sweep: Sweep out some of the dirt and make the area where the tiles are going as smooth as possible. In some cases, you may need to add a layer of sand or pea gravel to make the surface completely smooth and ready for tiling. Rake the area to ensure everything is level.
- Step 3. Landscape fabric: Lay down landscape fabric. Landscape fabric helps make the surface area even smoother, preventing weeds from growing underneath the tiles and causing damage.
The best landscape fabric is this ECOgardener Weed Barrier Landscape Fabric (available on Amazon.com) because it lets air and water through while offering unparalleled weed control. I also appreciate that it is lightweight enough to carry and transport but still heavy enough to offer heavy-duty protection.
Many deck tile manufacturers don’t necessarily recommend installing their tiles on dirt, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. As long as you take the above steps first, you should be good to go.
Deck Tile Maintenance
After you’ve installed your deck tiles, you want to ensure that you’re taking good care of them so they last a long time. Here are my top tips for deck tile maintenance:
- Clean your tiles regularly. Regular cleaning can prevent dirt and debris buildup on the surface and underneath the tiles. You should sweep and mop your tiles regularly and use commercial cleaning products whenever necessary.
- Reapply decking oil or sealant at least once a year. Even the best decking oils start to wear off with time, so the best way to prevent weather and environment-induced damage is to reapply protective oil at least once a year.
- Use a power washer or a hose to scrub the deck. Sometimes, a simple sweep or mop job won’t cut it. If you have a power washer, use that to completely deep clean your tiles occasionally, or use a hose with a nozzle if you don’t have a power washer.
If you follow this advice, your deck tiles should last a long time, and you’ll be able to enjoy your outdoor space for longer without worrying about replacing damaged tiles.