Outdoor Ceramic Tile, 8 Things You Should Know

Everybody wants their outdoor living space to look attractive and remain functional. While outdoor tiles are a significant upgrade from traditional brick and slab, they must be sturdy enough to withstand heat and moisture from the elements. Ceramic tile is perfect for indoor spaces, but you might be concerned about its suitability for the outdoors.

Ceramic tile provides an excellent solution for outdoor spaces due to its durability and versatility. Even with constant exposure to weather and debris, it can last years without cracking. It is relatively water-resistant and has an exceptional thermal conductivity that balances floor temperature.

Ceramic tile is aesthetic, and installing it on your patio or deck would transform the space. However, there is often confusion about the suitability of ceramic tile in outdoor areas. This article will give tips about using ceramic tile outdoors and compare ceramic with porcelain tile.

Things You Should Know About Outdoor Ceramic Tile

Choosing the right tiles can be challenging, especially when you want specially designed tiles to create a fun space. Here are things you need to know about outdoor ceramic tile.

1. Ceramic Tiles Are Stylish and Versatile

An outdoor facade is a beautiful and easy way to upgrade a building’s exterior. Your outdoor tiling should flow naturally as an extension of your interior look. 

Ceramic tiles come in numerous colors, patterns, and shapes, allowing you to use similar tiles inside and outside to create design continuity.

Ceramic tile designs in single or multiple colors give basic tile forms a unique look. Custom tile printing, fragments, and mosaics can create exquisite outdoor tile murals. Choose ceramic tiles with a natural outdoor look, such as wood, terrazzo, natural stone, and slate, or pick a contrasting look to match your surroundings.

2. Ceramic Tiles Are Easy To Maintain

Ceramic tiles require minimal maintenance and are ideal for places such as vacation homes where you do not live all year round. They can also be quickly cleaned when you need the space for multiple uses.

Ceramic tiles resist fading, scratches, and stains from grills, falling tree limbs, and heavy lawn furniture. To clean the tiles, you only need to wipe them down with water—no need for detergents that could harm surrounding plants. 

3. Ceramic Tiles Are Durable

Outdoor ceramic tiles can last decades, even with exposure to the elements. For areas that experience freeze-thaw cycles, your tiles must be frost-resistant. If properly installed, the tiles can form a waterproof system to protect your building and outdoor water features.

4. Ceramic Tiles Are Safe

You can choose your preferred slip resistance category to suit your design and create a beautiful, durable walkway. Choose the appropriate slip-resistance category for your space. 

Ceramic tiles do not produce toxic gases or melt when exposed to the sun or flames in a fire pit. They are also resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew, keeping your wet outdoor areas clean. 

5. Ceramic Tiles Are Affordable

Ceramic tile’s lifecycle cost is the lowest among flooring options because it is low maintenance and lasts long. However, you should factor in extra tile pieces to go around uneven spaces and obstacles and to match patterns. Also, hire professional installers to transform your outdoor space and install the tiles to last a lifetime.

Are Ceramic Tiles Suitable for Outdoor Spaces?

Waterproof ceramic tiles, also known as non-porous ceramic tiles, are suitable for outdoor areas. They are more durable and moisture-resistant than porous ones. They do not absorb water, meaning extreme weather conditions do not damage them.

When purchasing ceramic tile for the outdoors, it is essential to check the manufacturer’s guarantee that your tiles are waterproof and will not freeze during winter. 

Water can cause mold growth if it seeps under the tiles. Also, your tiles will shift and crack if water under them freezes, causing an uneven floor.

Many people choose ceramic tiles because they come in various styles, patterns, and colors. However, outdoor ceramic tiles must have a Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating of 4 of 5 for durability. They must also be unglazed to avoid a slippery surface.

Choose quality tiles, even if they are a bit pricey, install them correctly for durability, and pay extra attention when picking the grouting, sealant, and caulk. Ensure you conduct a seasonal inspection on your outdoor ceramic tile after every season. Sealing the tiles and grout once a year is advisable to keep them intact.

Are Porcelain Outdoor Tiles Better Than Ceramic Tiles?

Porcelain tiles are more appropriate for outdoor areas than ceramic tiles. They are non-porous and more sturdy and solid than ceramic tiles, making them ideal for outdoor tiling. They are also slip and scratch-resistant and require minimal maintenance.

Both porcelain and ceramic tiles can be used on patios, decks, and other outdoor areas. They are both made of molded thin sheets of clay and dried in a kiln to harden them and enhance their durability. 

The difference is in the material composition and the manufacturing process.

During the manufacture of porcelain tiles, fine clay is pressed hard into the desired shape and fired in a kiln at higher temperatures. The result is a heavier, denser tile that is more scratch resistant. Outdoor porcelain tiles come in various styles that mimic the natural look of rock, stone, or brick.

Ceramic tiles are more porous and less dense, making them less resistant to stains and water than porcelain tiles. They can be unglazed to retain their natural, rougher look or glazed to increase their sheen. 

Although ceramic tiles are available in varying styles and colors, they are also prone to damage from water seepage and debris.

Porcelain is the ideal outdoor tile material because it can resist heavy traffic and exposure to the elements. It is also low maintenance and retains its appearance with little care. Regular sweeping and the occasional wash with water and a cleaning solution are sufficient.

Are Outdoor Porcelain Tiles Prone To Cracking?

Outdoor porcelain tiles are not prone to cracking because they are dense and strong. They are unlikely to break after installation, even in commercial or residential spaces with heavy traffic. Cracks in porcelain tiles mainly occur if the tile is dropped on concrete during installation.

Like other paving products, porcelain tiles can crack or chip if mishandled. These tiles are molded under very high temperatures, making them tougher than ceramic tiles or natural stone. They can withstand a 551 lb(250 kg) point load but might crack if you drop something compact and weighty from a height.

Porcelain tiles are safe compared to other tiling materials, mainly because their likelihood of cracking is low. They are perfect if you want a low-maintenance, durable tiling material.

Final Thoughts

Using outdoor ceramic tiles is a great way to enhance and own your outdoor space, and they can last decades if installed correctly. Although the cost may vary depending on your style and design, ceramic tiles are cheaper than porcelain. However, porcelain tiles are denser, making them more resistant to scratches and damage over time.

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