There’s a variety of outdoor patio tiles available that will work for your home. Patio tiles are a great option for outdoor areas that are constantly exposed to the elements.
Tiles for outdoor patios are easy to install and maintain and offer endless design possibilities for outdoor living spaces.
Although patio tiles provide a lot of design versatility, they’re not all created equally. Choosing the right type of tile is important for wear and maintenance. When you’re selecting a tile for your outdoor patio, it’s important to look at the performance features of each tile.
What to Look For
- Hardness – Tiles for outdoor patios should be hard and dense. If tiles are too soft, they can crack and chip easily from everyday use. If objects like falling branches or tree limbs fall in a storm, soft tiles will most likely be damaged. Accidentally dropping a pitcher of lemonade can crack the tiles.
- Durability – Look for a patio tile that will hold up well in intense sun, rain, snow and sleet, excessive moisture and damp conditions. You want to choose a tile that’s strong with a surface that’s not too porous. Porous materials will absorb spills, stains, dust, dirt and debris much faster.
- Porosity – If you live in an area like northern New Jersey, patio materials will be exposed to the freeze/thaw cycle. Tiles for outdoor patios should be able to withstand extreme temperature changes. If tiles are too porous, they will absorb water. If the water freezes at night, then thaws out the next day, that process can crack and dislodge the tiles.
- Non-slip surface – Outdoor patio tiles can become very slippery when wet. If you have a tiled shower, chances are the floor tiles are small with lots of grout lines. These grout lines provide traction and slip-resistance under your feet. Most patios are built with larger tiles and fewer grout lines, so outdoor patio tiles should be slightly abrasive to provide a slip-resistance surface when wet.
Types of Patio Tiles
Natural stone creates beautiful tiles for outdoor patios, but they are expensive. Stone pavers or tiles come in granite, marble, slate, travertine and limestone. They’re available in rectangular and square shapes and various sizes up to 24” squares. They come in a variety of colors and finishes, like tumbled or honed finishes that offer slip-resistance or slick polished finishes.
- Granite – Granite is the hardest and least porous of all the natural stones. It’s strong, resilient and durable. It will hold up well in cold northern NJ temperatures and adverse weather conditions. It’s available in beautiful color variations from white to black.
- Marble – Marble is the second hardest natural stone and slightly more porous than granite. It’s durable and resilient, but needs to be sealed. It’s available in many color variations from white to black with beautiful veining and rough or polished finishes.
- Slate – Slate is durable, but softer than granite or marble. Its strong color variations create a lot of texture and visual interest and no two tiles are ever alike. It’s a great choice when you want contrast in your outdoor patio. Colors ranges are gray, green, orange, brown and tan.
- Limestone – Limestone is a beautiful stone with a rich, light-colored appearance. It’s very porous with visible pits in the stone, so it must be sealed for stain protection. It’s available in colors from white to brown and in tumbled and polished finishes.
- Travertine – Similar to limestone, travertine contains lime deposits and it’s also visibly pitted. It’s very porous and must be sealed. It’s available in rich colors from white to deep brown and in tumbled and polished finishes.
Brick pavers are durable, strong tiles for outdoor patios. They are easy to maintain and can be easily cleaned with a garden hose and soapy water. They dry quickly in the sun when wet, but can form a slick mossy film on the surface if left in moist shady areas. Although brick is somewhat porous, a sealer isn’t always necessary. Talk to your Bergen County, NJ landscape contractor about using a sealer.
Brick pavers create a classic, more traditional look. They can be laid in herringbone patterns rather than straight patterns to create visual interest. Colors range from typical red brick to more muted shades of green, rust, brown, tan and beige. Brick pavers come in various sizes and finishes that look like both new and aged bricks.
Concrete pavers provide a strong,durable, resilient surface for outdoor patios. They are slip-resistant and easily withstand freezing ground temperatures without cracking or chipping. They’re easy to clean and maintain with soap and water. Concrete doesn’t have to be sealed for stain protection, but it may help for long-term use.
Concrete now comes in more than 30 pre-mixed colors and 15 stains. It isn’t the same boring off-white material you know. There are new decorative options like stamped patterns and textures that resemble more expensive materials like natural stone and slate.
Porcelain tiles for outdoor patios come in a wide variety of patterns and textures that resemble natural stone, brick, concrete, rock and even wood. Porcelain tiles are clay-based materials, but they’re fired at extremely high temperatures, unlike ceramics, that make them very hard, durable and non-porous. They’re available in a variety of sizes and shapes and many different colors, patterns and textures. Outdoor tiles need a non-slip surface.
Wood patio tiles create the look of an outdoor deck or hardwood floor. They’re made from hardwood trees for maximum strength and durability, then finished with decking oil to create a deep, rich color. Like all wood products, wood tiles for outdoor patios need routine maintenance for long-term beauty. For proper care, tiles should be power washed and a wood finish reapplied once every 36 months.
Wood tiles for outdoor patios should be installed on a hard concrete or asphalt surface for best wear and resilience. Some tiles have an elevated PVC platform base that allows for adequate drainage and moisture ventilation when used outdoors.
Saltillo tiles are a type of terra-cotta tile that originated in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. As a clay-based product, they are rather soft and porous. The beauty of Saltillo tiles is their hand-crafted look. They are actually shaped with a wooden frame and left to dry naturally in the hot sun. They are not fired in a kiln at high temperatures like porcelain tiles. This natural drying process contributes to their natural beauty, but makes them less durable. Colors range in various hues of red, orange and yellow and no two tiles are ever the same.
Saltillo tiles, unlike porcelain tiles, are not glazed on the surface. This leaves them vulnerable to spills, stains and liquids that can be easily absorbed. When used as tiles for outdoor patios, they must be sealed for protection. Because of their clay-based structure, they wear well in warmer climates but are not a great choice for patios in Passaic County, NJ or other northern NJ climates where freeze/thaw cycles occur. If you love the look of hand-crafted Saltillo tiles, talk to your landscape contractor about using a porcelain or slate tile that resembles the look.