Outdoor Tiles Advice:
How To Choose, Install & Care For Your Outdoor Tiles

Your garden has become an extension of your home; a trend accelerated by the new norm for working remotely, and the vogue for staying in rather than going out. 

 

And as the nation’s need for creating practical, yet stylish, external spaces has grown, so too has demand for patios that deliver both function and form.

 

That's where outdoor tiles come in. At 20mm thick and designed specifically for external use, they combine outstanding looks with superb technical performance. In this guide, we'll cover the important factors to consider when shopping for porcelain pavers.

 

On that note, we do use a few phrases interchangeably. Porcelain pavers, outdoor tiles and porcelain slabs all refer to 20mm thick porcelain tiles, designed exclusively for outdoor use.

Advice on Garden Patios, Patio Slabs and Outdoor Tiles

What Are The Benefits of Outdoor Tiles?

Our outdoor tiles are made from 20mm thick porcelain, so they'll provide a hard-wearing floor covering that will stand up to years of use - whether laid in your garden or a busy restaurant patio.

Easy to install and maintain, we have an ever-expanding collection, with colours and styles to suit all projects. And compared to traditional materials such as timber decking or sandstone, they have a host of added benefits. Let's take a closer look.

How easy is it to clean outdoor tiles?

Porcelain tiles are so easy to care for, even without specialist cleaning products. So your garden can look great, all year round.

Are outdoor tiles stain resistant?

Our outdoor tiles are completely non-porous, so they're very difficult to stain. Furthermore, they're highly resitant to moss and algae.

Do outdoor tiles get slippy?

For your peace of mind, all our 20mm tiles are tested for their slip resistance. They're all rated as R11 or above, ideal for external use.

Are outdoor tiles weatherproof?

Able to withstand the harsh British climate, outdoor tiles will withstand extreme weather and won't fade in strong sunlight.

Can frost damage outdoor tiles?

Our outdoor tiles are completely frostproof. This means they won't crack or rot in cold and damp conditions.

How long will outdoor tiles last?

Double the thickness of indoor tiles, porcelain pavers are incredibly hard-wearing and very difficult to scratch.

Ready for outdoor tiles inspiration?

Unlike the limited options provided by traditional flagstones and wooden decking, our outdoor tiles are available in all these traditional styles, plus a vast range of striking designs. Tactile textures, dark or light tones; the design possibilities are endless. Printed using the latest technology, they'll deliver a whole host of high quality finishes from classic sandstone-effects, through to contemporary concrete and wood effect designs.

Tiles that look like wooden decking?

For a stylish alternative to traditional timber decking, choose a porcelain paver like Terrace Grey. With detailed graining and stunning tonal variation, they'll deliver a look that's difficult to distinguish from the natural alternative - without the hassle. And our tiles won't rot, ever.

Make best use of small gardens with outdoor tiles

Why should gardens be an afterthought? With our outdoor tiles, your alfresco space can look just as good as your interiors. Thanks to state of the art technology, you can enjoy unexpected yet on-trend styles outside, from white marble flags such as Ethos Carrara, to distressed timber-look planks.

Seamless living - discover matching tiles for indoors and out

For the ultimate in contemporary living, blur the boundaries between your home and garden. Some porcelain slabs have matching indoor tiles, allowing you to seamlessly co-ordinate your exterior and interior spaces.

What size patio slabs work best for your outdoor space?

Size-wise, there's something for everyone - and our range keeps on growing. From cobbles and flags to super-sized slabs, we have plenty of options whatever the shape and size of your patio or garden.

Where to Lay Outdoor Tiles?

In the last few years, the trend for outdoor living has grown exponentially - we're now eating and entertaining outdoors more than ever before, even if the weather hasn't improved!

And whereas paving was once an afterthought in garden design, today it's as carefully planned and selected as kitchen worktops or bedroom curtains. Good news then, that our porcelain slabs are so versatile - they're ideal for almost any area outdoors you can think of. Here's some of our favorite spots.

Outdoor Tiles For Patios

It's now easier to create a beautiful and long-lasting patio or terrace than ever before.

Tiles For Outdoor Pools & Hot Tubs

Waterproof and slip resistant, our outdoor tiles are a great choice for pool and hot tub surrounds.

Outdoor Tiles For Paths

Lose the boring concrete slabs and opt for eye-catching and affordable porcelain paths.

How to measure garden for tiles or paving slabs

How To Measure For Your Outdoor Tiling Project

To help calculate the correct number of tiles for your outdoor tiling projects, you’ll need a tape measure, pencil and paper, a calculator, string and stakes.

Calculating

If your area is a simple rectangle or square, use the tape to measure the length and depth. Multiply these on the calculator to get your total area. For example, if your patio measures 3 x 8 metres, you will need 24 square metres.


However, unlike estimating the number of tiles required for an internal floor, outdoor tiling can sometimes involve unusual shapes. In this event, the best way to calculate the quantity of tiles you’ll need is to break down the overall space into a series of square and rectangles - this is where the string and stakes will be useful.

 

You can then calculate each of these areas individually as above, and add them together to determine the total number of tiles that will be required.

Setting up

To set out the space, divide it equally in half and marking a line down the middle - so at 4m from the edge in our example.

 

This will allow you to achieve the same sized cut at each edge. This centre line will either be the centre, or the edge, of the tile for your setting out.

 

With a brick pattern, the centre line will be at the edge of the tile on one run, and the centre of the tile on the next.

Wastage

It can be a false economy to only order the exact quantity - you may break some tiles when cutting, or you may end up with awkward shapes that take more tiles than anticipated.

 

That's why we always advise ordering an extra 10% to cover for waste and cuts.

 

In any case, it is often handy to have a few spare tiles left over to replace any tiles that get broken in the future.

 

There's nothing worse than getting near the end of the job only to find that you are one or two tiles short, especially as there can be subtle colour variations between different batches.

How to install tiles in the garden - patio slabs and tiles

How To Install Outdoor Tiles?

There are several options when it comes to laying 20mm exterior grade tiles.  Each of these methods offer distinct benefits, but differ in terms of application, material cost, and labour requirements. The main options are listed below - for further advice, please see our Installation Guide. (coming soon)

MOT Base

The most popular installation method in the UK. Slabs are laid onto a base of compacted MOT using mortar.

Dry Install

Ideal for DIYers, slabs are laid directly onto grass, sand or gravel with no fixing materials. Quick and easy.

Concrete

Slabs are fixed to a concrete base using flexible tile adhesive. A common method for larger projects such as extentions.

Pedestals

Pedestals offer another dry fixing method and allow for services to be run underneath.

How to care for your new outdoor tiles?

Porcelain slabs are chosen ahead of common alternatives like timber decking, concrete pavers or natural stone, for their durability, longevity and - very importantly - low maintenance.

 

Whether laid on a balcony, roof terrace, or patio, they're far easier to clean than these alternative surfaces. They're also highly resistant to algae and moss, keeping them looking their best all year round. There's just a few things to bear in mind.

Immediate Clean

It's really easy to overlook the initial post-installation clean, yet it's one of the most important stages when installating any indoor or outdoor tile.


It's a two-stage process. Firstly, immediately after grouting (while the grout is touch dry), undertake a thorough wash using clean water. A purpose-designed washboy is ideal to make sure that the grout does not get too wet during cleaning.


Secondly, use a specialist cleaner to remove any residual grout haze. It's generally recommended that tiles and grout joints are not cleaned with any chemicals until 72 hours after installation, when the grout is fully dried. Do not use a pressure washer, as this can damage the new grout joints.

Ongoing Care

As porcelain tiles are fully vitrified, a regular low-tech cleaning regime should be all that is required to keep them looking as good as new.


Generally, all that's required to maintain the surface in tip top condition is to clean on a regular basis with a hard brush and soapy water.

However, should this prove inadequate, a host of specialist tile cleaning and sealing options are available. These are great for more stubborn stains, often caused by organic residue or slippery leaves.

The initial clean is really important. If tiles aren't thoroughly cleaned, polymers from grouts and adhesives may remain on the surface, attracting dirt and other residues.

 

What are the key questions to consider before choosing outdoor tiles?

Can I lay outdoor tiles in the rain?

When it comes to Dry Installation or Pedestal mounting, the answer is Yes!  When it comes to MOT/Mortar or Traditional Adhesive Installation, then it's preferable to wait for a dry day.  The general advice is to always assess the weather conditions when planning a project.  Consider the working temperatures for the materials being used. Always protect your work from the elements and ensure all products are set before removing any protection.

How should I cut outdoor tiles?

20mm porcelain tiles should only be cut using a continuous rim diamond blade (bench or hand-held cutter) that is water-fed for dust suppression and cooling. Always use the right blade for the material you intend to cut. For cutting in small areas, use a small 115mm or 125mm porcelain diamond blade on an angle grinder. Larger porcelain diamond blades are for wet saw use.

Are there any other factors that should be considered prior to tiling?

In addition to drainage, tile choice, and installation system; one area that can easily get overlooked is lighting.  It is usually better to design in perimeter lighting to prevent slips and trips, or exterior power points for task or mood lighting, from the outset.  This allows cabling to be concealed, and allows lamps and power points to be placed in optimum locations.

Will I need expansion joints?

Large areas of tiles (10 metre linear runs or a 40 sq. metre area with 8 metre long side) may require expansion joints to be installed, particularly if there is no room for perimeter movement.  

Will I need a concrete sub-base?

Although 20mm porcelain tiles can be dry laid, ground that could be subject to movement may require the creation of a concrete raft and, once allowed to properly cure, the use of an anti-fracture membrane to ensure trouble-free installation.

What is the ideal width for exterior grout joints?

The British Standard says grout joints for external tiling ought to be 5mm minimum. Using narrower grout joints may lead to insufficient movement capability in the tiles which, in turn, could result in tiles cracking or tiles lifting / chipping. 

Cementitious or resin grouts?

Cementitious grouts have been used for many years and are cheaper than resin-based grouts.  Cementitious grouts are more prone to allowing water penetration during the early weeks following installation, and their colour can be bleached by UV rays.  On the plus side, they are generally easier to clean off than resin-based grouts.

Is it OK to use a standard sand + cement mortar?

A typical 4:1 sand:cement mortar mix is likely to be impermeable.  This means that if water gets through the grout joint, it will lie behind the tile and may cause it to ‘pop’ during freeze / thaw cycles.  A traditional sand + cement mortar may need an SBR additive to improve adhesion, adding cost, complexity, and potential contamination.

Are brush-in grouts fit for purpose?

Many professional installers advise against brush-in grouts because they can lead to porous joints, and the potential for water penetration.  Brush in grouts may hold dirt and become a bedding compost for moss, algae, weeds, and blackspot.  In addition, water in a brush in grout joint can expand / contract during freeze / thaw cycles, causing the joint to fail.

What are the most popular outdoor tiles?