How to lay floor tile outdoors

Written by mia carter
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Tiling outdoors can be challenging due to the variables, including weather and temperature. Rain on new tile will damage the mortar and/or grouting compound, resulting in lifting tiles, cracked tiles or a tile floor that's uneven. Outdoor tiling requires some planning and good timing in order to achieve good results.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Quick-setting levelling compound
  • Outdoor canopy tent
  • Tile
  • Tile spacers
  • Quick-set grouting compound
  • Quick-set mortar
  • Measuring tape
  • Hose
  • Tile cutter
  • Chalk line tool
  • Trowel with toothed and smooth edges
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Mixing stick
  • Mixing bucket or tray
  • Power washer
  • Broom
  • Level
  • Chalk
  • Weather forecast

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  1. 1

    Check the weather forecast online or on the television. The temperature must remain above 10 degrees C for 24 hours (ideally, for 72 hours) and there must not be any heavy rain for the next 24 hours (ideally, for 72 hours).

  2. 2

    Powerwash the concrete pad or floor that will be tiled to remove mould, dirt and debris. Allow the floor to air dry.

  3. 3

    Erect an outdoor canopy tent or rent a party tent (for larger areas) and place this over the surface that will be tiled to prevent leaves and debris from falling onto the work area. The canopy also will provide shade, preventing the sun from interfering with the drying of the mortar, levelling compound or grout.

  4. 4

    Run a level over the floor and use chalk to delineate any significant dips that will need to be filled in with levelling compound.

  5. 5

    Mix quick-setting levelling compound in a mixing bucket and stir with a mixing stick until smooth. Then, using the smooth edge of the trowel, apply the levelling compound to the areas delineated in Step 4. Allow the levelling compound to set for a period of 24 hours (unless otherwise indicated for the particular product.)

  6. 6

    Re-check the weather forecast before proceeding, to ensure that the temperature will remain above 10 degrees C for the next 24 hours. Also, there cannot be any significant rainfall for the next 24 hours.

  7. 7

    Hose down the area to be tiled after the levelling compound sets to remove dust. Allow the area to air dry.

  8. 8

    Measure out the centre point of each edge of the area that's going to be tiled and mark the point with chalk.

  9. 9

    Extend a chalk line string across the area that will be tiled using the centre point marks. Snap the chalk line string to create the chalk line and repeat to create a perpendicular line. This will create an "x" at the centre of the area that will be tiled.

  10. 10

    Place a tile spacer on the "x" and place four tiles around the spacer.

  11. 11

    Mix quickset tiling mortar in a bucket, slide two of the tiles aside and apply a thin coat of mortar to the unfinished floor surface using the toothed edge of the trowel.

  12. 12

    Replace the two tiles and the tile spacer and sink them into the mortar slightly. Use the other two tiles as a guide, and then repeat the process of applying mortar under the other two tiles to create the four tiles at the very centre of the room.

  13. 13

    Tile the area using the aforementioned method moving from the centre of the room out toward the edges. The process of applying mortar and positioning the tiles must be done very quickly if the temperature is above 23.9 degrees C, as it will set very quickly. Near the edge of the room, a tile cutter may be required to cut tiles to size.

  14. 14

    Re-check the weather forecast for a final time to ensure that the temperature will remain above 10 degrees C for the next 24 hours. Also, there cannot be any rainfall whatsoever for the next 24 hours.

  15. 15

    Allow the mortar to set for 24 hours and then hose down to remove dust and debris. Allow the area to air dry.

  16. 16

    Mix grouting compound in a mixing bucket or tray and apply the grout to the spaces between the tiles using the smooth edge of the trowel. Swipe the trowel diagonally across the space between the tiles to work the grout into place.

  17. 17

    Use a wet rag and move quickly to wipe away the excess grout from the tile surface. If the grout begins drying on the tile surface, dampen the tile with a spray bottle.

  18. 18

    Avoid walking on the tile for 24 hours. At the end of this time period, the canopy can be removed.

Tips and warnings

  • If the weather is warm (above 70), it's best to work in a very small area (for example, two square feet) when laying tile and applying grout. Heat will cause the grout and mortar to set very quickly.
  • Do not perform tiling outdoors if the temperature could dip below 10 degrees C.
  • Do not tile outdoors if significant rainfall is predicted. In the last stage of the process, when the grout is applied, the weather forecast must be rain-free for 24 hours.

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