How to install exterior tile on a porch

Written by emily beach
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How to install exterior tile on a porch
The right tile can give your porch a whole new look. (front porch image by Steve Lovegrove from

Ceramic or stone tile is the perfect material for homeowners looking to refinish an outdoor porch. Tile is not only strong and durable, but also water-resistant and easy to maintain. Homeowners can choose from a wide variety glazed ceramic with both solid colours and intricate designs available. For a more natural look, look for stone tile made from slate, limestone, travertine or granite. Installing tile is within the capabilities of most do-it-yourselfers.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Grinder
  • Levelling compound
  • Trowel
  • 3/4-inch cement board
  • 1 3/4-inch cement board screws
  • Drill
  • Chalk line
  • Exterior tile
  • Thinset mortar
  • Spacers
  • Wet saw
  • Safety glasses
  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Rags
  • Caulk

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  1. 1

    Prepare the concrete porch for tile installation. Use a grinder to remove bumps and ridges. Fill low spots with a levelling compound, applied with a trowel. Wait for this compound to dry completely before installing tile.

  2. 2

    Cover wood porches with 3/4-inch cement board. Fasten the cement board to the porch every 6 to 8 inches, using 1 3/4-inch cement board screws.

  3. 3

    Snap a chalkline from the centre of each wall or railing to find the centre of your point. Start installing your tiles at this centre point to minimise the appearance of crooked walls or railings.

  4. 4

    Lay out your tiles without using mortar or adhesive. Decide on patterns, designs and borders. Once you've decided on the layout, stack your tiles in piles, with one pile for each row of tile. This will help you keep track of where the tiles will be installed.

  5. 5

    Cut the tiles, using a wet saw with a diamond blade. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes when cutting tile.

  6. 6

    Spread thinset mortar over the surface of the porch, using a notched trowel. Start at the centre of the floor, and only spread enough mortar to cover 6 to 8 square feet at a time.

  7. 7

    Place your tiles firmly into the mortar bed. Try to minimise sliding, which can push the mortar out of place and keep the tile from adhering to the porch. Use plastic spacers to maintain even grout lines between each tile.

  8. 8

    Mix grout according to the instructions on the package. Pour the grout over the tiles and use a grout float to force the grout into the spaces between the tiles. Immediately wipe away excess grout to prevent stains on the surface of the tile.

  9. 9

    Caulk around the perimeter of the porch, as well as around the base of doors, windows and other penetrations. The caulk will keep water from seeping under the tile and causing damage.

Tips and warnings

  • Look for tile with a low water absorption rate to minimise the risk of freezing and cracking. Choose tile specifically designed for outdoor use.

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