The best tiles for outdoor use

When remodelling an outdoor space, the best tile choices are durable, weather resistant and attractive. Whether you're creating a patio, hiding an old cement slab or reinventing a backyard space, tile provides a sturdy surface for patio furniture away from bugs and other outdoor nuisances. From natural stone to wood tiles, many colours, textures and designs are available for outdoor use.

Ceramic Tile

Available in many colours, textures, patterns and sizes, it's not surprising that ceramic tiles are a popular choice for outdoor use. Although the man-made tiles are created from kiln-dried, refined clay, all ceramic tiles are not equally durable. In addition to the chemical mix of the clay, the kiln firing temperature and duration determine the rigidity of ceramic tiles. Look for tile with a high Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) durability rating and a slip-resistant coating that offers a gritty texture. Ceramic tile can be installed over existing outdated concrete patios or placed over other strong and inflexible substrate.

Porcelain Tiles

Flooring tiles made of porcelain are more dense than ceramic tiles. This quality makes them less moisture absorbent, and a good option for outdoor use in climates with frost and cold weather. Porcelain tiles with at least a PEI rating of 4 are chip- and scratch-resistant and are a good option for outdoor use. Porcelain tiles with a PEI rating of 4 are commonly used in commercial applications, while those with a 5 rating are used in high traffic areas such as malls.

Slate Tile

Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock. Flooring tile made of natural elements has an earthy appearance and is durable in all weather conditions. Slate is considered a long-wearing material when properly installed outdoors with mortar on a solid surface. Choose slate tiles for deck and patio projects, as they are not durable as individual pavers or stepping stones. Common sizes for slate tile include 12- to 24-inch squares.

Ipe Wood Tiles

Consider tiles made of decay- and insect-resistant ipe wood. The unique squares of hardwood offer a natural lumber look without the traditional plank-style deck appearance. Rated Class A by the National Fire Protection Association, ipe wood is considered fire-resistant. This wood tolerates high impact use and is long-wearing. Ipe wood tiles are available in brick, slat, triangular or decorative square patterns.

Bangkirai Wood Tiles

Created for long-time use in outdoor or indoor use, bangkirai wood tiles offer a natural wood grain look to any outside tiling project. The wood is termite- and insect-resistant. Uses for these wood tiles include balconies, roofs, patios and porches. Since bangkirai wood tiles tolerate both indoor and outdoor conditions, they are the perfect transitional tile for warm weather homes with outdoor living spaces that flow seamlessly into indoor living areas.

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About the Author

Angela Tague writes marketing content and journalistic pieces for major brands including Bounty, The Nest, Lowe's Home Improvement and Hidden Valley. She also provides feature content to newspapers and writes health and beauty blogs for Daily Glow, Everyday Health and Walgreens. Tague graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications in 1999.