Exterior Floor Tiles – Balancing Form and Function

Exterior floor tilesOutdoor tiles are far more exposed to the elements than interior tiles, and therefore require some special consideration in terms of the material and properties when selecting them for your project. While you want to make them visually appealing, you also need to ensure their longevity, and the safety of those walking over them on a daily basis.

In this article we’ll provide an overview of what to look for when choosing exterior floor tiles for your next commercial project including:

  • Popular materials
  • Design features
  • Non slip properties
  • Tiling outside steps

Popular Exterior Floor Tiles

Some of the most popular commercial tiles for outside spaces include:

  • Porcelain – Porcelain is an extremely versatile and hard wearing material and can be made in a huge variety of shapes, sizes colours and styles. Their durability makes porcelain tiles well suited for outdoor use, and they also have a higher resistance to mildew than some other materials, meaning that they stay cleaner for longer. Many consider porcelain to be the best tile for outdoors.
  • Ceramic – Though ceramic tiles absorb more water than some other types, and are typically not well suited to cold temperatures, they can be treated and sealed for outdoor use. “Premium” ceramic tiles are also available at an increased thickness of 20mm, which are ideal for exterior walkways.
  • Slate – The typically rough cut of slate makes it well suited for use outside as it has some natural anti slip properties. However, slate needs to be treated to withstand cold temperatures and prevent against scratches, meaning it is not well suited to heavy footfall. Black slate tiles can be used to create a sleek and stylish look.

Other materials that work well outside include natural stone floor tiles like marble and granite though these would typically come at a higher cost. Natural stone has the added benefit of looking more authentic and fitting more seamlessly into an outdoor environment.

Outdoor Mosaic Floor Tilesoutdoor mosaic floor tiles

Using mosaic tiles outside can create a really impressive, visually appealing effect that is permanently etched into the fabric of the space. Mosaic tiles are an excellent way in inject colour into your design, even if just as a feature element to break up a large tiled area.

Glass typically works well for outdoor mosaic floor tiles, as the non-porous nature prevents the design from cracking under the changing temperatures.

Bringing the outside in…

Matching indoor and outdoor tiles is an excellent way to help bring the outside in, and completely transform the look and feel of the space. This is becoming an increasingly popular option, particularly where the design permits the removal of walls or doors in the warmer months and it can work really well in retail units and restaurants.

People are also opting for this look in their home, opening up dining rooms onto garden patios through the use of bi-fold doors.

Opting to use “inside outside floor tiles” helps to carry the external space into the room, making it feel spacious and airy.

Concrete floor tiles are a good option for this, and they can give the appearance on a single continuous polished concrete floor, which helps to tie the two spaces together.

Non Slip Tiles For Outdoors

As these tiles will be outside and exposed to the elements, it is particularly important that you ensure they have the proper anti slip rating, especially in areas where you expect them to receive a lot of footfall.

Commercial floor tiles are categorised based on their slip resistance and are given a corresponding “R” value. These are them grouped to help identify where particular tiles should be used. For example:swimming pool surrounds

  • Group A – R10 rating, used for try environments where the floor is never, or very rarely wet
  • Group B – R10 or R11 rated, used where the floor is sometimes wet
  • Group C – R11, 12 or 13 rated, used where the floor is always wet, or sometimes wet but with high football and risk of slippage

Anti slip tiles are available with naturally occurring properties that help to prevent slipping, such as a rough, textured finish, or else can be treated with a coating to make them non slip. Tile positioning and grouting can also have an impact on the amount of grip they provide under foot and this should be considered when the tiles are laid.

Special attention should be paid to the areas with the high potential risk such as swimming pool surrounds and outside steps.

For more information, read our full article on anti slip tiles here.

Exterior Tiles for StepsExterior tiles for steps

Finding the right anti slip tiles for external steps is particularly important as the risk of falling and injury increases. You’ll want to source tiles that are still aesthetically pleasing, but with a suitably high anti slip rating.

Tiling outdoor steps can be problematic, and you should be aware of the possibility of water getting under the tiles and freezing in colder months, leading to the tiles cracking. For this reason you should look into getting frost resistant tiles, and consider using a sealant to further reduce the risk of water soaking in.

In high footfall areas you may have to reseal tiles over time as the sealant wears down.

Porcelain is a popular choice of tiling for outdoor steps, due to the fact that it has a very low absorption rate, meaning it is less likely to crack in extreme temperatures. In contrast, unglazed ceramic is highly porous and would therefore not be suitable.

Exterior Floor Tiles: Final Thoughts

Exterior floor tiles have the potential to transform an otherwise overlooked outside space, creating an immediate visual impact as you approach the building. They can also form an important part of a relaxing outdoor atmosphere, blending in with the surrounding environment.

At SRK, our sourcing experts travel the length and breadth of the globe looking for the latest developments in commercial tiling materials and designs.

Working with a Global Sourcing Specialist like SRK UK, will ensure that you get the highest quality tiles, from the best manufacturers at a truly competitive price.

If you’d like more information on how SRK can help with your next project, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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