What Tiles should you use?

Porcelain tiles are the preferred choice over ceramic

Porcelain tiles are generally accepted as the most durable of tiles. Porcelain is a classic material used in looks that have been around for more than 100 years. Porcelain floor and wall tiles are pressed and fired at very high temperatures to make them more impervious to water, so you can use them indoors or outdoors. Porcelain is available in glazed or unglazed finishes, and each choice has its advantages: glazed tile is often quite hardy on its own, and more versatile for home décor with more colors and patterns. Unglazed porcelain tile is more slip and scratch resistant, and chips may not be as visible; unglazed tiles are often through-body porcelain, meaning that the color is consistent throughout the piece.  Clean porcelain tiles by sweeping or vacuuming, or use soap and water for a more thorough cleaning.

Whether you’re dreaming of an idyllic European villa or a sleek, modern space, choosing the right tile can help create the atmosphere you seek. From neutral looks to wild pops of color, tile adds character without sacrificing practicality. It is, however, a long lasting commitment – so, like any commitment, explore your options and go with something you love.

If natural stone tile is what you’re after, commonly used materials include slate, marble, travertine, granite, sandstone, and limestone. It’s imperative to consider what purpose the tile will serve. Are you putting it on a high-traffic floor, like your kitchen? Are you using it on a wall?  Like porcelain and ceramic, stone tiles need to be considered for their slip resistance, their finish, and their durability. For example, there are some types of marble that are on the softer side and not ideal for floor use because of how easily they scratch. For this reason, it’s essential to check the properties of the material you’re using. Most natural stone tiles require a sealing agent, and have different cleaning requirements.

Choosing outdoor Tiles

Just like the ones used indoors, outdoor tiles come in large range of colours, textures, styles, and materials. However, unlike their indoor counterparts, outdoor tiles need to be strong, hard, and durable enough to withstand the elements. Whether it be extreme heat, rain, snow, heavy use, or all of these, they need to be able to withstand them while providing us with a space that is both attractive and functional. Unfortunately, not all tiles and materials can be, or should be used for all applications. Some tiles fair better in different temperatures and conditions than others, so it would be wise to choose carefully.

What is the style of your home, space, or garden?

The style of your home, space, or garden can have a big impact on your tile choice.  Matching the style of your space with a similar style of tile can go a long way in creating a great looking and cohesive space. That being said, the opposite is true too, choosing mismatching styles is an easy and too often expensive way, to make your space look awkward and unpleasing to the eye.  Thinking about what style you need to match or have to create will automatically help you to start to narrowing down your list of possible outdoor tile materials very quickly as not every material will work with the look you need to portray.

How much light does the area get?

This question is one which most homeowners never think to ask, but can make a huge difference in how your space is perceived.  Most people don’t realize that using dark tiles in an area with poor or dim lighting can really take away from the effect of your tiles, even great looking ones, making the space look dull and gloomy.    A simple rule to follow is:  Choose lighter colored outdoor tiles for areas with low light, and darker tiles with areas with a lot of light.

What colors do you have in your home, and do you want to match it or contrast it?

Both matching and contrasting can look amazing, but keeping this question in mind can help you easily weed out the colors and materials you don’t want.

How is this space going to be used?

This is probably the most important of all the questions.  Answering it correctly will help you in not having to deal with many problems that can be a waste of money, time, and even cause injury. (If you are using outdoor wall tiles this is not as relevant.) Is the space going to be a high traffic area? If it is you need to choose outdoor floor tile that is durable enough to deal with it.

Some tile materials are super tough and can handle a ton of abuse while others are much more fragile and prone to being scratched, damaged, or breaking.  Laying the wrong type of tile  in and forcing it to endure things it wasn’t meant to can lead to dealing with constant tile removal and repair, which could have easily been avoided right off the bat.

Is this an area that needs non-slip outdoor tiles to prevent injury? 

Some patios and walkways are in areas which are prone to moisture, or come into contact with a lot of water. This could be due to runoff, your local climate and weather, or maybe they are bordering a pond, pool, or water feature.  Moisture and water can mean slippery and dangerous.  A fall on hard tile can be very painful to say the least.  This can also be a very important question if you are going to be using your tile on steps particularly if you have children or older adults who are not as agile and more prone injury. However not to worry, there are many tiles suitable for outdoor steps, walkways, and patios with excellent gripping ability, just be sure to choose one if you think it will be needed.

Does this space need to be level or have a flat surface?

Many outdoor floor tiles like some of the stone options do not have a flat surface and are not level which is part of their natural looking appeal.  It’s up to what you like and what you will be using your patio or space for. Certain types of patio furniture will need a level surface to rest on as well so if you are planning on doing a lot of outdoor entertaining this is something to think about as well. Honestly answering this question along with all the previous ones will help you to rest assured you won’t have any hassle in the future, and also to quickly decide on the materials you realistically can and can’t use.

 Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are made from clay and are one of the most diverse options as they come in many colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes. They are the most commonly used tile material indoors but they can also be used outdoors as well. However, if they are to be used outside they need to have a high PEI rating. This is a rating of hardness and durability made by the Porcelain Enamel Institute. The PEI rating can be anywhere from 1 through 5.

1 being the most fragile and likely to chip, and 5 being the most durable and used in commercial projects such as shopping malls. For outdoor use, you should choose a tile with a rating of 4 or 5.  While outdoor wall tiles can be glazed or unglazed, if you decide to use ceramic tiles on the floor they should be unglazed.  Glazed ceramic tiles can be very slippery when wet, and that can mean dangerous.  However, don’t forget that if you do decide on unglazed outdoor floor tiles they will need to be sealed to protect against stains.

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are much more suited for outdoor use than ceramic tiles. Not only do they not mildew or stain, but they also have such a low water absorption rate, that they are near waterproof. This is because of the fact that when they are made, the porcelain is fired at much higher temperatures than those used in manufacturing ceramic tiles.  It is this high temperature process which makes them more durable and dense than ceramic tiles which means a better tile for outdoor use. The way they are manufactured also allows them to be produced with more intricate textures that so closely mimic those of stone tiles.  Some are so realistic that they are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

They also can be produced with non-slip textures, so they can be used safely in wet areas, a trait which makes them good outdoor tiles for steps. Porcelain tiles usually have a PEI rating of 5 making them more than tough enough for the job of being used as outdoor patio tiles as well. These tiles are also resistant to freezing. An extra benefit, unlike other types of outdoor tiles, is that they come in just about an unlimited amount of colors and just about every size imaginable. While, porcelain tiles are generally more expensive than ceramic tiles, they are cheaper and more durable than stone tiles, making them a great outdoor choice for the patio, steps, walkways, or anywhere you could think to use them.

Terracotta Tiles

While not actually coming from quarried stone as they did in the past, these unglazed clay tiles are very tough and function extremely well as outdoor tiles for patio use. Unlike ceramic and porcelain tiles, quarry tiles are typically only found in a few colors. Most often they are seen in red, but sometimes also in brown or grey. It is these deep, rich, earth tone colors, that help quarry tiles portray a unique Mediterranean look that many homeowners love. These tiles are also much thicker than other types usually ranging from 10-120mm. This thickness and the fact that they are very dense, makes them an extremely durable and strong tile that can take the abuse of the outdoors.

Terracotta tiles also have a very low water absorption rate, allowing the homeowner to use them in wet areas without any problems. This added to the fact that their unglazed surface provides grip, makes them a very effective non-slip tile surface. However, they do need to be sealed as they will absorb stains. Terracotta tiles can be tougher to clean than other types of tiles though and sometimes require a good power washing. Always make sure to use a good quality sealant which can be purchased from the tile store

Granite Tiles

Typically found in the U.S., Brazil, and India, granite is the strongest and most durable of all the stone tiles.  It can easily take heavy traffic, is extremely scratch resistant, won’t chip or crack,  and is almost impenetrable to bacteria.

These natural qualities make granite one of the most popular outdoor floor tiles and also the most commonly used stone for countertops in both indoor and outdoor

2cm Tiles

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