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Outdoor floor tile buying guide

Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

22 guides
Available in a range of shapes, materials and styles, outdoor floor tiles are a great way to cover terraces and are essential for use by the pool. Usually made from full body or glazed porcelain, outdoor floor tiles are easy to maintain. Read on to find the right tiles for your outdoor space!

Important features

  • Material
  • Shape
  • Footfall resistance
  • Scratch resistance
  • Slip resistance

Materials used to make outdoor floor tiles

When it comes to laying outdoor floor tiles few people actually consider the full range of possibilities, so here’s a quick rundown!
 

Full body porcelain


Often through colour, these tiles are very resistant and as they are made of the same material all the way through, they will not show wear. They are used on terraces, have very low porosity and are resistant to water, frost, and general wear.
 

Glazed stoneware

 

The composition of these tiles makes them slightly less resistant than full body varieties. However, as they feature the same colour from the enamel coating to the base, these tiles shouldn't show much wear in case of impact.
 

Glazed porcelain

 
Porcelain tiles are made of compressed clay dust. Glazed tiles are resistant but will show damage in case of impacts. They have good footfall resistance.


Granite

 Granite stands the test of time and is a strong, natural material. Available in a range of colours, granite is easy to maintain, has low porosity and is slip resistant. However, it can be scratch-sensitive is the material has been polished too much. Recommended for outdoor use.
 

Marble

 
Marble is similar to terracotta flooring in that neither material is recommended for outdoor use due to their poor resistance to temperature changes. If you still want to use this material, be sure to apply a sealing product to protect it against the elements and increased strength.

Outdoor floor tile shapes

Rectangular tiles

Like indoor tiles, exterior tiles come in a wide range of sizes. Rectangular tiles are available in sizes ranging from 30 x 60 cm up to 45 x 90 cm. You can lay them in a classic style or offset the tiles to play around with the effect of the grout. Choose the right size of tile to match the area you want to cover.

Square tiles

 
Square tiles can be used to create a sense of continuity with your indoor tiles. Various dimensions are available: 
  • 33 x 33 cm;
  • 40 x 40 cm;
  • 45 x 45 cm;
  • 60 x 60 cm.

For larger terraces, opt for a larger tile.

Parquet boards

Parquet with an imitation wood effect can be used to recreate the look of a wooden deck – without the hassle of dealing with the upkeep! Striking result guaranteed.
 

Clip-in tiles


Clip-in, or interlocking, tiles allow for quick and easy installation. They are reusable and can adapt to all flat surfaces. As they are made of polypropylene, these tiles do not require any gluing and are easily slotted together via a system of clips.

Outdoor floor tile quality and standards

 

Footfall resistance

 
Your tiles must be suited to the area that they are going to cover, in terms of wear resistance. For example, an area with high foot traffic will require a different type of tile than a surface that is rarely walked upon. Each type of tile is given a PEI rating, from 0 to 5, defining its resistance to surface abrasion.




PEI ratings

  • PEI 1: No foot traffice, suitable for wall applications only
  • PEI 2: Light traffic, not recomended for outdoor use.
  • PEI 3: Light to moderate traffic, residential interior floors (e.g. bathrooms, halls, etc.).
  • PEI 4: Moderate to heavy traffic, all residential applications, some commercial uses.
  • PEI 4: Heavy to extra-heavy traffic, all residential and commerical uses.
 

Barefoot slip resistance

 
ABC ratings identify 3 levels of slip resistance of flooring when barefooted. This is particularly important in areas such as spaces surrounding a swimming pool or a garden path. 

  • A Dry barefoot areas (domestic use, kitchen, living rooms, bathroom).
  • B Pool surrounds and showers.
  • Commercial pools, jacuzzis and gym showers.


Resistance with footwear

The R rating system identifies 5 levels of slip resistance for shod feet (i.e. in footwear). 

  • R9: low degree of slip resistance, best for sheltered terraces.
  • R10: low to moderate slip resistance for all types of terraces.
  • R11: good slip resistance, can be used when wet.
  • R12 et R13: very good slip resistance, suitable for poolside use.

Scratch resistance

The MOHS scale runs from 1 to 10 and defines 4 degrees of scratch resistance.
  • MOHS 1 to 4: poor scratch resistance (scratches easily).
  • MOHS 5 to 6: moderate scratch resistance (will scratch with moderate pressure).
  • MOHS 7 to 8: good scratch resistance (hard to scratch).
  • MOHS 9 to 10: excellent scratch resistance (scratchproof). 

Different tile effects: traditional to contemporary

Wood to aged metal

  • Wood look tiles: from pale to dark imitation wood to solid or laminated wood.
  • Concrete look tiles: for an industrial, loft style, available in multiple shades of grey.
  • Cement look tiles: traditional style to cover up old floors.
  • Stone look tiles: a range of colours and styles depending on the type of imitation stone, for example:
    • marble effect;
    • slate effect.
  • Metal look tiles: industrial style with surface designed to look like corroded metal (complete with realistic orange spots).

Wallpaper effect to terracotta look

  • Wallpaper effect tiles: usually found on walls, wide range of patterns and colours.
  • Azulejos effect tiles: coloured tiles for a taste of Portugal.
  • Modern tiles: metallic effect for resolutely contemporary style.
  • Resin look tiles: contemporary, neutral style for modern-style outdoor spaces.
  • Terracotta look tiles: simple colours for Mediterranean style.

Manufacturers bring out new tile ranges all the time so you're sure to find both indoor and outdoor tiles to suit your tastes. The easiest way to decide what you really want is to check out the various ranges – from traditional to avant-garde – offered by tile manufacturers.

Final tips for choosing your outdoor floor tiles


It is important to examine the area you want to tile in order to identify the requirements for your tiles.

The shape of the tiles will depend on the area you want to cover and the look you want.

When it comes to choosing a style, effect and colour, your choice will depend on your personal tastes. However, you should also pay attention to the colour and finish of the tile and bear in mind that light colours will reflect a great deal of light while very dark tiles absorb the sunlight and can get very hot.

It's also worth noting that there are various treatments and coatings designed to make porous materials like terracotta or marble watertight.

More information

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Guide written by:

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester 22 guides écrits

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

After years of DIY, renovation, designing, I decided to turn my passion into my career.

Starting in 2006, in the South-West, I helped people with renovation or contruction projects. My expertise and my curiosity led me to look further into innovative ideas for myself and my clients.

Indeed, to live your passion is also to transform the space you live in and the objects you use daily. My family love my creations and ideas that I bring into their lives!

My favourite thing to do: use colour to brighten up interior space. But also tips to hide away clutter. Your home is just never big enough, is it? It is thus a great pleasure to share my tips with you, so that you also can take as much pleasure as I do when starting up your next project!  

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