Outdoor Tile and Pool Tile Selection Tips
Exterior tile makes a great surface for your pool, patio, or outdoor kitchen. Before you get started, ask yourself a few questions so you can get tile that will be perfect for your home.
Where are you going to put the tile?
It seems a simple question, but it’s the first one you need to ask because it may dictate the type of tile you can use. That playful mosaic that works wonders for your pool liner isn’t an option for your pool decking. Likewise, some tile won’t hold up as well when faced with the elements as other tile.
The surface you intend to put the tile on is another important consideration. Concrete slabs work well if they are even and level, have expansion joints, and no cracking. Uneven surfaces can cause grout to crumble. Be sure your substrate is properly prepared before you begin.
How is this outdoor space going to be used?
How much traffic will your tile see? Do you expect it to be wet? Will it be exposed to severe weather? What are you going to put on top of the tiled surface? Will the tile be in a place that is covered or uncovered? All of these questions and more must be answered before you select tile.
If you expect heavy traffic or plan to place heavy furnishings on your tile, you’ll want a tough, scratch-resistant tile that can withstand a heavy load.
If you place tile on a pool deck or somewhere else where there might be standing water, be sure to select a tile that is rated for such.
Only specific tiles are appropriate for outdoor floor applications, especially if the space is uncovered. Take a look at the specs on tile you are considering to ensure it is a good choice for your application.
What’s your climate?
Your climate may have an effect on your tile selection as well. If you expect to have regular freeze/thaw cycles you’ll need a dense tile that can stand up to the extreme changes in temperature. If you live in a hot sunny place, you may want to select a light-colored tile that won’t get as hot in the sun as a dark tile.
What’s your scale?
Scale refers to the size of the space you intend to cover with tile. Traditionally, small spaces take small tiles and large spaces take larger tiles. But a larger size tile in a small space can actually make the space look larger. Likewise, small tiles don’t impinge on the visual size of a large space.
Larger scale tiles (more than 12 x 12) are an exciting addition to spacious areas. Big spaces also allow for more design features, as smaller spaces quickly begin to feel too busy.
What’s your décor style?
Your home’s design might guide your tile selection. A classic Saltillo tile might look out of place next to a colonial home. Then again, that same Saltillo tile would be right at home next to a modern Southwest pueblo.
It might help to have your designer come up with a CAD representation of what your home might look like with your favorite tile.
What color is your house?
Besides considering the style of your home, think about the color as well. Your backyard patio is an integral part of your property and must harmonize with it.
You can match the color, or you can complement it, but keeping an awareness of the other colors in your exterior space is key to outdoor tile success.
How much light will the area receive?
Determining the light levels where you want to install exterior tile can also be a deciding factor. Using dark tiles in low-light areas can make the space a bit melancholy. If you select a detailed tile, these nuances will be lost without proper light.
A good rule of thumb is to put light-colored tiles in dark areas and dark tiles in well-lit areas. This will help you optimize the natural light in the space. You can also add lighting to increse light in the area.
With the right information, you can select tile that suits your exterior spaces perfectly.