Summer will soon be here and that calls for days by the pool, outdoor parties and get-togethers, and more time outside on the patio and in the yard. When planning your outdoor recreational space, you’ll want to create an inviting, yet functional and long lasting area. Choosing the ideal material for flooring surface is critical–specifically for patios and around the pool area. Outdoor tile is durable, beautiful and one of the best surface options for outdoor spaces. Here is a deep dive into the best tile for pool decks and patios.
Tile for Pools and Patios: Pros and Cons
Choosing tile for around your pool can give you a beautiful appearance while providing good functionality.
Pros: One of the advantages of installing a tile pool deck is that you will be able to customize it to your liking. Tile is one of the most customizable types of flooring options. You can install it in many different patterns, designs, and colors. You can use tile medallions and many other decorative pieces to create a unique look.
Tile is also slip-resistant and safe, making it an ideal patio and pool deck surface especially for families with pets and children, where safety is a top concern. In addition to the safety benefits, tile is durable to withstand a lot of wear and tear, foot traffic, and to outlast exposure to sun, wind, rain, and other outdoor elements. Not only that, but tile is mold and mildew resistant, easy to clean, easy to maintain, and with so many to choose from, easy on the budget but provides an upscale look.
Choosing Outdoor Tile
There are so many different types of tile on the market these days that it can feel a bit overwhelming when choosing what kind will suit your project best–especially when it comes to choosing outdoor tile. There are so many factors to take into consideration when choosing a tile best suited for outdoor spaces; does it need to be temperature controlled, slip-resistant, durable and long-lasting? Perhaps, it needs to be ALL these plus pleasing to the eye, affordable, easy to install, low-maintenance, easy to clean, and easily repaired or replaced should there be a need to do so.
This sounds like a lot. Where can you find this magical all-in-one kind of tile, and really, how do you even know what you truly need in the first place? We’re here to help.
First, consider where the tile is going to be used and what properties are non-negotiable. For example, if tiling a pool deck, you’ll absolutely need something that is durable, slip-resistant, and easy to maintain. If you’re looking to tile your patio, slip-resistance might not be as important, but depending where you live a material that is temperature controlled might be more of a priority.
What Should You Look For In Outdoor Tile
The PEI rating is a measurement of the tile’s resistance to things like foot traffic and weather patterns.
Here’s how the PEI rating system works:
- Level 1: No Foot Traffic – Ideal for wall tiling only.
- Level 2: Light Traffic – Residential Bathrooms.
- Level 3: Light to Moderate Traffic – Countertops, walls, floors, all residential uses.
- Level 4: Moderate to Heavy Traffic – All residential applications as well as medium commercial use.
- Level 5: Heavy to Extra Heavy Traffic – Used only for flooring and rarely an interior residential choice.
- You’ll want to choose level 4 or 5 when it comes to outdoor tile.
While tiles with a PEI rating of 3 or above are typically best for outdoor use, this does not necessarily mean they are weather-proof. You’ll want to also choose tiles that are designed to deflect heavy weather damage.
Does it need a sealer?
Some tiles, for example if they’re porous, there is more chance for them to absorb and retain water over time, which could shorten their lifespan, so if being used outdoors then a sealer will be necessary to protect them long term.
For high traffic areas like outdoor pools and patios, the more durable the tile, the better. This surface will be getting a lot of wear and tear with frequent walking and exposure to moisture, sunlight, pets, people, kids, spilled food, chemicals from pool maintenance, and more. Choosing something that can withstand all this pressure will make or break your pool deck tile dreams.
Of course budget always comes into play when choosing any material for a project or home makeover. Making sure you choose a product you can afford is important, but it is also critical to consider your long term investment and whether or not going with a less expensive product will require more maintenance, repair, or even replacement in the future which can really add up over time. Be sure to weigh the quality of what you’re buying against the initial upfront cost to protect your investment.
Types of Tile Best Suited for Pool Decks and Outdoor Patios
Now that we have an overview of what to consider when choosing your tile, let’s look at some options that might work well for this type of project.
An affordable go-to choice for outdoor tile. Ceramic is a popular option due to its variety. However ceramic is not as durable as other options and requires additional sealing for slip-resistance. It may be better suited for light patios and places without high foot traffic, and exposure to moisture or elements. Still, ceramic is a viable option for outdoor tile with a sufficient PEI rating.
An ideal choice for outdoor flooring and pool decks, outdoor porcelain tiles offer the ease of maintenance you get from porcelain use indoors. They are porous, fade-resistant, and extremely durable. Additionally, there is no risk of cracking due to weather changes as is the case with other types of tile. Porcelain tiles can be a bit more pricey, and you’ll want to pay attention to the PEI rating before making a commitment. However, porcelain is available in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, finishes, and patterns for a unique look all your own.
Whether you choose travertine, limestone, soapstone, or sandstone tile there are some great benefits to natural stone tiles–but there are also characteristics of each that you need to be aware of before you buy.
Travertine is a natural stone that is similar to limestone and is considered great for outdoor use.Travertine is a porous stone and needs sealer so it doesn’t degrade or stain over time. It can also lose traction easily, making slips and falls more likely when wet.
Limestone, similar to travertine, will need a sealer once it is installed to prevent it from absorbing any liquids and breaking down over time. Limestone insulates very well, meaning that it is a great option for around the pool as it will not get too hot or too cold for your bare feet! Limestone is also available in many sizes, shapes, and colors to fit your design expectations.
Soapstone is a non-porous, non-absorbent, natural stone that is great for warm climates. It is both water and heat-resistant so it makes an ideal material for around pools. Soapstone is incredibly long-lasting and easy to clean and maintain and does not require an additional sealer when installed. These qualities make it a great choice not only for around the pool, but also for outdoor kitchens and patio spaces. Soapstone can be a bit more of an investment, but overall worth the extra money in the long run due to its incredible durability and yield on return.
Lastly, sandstone. Available in a variety of hues, sandstone is best suited for warmer climates and should be avoided in areas that are wet, and cold or susceptible to snow or ice. It’s a porous tile, formed from layers that compress over time. It needs to be sealed regularly to avoid cracks and water penetration, and probably best for a patio surface but not a pool deck.
Slate is a durable outdoor tile that adds value to any space. Similar to soapstone, it is a bit of an investment, but the return makes it worth the extra money spent. Slate is incredibly durable and long-lasting and will work well for outdoor flooring for patios, outside kitchens, pool decks and more. Sealing is recommended with slate outdoor tiles, and it comes in a variety of colors.
The Best Outdoor Tile for Pools and Patios
To sum it up, your best bet is to choose porcelain pavers, natural stone, or slate when tiling an outdoor patio or pool deck. Their properties combined with versatility make them the obvious choice. While you may end up spending a little more up front, the longevity these tile materials provide is a no-brainer, and a worthy investment long term.
Once you’ve weighed the options and determined your most important non-negotiables, browse the selection of tile at Flowers Flooring, or consult with one of our flooring experts to make your final decision. We can walk you through the buying process, installation, and maintenance of your new outdoor tile.
About Flowers Flooring
Flowers Flooring is your family flooring specialist with two locations – Cornelius, NC, and Winston-Salem, NC. Both locations service a 100-mile radius from the showroom. Both locations specialize in flooring sales and installation, including carpet, laminate, hardwood, sand & finish, hardwood restoration, vinyl plank, vinyl tile, rubber flooring, tile floors, tile showers, tile backsplash, area rugs, interior painting, and more. To reach the Cornelius, NC location please call (704) 445-7750 and to reach our Winston-Salem location, please call (336) 660-0977. Please be sure to inquire about our current promotion and financing offers.