Take It Outside: Outdoor AC Tile Collections

Take It Outside: Outdoor AC Tile Collections - Architessa

Whether you're barbecuing near our Baltimore showroom, or you're fixin' to go grillin' closer to our Atlanta showroom; summer is made for poolside meals on an outdoor patio. Check out a few Architectural Ceramics tile collections, suitable for outdoor use, that have you covered under foot and under water.

The Ins and Outs of Outdoor Tile

What type of tile can be used outdoors? Whether using tile under foot on a balcony, your pool deck, or in the pool itself, outdoor tiles come in a few varieties. While all types of tile can be used outside, it's important to note they may not be suitable for all types of environments. From porcelain to specialty ceramic, here are how a few materials compare in an exterior application:

Porcelain & Glass

These two tile types are mentioned together, because porcelain and glass both undergo high heat and pressure when made. They also are the best candidates for all types of environments.

Porcelain tile, as a result of the production process, is a durable tile that is not only freeze and frost proof, but also fade resistant, slip resistant, and non-porous. Through high-definition printing, porcelain tiles can mimic other materials like cement or natural stone that are typical of an outdoor setting. The beauty is that porcelain is maintenance free, where those it's appearing to be are not.

Glass tile is gaining popularity specifically for use in in-ground pools. From the finished coping edge to just below the water line, glass tile is not only durable, but beautiful. The type of glass or the color used becomes an extension of the home, allowing homeowners like you to bring a bit of the style inside your home, out. Aren't folks usually trying to bring a bit of the outdoors in?

Cement & Terracotta

While there's a time and place for man-made tiles like porcelain (at AC we love and stock several porcelain collections), you may think similarly to an architect in that building materials should be true to themselves. Wood is wood, and metal is metal. Sorry wood-look porcelain, we've temporarily moved on, to cement and terracotta tile.

Spaces are trending toward more natural material choices like cement and terracotta tiles. Both have gained popularity, especially when handpainted with geometric patterns.

Either cement or terracotta tiles would make a great patio or accent wall in an outdoor space. The catch is, that these seemingly low-maintenance natural tiles are a bit high-maintenance because they are only suitable for outdoor use where freezing temperatures aren't a factor. If you live near our Atlanta showroom, have at it; if your postal code is closer to 20500 like the White House, however, these tiles aren't for you.

Natural Stone & Specialty Ceramic

Think about it, natural stone has been a natural choice in an outdoor application for centuries. Throughout historic cities in Europe, their streets are paved in cobblestones, the statues are carved in marble, and their monuments are clad in limestone.

Today, large flagstone pavers are commonplace in an outdoor setting. But you don't have to settle for the norm. For a more modern look, try a natural stone material in a plank field size. Or, go for a vein-cut marble instead of a slate with an uneven cleft.

When considering specialty ceramics for an exterior application, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention our vendor, Encore Ceramics. Freeze and frost proof, our vendor's tile collections withstand the elements inside and outside the home.

Encore Ceramics prides themselves in their chemistry-like process in creating their glaze palettes. The result is a vitreous or glass-like texture on a clay body that gives both depth of color and durability to their ceramics.

Now that we've talked about different types of outdoor tile, let's see different examples of outdoor tile. Below, we elaborate on collections, available through Architectural Ceramics, that represent each category mentioned above. For more outdoor tile collections from any one category, visit AC's website and use our Exterior Product Filter.

Porcelain & Glass

Thicket Porcelain

Do you love the look of a wood patio or deck, but don't want the upkeep? Try our Thicket Collection, featuring the look of weathered wood with the strength and ease-of-care of a porcelain.

AC's Thicket Collection, featuring porcelain wood-look tile in the color Liana.

Shown above, a mix of the 6"x24" and 6"x36" plank field sizes in the color Liana are used in an outdoor deck space. While the linear installation is clean and simple, the patio would look great in a herringbone pattern too.

A traditional wood deck would need continued sealing throughout the life of the product. Porcelains from our Thicket Collection, however need little to no maintenance once installed. Go ahead and host that backyard barbecue, that is if you can stand the summer heat. There's no need to get hot under the collar when someone drops salsa or baked beans because these tiles are stain resistant.

AC's Thicket Collection, featuring wood-look porcelain in the color Amazon.

In the DC-metro area, we're no stranger to extreme outdoor elements, like humid summers and cold winters. Fade resistant, the color of these porcelain tiles will hold up against the summer sun. Also freeze and frost proof, they are suitable to withstand frosty winters.

Our Thicket Collection is available in five on-trend colorways, from the light Liana to the darkest Black. Within each colorway, moderate range is to be expected. Because of high-definition graphics, these porcelains are able to mimic the range of natural wood grain.

To view the full Thicket Collection, download a Data Sheet, or visit our website's Product Page here.

Crag Castle Porcelain

Because porcelains make such a great outdoor option, we thought we'd mention two instead of just one. Able to blend seamlessly from indoors to out, our Crag Castle Collection features large format tiles with the look of textured stone, but the durability of porcelain.

AC's porcelain collection, Crag Castle in the color Bright Grey.

Bringing the outdoors in and vice a versa, this grand patio space pictured above uses the 12"x24" field tile in the color Bright Grey as a seamless flooring option. It's able to do so, because porcelains from our Crag Castle Collection have the same properties as those from our Thicket Collection. They are also stain resistant, fade resistant, and freeze and frost proof.

A versatile palette, the colorways from this collection range from subtle cream to black limestone. In similar fashion to how the Thicket Collection has moderate range similar to natural wood, the Crag Castle Collection has moderate range similar to natural veining and color variation found in limestone. Again, the high-definition printing makes the effect possible.

To view the entire Crag Castle Collection, download our Data Sheet, or visit our Product Page here.

Lunada Bay Glass

At Architectural Ceramics, we partner with a few vendors that specialize in glass tile. One of those, is Lunada Bay Tile. Each of their glass collections feature a wide breath of color, texture, and pattern that's sure to fit your style.

AC's Tozen Collection, via our vendor Lunada Bay, in the color Tanzanite; used for an indoor master bath and an outdoor water feature.

When considering glass for an outdoor application, like a water feature or an in-ground pool, the thickness and surface area of the glass is important. This contributes to its ability to withstand cracking due to extreme temperatures. Lunada Bay has an excellent Installation Guide if you're curious to learn more about how to use glass tile in a pool.

For starters, it's important to know that for glass tile to be submerged in water, the sum of the edges aren't to exceed four inches. For example, the sum of the edge dimensions for a 1"x2" mosaic tile is only three inches, and make it acceptable for use in an underwater installation.

Here are just a few examples of Lunada Bay collections available through Architectural Ceramics. Given the right mosaic size, they are acceptable for pool use:

Haisen:Created by melding streams of colored glass, our Haisen Collection features a beautiful depth of color and range in hue. Available in two sizes, a Barcode mosaic and a 1"x4" Brick, remember that only the Barcode mosaic is suitable for submerged pool use. To view the full collection, download a Data Sheet here.

Monochromatic:Our Monochromatic Collection brings together bright or muted colors with small-scale mosaics perfect for pool use. The hand-poured tiles are finished with a rustic edge to add character to the otherwise simple single-color glass. To view the collection's full color range, download a Data Sheet here.

Tozen:If you love options, then this collection is for you. Our Tozen Collection features 19 colorways, in 14 patterns in either a matte or glossy finish. But don't worry, only ten of them are usable in a pool. To view the wide range of pattern and color options from the collection, download a Data Sheet here.

Related Links

Porcelain. It's not what it used it used to be. High-definition printing has brought porcelain tile back in a big way. See how, with our blog Bigger is Better: Large Format Porcelain Tile.

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you know about tile variation? Does porcelain have variation? Yes and no. Find out why with our blog Expect the Unexpected from Tile Variation.

Cement & Terracotta

Sabine Hill Cement Tiles

Shiplap, barn doors, natural wood -- It's no secret that a Farmhouse style is still popular among designers and clients like you. Cement tiles fit into this wagon-wheelhouse.

A cement backsplash designed by Sagatov Design-Build and our Alexandria Showroom, featuring tile from our vendor Sabine Hill.

Pictured above, Architectural Ceramics partnered with Falls Church, Virginia-based firm Sagatov Design-Build to create this modern farmhouse kitchen. The graphic backsplash comes from our vendor, Sabine Hill, who specializes in handpainted cement tile. The 12"x12" field tile from the Tilt Collection, was done in a custom colorway. The dijon accent dot works perfectly with the leather barstools.

AC's Brasserie Collection, via Sabine Hill, in a custom pattern and colorway.

Another Sabine Hill cement tile option with a bit of dijon color, and a bit of innovation is the Brasserie Collection. These 10"x10" cement tiles have faux grout lines to mimic small-scale mosaics. Designed for residential or commercial use, the collection has a French flair. The cafe setting, pictured above, transports us to the streets of Paris. We're betting you won't find a barbecued chicken breast there, but a crispy duck breast instead.

Whether installing cement tiles indoors or out, Sabine Hill advises those interested in the handmade product to be aware of a few factors:

For more nitty-gritty technical guidelines like installation, care, and maintenance for cement tile, download Sabine Hill's Technical PDF here.

If you're more visual and want to see other cement collections, or other patterns from the Brasserie Collection, view the Sabine Hill Catalogue here, or visit our website's Product Page.

Andalucia Terracotta

The southern coast of Spain, Andalucia, is an area steeped in tradition. Locals are proud to honor age-old practices like outdoor summer Feria fiestas, daily afternoon siestas, and producing and drinking Sherry wine.

They also respect their age-old Moorish architecture like the Mezquita-Cathedral in Cordoba, the Alhambra in Granada, and the Alcazar in Seville. Now mostly tourist destinations, these well-visited palaces and places of worship are tile marvels inside and out.

AC's Andalucia Collection, from Walker Zanger, featuring the decorative field in the pattern Fez, color Blanco.

Our Andalucia Collection, features terracotta tiles that pay homage to Moorish design details of the past but pair them with modern relief and glazing techniques of today. Pictured above, is the decorative field tile in the pattern Fez. Floral designs were common of Moorish tiles because it was not permitted to depict the human form.

The Andalucia Collection's decorative field tiles take on many forms, from the hexagon floral Fez, to the 10"x10" geometric Puerta. We love the style of these glazed terracotta tiles, and the names too. They'd make a stunning accent wall on an outdoor patio.

Outside of decorative field tiles, the collection also features matte field tiles in three colorways that would work well as a flooring option. And, while rated for heavy duty use as a flooring material, our vendor Walker Zanger who hand crafts these tiles, advises against using them in outdoor environments that freeze and thaw during winter.

Related Links

Can't get enough about cement tile? Check out our blog Cementing the Latest in Tile Trends: Cement Tile

Natural Stone & Specialty Ceramic

Ocean Blue Natural Stone

We said it before and we'll say it again, natural stone is a natural choice for an outdoor application. Here, our Ocean Blue Collection features a vein-cut travertine that is available in plank, large format, and mosaic tile sizes.

AC's Ocean Blue Collection, natural stone and special order.

A picture is worth a thousand words. This ocean-front balcony done in our Ocean Blue natural stone says it all. The direction of the 5"x20" large format tile is installed along the length of the linear veining. By doing so, it leads your eye right to the water, as if you couldn't miss it.

Not pictured, but also available in the collection, is a small-scale square mosaic. To view more, visit the collection's Product Page here. To order a sample, visit us at one of our showroom locations in the DC-metro area.

Pool & Spa Specialty Ceramic

We already mentioned that glass is gaining ground with regard to in-ground pools, but specialty ceramics with a vitreous quality like this one may give it a run for it's money.

By way of Encore Ceramics, AC offers specialty ceramic pool blends that because of their glass-like surface, capture and reflect light just like the water they're immersed in.

AC's vendor, Encore Ceramics, featuring specialty ceramic pool tile in the Montauk blend.

The pool steps shown above, feature the Montauk colorway, one of the Pool & Spa Collection's pre-made blends. Because of the glass-like glaze embedded in a clay body, this blend gives more depth of color than glass tile would alone. Below, are all the pre-made pool blends, all of which have a nod to the nautical because of their color combinations.

Your blend options don't stop there however. Dive in to splash and play around with Encore's fully customizable blends, using their wide range of glazes or tile body palettes: crackle, matte, jewel, jewel multi, gloss, quartz, sheer, precocious, and stone.

To discover more about the specialty ceramic palettes available with Encore Ceramics, view their 2017 Catalogue here.

Related Links

Did we get your feet wet with Encore's Pool & Spa blends? For more inspiration or information about Encore, visit our blog Made In the USA: AC Tile Lines Made in America.

Do you love hexagons? Then check out the Kiss-Dipped Hexagon Collection from Encore, featured in our blog Sealed with a Kiss: Hexagon Dipped Tile. It's sure to make it's way straight to your heart.

For further questions about the tile featured here, or to place a tile order, please contact Want weekly updates about Architectural Ceramics and our product lines? Join our newsletter here.

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