The Great Outdoors: Tile for Outside Applications

Outdoor Tile

When you first think of landscaping your patio or other outside space, you probably don't immediately think of tile. But tile is not just for your kitchen or bathroom - there are tons of great tiles for outdoor use. Patios, pools, sun rooms, and lounge areas can turn out great using outdoor tile.

But what kind of tile can you use outside? There are a few things to look for when shopping for tile for your patio or other outdoor space: durability, slip resistance, frost resistance, and underwater performance.

Thickness and Durability

Outdoor tiled spaces are open to the elements, so they need to be able to withstand weather and debris. Shop for outdoor tile by looking at material hardness and durability.

Consider installing porcelain pavers, as they are typically thicker than most tiles and can stand up to debris and the weather. Softer stones and ceramics are more likely to take a beating from the elements than durable materials like porcelain.

Slip Resistance

When you are out on your pool deck enjoying the sun on your toes, you shouldn't have to worry about slipping. The slip resistance of outdoor tiles is one of the top things you should consider when going through outside tile options.

Selecting a tile with rough surface texture is the most obvious way to add some grip to your outdoor tiles. Rougher surfaces mean more friction when walking. Another thing to consider is the size of your tile and, by extension, how many grout joints you have. Grout joints add a rough texture and also allow for water to drain from the tops of floor tiles. You can get around the slipperiness of some tiles by using smaller pieces with more grout.

For a more technical definition, most tiles have a Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) rating that explains how slippery the surface can be. Ideally, outdoor tiles should be rated with a DCOF of >.42 for areas that get moderate use. Wet areas such as poolside retreats should have a DCOF of >.60. Ask your designer for details.


If you live in a region where the temperature can drop below freezing, it's definitely something that should factor into your outdoor tile selection. For the most part, freeze ratings depend on porosity or the level of absorption a tile has. More holes means water gets absorbed and can freeze causing cracks. If you are tiling in a warm climate, you may be able to branch out to tile options like cement or terracotta, but you should still keep up with routine maintenance for these more fragile tiles.

Water and Submerged Areas

Wet areas such as pools and fountains need extra consideration to ensure that they do not experience erosion or cracking. Much like a waterfall in nature, running water can wear down porous materials like stone. Aim to use completely non-absorbant tiles like glass or porcelain. If you must use stone or concrete, prepare or more maintenance. Tile sealers and regular cleaning can help keep submerged tiles looking their best.

Areas around pools can also get wet, so select outdoor tile that has a good slip resistance. Usually you want wet areas to have even better non-slip properties than a typical walkway or porch.

Outdoor Tile Checklist
Outdoor Tile Checklist

Check with your sales representative to determine if your tile is rated for outdoor use. Email us at

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