Ceramic Tiles For Outdoor Use

April 13th 2015
Ceramic Tiles For Outdoor Use



Q:  What would be the best approach to purchasing ceramic tiles for a small ground-level concrete patio and back steps?  Also, do you have any installation tips for using tile outside?




A:  Ceramic tiles for outdoor use must be able to withstand the stresses of freeze-thaw conditions.  When purchasing tiles, ask if they are suitable for outdoor use.  Non-frost proof tiles can delaminate with changing weather conditions.


If the tiles are on walkways or steps, be sure to use an unglazed or slip-resistant surface.  Sealers can become extremely slippery and dangerous when wet.


Do not install outdoor ceramic tiles on any wooden material.  When plywood gets damp, it will expand and cause tiles to come off.  Install tiles on concrete, masonry surfaces or special cement boars designed for exterior applications.


Some other tips to keep in mind for your installation:


-          Make sure the surface is clean and dry before applying the adhesive.


-          Cement-based acrylic thin-set mortar works best.


-          Ready-made adhesives should not be used for outdoor ceramic tile.


-          Complete coverage is important when applying the bond material.  An air voids between the tile and the surface can fill with water and potentially freeze, causing a bond failure.


-          Mortar should be completely cover the surface and the back of the tile, ending up with about one-eighth of an inch of mortar between the two surfaces.


-          Always check with the supplier of your ceramic tile to see if a non-fracture membrane is required for your tile setting.