Every summer a new set of design trends hits our gardens; from flower beds to water features, exterior design always has something new to offer.
But, while it’s relatively easy to choose new flowers for your flower beds, when it comes to outdoor tiles, the finished flooring is usually intended as something a little more permanent.
It’s perhaps just as well then that the latest trends in exterior tilesare not only varied, with something to offer for every taste, but also edging towards timeless designs that will sit well with the organic growth and flow of your garden, whatever its style.
Features of Outdoor Tiles
For many people thinking about using external tiles, whether it’s patio tiles or a path, there a number of considerations that need to be made about the practicalities and features of the tile you choose.
Firstly, as Steve Halsey manager of Direct Tile Warehouse comments ‘it’s no secret that we get our fair share of rain and cold weather in the UK, so it’s always a good idea to consider finding a garden tile that’s suitable for use in wet environments, and that has certain frost resistant properties.
Generally speaking, porcelain is better at dealing with frosty conditions than ceramic, because the finished tile is often denser and less porous; the less water in the tile the less prone they are to cracking and breaking under icy conditions. What’s more, porcelain is fired at a higher temperature, giving them their characteristic durability and strength.’
In addition to porcelain, slate and quarry tiles are always a good option for outdoor tiles. Not only do they look great, but they have natural frost resistant properties that will keep them robust through the winter months.
It’s also worth thinking about whether anti-slip flooring is required. Many designer tiles achieve an anti-slip finish through textured or matt surfaces that add grip to the tile as a whole.
The Latest Outdoor Tile Trends
It’s important to choose a tile style that goes with the flow of your overall garden. For example, if it’s bright, airy and open, or just exposed to the elements, matt-finish, darker tiles tend to be a better choice; they help to stop too much light reflection, and pick up less dirt.
From rustic floor tiles with an English-cottage feel, to large tile formats that give impressions of open space, the current trends in outdoor floor tiles are extremely diverse and have something to suite everyone’s taste.
Large format porcelain tiles are now available in a wide range of colours and styles, many even with textured or patterned designs that can really spruce up a patio. Today, porcelain finishes are as varied and versatile as ceramic ranges, so when tiling outside there’s no reason you can’t add a splash of colour or make use of a classic pattern when planning a space with larger porcelain slabs.
One look that’s still a popular choice outside, and one that’s proven itself as a staple of British tiling for years, is the use of small quarry tiles, which now come in a variety of shades, from red to black. The finished space has a classic charm that’s low-maintenance and superbly attractive year round.
Slate remains a great option for creating unassuming and enduring designs. With a melange of colour options now available, a variety of slab sizes and great durability, slate is increasingly becoming popular outdoors. What’s more, many distributors now stock a slate effect porcelain tile, offering the same finish with the added versatility of porcelain.
One of the overall favourites of outdoor tile design is use of a rustic, interlocking and modular effect tiles. Not only do these look great once they’re down, but they also tend to have relief finishes that create a rough surface, giving a natural anti-slip effect.
Many designers have begun to favour the modular finish that’s made possible by using a variety of sized tiles, and most stone-look finishes look great when used in this way. One thing that’s important is to make sure you match up the grout colours to retain the integrity of the rustic finish.
Things to Remember
If you opt to use quarry tiles, many of these will need to be sealed before the job’s done. Most of the more expensive ranges come pre-sealed, but always check with your retailer if this is the case, whether you intend to lay them indoors or out. Similarly, although most ranges are, it’s always worth checking if your porcelain tiles are pre-sealed.
With slate things are a little trickier. It’s best to give them a good soak around 5 days before laying, leaving them to dry for at least 3 days (though 5 is best) in an upright position. This removes the residue pigment from the tiles and removes any clinging dirt from the surface.
The adhesive and grouting products you choose are also of importance. Particularly with interlinking and modular effect tiles, it’s a good idea to match your grout with the tile colours. This will help add fluency to the finished design and create a seamless effect that’s right on the trend.
When fixing tiles outside, it’s always a good idea to use a waterproof grout and adhesive, even if your surface is partially covered. What’s more, a flexible adhesive should be used when tiling with slate or porcelain; with the former it ensures proper bonding with the dense tile, and with the latter it will work with the natural flexibility of the stone that is itself subject to movement.
When tiling with strong light or dark colours, always match the tone of your adhesive accordingly. This will avoid a bleed effect over time, and keep your surface looking fresh.