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Tile Talk December 2022 | The Great Outdoors

Long considered one of the most versatile floor and wall finishes in the industry, porcelain tile continues to flourish in popularity both indoors and outdoors. From small-scale mosaics to large format panels there isn’t a design or aesthetic need that can’t be achieved.

Thanks to modern advancements in material production, digital inks, improved glazes, and energy-efficient kilns – modern porcelain tiles are ideal for handling the harshest of weather conditions. Many varieties are stain and fade-resistant, water-resistant, flame-resistant, and virtually scratch free. It’s no surprise that tile is a great choice for your next outdoor project.

Consider these tips when selecting your next outdoor tile:

Tile Selection

As mentioned above, porcelain tile is an excellent choice for outdoor applications.  However, not all tile is the same – make sure your outdoor tile fits these criteria:

  • Water absorption is less than 0.5%
  • Not affected by freeze/thaw cycles
  • Breaking strength greater than 250lbs/SF
  • Tile Surface is chemical- and stain-resistant

Poolside tile

Setting Materials

For the purposes of this post, we’re sticking with direct-bond thinset applications.  I promise to come back to this topic to address unbonded floating mortars in the near future.

Tile is only as strong as its bond strength.  When using tile in an outdoor setting, make sure the thinset mortar is a 2-component product.  This means the product should be a premium-grade dry set mortar mixed with the appropriate liquid latex additive (not water). The best way to know if you are using the right product is its ANSI designation.  Look for ANSI A118.4E, ANSI A118.11, and ANSI A118.15 bond strength products.

Expansion Joints

Just as you would install movement/expansion joints for an interior application, the same efforts should be made when installing tile outside.

  • Movement joints along all perimeters
  • Utilizing flexible sealants (not grout)
  • Follow guidelines of EJ171 per TCNA


Outdoor tile will be exposed to a wider range of factors that affect its walking surface including but not limited to – moisture, water, sunlight, salt, dirt, and other agents. For this reason, we suggest selecting a tile that meets a minimum DCOF rating of >0.55*

*This is a good starting point but please be sure to consult with our Technical Team for proper guidance.

A successful design seamlessly bridges the design intent from the interior to the outdoors. And while these are obviously just a few key points to consider it’s a good foundation to build from.

For reviewing all outdoor tile options, please consider consulting with our Creative Materials Team for your next project.