the best outdoor tile for patios and porches
by clé tile | published: Feb 16, 2024
8x8 xtra credit patterned cement in white + black. design: stewart rodriguez / photo: paola quevedo
we love the comfort of home that an outdoor porch or patio brings to an open-air space, not to mention the value it adds to overall aesthetics. these transitional spaces blur the boundaries between indoors and out, and a carefully chosen floor finish can highlight the look and feel of your home and its natural surroundings.
outdoor tile can be remarkably durable and versatile, and we have a range of options to make this transitional area as tasteful as it is useful. when exploring which outdoor tile is best for you, there are several factors to consider. we’re here to guide you through the process of choosing the best tile for your outdoor patio or porch—one that offers both form and function.
please note: while tile can certainly be installed on outdoor walls, we will be focusing on patio and porch floors below.
choosing the best tile for an outdoor patio or porch
the best tile for an outdoor porch or patio will be beautiful, of course, but if chosen correctly, can also offer exceptional durability. it will also have a major impact on your exterior design scheme, setting the stage for furnishings and accents like greenery, water features, and fire pits. even more, it will influence your interior design, as it will be likely be seen from the indoors.
before you start shopping for tile, let’s talk about what to look for.
belgian reproduction terracotta rectangle in flemish black. design: emily henderson / photo: sarah tramp
weather and uv resistance
contrary to popular belief, not every tile is suitable for outdoor environments. because outdoor tile is out in the elements, it should be resistant to weather and moisture. be sure to choose a tile that is both freeze/thaw and UV resistant, especially if you’re planning to install tile in an exposed area. tiles without these ratings may work in certain climates when installed above grade and in a covered area, but this something to discuss with an experienced contractor. a tile’s technical specifications can also offer guidance here.
if you live in a region where your tile will be exposed to cycles of freezing and thawing, you’ll definitely need a low porosity tile that is rated as freeze/thaw resistant. otherwise, if water is absorbed and freezes, your tile can crack.
uv resistance primarily applies to our cement tiles, but sunlight can be tough on a lot of surfaces. while we embrace that fading and patina that tile acquires with time, this might not be for everyone. if fading is a concern to you, we suggest sticking with neutral colors for the outdoors, which are less prone to fading. or, if you want something bold, colored, or patterned consider incorporating something overhead such as an awning or canopy.
it’s important to remember that outdoor tiles can become stained by vegetation over time, especially when not maintained properly. having your outdoor tile sealed regularly can minimize this, as can removing any excess vegetation that lingers after rainstorms. that said, many people (including us) choose to embrace the natural patina that tile acquires with time. as you choose tile for your outdoor space, ask yourself what your tolerance for staining is and consider your options accordingly.
strength and durability
again, weather should be your top consideration when choosing tile for porch or patio flooring. tiles that are rated as freeze/thaw and UV resistant typically have the strength and durability needed for outdoor applications. beyond this, tiles for outdoor living spaces should also to be strong and durable enough to withstand foot traffic.
texture and slip resistance
slip resistance is an important factor when choosing tiles for outdoor flooring, as moisture is inevitable. every tile should have its dcof (dynamic coefficient of friction) rating listed under its technical specifications. the higher the rating, the higher the slip resistance. in addition to choosing a tile with a high dcof rating, it is important to have tiles sealed with a sealant that not only offers waterproofing but also improves the slip resistance.
while we don’t necessarily recommend glazed and glossy tiles for surfaces you walk on, if you are set on using a glazed tile, opt for one that is two inches or less in size so you have enough grout to create slip resistance—or have your tiles cut down to a smaller size. then, be sure your grout joints are sealed accordingly. (this is especially important for outdoor shower floors.)
two more notes about slip resistance: nearly any surface can become slippery when exposed to shampoo, lotions, or water-soaked shoe soles. always take care when walking on any outdoor surfaces. and if you’re planning to install tile on an outdoor wall, slip resistance is of course a lesser concern.
12x12 clé slate
4x4 natural zellige. design: jenni kayne photo: amanda + scott sanford
sealing and maintenance
most outdoor tiles require sealing as a safeguard against the elements and wear, boosting longevity and moisture resistance. regular resealing is key for preserving your tile’s durability and beauty.
in general, outdoor tiles should be cleaned promptly to avoid staining using a mild, pH-neutral cleanser and a soft brush. it’s best to avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that may damage the surface of your tile.
refer to our material guidelines for your specific tile for more information.
color and style
the color and style of your patio flooring should complement the overall aesthetics of your landscape and any connecting indoor spaces. with a myriad of options to choose from, it’s easy to sync your tile with your taste and the overall theme of your space.
for example, a monochromatic palette could compliment a modern manicured garden with rendered walls and crisp angles. on the other hand, a rustic outdoor tile would pair beautifully with a farmhouse-inspired home.
remember that white and lighter tile colors are more likely to show staining from the elements and vegetation. in addition, light tile colors can look washed out in a sunny area, while dark tile colors can make a shady porch or patio feel a bit gloomy. for the best visual effect, consider light tile colors for shady areas and dark tile colors for areas with lots of direct sunlight.
best outdoor tile types for patios and porches
tile is a good option for outdoor patios and porches because, when chosen correctly, it’s tough and durable—and available in many designs, colors, and materials. below: our best outdoor tile options, which can easily transition from indoor flooring to an outdoor space.
black + white 8x8 cement solid. design / photo: nate berkus + jeremiah brent
clé cement tiles come in a wide range of colors and patterns, from neutral and subtle to bold and vibrant. you’ll also find them in a variety of shapes, from classic to modern and geometric to moroccan-inspired.
cement tile can work wonders indoors and out in the right climate. where temperatures run hot, we recommend neutral colors to resist sun fading. in particular, avoid colors and patterns that have blue, green, and violet, as these are most prone to fading. also, remember that white and light colored tiles are more likely to show staining from the elements and vegetation. keeping foliage tidy and sealing your tile regularly can minimize this, but if you have a lower tolerance for patina, you may want to consider a different tile color or material.
also keep in mind that most cement tile is not freeze and thaw rated. if you live in an area that is subject to freezing and thawing, be sure to check the tile’s specifications.
natural stone tile such as limestone blends seamlessly into natural surroundings, making it an ideal choice for outdoor spaces. it can handle extreme temperatures without cracking, and a honed finish offers natural slip resistance due to its texture.tiles made of natural stone tend to be more porous, so using a high-quality sealer is imperative for preserving the look and life of your investment.
belgian reproduction circle + losange in flemish red
whether new or antique, this european outdoor staple gives any home a boost of authentic earthiness like no other tile. when properly sealed, terracotta can be used outdoors in climates not prone to freezing and thawing.
we offer a range of terracotta tiles, including antique tiles sourced from centuries-old european structures and modern italian terracotta from acclaimed tile producer fornace brioni and designer cristina celestino.
clé slate is natural, highly durable, and comes in stunning shades of black and grey. it is an all-around weather-friendly surface, and it has natural slip resistance due to its cleft texture when split on the natural grain.
this type of tile is ideal for hardworking areas like entryways, outdoor porches, and patios. like most natural stone, slate requires sealing to prevent staining and help with repelling water. sealing slate also enhances the deep dark gray tones found in this natural stone.
we recommend having your contractor use a penetrating sealant before and after grouting. specific recommendations differ based on the location of the installation, so please consult our slate material guidelines.
porcelain tile is strong, durable, and freeze- and thaw-resistant, making it a good choice for outdoor use. our porcelain penny rounds come in black and white with a glossy or matte finish.
remember that a glossy finish can become slippery when wet, so reserve it for outdoor walls and countertops that won’t see foot traffic. for the floor of your outdoor porch or patio, opt for porcelain with a matte finish.
ceramic tile is not typically recommended for outdoor spaces, especially those that will see heavy use or extreme weather. but it can function beautifully in areas with mild weather conditions and lighter use.
if you have your heart set on ceramic, choose a tile that’s rated for outdoor use. and only consider it for covered porches or patios, fountain and pool waterlines, and low-traffic areas in locations that don’t freeze and thaw.
frequently asked questions about outdoor patio tile
let’s address some of the most common questions we see about outdoor tile.
how does tile pattern or layout impact the overall appearance of an outdoor space?
the pattern or layout of your outdoor tile plays a key role in the overall look of your space. opting for patterns like herringbone or basketweave can add visual interest, while larger tiles can create a sense of expansiveness. consider your home’s architectural style and the ambience you wish to evoke when choosing your pattern and layout.
how do i prevent mold and mildew growth on outdoor tiles?
mold and mildew are unwelcome guests in any space. to keep them at bay, ensure proper drainage of your outdoor area, and promptly remove any debris. having a quality sealant applied during installation also offers extra protection, reducing the likelihood of mold and mildew growth.
do i need to winterize my outdoor tiles if i live in a colder climate?
as we’ve mentioned, you should always start with a tile that is freeze and thaw rated if you live in a colder climate. opt for low-porosity tiles to minimize water absorption and prevent freeze-thaw damage. also be sure your tiles are finished with a weather-resistant sealant. regular maintenance will involve clearing snow promptly and avoiding the use of harsh de-icing chemicals to extend the life of your tile.
should i hire a professional to install my outdoor tile?
absolutely! professional installation ensures the longevity and visual appeal of your investment. professionals bring expertise in handling key aspects of tile installation, including substrate preparation, water drainage considerations, and proper grouting and sealing applications to minimize the risk of future issues.