A guide to indoor outdoor porcelain tiles

A guide to indoor outdoor porcelain tiles

The indoor outdoor living trend

As we spend more and more time in our gardens, outside space is being seen as an extension of our inside living space. We are creating outdoor areas that have indoor styling very much at the heart of their design.

With the latest advances in bifold and sliding door systems allowing for unfettered access from inside our home to outside, the boundary between our indoor and outdoor space is also well and truly blurring.

And there's one component that is vital to creating both that stylish outdoor living space and enhancing the feeling of flow between home and garden. The flooring we choose. And what better flooring than indoor outdoor porcelain tiles.

Porcelain - perfect inside and out

Porcelain is one of the few materials that can be used inside aswell as outside.

Porcelain is exceptionally hardwearing, highly resistant to scratching and staining, doesn't need sealing, waxing or polishing and can be used pretty much anywhere in the home.

Outside, porcelain is frost and fade resistant and available in finishes with additional grip. It's also resistant to mould and moss taking root on the surface, and it's super easy to keep clean - inside a quick mop with water, outside a regular jetwash will keep it in tip-top condition.

Unlike limestone or slate and their rustic charm, porcelain delivers a clean, crisp, architectural feel effectively creating the same flush finish outside, you would expect inside your home.

But, with so many options, different finishes and thinner outside porcelains making their mark, how do you know where to start?

Read on ....

Finishes, tile thickness and slip ratings

The main difference between a tile for inside and a tile for outside is the surface texture.

Inside tiles can be in different finishes for example Matt, Natural, Soft and Polished finishes amongst others. They are usually around 9mm or 10mm thick - although they can be thinner.

Outside tiles have a more textured antislip surface for additional grip and are traditionally 20mm or thicker. However, there are thinner 10mm porcelains that can be used outside too.

Where you have collections that feature both an inside and outside tile that co-ordinate, both tiles will look the same, but if you feel the surface you will know they are designed to perform different roles.

Slip ratings

We also have an Antislip Soft finish - or all-in-one tile. In this case the tile surface combines the soft finish of an inside tile with the antislip properties of an outside tile so exactly the same tile can be used inside and out. These tiles have an R11 slip rating.

Our inside outside tile collections

We've categorised our indoor outdoor porcelain tiles into three groups to make it easy.

9mm thick tiles inside and 20mm outside

Our Blend, Ethos, Forge, Flow, Pave and Artisan collections all feature inside tiles that are 9mm thick with matching outside tiles that are 20mm thick.

Installing 20mm indoor outdoor porcelain tiles onto a solid concrete bed or compacted hardcore base

If installing on a solid concrete bed with adhesives it's critical though to ensure the bed is fully cured before you start and you use the correct installation process and products. If you don't have a solid concrete bed then an alternative is a compacted hardcore base and using The Norcros Rock-Tite system.

The Rock-Tite system is a fibre-reinforced sand:cement mortar specially designed for bonding porcelain paving slabs to hardcore. The three Rock-Tite products are designed to work together: Rock-Tite Porcelain Primer, RockTite Mortar and Rock-Tite Brush-in Grout and it's a really clever solution for installing 2cm pavers.

Dry laying 20mm porcelain onto grass

Installing on grass is pretty straightforward. Simply measure a distance of 8-10cm between adjacent slabs. Place the slab onto the grass, mark around the outside of the slab, remove it and dig a depth of around 30mm. Distribute a layer of fine gravel and compact it down. This will help with drainage and stability of the tiles. Place the slab on top of the gravel - always checking the surface is flat and level. Make sure the slabs are not protruding above grass level and can't damage your lawnmower.

Dry laying 20mm porcelain onto gravel

Slabs can be directly installed onto gravel substrates. It is advantageous to integrate another layer of gravel or pebbles below your surface gravel in order to ensure perfect drainage. Once this is done, simply place slabs adjacent to one another or create a pathway. Again, always checking slabs are flat, stable and even.

Slabs can also be installed onto supports or pedestals. For more information on installing using pedestals please get in touch with us.

10mm thick tiles for inside and out

Our Metro, Loft, Haven and Beat indoor outdoor porcelain tiles have an inside and outside tile in the same 10mm thickness - the inside tile is in a Soft or Matt finish for example and the outside tile in an Antislip finish.

The benefit here is that the thinner outside tile is generally more cost effective, lighter to handle and easier to cut than a 20mm outside tile. The only option for installing 10mm porcelain outside is onto a solid concrete bed that has sufficiently cured and with the correct adhesives and installation products.

All-in-one tiles 10mm thick tiles

Our all-in-one tiles combine the softness of an inside tile with the antislip properties of an outside tile in an Antislip Soft finish.

With an all-in-one tile exactly the same tile can be used as indoor outdoor porcelain tiles. Both tiles are the same thickness - usually around 10mm and both have the same Antislip Soft surface texture. Tiles must be ordered from the same batch to ensure they match of course.

All-in-one tiles can be used on walls and floors across the home aswell as outside areas - these tiles have a slip rating of R11 A+B+C with a surface that is smoother than a traditional antislip tile.

They are designed for ease of cleaning and are easier to handle. Their slim design makes them more cost effective per sqm than a thicker porcelain and more design possibilities are opened up as larger formats are more accessible.

Installation of 10mm porcelains

You want your porcelain installation to look amazing for years to come so it is vital that correct installation is adhered to. Thinner porcelains must be installed on a solid concrete bed and with antifracture membrane. It's important the correct adhesives and grouts are used - grouting joints also means there is nowhere for moisture and dirt to collect.

The key to correct installation is to ensure there are no air pockets or voids under the tiles that could create a vulnerable spot or where water could seep or freeze. Fixing directly onto wet concrete is a no-no, the slab needs to have cured.

We would always recommend you employ the services of a competent installer. Please do get in touch with us for more information on installation, we work closely with Norcros adhesives and can organise a specification specifically for your project and installer if you wish.

Care and Maintenance

Designing with porcelain

Porcelain opens up a whole world of design opportunities. Wood is a perfect example. It's highly unlikely you will find a wood you want to put outdoors that will also work indoors. Not so with porcelain.

And with the availability of collections housing tiles with 30 or up to 40 different patterns, gone are the days of just one or two designs that repeated across whole areas - there's a profusion of plank designs, copious cements and an assortment of stone designs. These are generally randomly selected in packs so you should see a good selection of different designs that make your new floor look as realistic as possible.

Choosing the right indoor outdoor porcelain tiles for your project can be a little daunting, so please give us a call and let us help you find your feet!

Please note: We strongly recommend using a professional tiling or landscaping contractor for your project. Installation requirements may vary depending on the tiles you choose, the fixing products used and the external conditions. Always check with your tiler, installer or landscaper regards the suitability of the tiles and please do get in touch with us for more information or if you have any questions. Visit the Installation section of our website for more helpful information.

The TilePortfolio specialise in Italian and Spanish Porcelain and Ceramic tiles, in particular large format Porcelains and Porcelain tiles for inside and outside. Our carefully curated, stunning tile portfolios are beautifully presented online and supported by our fuss-free ‘go-the-extra-tile’ service and video design consultancy. Visit our website for unmissable interiors inspiration. The TilePortfolio team are always available to chat, we’d be delighted to help with your project so please do get in touch. www.thetileportfolio.co.uk.