One of the advantages of porcelain tile is that it can generally be used outdoors in a freeze/thaw environment. Because there are few pores in the tile to absorb water, the issue of the tile breaking when the water freezes is minimized. This has opened modern tile up to a wide range of new, outdoor applications, but also has presented some challenges.
As a vertical surface, porcelain tile can be used outdoors in a number of applications. In fact, cutting-edge building designers are starting to routinely use tile as an outdoor cladding material due to its durability, reflectivity, and good looks.
For years, the tile industry said resolutely that tile shouldn’t be used outside as a horizontal surface on which people will walk. The reason for that is because tile (and other hard surface flooring like concrete, pavers, stone, etc) can be slippery when it gets wet, icy, oily, covered in leaves, etc. However, this position has evolved, recognizing that many people want to use tiles outside due to their durability, lower maintenance, and because they fit with their décor.
The standard measurement for resistance to slipping is called Coefficient of Friction, or COF for short. Even today, there is no definitive way to say ‘if a tile has a COF of such and such, you won’t slip on it.’ There are just too many variables such as what contaminants may be on the tile, what kind of shoes (if any) you are wearing, how fast you are going, etc. We publish COF ratings as a general guideline, but if you are planning to use tile (or stone) outdoors, you must keep in mind that these numbers are only one small piece of the big picture.
Ultimately, it is up to each customer and their installer to decide if the tile they select is a good fit for their outdoor installation. A tile that is under a porch roof and sheltered from the elements will pose less slipping potential than one that is outside, uncovered, and subject to standing water, ice, and snow. Due to the inherent properties of tile, no one can guarantee that tile will never be slippery, particularly if exposed to the elements and not properly maintained. We do our best to educate our customers, and their installers, on the benefits and potential issues with tile. As a service to our customers, we make the following general recommendations about which tiles will work in which situations:
Can be used outdoors in a covered location, not subject to standing water, ice, snow, leaves, oil, or other contaminants. To minimize slip hazards, care should be exercised to keep the tile clean and free of debris:
Can be used outdoors with some exposure to the elements. To minimize slip hazards, care must be exercised in keeping the tile clean and free of debris:
Customers wishing to install tile, or any hard surface, in outdoor applications must take special care to select the right materials, and should recognize the additional maintenance requirements necessary to ensure safety and performance of the surface. Please consult with your authorized Florida Tile dealer and a qualified installer to ensure the tile you select will meet your needs.