At first glance, all types of tile may appear to be the same. However, the differences between indoor and outdoor tile can affect how each type of tile is used and how long it lasts.
Indoor tile should not be used outside because it is unable to withstand weather conditions such as the sun’s UV rays or freeze-thaw cycles. Also, indoor tile may not have the slip resistance for outdoor foot traffic, and it may not have the scratch resistance to keep your outdoor areas looking great for years.
Let’s explore the top four reasons indoor tile should not be used outdoors.
1. Indoor tile is not designed to withstand the elements.
From the extreme temperatures of a hot summer day to deep freezes in the winter months, outdoor flooring needs to be tough enough to withstand a wide range of conditions. Outdoor floor tile has been manufactured to remain strong in a wide range of outdoor conditions, and it’s tested for both thermal performance and weatherproofing.
Indoor tile could quickly become damaged during winter freeze-thaw cycles, but outdoor tile that’s designed for these conditions will stand up to the elements and keep looking great year after year.
Two key differences help outdoor tile withstand freezing.
- It’s usually made from a strong material that’s been tested to perform well in cold temperatures.
- There’s a surface coating that prevents it from absorbing water. Because water expands when it freezes, tile that can absorb water may get fissures or cracks when it freezes. By reducing water absorption in outdoor tile to less than 0.5 percent, it’s better able to withstand cold conditions.
2. Indoor tile could fade from the sun.
All outdoor tile from Emser Tile has a UV-resistant coating that helps protect it from sun damage. If indoor tile without this coating was used outside, the colors could fade or the tile could discolor. For example, think of how some plastics or fabrics can fade in the sun or start to yellow over time.
Even if you’re drawn to indoor tile because of the range of colors you found, the surface design probably won’t have the permanence you want. Because outdoor tile is designed to be in the sun, the colors can remain true, just as a vehicle’s paint remains vibrant over the years of outdoor exposure.
3. Indoor tile may become slippery when wet.
Not all indoor tile is designed for wet conditions, and using the wrong type of tile outdoors could mean you’ll have a slick, unsafe surface after a rainstorm. Outdoor tile is designed to have more grip so you can navigate wet conditions. For locations near pools or water features, tile designed for pools will give you the best slip-resistant surfaces.
4. Indoor tile may not be as tough.
Outdoor locations get more wear and tear from foot traffic, bicycles and lawn equipment, and the surface of indoor tile could become scratched or scuffed when used outdoors.
Outdoor flooring, including porcelain tile, natural stone and ceramic tile, is designed with strong surface durability that can withstand abrasion. Because of the heavy use of outdoor locations, outdoor tile is also usually thicker and more crack-resistant. This can help you avoid damage and keep your tiled patio looking great for years.
How to Choose the Right Tile For Your Project
Each Emser Tile product includes descriptions of locations where the tile design should be used. In addition to categories like indoor tile and outdoor tile, there are details like whether the outdoor tile is suited for areas like pool decks, walls, fireplace facades or freezing climates.
This use guidance is based on careful product testing. Following the recommendations can help you create a beautiful outdoor space that you’ll enjoy for years.
Get inspired for your project with this gallery of outdoor tile installations.