How to Use Tile Outdoors

Posted by Anastasia Casey on

There’s no question that tile adds a layer of texture and drama to a space. It can be subtle and classic or bold and unexpected and we are seeing it more often in spaces beyond the kitchen and bath. Outdoor tile isn’t a completely new idea, having been used in many parts of the world for decades, but its use as a paving material is certainly gaining speed. If you’re as intrigued as we are, check out these seven ways to use tile in your space.

Classic Checkerboard

It doesn’t get much more classic than tile laid in a checkerboard pattern. To keep it fresh, think outside of the typical black and white and size your tile either up from basic 18-inch. We love designer Athena Calderone’s Brooklyn, New York, terrace, which she clad in antique marble and travertine. Try mixing colors and materials to achieve this old-world aesthetic. 

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Design: Athena Calderone  / Photo: Nicole Franzen for Domino 

California Cool

English manor house-meets California cool on this patio, designed by Emily Henderson. While the space was functional with the original concrete floor, the tile sent the style factor way up. When used this way, tile on a patio acts more like a rug than flooring by grounding the space with pattern to reinforce the feeling of an outdoor room.

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Design: Emily Henderson  / Photo: Tessa Neustadt 

Outside the Box

An outdoor wall or fence is not the first place we might think of to apply tile, but this ultra-clever use of material brings a major dose of style to this entry. Fabricated out of modular walls, the fence was a lower-cost alternative to a brick wall and covered with herringbone tile, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting entrance to this sleek, modern home.

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ceramic tile herringbone fence

Design: Three Birds Renovation 

Pop of Pattern

Designers Shannon Wollack and Brittany Zwicki repeated the bold tile used in the kitchen of actress Hillary Duff on the outdoor bar. Paired with classic brick pavers, the tile strikes a young and fun note. In this application, almost any tile shape will do, but this is especially chic and unexpected.

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outdoor bar with tile

Design: Studio Life/Style / Photo: Justin Coit for Better Homes and Gardens 

What’s Old is New

Encaustic and cement tile lends itself especially well to Spanish-inspired architecture. Here, the black accents are repeated on the tile, giving the patio a layered, textural feel. The bold, patterned tiles may seem of-the-moment (and they are!) but they have been used in Europe for centuries. Bring that feeling from across the pond with our porcelain version, which is more durable and requires less maintenance than its cement counterparts.

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Patio Tile Ideas

Design: Colette Shelton  / Photo: Melissa Gayle

Nostalgic Material

Brick has an undeniably traditional feel, but when paired with drama of this dark exterior, it feels fresh and unexpected. Equally at home in formal and casual settings, brick pairs well with both perfectly-manicured boxwood and more wild English-style garden plantings. 

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brick tile patio and black house
Design: DISC Interiors 

Consistency is Key

One simple way to marry indoor and outdoor spaces is to repeat materials from one to the next. Our concrete-look porcelain tile is equally at home indoors as out, and adds a note of texture no matter where it is installed. Subtle notes of blue and brown give the tile dimension, and the versatile 12-by-24-inch size can be laid in a variety of patterns.

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ceramic tile patio

Design: Denise Morrison Interiors 

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