How to Lay Outdoor Tiles
By Zoe Crook
Nov 9, 2022
How to Lay Outdoor Tiles
When it comes to transforming an outdoor space, garden tiles can really make a difference. When you consider the number of colours and patterns that can refresh your outdoors and give it that new feeling you've always wanted, it makes sense to want to jump right into the task.
However, there's a few key things to know and get before you start a project like this. After all, you want to ensure everything is done in the best possible way to ensure your tiles last. So, let's go over the key areas of what's involved when you want to know how to lay outdoor tiles.
What Should I Know Before I Install My Outdoor Tiles?
The good news about installing tiles outside is that, compared to other renovations, it is a simple job. Just because it is simple, however, doesn't mean that you can simply throw down the tiles on concrete, grout them, and call it a day. There's a few important factors to keep in mind:
Make sure that your surface is prepared for tiles beforehand. This includes checking the slope and adjusting it, so it lays properly, and allowing for enough space for variations in the foundation.
Ensure that there is proper drainage for the tiles to ensure water can all run in one direction.
Aim for a day where the temperature is between 10c and 37c. If the weather is too cold or too hot the setting process can be affected.
Equipment, Materials and Tools
Now we know what factors to keep in mind when installing our outdoor tiles, we need to know what's needed to get the job done.
- Your tiles of choice
- Self-levelling compound (SLC)
- Masonry caulking
- Concrete patching compound (CPC)
Equipment and Tools
- A large bucket for grout and mortar
- Another large bucket for the grout sponge
- Masonry mixer
- Mortar and grout trowels
- Mortar and grout sponges
- A hard scraper
- Spirit level
- Chalk line
- Tile spacers
- Tile saw (optional, but very useful)
You may also want to consider getting some knee pads to help with your comfort, as you'll be kneeling for much of the process. A good degreaser can also help keep things clean once everything is set and in place, but it is not entirely necessary. Muriatic acid is a good one to use on most tiles, but if you want specific advice for your tiles feel free to <a href="https://www.bertandmay.com/pages/contact">get in touch</a>. We'd be happy to advise you.
Outdoor Tile Installation Steps
There's a fair few steps for preparing your space for installation, as well as in the installation itself. The best practice is to lay your outdoor tiles over concrete to give a firm and proper foundation. Make sure that the area for your tiles is free of debris and dirt, and that there is no oil or other weird residue. Any of these can affect your mortar's ability to set, so cleaning this with a degreaser, plenty of water, and a broom is critical. Once done, we can get to the steps below.
Get the Concrete Prepared
If you're using an area of pre-existing concrete, make sure that the area is very clean and free from cracks. If there are any, make sure to use masonry caulking or a self-levelling compound to fill them in. Then, check that the space is fully level to ensure your tiles are in alignment when fully installed.
Check Your Tiles
Now that the concrete is set, you'll want to check your tiles. Lay them out over the area and make sure that there are no cracks or cuts in them. If your tiles are cracked, you shouldn't use them. If you need to cut some tiles to make them fit, you'll need a tile saw for the task.
Make sure you're also laying out where the expansion joints will go in your tiles. This is important to help accommodate for the natural expansion and contraction that will happen with your tiles being outside, so make sure there's space every 4.5 metres. Marking these areas with a chalk line will help when it comes to fully install your tiles later.
Prepare and Spread the Mortar
Mixing the mortar can take some time, but it is vital to do it properly for the longevity of your outdoor tiles. Add water to a bucket, ideally a little less than the mortar instructions advise, then add the dry mix material. Combine thoroughly, and then add more water if needed. Once you have a well-mixed product, spread this evenly across your concrete foundation with a mortar trowel. If you're installing more than 20 tiles, only lay out enough at this point for that many, and then add more once those are installed.
Once the mortar is down, use the combed edge of your trowel to make grooves in it across the space. This helps when it comes to properly stick the tiles in place.
Lay Out the Tiles
Now your mortar is all in place, apply an even layer underneath your tile and press gently into the layered mortar until it's properly seated. Then, add spacers and continue adding tiles until the area is fully covered. Make sure you're keeping the tiles flush during this process with your spirit level. And then once done clean all your equipment and wait for the mortar to set. When this is done, remove the spacers and scrape across the top to get any excess mortar out of the way.
Grout and Clean
Mix up your grout in its designated bucket. Make sure you check the ratio of water and mix to combine beforehand to get the consistency right and mix until it is smooth. Then, using a grout trowel, spread the mixture evenly into the gaps between the tiles until filled. Once done, wait about 30 minutes before cleaning over each tile with a sponge and water. Make sure your sponge is wrung out properly to avoid discolouration on the tiles, and wipe away the excess.
Make sure you keep cleaning your sponge during this process to avoid spreading extra grout across the other tiles. This can take a few rinses in the water, and you may need to change out your bucket depending on how much space you're tiling. Once done, add caulk into the expansion joints and wait for it all to dry.
Other Tips for Installing Outdoor Tiles
While not a complicated task, installing outdoor tiles takes time and effort. It can be a lot of work for one person to take on by themselves, which is why we'd recommend having an extra set of hands involved if possible. This will make the process go faster, as well as make it easier all around. It can also help you get ahead of schedule, with one person spreading the mortar while the other install the tiles.
Installing garden tiles brings you one step closer to your dream outdoor space, and hopefully, you now have the confidence to get it done. It may seem like quite a few steps, but it's worth taking your time to get it done well. After all, you've spent the time to look through the best from our collection, so of course, you want them to last! Once they're installed, just imagine how wonderful they'll look on a lovely day and let that keep you going through the process.