Making the best use of our outside spaces is a trend that was elevated during the pandemic and has remained constant ever since. As we spend more time at home, creating extra ‘rooms’ by making the outdoors an integral part of the property heightens the enjoyment of our properties year round.
Glass extensions, bi-fold and sliding doors that open onto the outdoor space beg for a different flooring treatment to traditional patio materials, either slabs or decking. If the desire is to create no visual obstruction to the outside with window frames or doors, then it makes sense to have an uninterrupted transition in the type of flooring used. Flooring that runs seamlessly from the garden room or kitchen into an outdoor living area gives the illusion of space and creates an on-trend contemporary look. Plus, on a practical level, there is no change of texture or height from indoors to outdoors, improving accessibility. The challenge, though, is to select a flooring solution that can withstand a variety of weather conditions, is hard wearing and works aesthetically.
Floored by the benefits of porcelain
Porcelain meets all the above demands. Strong and durable, this is a material that is suited to all areas of a home, internally and externally, as well as for commercial situations.
And while porcelain tiles tick all the boxes from a practical perspective, they also work stylistically too, with an array of sizes, colours and patterns available to offer an extremely versatile flooring option.
The manufacturing process of porcelain, which uses finer and denser clay combined with high temperature and high pressure, results in a material that is far stronger than other types of ceramic, which is what makes it so highly suited for flooring. Outdoor spaces, such as patios, can benefit from the properties of porcelain which, because of its density, is extremely resistant to humidity and water. This is a material that is chemical and stain resistant, too, so any everyday spillages can be easily wiped clean away – perfect for the summer barbecue season.
Weatherproof, certain outdoor tiles are also UV resistant, so they won’t discolour even when subject to direct sunlight, while their slip resistance makes them a safe flooring option for all situations. Technology is also available to coat the tiles to repel the heat from sunlight, resisting high temperatures, so even with significant sun exposure, the surface is not burning hot, and the floor remains cool and pleasant to walk on with bare feet. This is an important consideration, particularly for families with young children.
On point with patio trends
Style wise, porcelain tiles are a versatile flooring solution that can be used to create the highly desirable indoor-outdoor look due to the sheer variety of designs and colours available. Tiles can be printed or embossed in numerous ways, chosen to match or contrast with wall tiling and splashbacks for a cohesive look and can be chosen to replicate the look of many hardwoods and natural stones for the ultimate luxe scheme.
Nature-inspired tiles are on trend, and porcelain offers the perfect opportunity to introduce this without compromising on function. Tiles with a subtle or bold marble-effect pattern work well when teamed with materials such as a wood and stone effect, creating a calming, timeless and high-end look that works well across interior and exterior spaces. Wood is another very popular material for creating a rustic look, but it can be difficult to care for. Yet wood-effect porcelain tiles provide an effective, low-maintenance alternative, with no special treatment needed to keep the material looking its best.
An all-weather solution
Floor tiles can also be used very effectively as a visual aid – having continuity in styles between the different areas of an open-plan kitchen living space and an exterior patio area, for example, creates a seamless impression while opting for large-format porcelain floor tiles creates the illusion of space. And, while smaller tiles and those with a pattern can make a compact space look quite busy, larger format tiles with fewer grout lines are easier on the eye, creating a sleek impression.
Ideal for gardens, gazebos and walkways, installation of porcelain tiles manufactured specifically for the outdoors, such as our Outdoor Living Collection, is also straightforward. They can be installed directly onto grass or gravel and sand, while for terraces and high-traffic areas, installation can be made onto screed with adhesive.