How to choose a tile for an outdoor staircase?

Which outdoor staircase tile should you choose to connect the entrance to the aisles smoothly?

The external steps are an element of the paramount importance of any building with an elevation, including a house on sloping ground. Aside from their very construction, cladding tiles play an important role in ease of use, durability, and aesthetics. Of course, the appearance of exterior staircase tiles is one of the determining factors for the majority of homeowners. There are, however, other important aspects to consider when designing functional space. Find out what to pay attention to and how exactly to pave for garden steps without compromising.

How to choose a tile for an outdoor staircase?

It does not matter if your steps connect the main entrance and the gate or lead to the garden terrace. They are representative elements of a home, meaning they must combine good-looks with appropriate functionality and match the rest of the exterior. So, before choosing your outdoor staircase tile, take a look around your house. Its facade and the elements surrounding it will be your reference points to which the steps and their tiling must correspond. For stylistic reasons, it is strongly recommended to choose materials equivalent to the architectural elements of your home. Pay special attention to the porch or entrance, columns, arches or balustrades, walkways, and flower borders.

What to match your outdoor staircase tiles?

The outdoor staircase tile should also match the terrace or patio built nearby, as well as the garden. If you keep these peculiarities in mind, you will be able to arrange the whole exterior, including all the details, coherently. Also, keep in mind that porcelain stoneware outdoor staircase tiles, concrete slabs, and terracotta tiles have very different styles. Therefore, we will not choose coatings with an ultramodern appearance for the steps of a Provencal-style house and vice versa.

The essential characteristics not to be overlooked

In addition to appearance, the outdoor staircase tile must have several specificities determining the comfort of its use and its durability. Thus, by choosing it, You must always inform any informed owner about its particular characteristics such as:

Water absorption capacity

You probably think that tiles, as a rule, hardly absorb water because they are not porous material. And you’ll be right, but that’s only partially … In fact, sheathing tiles, including those intended for outdoor use, each have a water absorption rate. For example, that of earthenware is around 6%, while clinker offers values ​​≤ of 3%. In this context, We can say that fine porcelain stoneware tile is the best because its water absorption rate is ≤ 0.5%.

The reason for this generalization is that tiles that absorb more water tend to crack and break more easily and faster than others. This is all the more true when installed outside because of bad weather and especially greater amplitudes in the ambient temperature. For this reason, you should choose an outdoor staircase tile with as low a water absorption rate as possible.

Slip resistance (barefoot or shod feet)

In Europe, this super-important parameter is marked by the letters A, B, or C (wet barefoot environment) or by the letter “R,” followed by numbers ranging from 9 to 13 concerning the resistance to slippage with the feet on foot. . Thus, the non-slip outdoor staircase tile classified R9 or R10 has normal or medium adhesion, while the one marked R13 has very high resistance and adapts even to more than 35 ° of inclination. For your information, the non-slip tiles R12 and R13 are used mainly for the area around the garden swimming pool, the “rooms” with sloping floors, or the exterior staircase on a steep slope.

Tiles for outdoor stairs and frost resistance

As you can imagine, this characteristic of outdoor staircase tile is closely related to its water absorption index. It is regulated by European standard ISO 10545-12, and manufacturers mark it with a snowflake symbol. Anyway, frost resistance should not be a dominant factor of choice, especially if you do not live in areas with degraded oceanic, semi-continental, or mountain climates.

Abrasion and wear resistance

It depends on the specific conditions, but the outdoor staircase is generally used quite often by all family members. So, as is the case for all areas with more or less intense traffic, its coating material must also be resistant to abrasion and wear. Tiling for outdoor stairs must be classified as type PEI4 or PEI5 to be considered low-abrasive.

Hardness and scratch resistance

Finally, the outdoor staircase tile must be sufficiently resistant to all kinds of mechanical damage. Note that tiles graded 7 to 10 on the so-called Mohs hardness scale are the most resistant. On the other hand, tiles from 1 to 6 are not sufficiently resistant to scratches and breakage, which means that they are strongly discouraged for outdoor use.

Tile for outdoor stairs in what material?

There are many materials that You can put to good use in the production of quality outdoor staircase tiles. As dictated by logic, the products obtained differ from each other in their appearance and in the characteristics they have to offer us and in their price. Therefore, to choose the ideal tiles, You must take all of these parameters into consideration.

Porcelain stoneware outdoor staircase tile

As you have probably already noticed during your research, this is one of the most commonly used tile materials. The reason is that porcelain stoneware tiles are quite durable, non-slip, abrasion-resistant, and low in porosity. In addition, they can withstand shallow temperatures as well as other extreme weather conditions. They can be divided into two equally affordable categories, but each has specific strengths and weaknesses:

Full-body porcelain stoneware tiles are made from clay paste fired at extremely high temperatures and colored in the body without enamel. These tiles are very resistant to impact and wear, relatively little porous, non-slip due to their natural relief. However, they are based on their original range and do not offer an extensive choice of colors or finishes. Depending on the manufacturer and depending on the specific format, their price varies between 20 and 40 € / m², which ranks them among the most affordable options that You can find on the market.

On the other hand, enameled porcelain stoneware outdoor staircase tiles are more sensitive to shocks than full body tiles. Its production principle is similar, but its glassy finish makes it a little less resistant to impacts. However, the enamel is not quite an insurmountable drawback as it offers its own merits too. Not only does it further reduce the porosity of the tiles, but it gives them almost any color or texture imaginable! It can be purchased for 20 to 80 € / m² although some famous brands exceed 100 euros. Also, remember that the price for the installation is often proportional to the price of the tiling itself.

Clinker outdoor staircase tile

Clinker tiles are beautiful because they look, to a certain degree, like terracotta tiles. These vitrified bricks are perfectly suited if you want to evoke the rustic or exotic style and, above all, the colonial spirit. The method of their production is always based on cooking at a high temperature which ensures their durability. Clinker is resistant to frost and mechanical damage, and tiles made of this material are non-slip. By the way, You can use them for outdoor tiled floors, but also decorating facades. The low resistance to dirt is a big drawback of this material. For this reason, You should clean clinker surfaces regularly.

Tile for outdoor stairs and natural stone

The natural stone is not only one kind, so this category to huge potential is difficult to summarize. Ultimately, granite, slate, travertine, and marble do not offer identical functional and decorative characteristics! For example, a travertine exterior staircase tile, while naturally non-slip, will need a waterproof protective resin layer due to its innate porosity and low scratch resistance.

On the other hand, marble and granite look downright stunning, but their high price (partially influenced by the difficulty of their size) makes them unaffordable to the general public. In addition, marble is susceptible to stains and also susceptible to water absorption. Slate, on the other hand, heats up very quickly in the sun’s rays and can result in slipperiness if its finish is not carefully chosen, which means that it is not suitable for the steps towards the garden swimming pool.