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laying porcelain tiles outside


You’re searching for a new ‘look’ for your patio. Something modern & stylish that’s easy to maintain and deal with the varying weather conditions. You could consider 20mm porcelain tiles as an option for the outside of your home. It will give it a contemporary feel to your patio and is easy to maintain. In todays, how to tile blog, we explain everything you need to know about laying porcelain tiles outside.

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laying porcelain tiles outside

The advantages of laying porcelain tiles outside are obvious, they are very easy to clean, look beautiful and combine well with the interior as there are many finishes available such as imitation stone or wood among others. They are also very hard, do not freeze and do not slip. Other solutions may be cheaper, but they will deteriorate much faster and require constant cleaning.

There are a number of ways to lay porcelain tiles outdoors, with the most economical being to tile over a concrete base.

Another option is to go for a self-levelling pedestal system. These are more intended for balconies and terraces but can be used on the patio as well. It is a matter of researching each system and choosing the option that best suits the needs of the installation. It is also recommended if the patio is going to be above DPM level.

A third alternative for laying porcelain tiles outside, is to install them on 100 mm compacted type one subbase. It needs to be laid in 2 sections of 50 mm thick, then compacted down with a whacker plate before putting the next 50 mm down and compacting again. Once it is dry you can then start laying your 20 mm porcelain on a 30 mm bed of sand and cement mix in a 4:1 ratio.

To grout the tiles, you will be required to use a ‘brush in’ type of grout, as most grout companies won’t guarantee their product as they do not class compacted type one subbase as a solid base.  


Let’s see what materials we need to lay tiles outdoors:

  • The outdoor ceramic tiles themselves.
  • Sandbags, mortar and cement for the base.
  • Spacers and levelling systems like the Rubi Delta Levelling System to leave a perfect finish.
  • Grouting to fill the joints between the tiles.

We must not forget that we will certainly need to cut some pieces, for which we will need specific tools.

laying porcelain tiles outside


In addition, we will need the correct tools for laying porcelain tiles outside:

  • A mixer to beat the grout and adhesive, such as our new RUBIMIX 9 Supertorque.
  • An electric tile cutter with a minimum of 1.5hp motor and plunge
  • A spirit level, the longer the better.
  • A rubber mallet.
  • A trowel to level the cement.
  • A tape measure to take measurements.
  • A wheelbarrow to move the materials around the patio.
  • A suction cup or 2 to help with lifting and installing like our Rubi Suction Cup With Vacuum Pump.
  • A shovel to work the materials.
  • A grout float (or brush if using brush in grout) to apply the grout.
  • Sponges and buckets for cleaning such as our RUBICLEAN.

On the PPE side, as always, we recommend working with safety footwear, a mask for working with adhesives and cement, and gloves. Always make sure to lift correctly, keep children and pets away from the area while working, try to work in good weather & make sure to clean and tidy the area and tools at the end of each day.

Guide How to achieve the best tiling finishes

Steps for laying tiles outdoors

Now that we know everything we need to know, let’s get down to the work.

1. The Base

Before we start we need to mark and prepare the area. We have the option of installing over the existing patio or removing everything and laying on top of the concrete. The first option will save time and money by not having to pick up debris.

However, if we are starting from scratch and working above ground, we need to create a base, usually consisting of about 5-10 cm of concrete and a protective membrane.

It is important to make sure that the patio will not hold water to avoid problems. This is why we need to leave a minimum slope of 1.2 to 2 cm every metre so that rainwater does not pool in the patio and is directed to the right place.

2. Preparing the tiles

Porcelain tile is not at all absorbent and requires some priming to ensure good adhesion to the cement base. Each tile needs to be primed and once the adhesive has been mixed; laid.

3. Mix the adhesive

Follow the water to powder ratios the manufacturer recommends. This can normally be found on the back of the bags, and mechanically mix with a mixer like the Rubimix 9 Supertorque.

4. Laying a tile

The first tile is the most important, it has to be perfectly aligned as it will be the base for the rest. Make sure you follow the line correctly, lay the tile, tap it with the rubber mallet and set it level with the help of your level.

It is important to take your time with this and not to step on any of the tiles until the adhesive has dried completely. We will go on laying the following tiles with the help of a levelling system and spacers to leave the grout joint size we want.

how to work out how many tiles i need5. Lay the rest of the tiles

Make sure that you lay the spacers correctly and use the levelling system properly to achieve a perfect finish. It is important to check that each tile you lay is correct, as after the adhesive has dried it is difficult to fix.

Once the time recommended by the adhesive manufacturer has elapsed, you can walk on the tiles and you are almost finished.

6. Apply the grout and clean

This is a tricky part of the job. You have to mix the grout slowly to prevent it from drying out and clean it while it is still fresh to make it easier, so it is best to go slowly.

We apply what we have mixed and clean it with a sponge before continuing. We use a grout float to apply it and do not hesitate to fill the joints well as it is the barrier against water and gives additional support to each tile.

7. Enjoy a job well done

Sit back & enjoy your newly completed patio! Let us know what you think of this step-by-step guide on laying porcelain tiles outside, we look forward to your comments.

For more helpful tiling tips, check them out here.

Guide how to achieve the best tiling finishes

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