Outdoor tiles and flooring: premium design solutions

Selecting designer tiles for outdoor areas is paramount to safeguard architectural structures and subfloors against weather conditions. It also enhances outdoor spaces with striking aesthetics, offering a variety of styles, effects, and finishes tailored to individual preferences. There is now a wide range of materials on the market suitable for outdoor environments, so the choice is not always easy. Not to worry, though: we will now look at the various options to consider in order to find the most suitable product. Let us discover the world of outdoor surfaces and porcelain stoneware that is ideal for these environments.

Before settling on the ideal outdoor tiles for your space, it is a good idea to be clear about the type of atmosphere you want to create for your outdoor environment. This first step is useful to guide us towards those that are best suited to the architectural, stylistic, environmental and functional aspects of the space. In this article, we will discover the options available on the market and the most popular effects, in order to ensure your selection is both aesthetically pleasing and technically sound. In essence, everything you need to know about outdoor flooring and porcelain stoneware.

Porcelain stoneware: ensuring safety with non-slip outdoor flooring

Slip resistance is an essential feature of flooring that cannot be overlooked. Outdoor surfaces must minimize slip hazards, especially when wet or in contact with lubricants. Public spaces are legally required to meet specific slip resistance standards. The parameter that measures slip resistance is the dynamic friction coefficient, a value that depends on the material characteristics of the two surfaces in contact during the kinematic motion, i.e. the sole of the shoe and the surface used for the paving.

Porcelain stoneware surfaces designed specifically for floor coverings and tiles for outdoor staircases are characterised by a high slip resistance coefficient, which makes them safe. This is due to their unique surface roughness. It should be noted that the excellent grip provided by the surface in no way compromises the ease of cleaning of outdoor porcelain stoneware. The dense composition of this material eliminates porosity, preventing liquid absorption. For this same reason, dirt has no way of penetrating into the tile. Therefore non-slip surfaces, although naturally rougher, also boast exceptional stain resistance and are very easy to clean. Although slip resistance gives dirt an extra chance to take hold, it is also true that no special maintenance is required to clean outdoor stoneware: just use warm water and a good quality microfibre cloth, occasionally adding a suitable detergent containing no waxes, silicones or polishes. For deeper periodic cleaning, pressure or steam cleaners can be used.

Apart from the surface finish, there are other factors to take into account before choosing a porcelain stoneware outdoor floor. For example:

  • the intended use: terrace, patio, pool edge, pedestrian path or driveway have specific characteristics to be taken into account. The same applies to the size of the external environment and the style of the architectural setting;
  • the weight of the loads it will have to withstand: Floors expected to bear vehicle traffic should opt for porcelain tiles at least 20 mm thick;
  • the aesthetic appeal: porcelain stoneware is available in a wide variety of looks, but the most popular for outdoor environments are stone, wood and concrete, to be chosen according to individual taste and the personality of the architectural project as a whole;
  • the size: large tiles (from 60x60 cm upwards) minimise grouting and make cleaning easier. In addition, to the classic alternative between square tiles and rectangular tiles, it is possible to choose multi-format options, for more dynamic solutions;
  • the colour: light colours tend to reflect heat while dark ones absorb it, making the surface hotter.

Outdoor tiles: products available on the market

Starting with the basic choice of materials, porcelain stoneware is increasingly in demand for cladding facades, vertical surfaces and - above all - non-slip outdoor flooring. The technical characteristics and the wide range of aesthetic looks, sizes and thicknesses have made it a very popular material for a wide range of outdoor spaces, both in domestic and public contexts. For example, stone-effect outdoor tiles make it possible to create refined and meticulously detailed outdoor spaces that are at the same time safe, practical and long-lasting. Let us briefly examine the outdoor stoneware options that can be found on the market:

  • outdoor porcelain stoneware, with a traditional thickness (approx. 10 mm) and surface finishes specifically designed for outdoor areas (patios, swimming pools, balconies, terraces...);
  • traditional thick porcelain stoneware with mixed in/outdoor use. This features a new type of finish developed over the past three years making it possible to use a single ceramic surface for both the living room and the terrace. These finishes combine the safety offered by maximum slip-resistance and virtually no surface roughness, offering seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces;
  • 20 mm thick porcelain stoneware, ideal for any type of outdoor flooring, including dry laid floors (sand, grass or gravel) and for floating floors.

Stone and wood effect: the most popular alternatives

Focusing on aesthetics, porcelain stoneware can mimic or uniquely reinterpret various materials, achieving remarkably realistic stone and wood effects. These are among the preferred choices for designers and homeowners.

Outdoor stone effect tiles, the solution that brings nature to life

The stone effect is an ideal aesthetic for outdoor flooring. Beyond the inspiration taken as a model, the natural effect of the textures and colours of this ceramic look seems to establish a natural harmony with the surrounding landscape. The stone effect offers a natural and refined look, perfect for creating an elegant and welcoming atmosphere. Available in various finishes (sandstone, slate, travertine, Lecce stone...), it allows for personalization to match individual tastes. A genuinely natural stone effect aesthetic is the result of selected raw materials and sophisticated decorative technologies and is usually available in a wide range of colours and formats to suit any style and design.

With its wide range of solutions, Lea Ceramiche reinterprets world-renowned stones such as slate and Ceppo di Gré; in an original way; but it also develops new textures, with popular collections such as Anthology and Cliffstone.

Wood-effect outdoor flooring timeless elegance

Why not consider a wood-effect slatted path for the garden? Perhaps laid dry on gravel. Aesthetics and safety would be guaranteed, as well as durability, ease of cleaning, frost resistance and lasting textures and colours, resistant even to sun and salt. Not to mention that - unlike natural wood - an outdoor wood-effect stoneware surface requires no periodic maintenance.

Among the Lea Ceramiche collections, Bio Attitude captures the truest essence of oak and is available in L2 technology, the 20 mm thick porcelain stoneware designed specifically for outdoor use.

Outdoor porcelain stoneware 20mm: versatile and easy cleaning

Highly appreciated by designers due to its strength and versatility, 20 mm stoneware stoneware is the most suitable solution for all types of outdoor paving in both public areas and residential contexts: urban squares, pavements, walkways, car parks, terraces, swimming pool edges, bathing establishments, public green areas and much more. 20 mm outdoor porcelain stoneware is resistant to frost and temperature changes, it has a high anti-slip resistance and is easy to lay. Combined with the traditional thick version, it ensures seamless translation between indoor and outdoor spaces. Specifically designed for outdoor use, it is easily installed dry on grass, sand and gravel or on self-levelling substrates. Laying with adhesive on a screed makes it possible to obtain non-slip flooring that is perfectly level, stable and exceptionally strong, which is able to withstand the transit and parking of vehicles.    

Selecting the right non-slip flooring  

Lea Ceramiche offers a wide range of solutions, also from a technological point of view: traditional thick porcelain stoneware often includes the Safetouch finish (suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications) and is just as often combined with 20 mm L2 stoneware for outdoor applications.

If you need maximum resistance and want to minimise the risk of slipping, onsult our L2 catalogue here choose the 20 mm thick product you prefer. You will discover a material that is unrivalled in terms of beauty, versatility and resistance. An excellent example of a multi-thickness and multi-finish collection is Anthology, five new ceramic stones that celebrate the unpredictable beauty of nature with 3 thicknesses and 4 finishes. The Side Stone collection (which gives an original reinterpretation of the iconic Ceppo di Gré), on the other hand, allows us to experience the versatility of a single finish for all those interior spaces that continue outdoors, thanks to the Safetouch finish. The Concreto collection, on the other hand, is a perfect example of the contemporary appeal that the concrete look retains even in outdoor contexts.