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Outdoor Paving and Flooring Options

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 8 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Outdoor Flooring Play Areas Outdoor

When it comes to outdoor flooring there are a wealth of options to choose from. However, like indoor flooring, before rushing to choose the colour or style that appeals to you the most, take time to think about some practical considerations:

Safety and Maintenance

The outdoors is one area which can become wet quite often, it is important to choose materials that are safe even when wet. Glazed or porous tiles and stones should be avoided as they can become slippery when wet – instead choose materials like concrete, brick and natural style. If you are set on having tiles then choose ceramic tiles that come with a slip-resistant surface.

You want your outdoor flooring to last a very long time; ideally the lifetime of the premises. Therefore take care to choose a flooring type that is durable and designed for the wear and tear that comes with exposure to the elements and outdoor traffic. In addition, try to choose a stamp pattern that is not too deep to drain and also one that works easily with outdoor furniture. As a preventative measure, especially in areas where there is likely to be food and liquid spills, apply a top quality penetrating sealer to the flooring.

Cost is often one of the most important considerations but you need to consider not only the current cost but also value for money in the long-term. Certainly a flooring type that is more durable and will last longer and need fewer repairs will be more cost-effective in the long run, even if it makes a slightly bigger dent in your budget now. With advanced technology and materials, there are often cheaper alternatives to your preferred flooring type that look very similar but cost a fraction of the price.

Some Popular Choices for Outdoor Flooring…

Concrete

This is one of the most affordable options and thus one of the most popular. Not only is it affordable but it is also extremely durable, as well as flexible enough to meet many design trends through the processes of stamping, colouring or applying a rock-salt finish. On a modest budget, stamped or ‘impressed’ concrete can achieve a significant impact for a fraction of the price of the genuine, expensive materials – for example, concrete can be stained to look like real stone. In fact, concrete tiles can be stained to replicate the look of antique pavers with surprising accuracy. This means it is easy to create outdoor spaces which strive towards a particular ambience, for example a rustic Italian or French style, an earthy Mexican feel or a tropical Pacific island effect.

Brick Tiles

As one of the oldest and most traditional forms of outdoor flooring, Brick Tiles reign supreme. It is naturally slip resistant, even when wet with a texture that provides an optimum balance between easy maintenance and cleaning –and slip-resistance. Providing the brick tiles are of good quality and hard-fired, the colours will not fade with sun and weather exposure – an advantage it has over stained concrete paving.

The best tiles use the finest clays, shale and raw materials, ground together to a fine size to produce a smooth wire cut texture. Brick tiles are also unsurpassed in providing a natural, warm, timeless beauty with colour variations that are a natural characteristic of fired clay and part of the attractiveness of this flooring type. Brick tiles are easy to install although it is important to make sure that you have a clean, flat substrate to lay the tiles on. Sealing is generally done after installation but before grouting.

Stone

For those willing or able to splash out, Natural Stone is a premium choice for outdoor flooring. It is extremely hard and durable and impervious to sun, water and harsh weather. It is less likely than concrete to chip and crack and provides a timeless, elegant beauty that is hard to replicate with any other material. For those with a limited budget, a blend of stone and epoxy materials can be a good compromise. Epoxy floors have become very popular in recent years, particularly as a covering for concrete. These are basically made of polymer materials that have been converted from liquids into solid polymers by a chemical reaction. Epoxies are popular for their chemical and heat resistance and good insulation.

Soft Flooring

For children’s play areas and other outdoor recreation areas, you may wish to install a softer flooring underfoot, such as rubber. This still provides durability, resistance to wear and tear and slip-resistance but its cushioning effect makes it a more welcoming floor surface. Poolside areas, in particular, benefit greatly from Rubber Flooring both for its anti-slip properties and its cushioning properties should there be a fall. If you do not want to cover the whole space in soft flooring, the use of rubber mats in certain areas can also very effective. With its waterproof, wear-resistant properties, rubber makes a good alternative to conventional outdoor flooring.

While the outdoor areas may be the last parts of your home that you consider, take time and care in selecting your outdoor flooring so that you are rewarded with many years of practicality and comfort.

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[Add a Comment]
We have an outside area about 14 square metres which is concreted. It has been concreted at various stages but is reasonably even. Is there a form of e.g. sand and cement mix that could just be trowelled over it all and making it into a complete surface?
nello - 25-Aug-12 @ 12:39 PM
We have a back yard where there is little sun so remains damp much of the eyar, it has concrete down which is ebging to break up and has a lot of moss growing on it.I would like to cover this area with something that is non-slip [as far as possible] but will not grow moss when damp and is easy to keep clean. Thanks
Suzette - 18-Jun-12 @ 2:13 PM
We have an outdoor play area of 12 x 30ft which is currently soil and would like a cheap solution for safety flooring for kids. Please could you advise and provide quotes.
sez - 22-May-11 @ 10:38 PM
Do you need WOOD-PLASTIC COMPOSITE floor, which is used for outside, better than wood floor, because WPC floor is water-proof, no cracking, less rotten, life can be 20 years
JASON - 11-Apr-11 @ 5:56 AM
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