Outdoor Tile
Outdoor Tile

Tile looks great in outdoor areas. It adds character and also cuts down on the lawn you must mow and maintain. However, outdoor tile withstands all the elements all year as well as foot traffic from your family and guests during barbecues, birthday parties and other activities. It will likely show wear and tear sooner than your indoor tile. Repairing or replacing outdoor tile can be a DIY job, but it takes some planning and a little skill. Here are some tips to use before you head into the job.


First, evaluate your current tile. Find the areas that are cracked or chipped and determine if you can fix those or will need to replace several tiles in an area. This can be a great alternative to replacing your entire tile. It is actually easier for beginners to replace a tile rather than repairing it because repairing it takes more skill. However, repairing tile is cheaper with the price running around 30 percent of replacement, even if you hire a professional to do the job.

The Right Tools

One you determine what should be done, you will need to collect your tools and tiles. Tiles should be those specifically for exterior use. They are thicker than indoor tiles and are meant to block water and are able to handle heavy foot traffic. The most popular exterior tiles are ceramic, stone or porcelain. Be sure to get unglazed tile, as glazed can be slippery. If you are re-tiling a wall, you will need backer board. Other necessary supplies include a hammer, a cold chisel, tile adhesive, a notched adhesive spreader, a tile cutter, tile wedges, outdoor tile grout and grout float. You will also need a leveler to make sure the ground remains level and could need a floor-leveling compound and even a sub base, which is a layer of floor-mix concrete. It provides a flat surface to work.

The Plan

The next part of the preparation is to plan your tile layout. The layout should be such a way as to minimize the number of tile cuts you will need to make. You also don’t want tile to cover expansion joints. You want to cover those with a grout line. If you must cover them with tile, you will need a flexible membrane, typically a plastic, placed over the concrete before installing tiles.

The Work

Now the manual work begins. You must remove any loose tile and concrete. Use a wash to clean area before doing an installation. Use the floor-leveling compound to even it out, if necessary. You should cut any tile to fit spaces you have planned out. Remove the old adhesive with a hammer and chisel. Brush it clean, removing dust. You may want to test your skills on a small area first to make sure you can complete the job before tackling the entire area. Next, mix new adhesive with water and apply it to the area with the adhesive spreader. Press the tile into the adhesive. Make sure it aligns into other tiles next to it. You can hold the tile in position using tile wedges. Let dry.

A Little More Work

You may want to cover the area with plastic to prevent dew and rain from getting on it while it dries. It could take up to two days to completely dry. The most important thing during this part of the process is to make sure there are no air pockets behind the tile. Air spaces will allow for water to seep in, causing damage to your tile. Some suggest applying mortar to the back of the tile as well as the base to prevent air spaces. Once you place the tile on the adhesive, tap them with a rubber mallet to make sure they are secured. After all the tiles are secured, you can remove any spaces or excess mortar. Once you have completed the section you want and it’s dry, it’s time to grout. Mix grout with water until it is smooth. Remove any remaining tile wedges and press grout into joints between the tiles using a grout float. Use a damp, clean cloth to wipe off excess. Let dry.

Replacing or repairing tile can give your outdoor space a new look for spring! However, it isn’t a job for the faint of heart because it does involve some time. Those who feel like they rather have a professional do the work can still be satisfied with a quick-turnaround and reasonable cost. Making repairs regularly will save you money of replacement in the long run and allows you to enjoy your spring and summer outside!