indoor vs outdoor tile

Indoor Tile vs. Outdoor Tile: What’s the Difference?

If you had to choose between indoor or outdoor tile for your new patio, would you know what to look for?

First, decide what is most important to you. Maybe it’s color, pattern, or perhaps durability?

Check out the table below for several types of tiles. There are a lot of options out there, and this table could help you narrow down your choice.

Porcelain ✓ ClayMost durable, water-resistant
Ceramic ✓ ClayDurable, many colors, patterns
Quarry ✓ Clay, Shale, FelsparVery durable, slip-resistant
Travertine ✓ LimestoneVery durable needs sealer
Granite ✓ Igneous RockMost durable needs sealer
Slate ✓ Metamorphic RockHeavy-duty, outdoor use

As you can see, many tiles can be used both inside and outside. Before purchasing your chosen tile, feel free to reference this table again. 

When you’re choosing your tile, the best choice for your patio would be outdoor tile since it’s versatile and easy to work with.

Read on to learn the differences between indoor and outdoor tile.

Is Indoor or Outdoor Tile Best Outside?

Although the question might seem intuitive, it’s worth understanding why your intuition is correct. If you’re looking to place indoor tile outside, you should be aware of a few things. You certainly can use indoor tile for outdoor use. However, conditions are harsher outside, indoor tile will not be as resistant to the elements, and it tends to be a bit slipperier too. Therefore, it’s much better to use outdoor tile outside and indoor tile inside.

As a general rule, if you want the best outdoor tile, it will need to withstand cold and heat. Also, the tile should be slip-proof, waterproof, and in the porcelain family. Porcelain tiles are clay-based tile and are impervious to water.

Some of the best outdoor tiles include:

  • Porcelain
  • Marble
  • Slate
  • Limestone
  • Travertine

There are many different tiles suitable for the outdoors, but this list includes the best and most popular choices. Be sure to learn about each one in order to make an educated decision before you buy anything.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Tile: What is Best Inside?

Porcelain tile and glazed ceramic tile are the best types of flooring tile when it comes to durability. Also, they don’t require too much maintenance. You might want to seal the tile grout once per year, but other than that you won’t have to do much else. Doing this will maintain the grout’s appearance and avoid unsightly staining.

On average, the best tile that has been used in bathrooms and kitchens for many years is ceramic tile. Ceramic can be slippery, so pay careful attention to its surface, size, and texture.

Some of the best indoor tiles are:

  • Porcelain
  • Ceramic
  • Stone
  • Travertine
  • Luxury vinyl tile
  • Linoleum

The best indoor tile is a tile that works against any moisture that may be present. They’re the type of tiles that hold up over the years because of the material used and how well they’re made.

Ceramic and porcelain also tend to be the most popular tile. The cost varies depending upon the material and design. Worth noting, having tile in your kitchen, family room, and bathroom can help you keep your house cleaner since tile is usually a cinch to clean.

 Does Outdoor Tile Have a Moisture Problem that Creates Slipping

Moisture can be a big problem for an outdoor patio, and the texture of your tile must be made in a way where that moisture (or any water on the tile) won’t cause a person walking on it to slip. Non-slip surfaces are essential, especially for outdoor tile. For this reason, if you’re redoing your deck or patio, the texture of your tile can influence your selection.

Outdoor patio tile comes in:

  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Concrete

Some tiles interlock and don’t need grout or adhesives. One of the most adaptable tile choices is rubber tile. It’s not one of my favorites but many like it because it’s soft, slip-resistant, and less expensive than other tile options. Going with rubber avoids moisture issues and slipping in nearly all circumstances.

Tools Used to Install Indoor and Outdoor Tile

Laying tile inside or outside takes patience and several tools. However, when you see your finished product, all the hard work will be worth it. If you want to know the materials necessary to lay down outdoor and outdoor tile, read below.

Outdoor tile materials: There are several tools and materials necessary for putting down tile outside. You could be improving your deck or swimming pool area with new tile. Below are the tools needed for the job.

Tape MeasureSelf-Leveling CompoundGrout
TileMortarGrout Trowel
Tile SawMasonry MixerGrout sponge
Tile SpacersBucketSealer
ScraperMortar TrowelWater
Water Concrete Patch 
 Masonry Caulking 

Indoor tile materials: You’ll need many materials to create your dream space indoors. Whether you’re putting tile in the bathroom or kitchen, you’ll need to be prepared. Below are the tools you need to transform that room in your house into a nicer space.

Cement BoardTape MeasureCement Grout
TileAdhesiveRubber Grout Float
Chalk LineNotched TrowelGrout Sealer
Tile CutterSpacersTile Sealer
 LevelGrout Nippers

Before you begin to lay the tile, be sure you have enough for the project! I can’t tell you how many people end up needing more tile and end up going back to Home Depot or Lowes. It’s annoying, stressful, and wastes tons of time. Don’t make this rookie mistake.

What are the Major Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Tile?

Indoor tile does not need to be as hardy as outdoor tile, depending upon the installation area. Indoor tile is used on:

  • Kitchen floors
  • Bathroom floors
  • Shower floors
  • Shower walls
  • Backsplashes
  • Foyers

You’ll want to choose your type of tile (at least partly) based on how water-tight it needs to be. Without a doubt, shower tile needs to be well-sealed and grouted to avoid water seeping behind the tile. Kitchen floor tile should be sturdier too and also have slip resistance.

Vitreous tiles are pretty good inside since they’re durable and can stand up to high-traffic areas. Choose ceramic or porcelain for your walls because they’re non-porous.

Outdoor tile must be able to go the distance with reliable wear. Outdoor tile is used on:

  • Decks
  • Patios
  • Cooking areas
  • Around the pool
  • Under the fire pit
  • Porch
  • Walkways

When it comes to installing tile on your deck, there are many things to think about. Color is definitely one of them. You can use indoor tile outside if you’re mindful of how the color will affect the deck’s appearance. You may want the color to fade into the background so that the focus is on the design, but it’s up to you.

The primary factor in selecting the right color for your deck is the color of your home’s exterior. Your tile choices should reflect the colors within your home. Try to combine the atmosphere of the interior with an outdoor style that is comparable.

Can You See the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Tile?

In almost all cases, you can see the difference between indoor and outdoor tile. Indoor tile is glazed, smoother, and lighter than outdoor tile. Outdoor tile is sealed, rougher in texture, and heavier than indoor tile.

  • Texture – indoor tile was created to suit the inside of houses and their different rooms. Indoor tile is typically glazed and smooth, while outdoor tile is less glazed and possesses a regular and rougher surface.
  • Color – Indoor tile comes in a wide array of unique and attractive colors. This variety permits a greater range of floor colors during floor renovations. Outside tile does not have the same fascinating color wheel to choose from. The colors of outdoor tile are more basic.
  • Endurance – Outdoor tile must endure various weather conditions. It must hold up in seasons of harsh weather. You also need to have good quality tile indoors to withstand daily foot-traffic and usual wear and tear within the home, but not nearly as much as outdoor tile requires.
  • Materials – Most indoor tile is manufactured from vinyl and glass materials. They don’t endure the same heavy impact that outdoor tile can handle. Outside tile comes in limestone, marble, slate, and ceramic. These materials will prevent damage to the tile even in the harshest of weather situations.
  • Sanitation – Cleaning your tile is essential to the overall appearance of the house. Regular cleaning maintains shine and protects the tile. Outside tile does not require the same level of cleaning, if any, as indoor tile. Mother nature can take care of that for you unless you’re really picky about tidiness.
  • Appearance – Be sure to pick the right tile for each area of your house. For outdoor tile, you can choose from classic-looking brick or red clay – among others. Vinyl and glass are classic indoor tile that mix well with indoor furnishings.

As you can tell, there are numerous variables to indoor vs. outdoor tile. You may choose to use the outdoor tile inside; however, indoor tile is best left indoors.

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