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4 types of outdoor flooring: advantages and disadvantages

Naia Carlos Naia Carlos
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The choice of flooring for the house is not an easy decision to make. There is an endless selection of flooring options out there and different parts of the house can have different flooring needs. 

In this ideabook, we are focusing on a very specific type of flooring: the exterior. If you think indoor flooring is a challenge, outdoor flooring can be much more complicated. There are additional factors to take into account such as temperature, weather and other natural elements. Plus, it has to visually suit the façade of the house.

To make the task easier for you, we’ve come up with a list of the different types of flooring materials that can be used outside. A professional architect will know everything necessary, but it also helps to know what you're talking about. Discover the differences among them to find the perfect one for you, one that fits your personal style and budget. While there are other materials out there, these are four of the most popular ones, helping make the outdoors feel an essential part of the home to its residents.

Ceramic

Ceramic flooring is one of the most commonly used outdoor floors for residences. Aside from being attractive, it has many advantages: low-maintenance, easy to clean and resistant to temperature changes. The latter is important because the temperature can change in a snap outdoors.

There are very few drawbacks to ceramic flooring. Installation can be quite labor-intensive and time-consuming, leading to additional expenses in hiring a contractor. Its weight also means that it is not always recommended to be installed on upper storeys. Seek out the advice of a professional if you want to put ceramic tiles on the second floor to make sure it’s safe and the structure will be stress-free.

There are several types of ceramic floors from clay to porcelain stoneware, each one offering specific benefits.

1. Mud floor: This is ideal to provide a rustic touch to the terrace as it feels natural with irregularities and imperfections that make it very special. Although resistant, they require regular treatment and care, as they are very prone to blemishes.

2. Porcelain stoneware: Scratch resistant and able to endure high and low temperatures, it is highly recommended for its incredible durability. It is also very versatile with tiles that come in many shapes, colors and even textures that look like other materials like stone, marble and wood. Porcelain stoneware is easy enough to install. Keep in mind that because the outdoors present dramatic temperature changes, it is necessary to leave expansion joints between the tiles.

3. Normal Stoneware: This is a cheaper option that is even easier to install. However, because it’s thinner than porcelain, it is also less resistant.

Wood

Who doesn’t love wooden floors? It is one of the best types of outdoor flooring, always beautiful and timeless in any part of the house. Although wood is a sturdy material, natural wood requires constant maintenance. Synthetic or natural, the installation of wooden floors can also be more complicated than other materials, so it is advisable to go to a professional.

Its advantages, however, are worth it:

1. Beauty: Wood is undoubtedly one of the most stunning flooring materials. The variety is also considerable with endless options. Because they’re more resistant to rain and weather changes, tropical wood types are preferable such as teak, bamboo and the like. Wooden flooring also adds a warmth to any room and are comfortable to bare feet.

2. Practicality: One of the great advantages of wood is when it’s  placed on a substructure, it levels the floor and avoids imbalance and irregularities. Lopsided tables and chairs are a rarity.

Natural stone

Another beautiful option: stone. Whether polished or irregular, stone offers easy maintenance, great durability and an eco-friendly material. For homeowners who enjoy a nature-inspired living space, it’s perfect. Its uniqueness is also unrivaled as each stone is completely different from the next one. Just keep in mind that stone can be quite expensive and labor-intensive to install. When wet, this material can also become very slippery.

The most common types of stone for outdoor flooring include the following:

1. Lajas: Resistant to all types of weather, these are particularly recommended for the coldest places, as they are not affected by ice. Although there’s no snow or sleet in the Philippines, the durability of lajas is unmatched and can work well here. A well-kept slab floor can be for life.

2. Granite: It’s not the cheapest option, but granite is undeniably one of the most beautiful. Highly recommended for warm areas, due to its heat resistance. Granite is also very versatile with different colors, sizes and shapes to choose from.

3. Slate: Commonly used in roofs because of its waterproof properties and good thermal insulation, slate can also be a great option for outdoor flooring. Its gray color – ranging from lighter shades to darker hues that are nearly black – offers a distinct look to the terrace. Residents usually choose slate for its aesthetics, but the material is also very resistant.

Cement

To give a modern touch to the outdoors, polished concrete floors are one of the best options. Although usually used indoors, cement’s durability ensures that it also works well outside. Polished concrete is easy to install and very low-maintenance. For busy homeowners, it is ideal. Although we are accustomed to seeing cement in gray, there is a wide range of colors that more adventurous residents can play around with.

Interested in reading more about outdoor floors? Check out these 10 great ideas for terrace floors.

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