From sunny terrace to meandering pathway, stone flooring makes a fabulous surface outdoors – but careful selection is very important. By following a few key pointers, you can avoid any potential pitfalls and ensure that you choose a surface that works really well.
Format and finish
There are several key factors that need to be considered in terms of format and finish. Firstly, is the stone flooring frost proof and sufficiently thick to use outdoors? Unsuitable materials can crack and crumble, so it’s worth seeking expert advice. Depending on the type of stone flooring you choose, we recommend a minimum thickness of 20-40mm for outdoor installations. The surface finish is also important; stone flooring with a honed finish will be very slippery, whereas a brushed or sandblasted surface will offer good slip resistance. Some designs, like our Heritage Aged tile, combine both a sandblasted and brushed finish, so work really well. Slate is also a good choice, as its surface is naturally riven. If you’re keen to adapt the current trend of taking the stone flooring from your interior to the garden, careful selection is imperative. Continuity does look great but the stone flooring outdoors will age at a different rate to the surface inside. To ensure that both surfaces look good going forwards, it’s worth opting for a darker design, as paler stone flooring will discolour over time.
Size and pattern
Large sized pavers are the most popular stone flooring format – and our most impressive projects to date have involved larger stones. Smaller tiles mean more grout lines and discolouration will then be more obvious. Patterned installations using random sizes offer a good compromise, especially if you’re able to strategically place a larger stone in high traffic areas, like directly outside a doorway.
Think about which way you’re laying the stone flooring too. Laying towards an entrance will create a natural flow, whereas tiles in an opposite direction can create an aesthetic barrier, or direct visitors another way.
A good installation
Before ordering your stone flooring, make sure that your subfloor is stable. If there’s any movement, the stone flooring will crack. It’s also important that water drains off the surface of the stone appropriately, and doesn’t pool in certain areas. Look at levels carefully and allow for some kind of technical drainage mechanism. Capillary drainage products, like Schlüter®-DITRA-DRAIN, allow water to drain effectively away, rather than causing damage to the stone or adhesive. And, when laying the stone flooring, make sure that the adhesive and grout used is suitable for outdoor use – not all products are!
If you’re replanting around a new path or patio, consider the effect any shrubs or trees surrounding the stone flooring might have too. Some might stain the surface, especially those with berries, although an appropriate stain remover will sort most problems out.
Should you seal?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to this question. Many people believe that you shouldn’t treat stone flooring that’s being installed outdoors. You should, instead, allow the stone to breathe naturally. Water will penetrate the surface, and then escape, and the pavers will weather naturally over time. On the other hand, application of a sealant is sometimes recommended - to protect against water and stains penetrating the surface, and to prevent the freeze/thaw action from happening. However, bear in mind that any stone flooring installed outside should be frost resistant anyway! If a sealant is applied, periodic re-application will be necessary and, if a solvent-based product is being used, the surface must be completely dry before treatment.
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