One of the best ways to achieve a perfectly practical outdoor space is by continuing hard surfaces from inside through to outside.
I can’t believe we are in February already, where did January go? Not that I’m complaining as January can be a dreary month; at least it seems we’re one step closer to Spring now. This week my snowdrops have suddenly come out en masse, like brave little soldiers unwilling to succumb to the elements and even the daffodils have emerged from the ground. It’s got me yearning for lighter, brighter days where we can spend more time outside and not worry about having to put several layers on before stepping out.
I’m sure you’ve noticed in recent years that outdoor living has become THE big thing. Taking the inside out, alfresco dining, bi-fold doors and dreamy summer evenings to unwind in the garden after work. One of the best ways to achieve a perfectly practical outdoor space is by continuing hard surfaces from inside through to outside. Quite simply allow your garden become an extension of your home. Hard landscaping is ideal from a practical point of view and will last for years as well as tying in with its surroundings.
Natural stone tiles offers a wealth of choice and is undeniably beautiful. The most economical options are generally sandstone and slate tiles. These materials have great natural slip resistance, the majority being available in a natural textured or ‘riven’ finish, but even smooth or ‘honed’ sandstone tiles are suitable for exterior use. Various sizes are available which will allow you to lay in more traditional patterns, or for a more contemporary look opt for single sizes. I have Black Riven Slate tiles at my own home. I dithered on the choice for ages and it wasn’t until the Welsh slate roof went on, that these large slate flags became the obvious choice. I love it and don’t find it too dark, which was my main concern. I’ve also used these impressive large flags for paths as well as the main sunken terrace.
Other natural materials include limestone tiles, marble tiles, travertine tiles and granite tiles which are available in larger flagstones and/or traditional cobble formats.
It’s worth thinking about the shade you prefer. Bear in mind lighter shades look great when all sparkly, clean & new but not so smart if covered in green algae! However if you’re prepared to put in a little extra work or have a south-facing terrace, they may well be the choice for you. Greys, buffs and blacks will generally be more forgiving. There’s always the option of using protective stone tile sealer or specialist cleaners (and we can fully advise on these) but we find a majority of people are happy to leave outdoor stone to weather naturally.
In terms of maintenance I’ve got to admit I just go for a simple sweep-over or on occasion you may even see me outside with the hoover; it’s whatever works for you! It’s worth noting that all materials outside tend to lighten overtime but in most cases this seems to help them settle in to the scheme of their surroundings.
A growing trend (especially when using bi-fold doors), is to have a continuous, matching surface from inside to out. Choices really depend on how you plan to fix the material. If fixing onto a solid concrete base with adhesive as you would inside, thinner thickness slabs can be used. If perhaps you have a large area to cover and a mix of sand and cement is your base, thicker slabs are the best bet. We offer many of our natural stone tiles in both interior and exterior thicknesses allowing you to easily achieve this seamless scenario.
More recently we have introduced super-practical and contemporary, exterior 20mm thickness porcelain tiles. Our ‘Mimica Fossil‘ collection is available in three neutral shades and mimics traditional sandstone. With a slightly textured surface, it also offers an impressive R11 slip-rating. Our outdoor porcelain tile collection is set to expand over the forthcoming months so stay tuned…now where’s that sunshine?!