Ceramic Tile is a natural for outdoors

While ceramic tile is much appreciated for kitchens, baths and other hard-working rooms around the house, it deserves to be better known for its usefulness outdoors.

Tile is made of clays, so it’s a natural material and perfect for the garden and yard, explains Peter Johnson, Jr., head of Summitville Tiles. In addition, ceramic tile requires little maintenance and its durability is well documented All over Europe, Asia and Africa one sees tile work that’s hundreds of years old.

Decks, patio, barbecues, fountains and walks are just a few of the garden features where tile can be used to great advantage.

We need to rethink the deck, says Johnson. Yes, it is nice to have an “outdoor living room”, but wood is getting scarcer, and it needs constant upkeep.

“A tiled patio makes much more sense. It will always look great, and it’ll only need occasional sweeping and hosing down.

Suitable products for patios, pool decks and walks included quarry tile and ceramic paving bricks.


Today, quarry tiles come in many colors besides the well-known terra-cotta reds and browns, and that’s something to keep in mind when you plan your landscaping. For example, Summitville offers such variations as Palomino, Oxford Gray, Harbor Blue and Wintergreen.

They are all subtle and earthy, so they are easy to work into a garden scheme, and yet they challenge the imagination in the new ways.

According to Summitville, few people consider color coordination outdoors, but that’s precisely why professionally designed gardens look so glorious.

For instance, a patio and walk featuring sand-colored quarry tiles would be an interesting choice for a contemporary beach have surrounded by dunes and ornamental grasses. And Wintergreen, a soft sage green, would be the perfect background for color for a New England herb garden or, for that matter, for desert cacti and silvery succulent plants.


For special design interest, two or more tile colors may be combined to form borders or patterns. This is a technique much used in the mosaics work of old-world artisans, but it is just as effective when larger sizes are used.

Actually, the effect is bolder and much more suitable for today’s home styles, explains Johnson. We find that increasing numbers of landscape designers employ this technique, and there’s no reason why handy do-it-yourselfers shouldn’t give it a try as well.

A border outlining a patio is enough to set it apart from any other on the block. Over-all designs are easy to come by, too. For example, folkloric designs abound these days. You can find them in rugs, wallpaper and fabrics, and since they are usually based on geometric motifs, they are quite easy to adapt to tile patterns.

However, Summitville’s designers warn against using a lot of vivid colors and overly busy patterns.

Remember, your tile patio is almost certain to last as long as your house, they say. You’re safe with soft colors like those featured in Summitvile’s quarry tiles, but an over-abundance of strong color and pattern will tire the eye after a while.


But don’t limit-backyard tile use to walks and patios. How about a tiled hot tub? The advantage of creating it in tie is that the tub can be any shape, size and color. Or how about a small garden pool for water lilies or fish? Remember, water features are endlessly fascinating and landscape designers agree that they tend to cool sultry summer months.

Tiling the barbecue pit makes a lot of sense. Here, glazed tile is in order, for you want a surface that will shun grease and wipe clean with the swipe of a sponge.

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