Outdoor flooring: the pros and cons of popular materials

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If you plan to use your garden for more than just sunbathing, you will definitely need hardy outdoor floors in place, but do you know which material will suit your space best? You can definitely ask a landscape architect to advise you as to the most durable, decorative and suitable solutions, but before you do, how about learning about some of the common pros and cons of the most popular selections? 

We've chosen four frequently used outdoor flooring options and have researched what makes them perfect for your garden, as well as what could make you choose an alternative, so come and take a look now, so you can be sure that you are installing the best outdoor flooring choice for your particular project!

1. Ceramic tiles.

Ceramic tiles are a great way to finish your outdoor floor, as they look great and are notoriously hardy. More than that, they come in a range of different colors and styles as well, but what are the most prominent advantages and disadvantages?

Pros—You can choose from a huge range of options, including shaped styles that you might associate more with interior spaces. Ceramic tiles are great for creating a rustic ambience and are staggeringly easy to clean as well, given that a pressure washer will manage the task in a few short minutes. If you want a very decorative finish, you can opt for glazed ceramics, with patterns on the surface.

Cons—Patterned tiles will be at the mercy of the elements, with bad weather often causing fading or even damage, if expansion gaps are not left between tiles. Decorative outdoor ceramics tend to be fairly costly and given that they are laid directly on the soil, you will need to spend a lot of time levelling your surface and preparing the ground first.

2. Natural wood.

Nobody can doubt how wonderful natural wood flooring is, both inside the house and out in the garden, but is it really as ideal as we all think? There are a host of different ways to use wood outdoors, from raised decking through to simple parquet tiles, but the pros and cons are the same, however you use it.

Pros— Wood is naturally beautiful, easy to work with and comfortable underfoot. It can be reasonably-priced, is easy to maintain and can be colored, stained or left natural, according to your preferred aesthetic. It also feels more warm underfoot and is able to create a contemporary or rustic look, making it very adaptable.

Cons—Being a natural material, wood will be exceptionally affected by weather. Regular staining, sanding or replacing might be necessary, depending on your climate, as rot is difficult to stem, once in place. If you hire a professional to install your wooden outdoor flooring, you could face a large bill, as carpenters are master craftsmen. 

3. Organic stone.

Beautiful, imperfect and really eye-catching, natural stone is a terrific option for outdoor flooring as no two floors will ever look exactly the same! Can this hardy material really suffer from any disadvantages?

Pros—Natural stone is both environmentally friendly and visually pleasing material, but more than that, it feels beautiful underfoot and creates unique displays. If you opt for a crazy paving style of installation, anyone can manage it and the end result will always look professional, expensive and striking.

Cons—Depending on the variety of stone that you select, you could find that the raw materials will cost you a significant amount of money and, if you like order, you might not actually like the odd stone that stands out from the rest due to natural variation. 

3. Poured concrete.

Now for something really modern! Outdoor polished cement flooring might not sound like something you could imagine wanting, but we think this picture will change your mind! The question is, however, does it offer more pros or cons?

Pros—For a modern aesthetic, you really can't beat polished concrete for your outdoor flooring and don't go thinking that you can only have it in gray! Additives can be mixed with the wet material, to create beautiful colors! It feels incredible underfoot as well and is so easy to clean that you'll wonder why you didn't pour concrete before!

Cons—It can be expensive to have concrete poured, tamped and polished outdoors, especially if the access to site isn't ideal. Also, if you want a more warm and friendly look to your garden, concrete could prove a little stark and cool. 

For even more outdoor terrace ideas, take a look at this article: 8 very different terrace roof ideas.

Which of these options looks to fulfil your needs best?

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