Ceramic tiles: the new wonder product in the garden?

Ceramic tiles: the new wonder product in the garden?

Gert-Jan Schouwenaar is a landscaper at Sparq Gardens, and shares his knowledge on HOOG’s blog. In this blog, Gert-Jan talks about the latest innovation in tiles for the garden: ceramic tiles.

With some regularity, there are novelties in the field of tile paving that pop up in the Dutch garden. Some years ago we were inundated with all kinds of natural stone from the East. And domestic concrete producers also present miraculous top layers on a concrete tile every year. From marketing, all sorts of superlatives are used, some more beautiful than others. Looking back, we see that many tiles disappoint customers. Not that these products are bad, but perhaps more was promised than can be delivered….

The latest innovation in tiles for the garden are ceramic tiles. How should we look at that? First, a word about the making process.

Ceramic tiles are made in a specific size by pressing together a mix of mineral raw materials. A top layer is applied to these compressed tiles and then baked for hours in a hot oven. This firing process gives the ceramic tile some unique properties that are very useful in the Dutch garden.

An outdoor ceramic tile is colorfast, scratch-resistant and dimensionally stable. Thus, the tiles do not absorb moisture or dirt and are easy to keep clean. This sounds like a commercial for a TellSell product for housewives, but it’s true! All tiles left outside get dirty from dust and water, but a ceramic tile is easy to clean again and again. For many of our clients who want to renovate their gardens, an argument for choosing ceramic.

In terms of garden design, we suddenly have new possibilities. Continuing the floor from inside to outside suddenly looks very nice. After all, the tile does not discolor, so the tiles look the same indoors and outdoors for years!

Ceramic tiles are laid outdoors on a solid foundation and then grouted. Weeds between the tiles are definitely a thing of the past. An occasional gentle broom over the patio is sufficient maintenance. Rinsing or mopping once may also be done, but is not a must.

Are there only advantages then? No, of course not. Ceramic tiles also have some drawbacks:

  • A major drawback is the price. The high-quality tiles are already not the cheapest on the market when purchased. But it is primarily the processing that makes pavement expensive. Substrate application and grouting are labor-intensive operations and thus factor substantially into the price per square meter.
  • The joints are the most vulnerable part in the terraces. Weathering can cause parts of the grout to pop out, and you should keep in mind that repointing the patio is part of the maintenance. How often? This is due to the severity of the winters.
  • Thicker elements are customized. A step, a thicker pool surround, a raised border; it can all be made from ceramic tile, but it is custom-made and therefore expensive. Many concrete products and natural stone already come with tiles, border edges and pool edges as standard, so the designer can combine to his or her heart’s content. A ceramic tile is only 2 cm thick, and thicker elements must be cut and glued to size.

Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? That is a consideration for each person to make personally. Ceramic tile has made its appearance in our gardens and as far as I’m concerned, it’s here to stay! It is a very useful, durable and beautiful product that is a good addition to the pallet of materials we can use in the garden.

View the projects of Sparq Gardens

See the ceramic tile projects of Trivium Ceramics

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