Tile Decking

We have been seeing the terminology and concept of tile decking more and more over the last couple of years. But what is tile decking and is it the right choice for Canadians with our harsh climate that seems to change by the hour?

When people think of tile decking, they think of porcelain or ceramic tiles as you would find in your kitchen or bathroom. To a certain degree, this is correct. So, can you really put the tiles you installed on your kitchen floor outside on a deck creating a tile deck? The answer is yes and no. It will really depend on the style of porcelain tile you are planning on using and the installation techniques.

When you think of traditional tile installation, you have a porcelain or ceramic tile being installed onto a rigid flooring system using a mortar compound. The tiles have a uniform space between them, and that space is filled with a grout compound. A big part of successful tile installation is the state of the floor you are installing the tiles on. This is why you would install a subfloor or tile base system, such as the Ditra Matting by Schluter. A subfloor is an additional layer of plywood that is screwed down with a high volume of screws, ensuring there is no flex or movement in the floor. The Ditra Mat creates a secondary floor that the tiles bond to and remains stationary. If you have any flex or movement in the wood floor, it is not transferred to the Ditra Mat. If either of these installation techniques are not used, as the floor moves with normal expansion-contraction and flex, the tiles and grout could crack and dislodge.

So, can these installation concepts be used for tile decking with success?  This will really depend on the deck construction itself and type of tile being used. Firstly, it is very important that you select a tile that is designed and intended for outdoor applications. These tiles are usually thicker and have a higher density and PSI rating, which protects the tile from cracking. If it is ever chipped, these properties will prevent moisture from getting into the tile. Companies such as Del Conca and Kronos have beautiful outdoor porcelain tiles that will rival any you would find for the indoors. They are specifically designed to withstand the Canadian climate and are not affected by freeze-thaw cycles. You can even use ice melt products on them during the winter.

Secondly, when you think of a deck, you think of a framed structure with some type of decking boards attached. So instead of decking boards, can you attach plywood, then a subfloor or Ditra Mat? This would not be the best way forward, as it would be more labor-intensive, resulting in higher costs, and be prone to more moisture build-up on the framing which can cause more movement of the deck.

Instead, you may want to consider some unique and innovative stone decking products on the market that will allow you to install your tile decking – one of these products is aptly named TileDeck! Products such as TileDeck and Silca System are rigid subflooring systems that attach to wood or steel framing. These outdoor subfloor systems are perfect for tile decking. They protect the framing structure, allowing it to breathe and dry out, as well as providing a solid and rigid base to install your porcelain tiles onto.

The porcelain tiles are positioned using spacer tabs to create that uniform spacing and are adhered in place using an appropriate outdoor adhesive. The gaps between the tiles can either be left open or filled in using polymeric sand that would remain flexible. An advantage of using spacer tabs, such as StoneDeks SilcaSpacers or the Bison VT pedestal, is that they support the tiles slightly above the tile decking surface which allows for any moisture to drain off.

As people strive to find maintenance-free solutions for their backyards, the ever-growing availability of outdoor porcelain tiles and innovative stone decking products is making this a reality. Creating a tile deck is not only possible but cost-effective and a perfect maintenance-free solution for Canadians!

Paver Deck

We have been asked by several of our followers to write about paver deck and explain the concept of paving a deck.  In simple terms, it’s a stone deck, created by a framed structure that is supported by footings, with stone pavers or tiles on top. The goal of a paver deck is to create a maintenance-free stone deck. Rather than using the traditional method of excavation, base preparation, constructing a wall system and compacting, there are alternative and more cost-effective methods available to construct your new paver deck.

The alternative methods of construction are actually more advantageous since the base of the paver deck is supported by either concrete or mechanical footings that, if installed correctly, will not move, shift or settle. Most screw pile companies can even supply engineering reports for the piles they install. So, unlike a traditional stone interlock deck that is affected over time by the freeze-thaw cycles in Canada, a paver deck is not.

When searching paver deck online, you will find an actual product called Paverdeck, manufactured by Evolutiondeck from Canada.  A Paverdeck is designed as a complete galvanized steel structure to support any stone surface. The steel panels make up the structure and require absolutely no maintenance and will last a lifetime. A Paverdeck actually comes with a 30-year warranty.

A Paverdeck comes as a kit, composed of 5 main components that are picked and shipped to meet the clients’ design requirements. The galvanized steel panels can span 12-feet from beam to beam which usually results in fewer columns and footing. The assembly of these kits is straight forward and relatively simple, creating a flat surface to install the stone, pavers or tiles on. Paverdeck even has two methods of creating stairs using their components.  When one to three steps are needed, using their box method of construction can be very cost-effective. When four or more steps are required, they have a build method and kit that utilizes a stringer to support the stair panels.  This method is slightly more complicated, but the manufacturers of Paverdeck send you complete instructions on assembly and a cut sheet for the stringers.  For both methods, once the galvanized stair base is assembled the stone cladding techniques are similar to cladding the deck. 

You should be aware that Paverdeck stair kits are limited to either a 6.25” or 7.25” rise for the steps. To overcome this barrier, you can actually use another product that Evolutiondeck has called Tiledeck.  Tiledeck is a galvanized steel panel that is designed to work with wood framing to create your maintenance free stone deck.  If part of your paver deck design calls for a very specific step rise and tread length, you can use Tiledeck and the box step method of construction to create the exact steps needed.

A Paverdeck kit is your best option when creating your paver deck in a back yard with an aggressive slope that will result in part of the deck being on grade while another part is above, or over a drainage culvert that cannot be filled in.  Since a Paverdeck is made from galvanized steel it can be buried in the ground if needed. Also, since it is supported by concrete or mechanical footings it will not obstruct any water flow or drainage.

The concept of paving a deck with stone is not a new one and there have been hundreds, if not thousands of these stone decks installed across Canada with a proven track record.  Thanks to innovative products like Paverdeck and Tiledeck the professional contractor or homeowner have some really great alternative building materials and techniques to create their beautiful maintenance free stone deck.  Welcome to the Stone Deck Revolution!