Since the onset of the pandemic, many people have transformed their outdoor spaces into comfortable, functional places to entertain and spend time relaxing in. Some homeowners have created outdoor kitchens that mimic the look and functionality of their indoor kitchens, thus expanding their living spaces for fun, relaxation, and socializing. One of the most important things to research is the best outdoor kitchen tile options for your backyard space.
With that said, there are some considerations that come into play when outfitting an outdoor kitchen. For example, the space will be exposed (at least in part) to the elements. The materials you choose will determine not only the aesthetics of the space but also its durability as well.
Sun, wind, rain, etc. can all cause certain materials to deteriorate and discolor faster than others. As a result, you’ll need to take this into account when choosing things like wall coverings, countertops, flooring, etc.
In this post, I’m going to cover many of the things you need to think about if you’re creating an outdoor kitchen, with an emphasis on the best outdoor tile for the project. Whether you’re tiling a outdoor countertop, backsplash, or floor, you have several options to choose from, so without further ado, let’s get started.
What’s the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Tile?
I get this question a lot, so we’ll just get it out of the way right off the bat. Indoor tile is thinner, shinier, and often porous. The shiny, glazed surface makes cleaning the tile easier.
Outdoor tile is thicker and usually not glazed. This unglazed surface is textured, thus helping to prevent slips and falls on wet surfaces. The thicker nature of outdoor tile makes it more durable and better suited to withstand temperature changes and harsh weather.
Quick Summary of the Best Tile for Outdoor Kitchens
If you’re here for a quick summary of the best tile for outdoor kitchens without all the extra info that follows, here you go. If you want to learn more about these tiles and why they’re suited (or why they’re not) for your outdoor kitchen, keep reading.
- Outdoor kitchen countertops: concrete, porcelain, or granite
- Backsplashes: Marble (if the area will be covered by a roof), ceramic, or porcelain
- Outdoor kitchen floor: Natural stone (not marble) or porcelain
- Outdoor fireplace: ceramic
At this point, I think it’s important to mention that tiling an outdoor kitchen requires some skill and know-how. It is not a project for the average home DIYer. With that said, you can find home tiling kits at any home improvement store that walk you through the process and include all the materials you’ll need to complete the project.
Even with the said kit, the difficulty level for tiling an outdoor kitchen space is somewhere in the medium to difficult range, which is why many homeowners hire a contractor for the task.
If you’re looking for a backyard DIY project, check out our DIY outdoor grill station post for some guidance.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Specific Materials For Outdoor Kitchen Tiles
I’m including the pros and cons of each tiling material because I want you to know as much as possible to make the best choice in tile for your outdoor space.
The biggest advantage of ceramic tile is cost. Ceramic tile is inexpensive, making it a great choice for budget-minded people. You also have a wealth of options in terms of color, design, and pattern if you go with ceramic tile for your outdoor kitchen. It’s the best bang for your buck in terms of price per square foot.
Unfortunately, ceramic tile isn’t as durable as some of the other options I’ve mentioned. It chips and cracks easily, and in the outdoor elements, entire tiles can pop off. Yes, ceramic tile is inexpensive and looks great, but over time, it may cost you more in repair and replacement.
The advantages of porcelain tile are similar to those of ceramic tiles. It is another affordable option with plenty of décor options. Another pro is that if a porcelain tile chips, the color is consistent throughout, making the damage less noticeable than when chips occur on ceramic tiles.
Recommended Product: SomerTile Canet Gris 17″ x 17″ Porcelain Floor and Wall Tile
As with ceramic tile, porcelain tile is also less durable than some other options, albeit not quite as prone to chips and cracks as its ceramic counterpart. With that said, porcelain tiles can also pop off, which means you might end up spending more to repair or replace the tiles over time.
Marble tile is a wonderful option, especially if you’re going for a higher-end look in your outdoor kitchen. It is also more durable than both porcelain and ceramic tiles.
Product Recommendation: Classico Carrara Hexagon Flow 7 in. x 8 in. Porcelain Floor and Wall Tile
Although marble is more durable than porcelain and ceramic tiles, it is delicate in that it is a natural stone that’s porous and prone to staining and scratching. You must apply a sealer every year or so to keep it looking great and stain-free. Another con of marble tile is that it is often pricier than ceramic or porcelain tile.
Quarry tiles are great for outdoor patios because they are non porous and will resist water. They would be great for an outdoor backsplash tile! They typically come in a wide variety of colors so you can choose to fit your personal style.
Product Recommendation: 6″ x 6″ Gray Outdoor Quarry Tile
To read more details about quarry tiles, here are some quarry tile basics. I personally would not use these for a countertop material. There are different materials (like granite) that would look much better!
Where Do I Need Tile For A Brand New Outdoor Kitchen?
If you have a blank space, you’ll want to consider all of the areas you need outdoor tiles for. It’s not just the countertop or backsplash like you would initially think. Here is what you need:
- Outdoor kitchen countertop
- Outdoor flooring or pavers
- Wall tile (if you want a backsplash look)
- Outdoor kitchen surround tile
Other Tile Options for an Outdoor Kitchen
The three tile options I already mentioned are the three most common tiles people use for outdoor kitchen spaces. Below, I’m including a few others because I feel they are great options as well.
Travertine tile is just as beautiful as marble, but a tad more durable. It is also more affordable than marble. Because travertine is another natural stone, however, it will need to be sealed every year or so just like marble to keep it from staining and scratching.
Travertine tiles are one of the best materials for outdoor flooring as well. I have these tiles throughout my backyard around my pool and outdoor kitchen space.
The extremely hard nature of slate tile makes it a great option for outdoor kitchens as it is especially durable. Unfortunately, the quality of slate tiles is often inconsistent, so try to choose each tile by hand to ensure you get good quality throughout. Also, be aware that slate tiles get especially hot in the sun, so you may want to only use them in covered areas. Finally, as with the other natural stone options, you’ll need to seal slate tiles annually.
Granite tiles are the most durable tiles you can choose for your outdoor kitchen. They are extremely hard and non-porous, meaning they withstand staining and scratching. Other than cost, there really is no downside to using granite tile in your outdoor kitchen.
The price is worth it which is why granite countertops are an excellent choice for outdoors.
My Outdoor Kitchen Tile Picks for Inspiration
These are just a few of my favorite tiled outdoor kitchens. Use them for inspiration in creating your own unique outdoor kitchen space.
A Light, Airy Porcelain-Clad Outdoor Kitchen Island
Who says you can’t create a lovely outdoor kitchen on a budget? As I stated earlier, porcelain tiles are relatively affordable, making them a great choice for homeowners working on a budget. Just look at the pattern on this outdoor kitchen island! It makes quite a statement combined with the white and gray hues!
A Traditional Patio Turned Outdoor Kitchen
Sure, anyone can have a patio, but when a good plan and the right elements come together, they produce an outdoor kitchen unlike any other. I love this traditional patio-turned-outdoor kitchen because it uses a few different tile types to create a cohesive look that’s homey and warm. This outdoor kitchen makes me want to cook outside while drinking a glass of wine and watching the latest episode of my favorite show every single night!
A Sophisticated Outdoor Kitchen Perfect for Entertaining
If you want to give your outdoor kitchen some class, nothing achieves that goal faster than marble. Whether it’s on the walls or the façade of an island, marble adds a touch of sophistication, unlike any other material. In this example, the marble grain is stunning against a backdrop of neutrals and subtle lighting.
A Simple, Yet Stunning, Outdoor Kitchen
One of my favorite inspiration photos for a tiled outdoor kitchen is this one. The color palette is simple, but the end result is stunning! From the large tiles on the floor to the smaller tiles covering the vertical surfaces, this outdoor kitchen is a feast for the eyes.
A Coastal Chic Outdoor Kitchen With Bright Blue Green Wall
This is actually my very own outdoor living space in my backyard! 5 years ago, my entire backyard was just grass. Since then, I have added a pool, fence, travertine tiles, a pergola for some shade, and a coastal chic outdoor kitchen.
My backyard kitchen area has granite countertops and a stacked stone surround. Both of these materials are great for outdoor use all year round, especially in Florida!
I went with the stacked stone for a more natural look and the granite countertops to avoid any potential water damage. You do want to make sure you seal the granite with a granite sealer every so often.
What are some fun accessories to add to your outdoor kitchen?
During the design process, you’ll want to consider what you want at your outdoor kitchen. Is it just a grill? An entire kitchen setup? A built in sink? Here are some things to think about before the design is set in stone (in addition to the outdoor tiles!)
- Propane gas grill
- Built in sink
- Beverage refrigerator
- Outdoor pizza oven
- Stainless steel doors (creates storage options)
- Seating area with patio dining table
- Outdoor string lights
- Chimenea outdoor fireplaces
As you can see, there are literally limitless possibilities when it comes to tiling an outdoor kitchen. The type of tile you choose depends on the location of the kitchen (whether it is covered or not, mainly), your budget, and your imagination. Many people like to go with a natural vibe for their outdoor kitchens to avoid disrupting nature, but ultimately, your outdoor kitchen should reflect your personality and the purpose you intend it for. Hopefully, the information I’ve supplied above will help you choose the right tile for your own outdoor kitchen, so you get years of comfort and enjoyment out of the space.