What’s under your feet (or however you get around) is as important as anything when it comes to home. That’s why this fall, we collaborated with The Home Depot on an A to Z guide that’ll give you the confidence to make flooring choices you’ll love. Check out the A to Z handbook here.
When jetting off for a saltwater-soaked beach getaway or a woodsy romantic weekend isn’t feasible, an at-home outdoor space can step in (and step up!) and become the low-key backyard oasis you need, minus the plane ticket. And while recreating the feeling of sand between your toes probably isn’t realistic, choosing the right flooring for your outdoor area is the first step towards making every day feel (kind of) like a vacation on your home turf.
Below are several outdoor flooring materials available at The Home Depot to consider when turning your outdoor space into a just-out-the-door getaway.
A simple-to-execute option is to incorporate an outdoor-friendly area rug, and The Home Depot has a number from which to choose. Natural fibers, like jute, are durable and have an earthy, neutral look, while patterned outdoor rugs can bring a burst of color to a home’s exterior.
Look for rugs that are designated “moisture-proof” or “water-resistant” and, if possible, keep them under awnings, umbrellas, or other covered areas to ensure the least amount of fading from the sun’s rays.
Tile is another go-to option to consider when designing your backyard paradise — but it only works well under the right conditions.
Tile floors are commonplace in Florida sunrooms and indoor-outdoor lounging areas across the Southwest, but they are susceptible to cracking in the seasonal cycles of colder climates. Tile is great, says Clements, in “places where you don’t have a freeze and thaw situation, and where you use an appropriate outdoor tile — one that’s not slippery when it gets wet.” He adds that you also need to use the proper adhesives for exterior applications of tile, which differ from the indoor versions.
If you live in a more temperate climate, brick is a hardier option that can provide a similar feel to tile while standing up to the weather. It’s naturally slip-resistant, unquestionably durable, and in it for the long haul.
Climate aside, if you’re itching to turn a patch of steamy backyard concrete into something a little bit greener, artificial grass (also called “artificial turf”) might be your flooring of choice. Available in large rolls or plug-and-play tiles, artificial turf is an appealing option if you’re yearning for a hint of greenery, but don’t want the trouble of jackhammering asphalt, sodding, watering, and then (of course) mowing.
But don’t envision this as the astroturf of baseball fields. The artificial turf of today is truly grass-like — nothing plasticky or stiff about it! — and is perfect for kids and pets who romp around. (Many versions even come with built-in cooling technology). The interlocking tiles are particularly convenient because there is no stapling or adhesive required, and they can fit into almost any space, from a high-rise balcony to a full-scale outdoor kitchen. They’re also self-draining, and as for the maintenance? Let’s just say you’ll never have to rev up the weed-whacker.
If you’re interested in the look of hardwood without the potential hassle and expense of upkeep, composite wood decking — made from a blend of sawdust and plastic — is a budget-friendly option that’s appealing to buyers for its stain-repelling status and resistance to UV light (aka no fading). It retains more heat than traditional hardwood, though, so is best for areas that have at least a partially-shaded section.
As a general rule, the hardwoods that work for indoor flooring aren’t the best for an outdoor porch or patio area. Even pressure-treated pine, which you’ve probably stood on while barbecuing at a friend’s house, often turns a yellow-green color after exposure to the elements over the years.
- Red cedar is a warm, brick-hued hardwood that’s highly resistant to all outside forces that might cause harm, including sun, cold, rain and bugs! It even develops a sophisticated, silvery tinge over the years. (We like to think of it as the “silver fox” of outdoor flooring.)
- Redwood also holds up well against the elements and is highly rot-resistant, particularly when treated with a clear sealant.
- Southern yellow pine is another contender when pressure-treated. (Pressure-treated wood has been penetrated with preservative chemicals that help it stand up to the elements.)
In all cases, take into consideration whether the outdoor area will be fully or partially covered (if only partially, expect some fading overtime) as well as the wood’s hardness and durability (for more on this, see letter J for Janka Scale).
Moreover, selecting the appropriate flooring for an outdoor space—unlike indoor flooring, which is much less impacted by what’s going on outside your house—depends largely upon geography. For example, general contractor Mark Clement notes that, living in New England, he often sees century-old porches that were built with Douglas fir. But, he says, “in warmer climates, you have to worry more about insects, so you’re going to need pressure-treated lumber.”