Top 5 Tips for Exterior Tile Installations and Balconies

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Installing ceramic tile or stone on exterior balconies, patios, walkways and walls requires extra planning so the tile installation will be waterproof and weather resistant. Choose the right tile installation products and use the right tile setting techniques to prevent cracks, efflorescence and water intrusion. Get CUSTOM’s tips for a simple, successful and durable exterior tile installation.

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Many projects now call for setting tile in exterior conditions. These may be commercial or residential applications using tile or stone on patios, decks, walls or building facades. One example is tiled balconies. Exposure to extreme temperatures and moisture are just a few of the elements that must be carefully considered.
Ideally, all exterior rated tile should be appropriate for the weather in North America, and can survive freeze/thaw cycles.
In addition to freezing, tile installed outdoors must be able to handle the fluctuations of thermal expansion and contraction.
Tile Council of North America recommends the installation of movement joints every 8 to 12 feet, using a flexible sealant like CUSTOM’s Commercial 100% Silicone Caulk. We strongly suggest adding movement joints every 8 feet and making them as wide as possible.
Waterproofing is central to the longevity of tile work installed on raised porches, decks or balconies — any area that abuts or covers an inhabited space.
The TCNA Handbook offers several methods for tiled balconies and decks – F103, 103B and 104, which describes direct bonding. To deflect water away from the building, the slope on the balcony or deck must have a minimum pitch of ¼-inch per foot towards the drains.
Proper flashing must be installed to prevent seepage, including a coved reglet embedded into the wall above the tile, mortar and waterproofing layer. Include a waterproofing membrane that meets or exceeds ANSI A118.10 (and A118.12 if possible) and that is rated by the manufacturer for these applications. Liquid applied RedGard Waterproofing and Crack Prevention membrane serves a dual purpose in exterior conditions, protecting both the tile and the structure.
Be sure to use a premium quality mortar that is rated for above ground use, like FlexBond Crack Prevention Mortar — and if you’re going to tile a balcony or deck, make sure you have a highly experienced installer on the job.
Keep in mind, both the installation materials and the environment should stay between 50-90 degrees. Fast curing waterproofing, mortars and grouts can help prevent an extended period of tenting.
When working with a natural stone, it should be sealed to protect it from the elements and outdoor contaminants. More porous stone can benefit from 6-sided treatment with a penetrating sealer, like Aqua Mix Penetrating Sealer or TileLab SurfaceGard Penetrating Sealer, prior to bedding the tile.
Like the tile, the installation products need to stand up to harsh weather conditions. Always use a polymer-modified dry-set mortar that is rated for exterior use and exposure to wet conditions.
To support the weight of heavy natural stone and large format tile, consider ProLite Tile and Stone Mortar. For non-sag applications on exterior walls and all floors, CUSTOM offers MegaLite Crack Prevention Mortar with premium bond strength and flexibility.
If you are using a cementitious grout, make sure it meets or exceeds ANSI A118.7 and will not effloresce. CUSTOM’s Prism SureColor Grout is a fast-curing option that delivers consistent color without mottling or shading, regardless of temperature or humidity. With Prism, you won’t have to worry about efflorescence.

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