Tile Decks

The complete decking system for your exterior walkways, balconies, and roof decks. This is a top of the line, decking system, it is Class A, one-hour fire rated. There is no limit for your finished look, it can be color stained, stamped, stenciled, or the standard knock down texture, the choice is for you to make.

Tile deck waterproofing is a high art form. The Romans waterproofed tiled balconies with great success, as evidenced by their 2000 year history. Why can’t our tiled decks last 10 years? Because craftsmen are in short supply and low ball hackers rule supreme. If you’re going to put a tile covered deck in, be prepared to spend a lot of money to do it right. Read these articles to help you make the right choice. For many decks, they aren’t good candidates for tiling, and so they become great candidates for a walking deck system that looks like tile!

Faux slate finish
Faux slate finish

Common Sources of Failure of Tile Decks on Wood Frame Construction 

 By John Oglivie
 This article is written by John Ogilvie, President and one of the owners of Duradek Ltd. Duradek has been waterproofing decks and balconies since 1974. Its products are only installed professionally by contractors trained and supported by Duradek and its network of distributors throughout the United States and Canada. The specific product referred to in this article is Duradek Ultra Tiledek, a roof membrane specifically designed and tested for the application of tile or stone overlays. More information can be found at http://www.duradek.com/tiledek.
Porcelain or Stone Tile on outdoor decks provides a beautiful surface but the failure rate is high. This paper discusses the common pitfalls of a tile overlay from the construction of the deck through the application of the top finish. It deals primarily with decks and balconies on wood frame buildings with a focus on protecting the structure with solid waterproofing (roofing) details. It also prepares the reader with the questions to ask when choosing tile, thinset mortars, decoupling and drainage mats and making decisions on slope and railing attachment.
There are few outdoor surfaces as attractive and durable as tile or stone and they can be used outdoors even in very extreme climates providing there is a great deal of care put into the choices of materials and trades people. As so often happens, attempts to cut corners on costs or by taking shortcuts, even ones that seem to make sense, result in the most expensive installations. The common themes in this report are to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to the letter and employ only experienced professionals for each part of the job. The chances of a successful, long lasting installation increase exponentially if you do.
 The most surprising thing we discovered was that that if you were willing to research the issue and look to the industry experts and follow the recommended “best practice” standards, the success rate would be dramatically increased. Simply knowing the questions to ask and who to ask is the first step to getting the right answers.
Some of the best advice given to us by a “long in the tooth” tile contractor was this: He tells his customers who are interested in having tile or stone outdoors (especially on a wood frame building) that if they don’t have a budget sufficient to do it properly they should not even consider it. Taking money-saving short cuts with an “assembly” that requires all the components to work together could prove to be extremely expensive in the long run.


By Dave Gobis
David M. Gobis, a third-generation tile setter, is an independent Technical Consultant. Mr. Gobis is an author of over 100 trade-related articles and a frequent speaker at industry events. He is a voting member of The American National Standards, and Tile Council of America Installation Handbook committees. He can be reached via email, dave@ceramictileconsultant.com .
Here is an excerpt from Dave’s article found at Tile Magazine’s website.

Tile is becoming increasingly popular for decks, be they slab on grade (not a huge concern other than proper pitch), raised wood decks (a big concern) or roof decks (a huge concern). The requirements for above-grade decks are very exacting and space does not allow us to explore them in depth. These types of projects should utilize only the very best products and those highly skilled in their use. Decks and patios are fraught with obstacles to a successful installation. Most typical failures occur due to unskilled or semi-skilled labor, use of inappropriate products, railing penetrations, failure to allow for thermal and moisture movement, lack of counter flashing, and poor drainage provisions. Claims for water damage in these types of installations can be for a staggering amount of money in some cases. Exterior deck, patio, and pool deck failures have provided a substantial portion of my income so far this year as a consultant. I also have yet to see a product failure, however, it was alleged there was a failing product on every job. So far all have been inappropriate product selection and/or poor workmanship. Tile can easily be used in these applications offering problem-free performance with the right selections and labor.

Unfortunately, there is no end in sight to leaky decks, tubs, showers, and an increasing amount of steam rooms. These calls seem to be increasing in number — a fact supported by every single manufacturer I have spoken with. This is really sad because it hurts the market for ceramic tile, stone, and related products. Manufacturers have done an outstanding job of developing products to address waterproofing in particular. With the blurring of the traditional tile setter into the realm of floor coverer, waterproofing has seen a disproportionate amount of failures.

READ THE REST OF DAVE’s article by clicking on the title above. 


Ceramic, porcelain, and stone tile decks and patios, this section will detail these installations. For tiling patios on concrete slabs on grade, look in Floors Exterior. This section will deal with elevated tile patios and tile decks in an exterior environment.
Generally, ceramic, porcelain, or stone tile can be installed over suitable substrates, in elevated exterior locations, including mortar beds and in some cases backer board units.
Note: For a backer board unit installation, look further in this section for details.
These substrates must be structurally sound, meet deflection requirements, and meet on-plane requirements.
Dr’s tip: As always, follow the Manufacturers recommendations for all the products you plan to use in patios and decks. These projects need to comply with federal, state, and local building codes.
Whether the intended project is new construction or an existing remodel, the demands are the same. Certain demands, outlined in this section, need to be followed to help ensure a lasting tile installation in these locations. These demands include mandatory expansion joints, moisture considerations, and thermal demands.
The mandatory expansion joints relate directly with the thermal demands. Since exterior tile-work will be exposed to the elements, the tile-work will expand and contract more than interior protected tile-work. Therefore expansion joints are necessary every 8′-12′ in each direction in field and perimeter. These joints must proceed through the tile work.
Another thermal demand relates to the area of freeze thaw. In colder climates, the action of the freezing and thawing temperature can cause tile installations to fail. When excess moisture inside of a set tile freezes and then thaws, pressure builds to a point where tiles can spall and fracture. This situation relates directly to the water absorption rates for the tile selected.


Article in September 1991 issue of Tile & Decorative Surfaces written by George N. Lavenberg, FCSI, CIC, Technical Director.
Editors Note-While some of the systems may not exist or have been changed, the premise remains the same. Low slope roof decks must have the proper flashings, waterproofing and be built to handle the maximum load intended or you risk failure of the deck system …read the excerpt below
“It’s only a roof deck!” Did you ever hear that statement? When and if you do, be prepared for problems, and very possibly big ones. Where roof decks and concerned, roof is the most important word. When it comes to keeping water out, how the roof deck is constructed is at least as important as the balance of the roof itself, since both must satisfy the same requirement to keep the rooms and equipment below them dry.
A roof deck was leaking badly. Upon investigation, it was found that the installation had been made using one of the methods described in the Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation. Why, then, the leakage? The method selected was one involving a cleavage membrane, and it had been chosen even though some of the other methods contained in the Handbook called for awaterproof membrane. The purpose of the cleavage membrane, as you will recall, is to isolate the tile floor from the structure, not to serve as a waterproof membrane.

Tile Troubleshooting:

Tiling Over Exterior Balconies and Decks — Risk or Reward?

by Bart Bettiga
June 4, 2007
Bart Bettiga is the Executive Director of the National Tile Contractors Association. Established in 1947, the NTCA is dedicated to providing education for the proper installation of tile and its allied products to the ceramic tile industry. More information on the NTCA is available on-line at www.tile-assn.com.  

In the last several years, we have seen a significant increase in the amount of inquiries regarding the proper installation of ceramic tile on an exterior deck or balcony. This is due in large part to the increase in construction of multi-family housing and high-rise luxury condominium projects. In addition, the rebuilding efforts along the coasts of several states hit by numerous hurricanes in the past few years have added to the demand for tile and stone, and their durability characteristics when properly installed.

In a seminar I attended recently hosted by the National Association of Home Builders, the speaker discussed at length the increasing trend of consumers to invest in elaborate exterior living spaces. Patios, decks, and balconies were specifically mentioned as areas that will take on increasing importance over the next several years. Our industry should realize this opportunity, but tread cautiously in regards to our approach.

As I write this article, I just got off of the telephone with one of my contractor members from the great state of Florida. I could feel his frustration through the line. “As contractors, we are being told so many different stories by the manufacturer, we don’t know whom to believe,” he said. “There are so many products out there advertising their system will work in exterior installations on balconies, we don’t know which way to turn.”



by Dave Gobis
March 10, 2008
David M. Gobis, a third-generation tile setter, is an independent Technical Consultant. Mr. Gobis is an author of over 100 trade-related articles and a frequent speaker at industry events. He is a voting member of The American National Standards, and Tile Council of America Installation Handbook committees. He can be reached via email, dave@ceramictileconsultant.com . 
This article can be found at TILE Magazine. Here is an excerpt from it…
Exterior Decks
Exterior tile decks are fraught with any number of issues. Most if not all tile membrane manufacturers will not warrant their systems as the sole source of waterproofing over an occupied space. While some may be up to the challenge from a technical point of view, the margin for error in application is zero making most manufacturers gun shy of this type of installation. When used, the waterproofing must be effectively flashed into the existing structure. Rails may not penetrate the system and the water must drain somewhere. Movement joints must be correctly constructed incorporating the waterproof material. If the deck is not over a living space, the liability is not as great but the same principles apply. 


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