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Is tiling exterior wall good idea

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Exterior walls are usually finished using paint, and one can achieve various finishes and looks with paint. Although this is a preferred choice universally, outdoor walls can begin to look a bit dated, especially after the monsoon or if a house is in especially warm weather, like in India. Sometimes, the exterior paint starts to peel off or develop mold. This leaves the house looking ramshackle and does not make it look inviting. Painting the exteriors of the house is a costly affair. A more viable solution to keeping your exteriors looking brand new is to apply tiles to the exterior wall. No matter what the tile, it can be installed on exterior walls. This includes porcelain, ceramic, stone, or glass. The only criterion is that it is rated for exterior use. You cannot use the same ones as those used for the interiors, for various reasons which will be explored later. The rating is important as tiles that are to be installed on the exterior walls of a house, or even on the patio or other structures like barbeque counters, are subject to extreme weather conditions. They bear the brunt of the sun and rain, and colder temperatures too.

Flexibility of choice The exterior of your house defines your style. Most people used to prefer paint because of the creativity that it afforded. Textures, patterns, and colors were what set paint apart from everything else. Nowadays, the tile market has caught up. Exterior wall tiles come in various colors, and the choice in materials ranges from porcelain, marble, or other stone products that have natural tones to others such as Mexican tiles that are colorful. They can be mixed and matched as per one’s choosing to make a design that is truly unique. There are various patterns that you can make. You can create your own mosaic patterns, or settle for a single block of color. You can also divide the exterior into portions and use different types of tiles for each section. The tiles also come in various finishes. Wall tiles are available in finishes that range from glossy and matt to rustic and silky. A fair bit of research into the various kinds of tiles available before walking into a store is recommended to get an idea of what tiles would be best for a home. Alternatively, you could depend on the expert advice of your customer sales executives when you choose your tiles from places like Beauty Wares.

Strength and durability Tiles that are marked as outdoor tiles will usually be about 9 to 12 mm thick. The thickness of the tile plays a role in the longevity of the exterior finish. So, we recommend that you use a tile that is 20 mm in thickness. The increased thickness greatly increases the strength. Thus, the tile becomes more resistant to loads, stresses, and thermal shocks. The finish of these tiles also ensures that there is no chipping or cracking when something hits against them. The external walls of your house usually have to deal with objects being placed against them, the occasional crash of bicycles, motorcycles, and objects that your children play with. Using tiles that are resistant to stress will help you to reduce the damage that the exterior faces. As always, one of the key points to keep in mind is the PEI rating of the tile. Although they need not carry a high rating in terms of strength, as walls are only subject to the occasional leaning on by people or the random stray cricket or tennis ball hitting them, they still have to withstand extreme temperatures. That being said, any type of tile will still outlast a simple paint job.

Changing the aesthetic of your house’s exterior The aesthetic of your house can be changed with the size of the tiles you use. So, consider the size of the tiles when designing the look of your wall. If you have a wall that occupies most of the front of your house, with the door to one side, then using big tiles won’t make much of a difference. But, if the door is in the middle, with equal portions of wall on either side, you could consider using tiles that are proportionate to the size of your walls, to give the exterior a balanced look. If the size or pattern on the walls is too large, then the door looks minuscule, making the house look disproportionate. So, the size of the tiles that are installed has to be taken into consideration when designing the look of the wall because each of the dimensions that tiles are available in will give a different finished look and feel.

Temperature and weather conditions Exterior tiling over a wall is complicated owing to temperature and weather considerations. Tiles are made to be durable and hence have very little natural movement. While this is a good thing for floor tiles, temperature and moisture changes tend to create cracks or breaks in the tiles. A good way to get around this is to add an expansion joint barrier. Installing these allows the tile some flexibility during temperature changes. The absorption rate of the tile also should be taken into consideration. This is of prime importance in places that experience heavy rainfall, or those that have high humidity. Tiles that come with absorption rates of 0.5% or lesser are most preferred for wall application as they have to bear the brunt of rains, for at least a few months during the year. Although not as much as a tile installed in a shower cubicle, for example, this is still a significant amount of moisture that the tile will have to repel. The grout also plays a major role in ensuring longevity.

Value for money Tiling exterior walls are excellent value for money. Tiles offer a high degree of durability, lasting through wear and tear, at a reasonable price point. Even if the tiles initially cost more than paint, they work out to be more cost-effective in the long run. Wall tiles are the easiest to maintain. Any dirt that accumulates on them can be easily wiped away with a damp cloth or even better, hosed down easily. Cleaning them periodically maintains the sheen and keeps them looking good for years. Even when mold or grime accumulates, you can clean it easily, or scrub it out, without worrying about any paint peeling off.

Guidelines to follow Installing tiles on outdoor walls come with their own set of instructions. They can be installed on both brick and plastered walls. Here is a step-by-step guide to laying tiles on the exterior walls of your house.

  1. Level the wall before applying the tile. If it is an old house, then, use a wall putty or plaster to even out any cracks and crevices or bumps so that the wall is smooth and leveled for tile application. For a smooth finish, the surface that the tile is being installed onto has to be smoothed out and prepped well.

  2. Strengthen your walls because they will have to bear the load of the tiles being fixed to them.

  3. Use a primer on the wall after you have removed the existing paint. If you are installing tiles on a newly-built wall, priming the wall is an essential step.

  4. Choose your adhesive. A good water-resistant adhesive is recommended for installing tiles onto the wall, given that they will be subject to moisture from rains.

  5. Choose your tiles wisely. Remember that you cannot change the tiles as often as you change the color of the paint. It is a long-drawn process to change the tiles on the exterior walls. So, spend some time deciding the texture, size, and color of the tiles before you buy and install them.

  6. Ensure that the grout that is used in between the tiles is also water-resistant, to fare better against prevalent weather conditions.

If you are looking at cost-effective, durable, and easy-to-maintain options for your exterior walls, installing tiles on them is a clever option.

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