Installing Ceramic Tile on your Porch

So your front or back porch needs a facelift? A great idea is to install ceramic tile on your porch to get that look and feel that it needs. Tile is easy to maintain and is cool on the feet in the summer when the thermometer starts inching skywards.

There are basically two types of porches, those made out of cement and those made out of wood. It is not recommended to try to install ceramic tile directly on top of a porch made of wood. It is recommended to install cement board over your wood surface and while the cement board and the tile are a good match, you must make sure that your porch is shored up properly to handle the extra weight. You will want to look at this closely because if the deck flexes, the tile will crack.

Recommended Materials

You can use either ceramic or porcelain but if you go with ceramic, be sure that it is marketed as vitreous or frostproof. This is especially important if your wintertime weather gets down to freezing. When you get ready to apply your grout, use an acrylic additive in order to give it additional flexibility.


If you have any high spots, grind them down. If you have any low spots or cracks, fill them in. The objective is to have a level, smooth surface to work with.

The size of your tiles and the distance between them (grout width) will determine your layout and borders. Once you determine this you are ready to make your layout. Snap two control lines with a chalk line to establish your pattern. This will be your first full tiles from whatever corner you choose to work from. Use the red (permanent) chalk.

Ensure that your lines are square using the three-four-five method. In other words, measure 3' on the first line from where the two lines intersect and make a pencil mark. Do this process to the other line making your pencil mark at 4' instead. The lines will be square with each other when the distance between the pencil marks is 5'.

Lay the Tile

Start with a few of the border tiles and field tiles, working out of your corner where your control lines intersect. Put down only enough thin mortar where you can lay tile in a fifteen minute period. Use a wet saw to cut your border tiles; the score-and-snap tools will just frustrate you.

After laying a few tiles, give them a good set with a rubber mallet and a beating block, just a light tap will do it. Use tile spacers between tiles for professional results. Make sure to clean excess mortar out the joint line as you go.

Grouting Time

Mix your grout according to the instructions on the packaging. You will want it to be the same texture of a milkshake. Let your grout slake (stand) for about fifteen minutes before using it.

Start by applying the grout in a corner of the porch and work outwards. Use a grout float. Scoop up a small amount and holding your float at about a forty five degree angle; push the grout into the joint with the edge using a sweeping motion. Make sure you work in small but manageable areas.

Continue over the whole porch until all the tile joints have been grouted. Let the grout set and develop a haze. Then us a moist sponge, and sweep it lightly over the surface of the tiles. You will see that all the grout is off the surface of the tiles (except for a haze) and the grout is slightly indented.

Finally, once the grout is fully cured, it is recommended to use a grout sealer on the grout lines. Now, set out the patio furniture and enjoy!