What Kind of Decking Works Best Over Dirt?

By Kyle Schurman Created: May, 2021 - Modified: May, 2023

Installing decking over dirt may not be the most traditional way of creating a sitting area for a deck or patio, but it will work with the right types of tiles in use. When looking for deck tiles for this type of install, having interlocking tiles usually works best.

Some of the best options to use as decking over dirt include:

  • Perforated StayLock Tiles
  • Portable Outdoor Tiles
  • Ergo Matta Perforated Outdoor Tiles

These tiles can adjust to slight undulations in the ground without having the tiles pop apart, which is helpful when going over bare soil.

Another advantage of using these tiles on dirt is not needing to hire a professional to do the work. No matter how much or how little experience a person may have with installing tiles outdoors, the interlocking design is extremely easy to use. There’s no need to add glue or another adhesive, further simplifying the project.

In areas where an elevated wood deck is not possible because of the type of building or home nearby, using interlocking tiles to create decking over dirt is the perfect solution. These tiles will deliver a safe sitting area where other kinds of decks simply aren’t possible.

How Do You Stabilize the Dirt Under the Patio or Deck?

If the planned area for the decking over dirt has concerns regarding erosion because it’s in a low spot or because rainwater commonly runs through the area, start the project with a product that holds the dirt in place.

GeoGrid Cellular Paving System TilesPut GeoGrid Cellular Paving System Tiles down over the bare dirt to create a stabilized area that then can accept the interlocking deck tiles over the top of the GeoGrid tiles.

The GeoGrid tiles have an open grid design, allowing them to penetrate the area of bare soil. As dirt fills in the open areas of the polyethylene plastic, the grid will hold the dirt in place, rather than allowing it to wash away. Installers can add small gravel, small rock, or sand to the openings in the grid to keep the tile in place.

Each individual tile measures 19.5 inches square and about 1.5 inches in thickness. The tiles have interlocking edges, so the installer can further secure them. With the ground stabilized, installers can then add the decking over dirt they want to use.

What Are Some Tiles That Work for Patio Decking in Areas of Bare Ground?

With the area of bare ground secured, installers can begin laying out the decking over dirt.

Perforated StayLock TilesFor those who want the option of black or bright colors in the decking tiles, the Perforated StayLock Tiles are a popular selection. The black options come at a lower price point due to their use of recycled materials. It may be a good option in a patio or deck area that has some shade available, rather than in constant sun.

This 1-by-1-foot tile measures 9/16 inch in thickness, making it easy to handle during the installation process. The recycled PVC plastic material has a lot of flexibility to it, which can help simplify the installation process.

The interlocking tabs and loops on the edges of the tiles ensure they will pop together without the need for adhesive. The tiles have perforations that extend throughout the thickness of the material, allowing rainwater to drain through, rather than pooling on top.

You may want to consider adding a layer of landscaping fabric between the dirt and tiles to prevent weed growth.

Portable Outdoor TilesAnother option for a type of interlocking outdoor tile that will allow rainwater to drain away through perforations is the Portable Outdoor Tiles. These tiles, which are available in gray or black, are extremely firm, consisting of no-break polypropylene plastic.

Each tile measures 1-by-1-foot and measures 3/4 inches in thickness. The tiles snap together using a series of tabs and slots. These tiles will go successfully over dirt, gravel, sand, or concrete, creating a sturdy flooring that supports the weight of people, lawn furniture, and tables.

The underside of each tile has a gridwork of supports that lift the tile slightly off the dirt in a floating design. As water drains through the perforated holes in the tiles, it will continue to flow away, following the natural slope of the dirt underneath, rather than collecting under the floating tiles.

Ergo Matta Perforated Outdoor TilesFor those who want brighter colors in their decking, the Ergo Matta Perforated Outdoor Tiles product has eight different color options.

These PVC plastic tiles have a rectangular shape, measuring 0.83-by-1.67-feet in coverage. Each interlocking tile has 9/16 inches of thickness and weighs only 1.6 pounds.

This tile is a smart choice around patio areas where children will be running and playing, as it has a 20-inch ASTM fall height rating. This means children will have protection from potential head injuries if they fall.

Each tile has perforations that extend through the entire thickness of the material. This allows rainwater to drain away fast, keeping the top surface of the tiles dry and removing a slipping hazard from the decking. Again, a landscaping fabric under the tiles is recommended.

Color Options Include:
  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Red
  • Gray
  • White
  • Black
  • Beige