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How to Choose Outdoor Floors

The type of use for your outdoor flooring is a critical factor


By Paige Cerulli

If you're thinking of adding outdoor flooring to your home or business, there are many reasons why this may be a great investment. Outdoor floors can expand the amount of useable space that you have access to. They make for great gathering places, can add safety to a playground, and are a must-have around pools and hot tubs.

In order for your project to be a success, you'll need to spend a bit of time deciding on which flooring product is right for your needs. At Greatmats, we offer a wide selection of outdoor flooring tiles and mats, but many of them are designed for specific uses and situations. In order to help guide you through the process of choosing the right floor, we've outlined some important questions that you should ask yourself. As you move down this list of questions, you'll narrow down your choices until you can decide on the perfect product for your outdoor project.

How Will the Flooring Be Used?
At Greatmats, we offer outdoor flooring that's suitable for many different uses. Your intended use for your outdoor floors will partially determine the type of flooring that's right for your project. Think carefully about what you need the flooring for, the types of activities that will take place on the flooring, the types of shoes - or lack thereof - people will wear while they're on the flooring, and other factors about how the flooring will be used.

Outdoor flooring can be used for many applications, including:
- Patio flooring
- Roof flooring
- Pool surrounds
- Deck flooring
- Pet areas
- Sports courts and athletic spaces
- Playground flooring
- And more
We offer a wide selection of flooring suitable for all of the above uses, and more.

What's the Overall Look That You Want?
Think a bit about the overall aesthetic that you want the finished space to have. If you invest in artificial grass, you'll have a very different looking space than you'd have if you purchased pool decking or rooftop tiles. All of our products are available in different colors and finishes, so you'll have plenty of choices to make as you dream up the ideal solution for the space.

What Climate Will the Flooring Need to Withstand?
Outdoor use brings a number of challenges for flooring, and one of those is a wide variety of temperatures. Depending on where you live, your flooring may need to withstand very high and very low temperatures.

If you live in a location with cold winters where temperatures drop below freezing, then make sure you choose a product that can withstand snow and ice, and that won't crack as ice forms in or on the product.

And if you plan to use the flooring during the hot summer months, you'll be happier with a product that stays comfortable underfoot, even when temperatures are hot.

Will the Area Be Used When It's Wet?
Moisture adds another complication to flooring, and it's important to think about this aspect ahead of time. Any outdoor flooring needs to be waterproof, so it won't be damaged during a rain. However, if you plan on using the area while the flooring is still wet, then you'll need flooring that has a few specific qualities:

- Drainage - Standing water on top of flooring creates a slippery and dangerous situation, so choose a product designed to maximize drainage. Many of our pool surround tiles have plenty of drainage holes to quickly remove water from the top of the tile. These tiles usually have a raised base, which allows water and air to circulate beneath the tile's surface, so the top of the tile stays relatively dry.

- Traction - Traction becomes a concern anytime a surface gets wet. Many of our outdoor flooring products are designed to maximize traction, with specially designed surfaces that help to keep you from slipping.

- Cushion - If a fall does happen on the flooring, then you'll want to minimize the potential injuries that could result. That's why many of our flooring products intended for use in wet areas, like pool tiles, are also soft and offer some sort of shock absorption to create a safer space.

Pool decking products typically offer excellent drainage, and are specifically made for areas where they'll be continuously wet for a good portion of the time.

Do You Need Cushion or Shock Absorption?
For areas where you'll be spending time with your family, cushion and shock absorption can make the surface both safer and more enjoyable. A softer surface makes for a more inviting space, and many patio decking tiles are created with this quality in mind.

If falls may take place, then you'll definitely want a product that offers fall height protection. Fall height protection refers to a product's ability to help absorb or disperse some of the impact from a fall, helping to minimize injuries. Most playground mats and tiles offer fall height protection, which makes the space a safer area for kids to play.

Keep in mind, though, that if you're looking at softer surfaces, you also need to make sure that they're still strong enough to withstand the weight of any furniture or structures you'll be using in the area. Furniture feet could potentially damage some softer tiles, especially if left in place long-term. Consider the weight of any and all furniture you may use when choosing a product.

Will the Flooring Be Left in Place Permanently?
One major decision that you'll need to make as you choose your flooring is to decide whether you want a product that will be left in place permanently, or if you're looking for something that's more suitable for a temporary installation.

We offer many products that can be installed permanently. With these products, you don't have to worry about removing them at the end of the season, as they're durable enough to withstand year-round use outdoors.

On the other hand, many products are suitable for temporary installations. Many of our interlocking tiles are ideal for this, since installation is fast and easy, yet you can also disconnect and remove the tiles when you need to. This feature also gives you the versatility to relocate the flooring, changing the layout of your yard. And if you ever decide to expand the area covered by your flooring, it's as simple as just buying additional tiles and adding them on.

What Type of Surface Will the Flooring Be Installed On?
As you narrow down your choices, you'll next need to consider the type of surface that you'll be installing your outdoor flooring on. Generally speaking, you'll need a flat, level surface to act as your base. Some tiles can be installed over grass, while others require a hard surface base.

If you're working with rooftop tiles, you'll need to be extra careful to make sure that the tiles are appropriate for your roof. Rubber roof membranes can be damaged if you use a tile that isn't designed to be placed onto the membrane. At Greatmats, we do carry plenty of rooftop tiles that can be placed directly on a rubber membrane.

How Will the Installation Be Performed?
If you've spent time exploring the many outdoor products that we offer, then you've found that there are many different installation methods to choose from. Some tiles connect together easily and can be used for temporary or permanent installations, while others, such as playground options, sometimes require adhesive and a more permanent installation.

It's important to think about the type of installation that you desire. Are you looking for a great do-it-yourself project that you can accomplish in a weekend? Or are you putting in a permanent floor that you want to last for years? It may be necessary to enlist some professional help for a large-scale installation, or for an installation that requires adhesive. This can increase the cost of your project, but it's also well worth it in order to ensure that the work is done correctly from the start.

What Is Your Budget?
As you narrow down the products that may be suitable for your project, you'll be able to start considering which ones fit into your budget. We offer many outdoor flooring options suitable for a wide range of budgets, so we have something for just about every project.

Our online Pro Floor Designer tool can help you to calculate how much product you need for your project. Just input the dimensions of your project, select the product, and you'll be able to quickly tell the potential cost of the product that you need to order.

Ordering Your Flooring
When you're ready to order your flooring, please don't hesitate to contact our customer service team at 877-822-6622. We would be happy to provide you with a product sample, can give you quotes, and can even help you to choose the product that's just right for your needs.
For more on this topic please review our Outdoor Floors product page.