An Outdoor Flooring Guide: 7 Great Options for Your Exterior

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best outdoor flooring

Your patio, yard, barbecue area, pool side and walkways all have one thing in common.

They would be better suited with a proper outdoor flooring solution.

While it may not always occur to you to ponder flooring possibilities for the outdoors, it is something to think about.

Proper flooring solutions will keep mud and dirt at bay, give you traction around wet areas and help make clean up much easier.

But what areas of your outdoor life actually need flooring? More importantly, what types of floors are best suited for outdoor use?

This article will examine the best outdoor flooring, offering you great flooring solutions, options and advice for your outdoor needs. We will also cover the pros and cons of outdoor floors and show you why you should cover your exterior flooring spaces.

Biggest Benefits of Outdoor Flooring

Outdoor flooring is not without its benefits. Here are some of the best reasons to cover the ground in your backyard (or other) spaces.

  • Traction. It is generally better to walk on stone, tile or wood decking when outside than directly on the ground, especially during inclement weather.
  • Even surfacing. When you cover the ground with flooring, you level the surface and have a sturdier place to walk.
  • Curb appeal. When pulling up to your home, it is much better for guests to see a clear path to walk on rather than making their own through your yard.
  • Value. Well manicured lawns, including those with flooring solutions have a higher value than homes that offer only grass.
  • Entertaining. Having guests over for an outdoor event is much better hosted on flooring than dirt and grass.

Why Cover Exterior Spaces

cover exterior spaces

As a homeowner, you may love your yard, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you enjoy spending a great deal of time out in that yard, flooring in specific or designated areas can actually improve your feelings for the space.

Following are several reasons to consider adding outdoor flooring to your yard. Perhaps they will give you the final push you need to make that flooring decision.

Aesthetics

A brick or stone area around your barbecue, perfectly layered titles around the pool or spa, and a solid flooring surface for your patio bring everything together. The final look of the entire space is accentuated and improved with proper outdoor flooring.

Protection

Installed correctly, your outdoor flooring can help protect your home’s foundation, the area of coverage and even yourself. You can go from trying to avoid bad areas to walking with confidence, getting better rain runoff, or even better footing.

The right flooring for the area will protect your yard, your home and whatever the flooring is used for in all types of weather, conditions or situations.

Traction

When you select the right materials for the job, you also get better traction. If you install natural stone pavers as a walkway, for example, this is much better than plain grass.

Likewise, the flooring you choose to place around your pool, spa or sauna can improve traction for wet feet. Any effort to keep slips and falls to a minimum is always a good thing.

Value

Home value is a reflection of many aspects. Location, school district, walking distance to attractions and other factors all play a role in how much your home is worth. However, if you have a finished outdoor area, such as a grand deck, patio, fire pit or pool, the value can increase.

Even if the resale value doesn’t get higher, the curb appeal and overall value of the neighborhood does increase, which will only work to benefit a future sale.

Safety

When you are adding flooring to the playground area or a basketball court, safety is a big concern. This is why flooring such as artificial turf and rubber tiles are so important.

Playing outside, either as a kid or an adult, has its risks. But with proper planning and execution of the playing areas, you can minimize those risks and increase the fun.

Great Outdoor Flooring Options

great outdoor flooring options

What makes a great outdoor floor? Besides the benefits listed above, there are different flooring solutions to choose from. Everything from the most expensive decking available to a cost-effective and budget-friendly solution.

Let’s take a look at the various outdoor flooring types and find out why they are a great solution and which area they are best suited for.

Outdoor Vinyl Flooring

When you think about the outdoors, you probably don’t jump right to vinyl flooring. However, there are a lot of benefits to using vinyl in certain areas of your outdoor living.

Vinyl decking isn’t as common as most of the other options on this list, but it is a market that is growing. Vinyl is synthetic so it doesn’t break down and all but the lowest quality options are 100% waterproof.

Installing vinyl outdoors is still a risk, though. Unless you can control the temperature and humidity levels of the space (such as an enclosed patio or solarium) there will be a risk of warping, lifting and of course, fading.

However, there are companies out there that are working to make outdoor vinyl more durable, aesthetically pleasing and functional. You can find sheet vinyl decking from companies like Econodeck, or plank decking from the likes of Tufdek.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that while you can shop Amazon and Home Depot for indoor/outdoor Luxury Vinyl Plank, they usually aren’t designed for actual outside installation. These LVP options are more fade resistant and thicker for added durability. They are designed for areas that are near the outdoors, such as entry ways, or covered patios and interior rooms that see a lot of direct sunlight.

Outdoor Rubber Flooring

Rubber flooring is a specialized flooring option, but one that you should consider, for many reasons. Ideally, this flooring is used for outdoor playgrounds, and even outdoor basketball or court flooring.

Rubber comes in two basic forms, tile or mulch. The mulch is the easiest to take care of, since you really don’t do anything. It drains well, doesn’t hold dirt and when it rains, it basically self cleans.

The tiles, though are the more attractive option. While they are also quite expensive, you have many styles and vibrant colors to choose from. While it is made for use in playgrounds and play areas of your yard, it can also be used on your patio or setting area.

Rubber has good traction when wet, plus the tiles are perforated to help with drainage and maintenance is minimal. As a bonus, it is fun to walk on and comfortable when you are sunbathing poolside.

Rubber tiles and mulch are also the only outdoor options with a fall rating to help protect you or your kids, should you fall down or drop off the swing.

Outdoor Flooring Tiles

Flooring tiles made for the outdoors can be almost any material. However clay-based tiles are among the best options. These come in ceramic and porcelain but do require a lot of prep work and installation. Grouting is needed and maintenance can be tough during the wet seasons.

If you live in a region with freezing temperatures you will want to stick to porcelain as it holds up better and has less tendency to break free from grout during cold snaps. Which ever method you choose, though, you can have the look of wood or stone for much cheaper than the real thing.

Just make sure your tiles are rated for outdoor use, have a slip resistance rating and can handle your local weather.

Outdoor Wood Flooring

Wood flooring is the most common type of material used, and has been for decades. Wood, though, is organic and needs special care. You need to treat or seal the wood planks at least once a year, pressure wash and remove moisture as often as possible and keep the decking areas swept clean to prevent leaves and debris from holding moisture in.

That being said, wood comes in many different types, durability and capabilities. You can build walkways, entire decks, or even a walkway, deck and room all out of the same wood. For outdoor use it is recommended to use a hardwood or even ironwood like Ipe.

The stronger woods are more resilient to weather and many are left to naturally fade in the sunlight. Ipe, for example, fades to a beautiful silver tone when left untreated. Whatever your needs, there is a wood for it. Just remember to care for it properly, install moisture batteries to prevent rot and wood can last you several years.

Composite decking has wood as a flooring base, and is also a great option. 

Outdoor Stone Flooring

Natural and artificial stone is another common flooring option for the outdoors. With brick, cement, travertine and natural stone, you can create pathways, walkways and patios with ease.

Care is minimal, depending on the type you choose, since you can pressure wash the stones or concrete, sweep, brush or even scrub clean. Many stone types don’t need to be sealed or UV protected, which cuts down on annual care regimens.

With stone, though, the cost can get high quickly. Most options either need professional installation (concrete, brick laying, etc.) which can get costly, or you need to pay for the stones or bricks by piece. When projects cover large areas, the $0.50 to $5.00 per stone can add up fast.

Temporary Outdoor Flooring

Temporary outdoor flooring is, as the name implies, not permanent. Perhaps you have a plain concrete slab you want to cover for a season, or a yard with only dirt you want to be more attractive for a weekend gathering. Whatever your reasons, temporary flooring is absolutely doable.

Synthetic turf is one of the major players in temporary flooring. It comes in both rolls and tiles and the turf also comes in different lengths, can mimic real grass or even come in a variety of wild colors.

You can easily hose it off when it is time to put it away, too. Just make sure it is completely dry before rolling up or storing so it doesn’t grow mold.

Pavers are another inexpensive item that work well. You can have just a few pavers as stepping stones to get from the sidewalk to your door without having to walk on mud, or you can use a lot to create a decorative space to walk and lounge on.

Pavers are generally cheap and come in a wide variety of sizes, styles, colors and thicknesses. Small pavers are good for stepping stones while larger, decorative pieces can be used to create some extravagant floors.

You also have the option of natural items, sand, gravel and pebbles are used to create temporary driveways, paths or foundations for other items. Using pea gravel under pavers is a great way to keep rain and water from pooling around or over the stones meant to be walked on, for example.

Cheap Outdoor Flooring Solutions

If you want to stay on the budget-friendly side you can opt for some different materials. Carpeting, especially carpet tiles or remnants are cheap, easy to put down and if you are only using them temporarily, easy to dispose of when you are finished.

Many carpet remnant sales companies will even take your old carpet for disposal or reuse, which is much better than just throwing them away.

Playground sand is also fairly inexpensive and comes in a variety of sized weighted bags. You can get a few pounds or hundred of pounds and for a relatively low cost. Sold almost everywhere, you will find the best deals on playground sand at home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Mernard’s.

The great thing about playground sand is that it is specially cleaned and sanitized, so you don’t need to worry about bugs, chemicals or pesticides which may be present in fill dirt.

Outdoor Flooring Pricing Chart

outdoor flooring pricing chart

If you need to know about cost, this chart will outline some of the biggest brands and outdoor flooring options, the type of flooring, and how much you can expect to pay (on average). This will not include prices for extras such as sealants, grouting, underlayments, etc.

If you want a more exact quote, finding an installer or contractor or other services, check out our free pro finder to locate professionals right in your neighborhood.

TypeBrandStylePrice (est.)
Outdoor carpetTrafficMaster Marine Indoor/Outdoor12-foot cut to width$4.16 per linear foot
PaversPavestone12×12 tile$1.50 each
Artificial TurfTrafficMaster Grizzly GrassCut to Length$0.85 per square foot
Vinyl DeckingTufDeckVinyl Plank$5 – $13 per square foot
StoneN/AStone Bricks/Tiles$1.50 – $5.00 per square foot
WoodN/AWood  Planks$3 – $15 per square foot
RubberN/ARubber Tiles$2.50 to $10 per square foot

Frequently Asked Questions

faq best outdoor flooring

In this section we will answer the more common questions asked about outdoor flooring, in general. If you have other questions, feel free to use the comment section below the article.

Q. Is artificial turf recycled?

  1. Artificial turf is generally made from up to 100% recycled plastics. However recycling turf is more difficult. The actual turf can easily be recycled, but the rubber backings and other materials used in the construction may not. You will need to check with your local city recycling centers to find out if they can take artificial turf or not.

Q. Can I place outdoor wood directly on the ground?

  1. While there is nothing stopping you from doing so, it is not advised. Wood is a natural and organic flooring option and direct contact with the ground will promote moisture damage, insect damage and rot.

Instead you should use spacer beams, joists and raise the wood up off the ground. At a bare minimum moisture barriers and sealants should be used. Though the wood does need air flow on all sides, which is something to keep in mind.

Q. Will rubber outdoor flooring need to off-gas?

  1. Off-gassing is the process of rubber, foam or other synthetic materials releasing built up gas. This only happens when the material is stored and doesn’t allow the fumes to naturally dissipate. For outdoor flooring, there will be off-gassing and some foul odors.

However, because you are installing outside, these won’t pose a problem. When dealing with mattresses, chairs and other indoor materials you need to let them off-gas outside for several days. Since the tiles are outside already, there won’t be anything more to do.

Q. What is the cheapest outdoor wood?

  1. When buying planks for outdoor use, generally the hardwoods like redwood and cedar are going to be your cheapest option. They are also the highest maintenance and lowest durability. You can opt for ironwoods, like Ipe, which will last virtually forever, but are quite expensive up front.

Q. What type of outdoor flooring has the lowest maintenance?

  1. The maintenance level of your outdoor flooring will depend on the type, installation method and area of use. Covered patios will require less maintenance on their floors than an open walkway, for example. Wood needs to be treated and sealed, rubber must be swept, hosed and squeegeed, and stone can require scrubbing with a brush and soapy water.

Each type will have it’s own cleaning and maintenance routine which can vary from simple and quick to tedious. However, in general, flat, even surfaces that are higher off the ground (decks and patios) are easier to maintain then uneven, non-flat ground level materials.

Conclusion

Outdoor flooring options aren’t limited to just stone and wood. You have multiple solutions for various purposes. Temporary flooring, like turf, rubber or sand can be an inexpensive way to give a face lift to your backyard.

For more permanent solutions, vinyl, pavers, tile and decking are all options worth considering. Now you have a better idea of what is available, which options are best for your particular needs and weather conditions and what you can expect to pay. Good luck with your new outdoor flooring purchase!

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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