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Pavers vs Tiles: Differences & How to Use

Layla Sawyer

Choosing between tiles and pavers for your outdoor space can feel like a big decision. Both have their strengths, but the best choice depends on your vision. Consider how you use your outdoor area — will it be a high-traffic entertaining area, a relaxing patio or a mix of both? This will help guide you towards the look and function of your space. Let's break it down in a way that won't leave you feeling like you need a landscaping degree.

What’s the difference between pavers and tiles?

Stepping outside and creating a beautiful, functional outdoor space requires careful planning, and one of the first decisions you'll face is what's underfoot. Both pavers and tiles have unique qualities, and understanding the difference will help you pave the way (pun intended!) to your dream outdoor space.

Pavers

Pavers are most often crafted from concrete, brick or natural stone. Their textured surface provides a reassuring grip for high-traffic outdoor areas like driveways, walkways and patios. Pavers are usually dry laid on a gravel base for walkways, or set in mortar for driveways and patios.

Tiles

Tiles are crafted from materials like porcelain, ceramic and stone, and come in a wide range of colours, patterns and finishes. Unlike pavers, tiles can be used indoors and outdoors if they’ve been made to withstand tougher conditions. Outdoor tiles are always laid using mortar and grout.

Can you use tiles as pavers?

It’s not recommended! Regular indoor tiles aren't designed to handle the elements. They can crack, warp or become slippery when wet. For outdoor use, stick to porcelain tiles specifically designed for exterior applications.

Outdoor pavers vs tiles: Quick comparison

Fair’s fair — if you’re considering pavers or tiles for your garden, walkway, patio or pool area, this rundown will help you decide the right fit for your space.

Feature

Pavers

Outdoor tiles

Thickness

Varies 

Varies

Material

Concrete, brick, natural stone

Porcelain with external finish

Surface Texture

Rough or smooth

Textured for slip resistance

Installation

Dry or wet-laid

Thin-set mortar and grout

Use Case

High-traffic areas, driveways

Patios, walkways, medium to high-traffic areas

Weight Capacity

High

Moderate to high

Design flexibility

Lower

Higher

Maintenance

Regular cleaning, occasional sealing

Regular, easier cleaning

Pavers or tiles: Around a pool

Both pavers and tiles can be used poolside, but they bring different things to the table. Pavers are a classic choice for pool decks because of their excellent drainage and weight-bearing capacity. They can withhold constant moisture without deteriorating.

However, pool area tiles are also a great option and are far more versatile design-wise — don’t sacrifice form for function! Go wild with terrazzo-look tiles, stone-look crazy pavers and cool checkerboard tiles in colours like sage, blue, terracotta and yellow. Just make sure they're suitable for outdoor use.

Pavers or tiles: Alfresco dining

This is where tiles can truly shine. With their various colours and textures, you can create a stylish and fun outdoor entertaining space that showcases your personality.

Here, we love concrete-look tiles for their versatility. Dress them up or down with your choice of outdoor furniture and accessories. Looking for something a little more organic? Stone-look tiles have stacked benefits: they look good, are more affordable and are easy to maintain — a major win for post-barbecue cleanup. 

 If opting for pavers, make sure they’re laid smooth to avoid food accidents.

Pavers or tiles: Walkways

Both tiles and pavers can create beautiful walkways that add a touch of elegance to your garden. Pavers might be a better choice for high-traffic areas or uneven terrain because of their stability. They can handle the constant wear and tear of foot traffic and won't shift or settle over time — even on wonky ground.

On the other hand, tiles offer more design flexibility, allowing you to create your dream pathway to complement your landscaping. Stone-look tiles are perfect here as they mimic your garden's natural colours and textures, creating a seamless flow between your indoor and outdoor spaces. Take it up a notch with mosaic tiles to really wow your dinner guests.

Pavers or tiles: Patios 

The patio is the heart of your outdoor living space. Here, the choice depends on your priorities. Pavers offer unmatched durability and can handle heavy furniture and high foot traffic. They're perfect for patios that see a lot of action — so if you’ve got a knack for hosting, this is a good bet.

But, outdoor tiles can really turn your vision for your home into reality, and quality tiles should last as long as pavers. With a wide range of design options, you can create a patio that feels like an extension of your indoor living space. Large-format tiles work great here — they transform your patio by minimising grout lines and maximising the feeling of openness. 

Looking for ideas? Ditch the ordinary, embrace the extraordinary! Porcelain tiles with intricate designs and bold colours, such as external encaustic tiles, can take your patio to a whole new level.

Caring for your tiles or pavers

No matter which option you choose, regular maintenance is key to keeping your outdoor space looking its best. Here are some simple tips:

  • Cleaning: Sweep away dirt and debris regularly. For a deeper clean, mop your tiles with a solution of warm water and floor cleaner. Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the surface.
  • Sealing: Seal your natural stone pavers to shield them from water damage, stains and fading. Reseal every few years for longevity.
  • Spot cleaning: Address spills and stains promptly to prevent them from setting in. Most outdoor spills can be cleaned with a little warm water and gentle scrubbing.

TileCloud: Your home for external tiles

Investing in quality external tiles is just as much about longevity as it is aesthetics. Whether it's scorching summers or mild winters, our tiles are designed to endure (and look good doing it!). Explore TileCloud's external tile range today and elevate your outdoor living experience.

FAQs

Are outdoor tiles difficult to maintain?

Nope! Outdoor porcelain tiles are generally low-maintenance. Regular sweeping and occasional cleaning with a hose or mop will keep them looking their best. Unlike some pavers, they don't require sealing.

My outdoor space is small. Should I use tiles or pavers?

In general, tiles can make a small space feel larger because of their design flexibility.  Lighter-coloured tiles create a sense of openness.

Are pavers more expensive than tiles?

The cost can vary depending on the material and brand. Generally, pavers might have a slightly lower initial cost than premium external tiles. But consider the long-term value — pavers often require more maintenance than tiles.

Layla Sawyer
Layla is a creative at heart, with an Advanced Diploma in Interior Design and being the Senior Marketing and Ecommerce Coordinator here at TileCloud she has a passion for staying up to date with the latest trends within the industry. Known for going down a rabbit hole on Pinterest and being a sucker for a good mood board to kick off any project.