How To Add Tile To Your Balcony
Are you looking for a way to update your balcony or outdoor walkway? Does a nice decorative tile cover sound nice?
As an alternate to an existing concrete balcony or walkway, there is an option to cover it with ceramic tile. Although the industry does not recommend adhering tile directly to a concrete slab, this can be achieved with the right knowledge and a proper installation. The reason the industry does not recommend this decorative option is due to the high risk of hidden structural damage occurring under the tile because, contrary to popular belief, tile is not waterproof.
The Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation by the Tile Council of North America, Inc. (TCNA) recommends installing a waterproof membrane under the tile for outdoor walkways and balcony applications to protect the concrete from moisture. In these situations, proper water drainage is critical with the concrete slab sloped at a minimum of ¼” per foot to promote drainage away from the building.
If possible, the installation of a drainage course under the tile would be preferable as this material does just what its name implies and allows water to flow out from under the tile.
Of course, you will need to be sure that the tile, grout, adhesive, and other materials to be used are suitable for exterior use, as the hot sun and freeze/thaw conditions can wreak havoc on improperly selected materials.
A few companies are producing prefabricated balcony coverings systems using tile, wood, and carpet, which are specifically designed for exterior installation, and can be easily installed. These newly available products incorporate a drainage course so that they can be laid over a membrane to prevent concrete deterioration. Proper slope (drainage) is also needed to resist mold and mildew growth.
In certain buildings like apartments, condominiums, etc. tile cannot be installed without advance approval from a controlling authority (such as the condominium’s Board of Directors). So check this carefully before you get started.
The final check required is to make sure that the weight of the new tile will not overload or dramatically reduce the available load carrying capacity of the balcony. You will need a structural engineer to figure this out before buying the tile.