Exterior flooring and its role in creating a good first impression

by Ofentse Sefolo
Exterior flooring and its role in creating a good first impression

As South Africans, we love spending time outdoors enjoying the lovely climate and our specially created outdoor or exterior spaces. Keeping these spaces looking up to date and on trend is not an easy task, but they are perhaps the most important “rooms” or spaces in the home.
Why is this?

It is because it is literally the first thing people see. The exterior and its surrounding space all work together to set the tone for the home’s personality and style and keeping these spaces looking fresh starts with flooring.

There is nothing worse than a sad looking patio, deck or braai area. These are the spaces where, come summer, we spend the most time.

When updating an exterior space, it is important to see the whole picture. Residential and commercial areas need to consider the following:
Decks and Patios: This is an extension of the indoor space and can be a great place to unwind and enjoy a social office function or to relax on a warm summer’s evening.
Landscape: It is all about creating inviting and beautiful landscapes that require minimal maintenance.
Poolside: Flooring is part of the aesthetic when it comes to a stylish pool area. Spend time looking for unique touches or innovative new materials that minimise maintenance.
Rooftop: Rooftop deck flooring can transform your average rubber rooftop into a place that’s great for hangouts and entertainment. Some great product innovations are now available to assist you.

Photo: RoofSlope

Perhaps with the many new trends, colours, materials and innovations, improving your outdoor space may seem like a daunting task. This special feature on all things exterior flooring will inspire you and bring some fresh ideas for a new project. It will also guide you on how to refresh an entire space with a couple of simple additions.


Natural earthy tones have been the most popular colours for exterior spaces, ranging from tans and sandstone to greys and charcoals. They are classic colours because they blend with landscapes and many exterior facades.

However, there has been an increase in the use of accent colours on shutters, roofs and trim, and these have now expanded to exterior flooring choices.

Multi-Colour Outdoor Flooring
One way to avoid monotony across the exterior is to combine two colours of pavers, planks or tiles or choose multi-coloured pavers. More manufacturers are now looking to offer options beyond the normal solid colours with multi-coloured ranges expanding all the time. Take the bold approach and create a focal area that creates interest rather than just blending with the surroundings.

Grey in every shade
Grey flooring works just about everywhere. Now that people are going for a more minimalist look, grey outdoor flooring is thriving. The light shade specifically helps make an area feel larger because grey or light-colour flooring reflects light.
Particularly popular are the products in a grey wood look, and the options have grown exponentially over the last decade.

In addition to looking chic and trendy, grey floors set the tone of a cool, contemporary space, creating a neutral backdrop for more adventurous patio furniture or vibrant garden plants. Just about anything blends with sleek grey flooring.

Vivid Red
While cooler colours are more popular inside the home this year, outside, warm reds and red browns are making a splash with the warmth and boldness adding a cosy touch to an outdoor oasis. While this is indeed a striking choice, it could become outdated sooner, so careful planning is key. Using bold colour on a smaller area rather than an entire space may be a more viable option.


Not too long ago, it seemed as if natural wood decks, concrete patios and real grass were the only exterior space-covering options.

However, product research and development has resulted in several new and striking exterior flooring options, with the added benefits of being low maintenance as well as environmentally friendly making them ideal for spaces meant for enjoyment.

Here are some of the most popular exterior flooring materials and where they are best suited:

Photo: Tile Giant

Porcelain Tile
Is there anything more gorgeous than wood-look or stone-look tile? Some exterior porcelain tiles are even more durable than natural stone, which means the best of both worlds.

Exterior tiles can assist in achieving a seamless transition between indoors and outdoors, with many collections offering complementary indoor and outdoor options. They are used in a variety of outdoor spaces, from poolside, walkways and driveways to patios. Rustic and elegant, exterior porcelain tile flooring can deliver an upscale aesthetic.

Along with its classy appeal, requiring less maintenance than natural wood floors is an added bonus, as tile is more durable, fade-resistant and easy to clean. With today’s latest designs, the beauty of natural wood is available without the expense. Made from kiln-fired clay, these tiles are an eco-friendly alternative.

Composite Decking
Composite decking is a man-made decking material manufactured from equal parts recycled wood fibres and recycled plastic. Durable and made to last, the best composite decking products simulate the beautiful appearance of natural wood without the maintenance and upkeep.

The use for composite tiles and boards goes beyond the traditional deck, though. Composite material is an inexpensive way to freshen up a patio or balcony as well. They take little time to install and offer years of quality use and appeal.

Composite deck flooring is the luxury vinyl of the patio flooring market and is seen by many as the exterior flooring of the future. With budget a major consideration in 2021, beauty that comes with a low maintenance plan is the ideal solution and that is why composite decking is increasingly popular as a viable long-term solution.

Photo: Topps Tiles

Artificial Grass
Now with a more realistic look and feel, artificial grass has become a sought-after alternative to real grass. It requires minimal maintenance and is a lush green all year round. More and more landscaping projects are leaning towards using artificial grass instead of natural grass, given its durability and ease of installation.

People are using artificial grass for low-maintenance landscaping, backyard putting greens and now there are even artificial grass deck tiles to spruce up your patio or balcony. The versatility of turf lends itself to several ideas for an outdoor getaway .

Click here for the link to our recent artificial grass feature: https://www.buildinganddecor.co.za/synthetic-grass-what-you-need-to-know/

Outdoor Carpet
All the cosiness of a carpet – outdoors! How does it work?

All outdoor carpets contain features to make sure they can handle everything mother nature has to offer. They have been designed to be water-resistant and UV-stable to contend with rain or shine.

One of the best features of an outdoor carpet is that it offers many options as it comes in different forms, colours and patterns. It offers flexibility in terms of area coverage, as just a section of the deck or the whole area can be covered. Choose from outdoor rugs, outdoor carpet tiles or outdoor carpet rolls.

Drainage Tiles
Drainage tiles are vented interlocking tiles that allow water to flow freely through the floor into a drain. These tiles are made of plastic, which is great in areas where copious amounts of water are present.

Plastic is resistant to mould and mildew and can also be made fade resistant. When it comes to style, these tiles offer lots of colour customisation. Many different styles and colours interlock, so one can mix and match for an individual style.

Rubber Pavers
Rubber pavers can mimic the look of stone, brick and concrete while providing the resiliency, comfort and ease of rubber. More economical than brick and available in many cool colours and looks, rubber pavers are versatile and safe. They are ideal for use in kids outdoor areas and will feel comfortable in any outdoor get-togethers.

In the quest to make life easier, people love that rubber is practically effortless to keep clean and withstands water and harsh weather climates. Rubber is rare in that it becomes more slip-resistant when wet. It is great for rainy climates, near a pool or anywhere with lots of water.

Stained Concrete
Many homeowners are drawn to using concrete outdoors because… well… have you ever heard the expression, “hard as concrete”? You have to put some effort into destroying concrete, which means it will probably last forever.

Concrete-stamped patios are especially common in regions with dry heat and they can endure temperature changes and humidity. People love that this floor is easy to clean and maintain while being incredibly versatile. Concrete can be formed into about any pattern or colour, even stone-like shapes.

Brick can create elegant, classic architecture that takes you out of the modern world. It might make you feel as if you are in a different country or even in a different time, which is a unique characteristic among the 2021 outdoor flooring trends.

Brick offers many different colours and patterns and is a gorgeous outdoor flooring option. It makes for a perfect addition to a cosy patio or around an outdoor fireplace.

In conclusion
There are numerous exciting developments in the exterior flooring industry right now, offering plenty of different and unique options to create a warm inviting or slick and stylish exterior space. Whatever your style preference, when it comes to exterior flooring, the options are no longer boring. Highly customisable and decorative are no longer just interior flooring options. Take style outdoors.

Main image: Tons of Tiles

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