By Ellen Finch
We spend a lot of time choosing flooring, so it makes sense to give outdoor paving ideas the same amount of attention. But with so many designs available to choose from, it can be tricky to know where to start when it comes to picking the best product to suit your space and needs.
There are several things to consider when considering the right paving ideas for your space. First, you need to ensure the tiles you choose are suitable for all weathers and won’t crack after the first frost. Second, it's best to choose designs that complement your interior to create a cohesive feel from inside to out (essential for that indoor/outdoor flow). You also need to think about the colour and size of tiles, which will hopefully allow you to start narrowing down your selection.
To stop you feeling overwhelmed by the options, we've put together our favourite looks for everything from modern to traditional gardens, and there's styles that will suit compact courtyards and spacious patios. We’ve looked beyond the usual grey square grids to give you a range of shapes, sizes and textures, so you’re sure to find something that will work with your garden style. Take a look at our picks below, then head over to our landscaping ideas for more ways to plan your garden makeover.
1. Go for beige tones to create a warm look
A great place to start when choosing new paving for your garden is the colour. If you prefer a slightly more classic feel, opt for paving with warming undertones of yellows and oranges, like this porcelain paving from Bradstone. The colour will soften a contemporary scheme and work well with furniture made from natural materials – think wood and rattan – to complete the look.
2. Go large-format for instant impact
Love an ultra-contemporary finish? Extra-large paving slabs make a statement in a garden, and their sleek appearance makes them the perfect accompaniment to pared-back garden furniture and minimalist planting. You can use them as you would any other sized paving, but we love the above suggestion from Topps Tiles – a stepping-stone-esque design that makes a real feature out of these porcelain tiles.
3. Create a decorative look
If you adore patterned tiles and have them inside your home, there’s no reason why you can’t follow the theme through to your exterior too. These PorcelPave Heracles tiles from London Tile Co are made from porcelain, are non porous and stain resistant so they're suitable for outdoor use. There's a mix of metro, Victorian and geometric designs so you can mix and match to get your perfect pattern mix. Opting for a more subtle monochrome colourway means the pattern won't dominate your space.
4. Dare to go dark and make a statement
We know a dark colourway can feel a bit of a risky move, but trust us: darker shades in a contemporary garden scheme look amazing. These slabs from Tile Mountain have been used to create a clean, sharp base for an architectural garden, with the sharp edges of the built-in planters, seating and fencing complementing the flooring. Plus, darker shades make for an eye-catching contrast with light furniture and lush green planting, so you’re sure to make an impact with this choice.
5. Experiment with shapes for a unique finish
Paving doesn’t have to be the ordinary square grids you’re used to: this garden, belonging to interiors stylist Maxine Brady, uses on-trend hexagonal slabs for her small outdoor plot. Inspired by the patterned tiles in Marrakech but worried about the slip-hazard in the drizzly English weather, she opted for bespoke hexagonal granite paving from CED Stone. Paired with potted plants and light blue accents, it’s the perfect hint of pattern for her space.
6. Add subtle pattern
Want something a little more understated? For those of you who like a sophisticated look with just a subtle hint of pattern to add a touch of interest, check out these Hardblue Grey Decor porcelain outdoor slab tiles from Tile Mountain. You can mix and match with plain tiles so you can have as little or as much pattern as you like. We love this idea as it’s really versatile and ideal if you want to use pattern to zone an area such as an outdoor dining space.
7. Cheat a natural look with wood-effect tiles
Love the look of a wooden floor and want to replicate it in your garden? The good news is that you can! Wood-effect outdoor tiles are on the rise, and this design from Stone & Ceramic Warehouse is particularly sophisticated. You can lay them in the same direction, sure, but we like the way these are styled to create a pattern. If your garden feels a little flat, opting for faux timber is a great way to add texture.
8. Add pattern with standout tiles
Stone isn’t your only option when it comes to paving, and venturing into the patterned tile market opens up a wealth of style opportunities. For those who want to play it safe(ish), these three-colour checkerboard tiles from Original Style are a great place to start – they still have the feel of traditional square paving but with a twist. Dare to go bold? Traditional patterned Victorian tiles look elegant, sophisticated and ultra stylish.
9. Make your indoor-outdoor spaces flow
If you’ve recently completed an extension or have a rear room that opens out to your patio through bi-fold doors, consider using the same or similar outdoor flooring to those indoors for a seamless finish. Your outdoor tiles will need to be slip-proof and weather-resistant, but many suppliers offer indoor and outdoor versions of the same design for ease. We rate these natural-look porcelain tiles from The London Tile Company.
10. Enjoy Mediterranean style in your own back garden
Dreaming of jetting off somewhere warm or sunny, but having to settle for a slightly cold and grey English summer instead? Add a splash of Mediterranean cool to your garden by opting for terracotta paving. Not only is it instantly warming, it works well with any style of garden, whether your furniture and planting is ultra-modern or a little more traditional. You can find more Mediterranean garden ideas to inspire you in our feature.
11. Go for a luxe look
Nothing screams luxury more than marble tiles and they work just as well outdoors as they do in kitchens and bathrooms. That beautiful veining and über stylish look is visually stunning, but, let’s be honest, we can't all afford the real deal. The great news is there are plenty of realistic lookalikes available, such as these Carrara Marble white outdoor tiles from Tons of Tiles. Designed to replicate genuine Italian white marble, they have all the appeal of the real thing but at a much lower cost.
12. Mimic the look of decking
Love the idea of having a decked terrace but don't want any of the associated maintenance? With a porcelain wood-effect tile such as these Copse porcelain tiles from Valverdi, you get all the warmth of natural wood without the maintenance. Plus, it will retain its colour and won't change over time, unlike like natural wood. Look for a design that has indoor and outdoor versions of the same tile so you can use it in the house and out in the garden, visually extending the feeling of space. Available in four natural colour choices, we think these are a smart choice for any contemporary space. Already have your heart set on decking? No problem, we've got some great looks to inspire you in our decking ideas feature.
13. Fill in the gaps with gravel
Create a stepping-stone effect and add interest to plain tiles by separating them and filling the surrounding area with a light-coloured gravel or mix of small stones. It’s a super-modern look that can be used to create a border around tiles or, as in this look from Tile Giant, a pathway out into the garden. Head over to our garden path ideas for more stylish ways to get from A to B.
14. Create pockets of planting in your paved area
Don’t feel restricted to planting around the edge of your paving: creating gaps in your design that can be filled in with plants or trees adds an architectural twist to your garden. This garden uses natural stone plank paving interspersed with ornamental grasses for a minimalist look, but there’s plenty of lush greenery either side to keep the space feeling natural.
15. Choose a textured effect
Want to steer clear of pattern completely? Textured effect tiles are a great alternative for adding interest to a patio. These Icaria Plus Beige tiles from Walls and Floors are made from thick porcelain with a quartzite effect that shows directional veining. They are ideal for a patio space that needs a bit of warmth, which is exactly what these offer with the natural beige colours that flow through each tile.
16. Mix your materials for a bespoke look
There’s no rule about sticking to one type of paving, so have fun with your patio and mix up different styles for a truly individual look. This patio, styled by Lights 4 Fun, uses a mix of grey square slabs and red brick in a herringbone pattern for a rustic feel, and we’re in love with the result, especially when combined with the pergola idea. It’s a great technique to try if you’re curious about incorporating patterned tiles into your garden design, but don’t want to commit to an entirely patterned patio – just tile over one section and finish off the rest of the space with a plain design. This image features the Malvern outdoor lantern bundle from Lights 4 Fun.
17. Add a rustic touch
Digital printing technology has improved to such an extent that it's now even harder to tell the difference between real and faux paving. With multiple colour variations and a textured finish, these Minster rustic slate-effect slab tiles from Walls & Floors look like the real deal but they're actually a faux-slate porcelain tile. The warmth and depth of colour would create a striking backdrop, while the large format design is ideal for increasing the feeling of space on a small patio.
18. Get creative with paint
You’ve painted your fence, updated your brickwork, and maybe even dabbled in upcycling a piece of outdoor furniture or two – but have you considered painting your paving? It’s an affordable update that can rescue a tired-looking but structurally sound patio with a bit of creative effort. Our art editor Emily used masonry paint for her garden, adding dabs of colour over a white base for this terrazzo design, then sealed it with a water seal to protect it from the elements. We’re in love!
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