In the same way that for generations many of us lived with wholly boring and inadequate bathrooms, the paving and relaxation areas within our gardens was considered very much an afterthought. Our grandparents had much less leisure time than us. It was common to work a 6-day week, with time in the garden possible only in the summer months or Sundays. These gardens were also more likely to be used to grow vegetables or cut flowers than as a space for relaxation or pleasure pursuits. My own grandparents had a garden that nowadays would be considered a small holding. One section contained vegetables; broad beans and radish sown in the winter months, sprouts and cabbages in the spring and cucumber just before the summer. Late in the winter my grandfather would start preparing his sweet peas. By late spring one third of the garden was a riot of colour and heady with the scent from row after row of this most English of flowers. All of this could be viewed from a patch of concrete 3ft x 5ft and a single bench.
As we have refurbished our bathing spaces to create rooms of visual delight and comfort, our exterior spaces have also come under scrutiny in more recent years. Many families first explored warmer climes in the 70’s and 80’s and found themselves asking ‘why don’t we have lovely terracotta terraces?, why should we put up with dull sandstone slabs as a hard area for seating?’
The answer is that for many years there was simply nothing else available that could withstand our British climate, and terracotta is simply too porous to withstand both the heavy rains and then the drop-in temperature. Water trapped in the clays would freeze in winter and create a shattering or flaking of the tiles. Luckily, technology, like international travel, moves on and develops. Changes in porcelain manufacturing in recent years coupled with a shift in ideas regarding what constitutes aspirational lifestyles has enabled suppliers to create new products; tiles that are both able to withstand harsh weather and yet look beautiful too.
Gardens now tend to have larger hard areas and are used for longer periods of time, particularly as many of us work a 5-day week with a whole weekend free. This can be utilised as a BBQ zone, a seating or dining area or somewhere to recline and catch rays of sunshine or play with animals; indeed, many gardens combine all of these activities and require substantial areas of hard surface. The types of tiles available for these outdoor spaces of relaxation tend to have a slip resistance not required indoors. After all, no one wants to spill their gin and tonic slipping on tiles on the way to their chill out area. At Claybrook we have some gorgeous outdoor porcelain tiling ranges, from terrazzo style to concrete effect, with collections that offer both an indoor and outdoor tile offer for those seeking to create a seamless look that stretches out from the interior.
Oh …and for a guide on how to lay an exterior tiled area please see the installation and technical guides attached to tiles suitable for outdoor.