Q: We own a ranch-style cabin in Texas Hill Country, and we want to redo our unattractive concrete front porch. We’re thinking about a stone surface like slate, granite or quartzite tiles. Are those okay for outdoor use? And even though we’re in Texas, we do get some cold weather here in the winter, with the mercury sometimes dropping into the teens [Fahrenheit]. So are stone tiles okay in a freeze/thaw climate? Thanks. – Roy Summers; Rio Frio, Texas
A: If you lived in a colder climate, one with more freeze and thaw cycles, there would be cause for concern in using stone tiles, because the more freezing and thawing, the more likely a porous surface is to crack or chip. However, the climate of Texas, while occasionally experiencing bouts of cold, will be just fine for re-doing your porch in stone.
Granite and quartzite are your best bets for types of stone. While there are extremely durable and hard varieties of slate, it can also be a soft rock. And if you’re not a rock expert, it’ll be hard to tell the difference until you’ve installed the tiles and start having problems.
One product that might be worth checking into is StoneDeck tiles. For one, the manufacturer, Deck Technologies, nearly eliminates any problems caused by freezing and thawing by taking premium natural rocks and adhering them to a fiberglass composite. Both the backing and the stone tile segments are sealed for water protection. Furthermore, the tiles require no grout and actually interlock. Once the tiles are in place, water is unable to accumulate under the stone, and is forced out between the panels.