Does anyone have experience with the products designed for laying tile on top of a wood framed deck? (e.g. Slica Systems) It seems to me that over time even slight warping or shrinkage of the wood timbers would cause tile to crack. These products have perhaps not been around long enough to see this happen. What do I need to do to install tile on a deck and what do I need to think about?

  • 1
    I presume you mean an outdoor deck? Also, if you'll take the tour, you'll note that opinion based questions are explicitly off topic. Please be sure to ask a specific question for which a specific answer can be given, otherwise this will likely be closed. Asking how to install tile on an outdoor deck so it's not susceptible to cracking as the deck expands/contracts would be quite acceptable.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 21, 2021 at 16:37
  • First you need to lay down some sort of cement board often called backer board or hardie backer. This will provide you with a substrate incapable of expansion and contraction. You just better hope that the cement board does not give way to the deck's expansion/contraction. Maybe put down two overlapping layers of cement board...
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 21, 2021 at 16:40
  • If you get a permit and follow the manufacturer's guidance exactly, you should not have any issues. Note that with this product you're not installing onto the decking boards, it installs directly to the joists. Unless the polymer grids twist significantly, the tile or stone above should be fine. Manufacturers with certified products have rigorous use case testing that helps inform their installation guidance. Apr 21, 2021 at 16:52
  • This question doesn't fit our Q&A format well. It's too broad and open-ended. Please see diy.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask and take the tour.
    – isherwood
    Apr 21, 2021 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


To install in an unconditioned space over outdoor wood, you will need two things and these aren't really negotiable - although you can certainly choose your "manufacturer".

  1. You will need cement board installed to specifications on the deck floor. Depending on your deck screwing these down will probably be OK but there could be a requirement of using mortar then screw - that will be messy to get that level... in both senses. It may also need gapping to account for wood movement.

  2. You will certainly need a membrane like Ditra that spans the area. There are a few manufacturers that make membranes for these applications, I have only used Ditra (kerdi). You will need to mortar between concrete board and membrane for sure.

The other option is to install pure vinyl (rubber) click lock planks or squares. Some of these high end ones come really really close to looking like tile. And for a deck they might not be as slippery when wet and will probably be much more comfortable without the grout maintenance (that's if you don't have cracking issues). You are probably laying down some plywood here but that's a simple job. Only hard part here is trimming the outside so it looks good.

Either way - tile or fake tile - the biggest issue with doing a flooring like this on a deck is "where does the water go. If you get the slope wrong or don't provide drainage tiles it is a really hard process to go back and fix it without ripping a lot of finished things out.

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