Tile decks are beautiful, but have a reputation as a trouble project and many contractors will shy away from them all together. There are countless stories out there about failed tiled deck projects where a home owner’s beautiful new tile deck started leaking after only a short time. But you don’t have to be afraid to surface your deck with tiles, even on a roof deck over living space. You only need to be sure to use a contractor that does it right, with the right products.
If you want to fulfil your dream of having a tile deck, talk to a few contractors to ensure you are getting one that knows the special considerations for tile deck projects….and if you don’t hear them mention waterproofing…run away immediately!
Proper installation of tile decks is a multifaceted project and when done properly can provide a beautiful and well protected deck for many years, however most contractors don’t understand the specialty trade of deck waterproofing, let alone the specifics of roof deck waterproofing under tile. It is frightening to think that there are contractors out there that would consider the tiles themselves waterproof, but sadly when leaky tile decks are being repaired it is evident that this is the case.
For residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, tile deck projects are not the problem they can be for many other home owners because they have the skilled services of Golden Gate Enterprises who are specialists in deck renovations and repairs. Golden Gate enterprises is led by Paul Gordon who has built a captivatingYouTube channel on his many deck renovation and repair jobs. In addition to the professionalism and skills required to provide the kind of decks that Golden Gate can provide, part of their success is in choosing the most reliable building products on the market and installing them with the skilled, best-practise techniques that are not always the fastest or the cheapest, but are the most reliable and long-lasting.
Golden Gate Enterprises relies on the waterproofing performance of the Duradek’s Ultra Tiledek membrane for all of their exterior tile decks. Tiledek membranes bring the waterproofing element to these tile deck projects and can provide warranted waterproofing for 10 years. Manufactured in North America with a design specific for the best adhesion of thin set mortar in tile installation, Tiledek is a critical element in the whole tile assembly.
In this video from Golden Gate Enterprises, Paul Gordon points out a few of the critical issues in installing a tile deck as he goes through the actual issues that were a part of the failed tile deck that he is replacing.
Outdoor Tile Deck Factor #1 – The base sub-floor. This foundation needs to secure. In this case it was replaced because it had rot from the inadequate waterproofing and had never been glued and screwed properly.
Outdoor Tile Deck Factor #2 – The slope. This addresses the water flow away from the wall of the building to the drain point. In this case a sleep system allowed the water to be directed to central drain quadrant locations on the deck.
Outdoor Tile Deck Factor #3 – Substrate Assembly. This addresses the order and elements used to provide the correct foundation for the tiles to be laid. In this case a cement backer board was screwed onto plywood. This provides a solid base to apply the waterproof membrane.
Outdoor Tile Deck Factor #4 – Waterproofing. This is the most critical element that is most often overlooked with exterior tile projects. Sometimes contractors will use a membrane that can handle the contracting and expanding that can happen as temperatures change to assist with reducing tiles cracking, but a crack isolation membrane does not necessarily provide waterproofing. Tiledek waterproof membrane applied to the backer board and run up the perimeters where deck meets wall provides a water-tight seal below the exterior tiles to protect the building envelope.
Outdoor Tile Deck Factor #5 – Applying the Tiles. This is also a misunderstood stage when old-school methods are turned to but provide inadequate results. Exterior tile installations should be done with a thin set or medium set mortar which is applied very well to the textured surface of the Tiledek membrane.
Outdoor Tile Deck Factor #6 – The Tiles. The type of tiles used is very important. Not all tiles are best suited for outdoor use. For exterior projects it is recommended to use a porcelain tile rather than a stone tile which can actually hold water and challenge the waterproofing system you have chosen to use. For projects completed with Tiledek, your home is still protected, but with those porous stone tiles that hold water, you are more likely to see surface cracking.
Use the Best Tools and Tradesmen to Save Your Tile Deck
Like Paul Gordon said, tile deck projects can get the best of even the most experienced contractors if they are not familiar with the specialty trade of roof deck waterproofing. If you are in the Bay Area, be sure to call Paul at Golden Gate for an estimate on your tile deck project.