What to Know Before Purchasing Condo Balcony Flooring

May 30, 2019 | Balcony Flooring Tips

Since the inception of Outdoor Floors in Toronto in 2014, I have learned a lot about interlocking (clickable) outdoor deck tiles. Much has changed over the years, particularly with the introduction and subsequent explosion of robust wood-plastic composite (WPC) tiles into the Canadian market. Their predecessor cousins, WPC deck boards, commonly used to replace wooden backyard house decks, have been around since the 80’s and also underwent several iterations to ultimately become superior products because of their exceptional durability. The same evolution is occurring with WPC deck tiles.  Thus, not all composites are the same — they differ mainly in the type of plastics used in the manufacturing process, as well as the proportion of wood-to-recycled plastics. 

In the early 2010’s, when  1x1-foot WPC deck tiles first entered Canada from the USA and overseas and made their way to outdoor balconies, porches and rooftop terraces, it soon became apparent they had some serious flaws.  The problem stemmed from the matte surface of each tile.   It made them porous, prone to staining from oils and even rainwater (see pics below).  This lack of a physical barrier also made them susceptible to water absorption and premature weathering.  In some cases, it led to tile rot, decay and warping.  It didn’t take long for the remedy.  

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Despite early teething issues, the main commonality among all composite deck tiles was their heavy-duty ‘backbone’.  This formed the foundation to which improvements ultimately would make it become superior to other tiles that were made from plastics, rubber or wood.  Wood-plastic deck tile manufacturers soon figured out the optimal choice of plastics as well as the right ratio of wood-to-plastic to help make them stronger and resistant to weathering, rot and decay.  The type of plastic used contributed to WPC deck tile durability.  Equally important was the development of a cap (“capping”) of each tile’s slat-top by baking in a microscopic glossy plastic layer during the manufacturing process.  This was the icing on the cake; almost quite literally.   It crowned the newer WPC deck tiles as KING of the Road, changing the world of deck tiles because they were no longer prone to water absorption and mold growth.  They were now waterproof and weatherproof.  

Over  2017-2018, these heavy-duty deck tiles lost their plastic-looking finish from the capping layer, however, they retained the cap’s  barrier function.  The cap layer also provided a substrate for chiseling (embossing) the tile, so that wood-grain patterns and textures could be applied during tile production process..  Moreover, under natural sunlight, balcony floor installations utilizing particular tile patterns such as parquet (checkered) or herringbone (tiles at 90º, to each other) thoroughly highlighted the faux-wood grain finishes.  It provided amazingly contrasted eye kandy.  This gave another positive jump in the evolution of composite deck tiles because they started to resemble real, natural wood.  This wood grain texture made them pleasing to the eye; amazing stuff when certain tile patterns were installed (especially herringbone) .  Capping and embossing also allowed for colour and wood grain variations among tiles of a particular line.  In fact, the newest tiles have colour and grain variations within a single slat of a single tile.  

 [INSERT WOOD GRAIN TEXTURE PHOTO; TILE EDGE SHOWING CAP; HERRINGBONE INSTALLATION PHOTO].

Finally and most recently, the cap surface layer was designed to increase slip resistance when walking on wet tiles, thus preventing slip and fall accidents.  This also incidentally led to a great feeling when walking barefoot on a tiled floor.  No shoes required.  In fact, no shoes is highly recommended when it comes to high quality interlocking wood-plastic composite deck tiles.  

Herringbone (above) and parquet floor patterns give the false appearance that two different tiles were used 

Speaking of sunlight, WPC tiles are not susceptible to the fading effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light.  This is the case for plastic or wooden deck tiles which inevitably will fade after two years or so (depending on the amount of sun exposure).  To regain their original appeal, wood products must be sanded and stained which costs time and money.  Plastic tiles cannot be refurbished. 

Acacia wood tiles (e.g. Ikea, Costco) are not a good choice because they simply cannot handle the harsh Canadian climate.

WPCs do not require maintenance other than the occasional vacuuming and spray mop.  “The end product of combining wood and plastic into WPC composites is greater than the sum of its parts”, many outdoor flooring and decking specialists concluded, as did the tile manufacturers, after their creation.  In addition, WPCs are resistant to the mould, rot and general decay that affect wood deck tiles in damp, moist environments.

Dilapidated Balcony — Just dismiss the spray paint, oil marks and unkempt furniture for a second and take a close look that the surface of these old, wooden deck tiles.  Do you see it?  YES!  That’s right… Mother Nature will have her way eventually.  It’s our job to slow that process down.  😂

Another fantastic feature of WPC patio deck tiles in addition to being waterproof and weatherproof, their plastic bases keep the deck slats elevated above rainwater.  Along with water channels designed to allow fluids to flow under the tile, these features prevent pooling of water.  Furthermore, slit-like holes between each tile slat encourages ventilation and water evaporation further contributing to water egress. 

The latest generation of wood-plastic composite deck tiles have a microscopically thin glossy “capping” that prevents water absorption.  This is important because once this happens to plastic or inferior wood-plastic composite flooring, the product will warp.  This same layer prevents scuff marks as well as offers resistance to slip and falls.  

Latest Generation Wood-Plastic Composites are Superior

In the past year, the cost of wood-plastic composite deck tiles has become more affordable.    crowned, “KING of the Road”, for several other reasons.  The newest WPCs (which we carry) are incredibly durable (said to last well 15-20+ years), weatherproof, mould-proof, windproof, maintenance-free and most of all, look GORGEOUS. ¶¶

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