Are Snap-Together Patio Tiles a Good Fit for Your Yard?

These inexpensive tiles can cover an unsightly slab of concrete in no time

Illustration of snap-together patio tiles
Illustration: T.M. Detwiler

Creating the perfect outdoor hangout doesn't have to be a huge expense.

It's true that if you're replacing or building a deck, you'll spend thousands on the labor of framing out a new foundation and acquiring permits—and that's before you factor in the cost of the decking material itself.

On the other hand, if you've got an unsightly slab of concrete or other solid surfacing to cover, patio tiles might fit the bill—and they won't break the bank.

These outdoor flooring products are marketed as an inexpensive, easy way to upgrade your cement patio or porch into a chic deck. The products we tested are indeed simple to install, says a CR test engineer, Joseph Pacella.

The interlocking 1-square-foot tiles (sold in sets or as single tiles) have grooved edges, so all you need to do is line up the corresponding tabs, then press down until they click into place.

The options we tested were pretty budget-friendly. To cover a small area, say, 144 square feet of patio, using Ikea's Runnen tiles, for example, you’ll spend a total of about $320. If you want real wood tiles, such as Archatrak or Bare Decor tiles, that same square footage will cost you substantially more, $980 to $1,650. That's a lot more than the composite tiles from Ikea but still far less than what you'd pay for a brand new deck foundation. 

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In our labs we evaluate how these materials hold up against typical foot traffic, stains, and dents, as well as how slippery they are—the same roster of tests we put traditional decking materials through. The full results of those tests are several years away—we're simulating nearly a decade of UV and rain exposure to see which materials weather the elements for the long haul.

After one year, Ikea’s inexpensive plastic deck tiles have done the best overall in our initial tests, though the teak tiles from Bare Decor offer good slip resistance. 

RESISTANCE TO . . .
Wear Slipping Staining Surface Damage
Archatrak SwiftDeck
IPE Wood Tile

$11.45 per sq. ft.
2 4 2 2
Bare Decor EZ-Floor
in Solid Teak

$8 per sq. ft.
2 5 2 2
Ikea Runnen in
Dark Gray

$2.29 per sq. ft.
2 4 5 5

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the September 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.