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slate tiles to cover cement patio

I have two questions! First, I have a cement patio that the last owner of my house mixed and poured himself and attached to the back of my house. It has a huge stain from where the owner's hottub was placed but rather than power wash the cement I would like to cover it with slate tiles. I have looked on but I can't tell which tiles are made for outdoor use. I read online that there are such things as "interlocking patio tiles" that can be used without adhesive but these seem to be pretty expensive. Where can I find details on which slate tiles to use and how to apply them to the cement patio?


Second, when the owner poured the patio cement he did not seal all of the edges so on the corner there are rocks falling out from underneath of the patio. How can I fortify the edge so it won't crack and what can I use to create a better looking edge to go around the patio? The tallest point from the ground to the patio is almost a foot. Thanks!!!!

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Posted 2011-03-22T14:56:15+0000  by nomoremoney nomoremoney



Hello nomoremoney and welcome to the community!


I have to say I like you screen name it really describes the amount of the work being done around your "new' home :smileyvery-happy:


Can you use slate tiles on the outdoors really depend on your geographical location and the type of the slate tiles being used.


In other words, if you live in the cold climates where during  winter you have a frequent freeze and thaw cycles I would be careful when selecting slate.

So in order to determine which slate can uses on your patio I would need to know you location first?


Especially with being said that previous owner poured patio himself and there are some rocks from the base falling out.


Rocks are probably falling out because they were not sufficiently compacted at the first place and in addition concrete may not be air entrained and controlled with joints.


Are there any cracks on the patio and are there any control joints?


When it comes to slate installation control joints need to honored and surface need to be sloped for proper drainage, especially in the cold climates to prevent standing water.


For outdoor tile installation non-modified tile  thinset is recommended.

In addition to thinset I would also recommend DITRA underlayment  to minimize shear interface in between slab movement and slate tiles.


See attached pictures;





To address the falling rocks I would suggest adding some extra gravel around the perimeter and compacting down with hand tamper or vibrator.


This will push back and fill in missing rocks and at the same time will create an ideal base for retaining wall pavers that can be used to border around the patio.


Hope that helps and please follow up so I can further assist you.








Posted 2011-03-22T17:14:45+0000  by George_HD_CHI

Thanks!  I am in Richmond, VA so its not really too much of a weather extreme in either direction. I believe the rocks are falling out at the base because he ran out of cement. It looks like he used wooden boards as a frame while pouring the cement but it didnt seal on one side (he also left a huge pile of dried cement in the driveway from the run-off of the truck). There are no cracks in the patio yet, but that may be because the house is only 5 years old and the patio is younger than that. I'm not sure what control joints are but maybe if you provide a picture. m also not sure if the patio surface is sloped or not. The water drain from the washing mashine empties onto the patio with a downward curving pvc pipe (basically, the house was built with run-off that was supposed to drain onto the ground but the owner decided to install a patio and didnt alter the drain pipes). He also built the patio around the outdoor air conditioning unit. As far as I can tell, when it rains there is no water pooling.  When I get home I can post pictures of all of this if it would be helpful. Thank you so much.

Posted 2011-03-22T17:29:16+0000  by nomoremoney




Hey you are welcome! Thank you for choosing Home Depot!


I would say you are fine when it comes to slate but I would still confirm with manufacturer prior to purchasing a product.


I'm sorry to hear about the huge pile of concrete  that was left in the driveway  but on the other hand that is a good thing at least we know that he outsourced the concrete from the plant and it was not inconsistently mixed by hand.


I'm sure what are you referring to with   ; “it didn’t seal on one side”?

Are you saying that he didn’t seal the boards with form oil so finish is rough right now  or he actually didn’t even pour the concrete on that side ?

Can you attach some pictures?


Here is the picture of the control joint, control joints are planned joints for cracks which allow movement of the slab caused by the temperature changes.





Posted 2011-03-22T18:47:02+0000  by George_HD_CHI

I have been considering a similar project to try to beautify an old and stained concrete 'stoop' in front of my house.  I am in Maryland, so winter weather is not much of a problem here.  My question is: what do you do about grouting or filling the spaces between the tiles?

Posted 2011-08-10T19:16:47+0000  by krigby

Hey there krigby,


Slate is a great way to add some character to your entry way or stoop : )


For filling the spaces between the tiles, you're going to want to use sanded grout.



It's a thicker consistency than it's non-sanded counterpart, and will be what you need for this job.


When working with slate tiles, be sure to make sure that you seal them before you grout. Doing this will keep you from having to remove excess grout out of all the tiny nooks that are intrinsic of slate tile. For the sealer, I like to recommend a Seal & Enhance, especially for slate tile. Not only will it lock out the water and stains, but it also helps give a nice luster to the tile itself that makes it look 10x better in my opinion =D



It will also help if you work in small sections, as grouting slate can be a bit more tricky than if you were working with regular ceramic. I would work in an area of no more than 10sq. ft at a time and clean the haze off the area as soon as possible, that way you aren't backtracking to quickly clean everything before it starts setting.


You can attack it with a traditional grouting float, but I've found the grout bag helps make the job easier for me. (pictured below). Since slate isn't always the "flattest" of surfaces, sometimes the bag helps do the job better where as the float would make for a bumpy ride. It's all about what you find most comfortable though =D



Hope this helps answer your question, and then some. If you need any more help though, just let us know! And be sure to keep us posted on how the project goes...I'd love to see how it turns out!~

Posted 2011-08-11T13:55:12+0000  by Jay_HD_CHI

Also thinking of same project, but do not want slate, any other suggestions for tile? I like the Tuscan or Cobble pavers. I live iin the gulf coast region of Texas, so we have more tropical weather with a little cold weather snaps! What is the easiest and most economical way to achieve a new look to the patio? I will also be adding a roof over the patio to protect from sun and rain. Thanks!

Posted 2011-10-17T16:52:59+0000  by BRN

Hello BRN.  Welcome to Home Depot’s how-to Community!


Rather than tile over your cement patio, I can think of a few easier options.  Rather than using DITRA and thin-set mortar to set tiles, you can install concrete pavers on a bed of sand over the existing patio.  Here is a link to pavers and step stones at  

Concrete Step Stone.jpg


By no means are you restricted to concrete pavers and step stones though.  Also available are plastic resin pavers, as well as Envirotiles.



The least expensive route will be concrete patio stones.  The easiest I think would be Envirotiles.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I thought I would provide links below to a number of Community threads on this topic. 


Laying Pavers over Concrete


Patio help!


Paver patio needs replaced


Proper slope for drainage - Paver Patio


Patio pavers - Block, Brick, Concrete, or polymer? 


A New Designer Life for an Old Rubber Tire: Multy Home Envirotiles



Again, welcome to the Community, and I hope this helps.

Thanks, Newf

Posted 2011-10-18T19:53:48+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Greetings Nomoremoney,

 I too work on a very tight home improvement budget, so here is a quick patio solution, suggestion. Have you considered a concrete paint? It would be a fast, easy and very economical. The paint comes in so many colors or the classic grey, just to freshen up the slab till you get your pennies together for the major facelift.



BEHR Premium Plus 1-Gallon Gloss Enamel Latex Porch and Floor Paint



You should address the crumbling edge as soon as possible. Once again the least expensive way I can think of is to edge the patio with pressure treated landscape timbers. Then of course, being a garden girl, I suggest cutting in a garden bed  around the perimeter the patio, then you won’t see the edge the concrete or the timbers.

I can make some fantastic plant suggestions if you would like.  A rain barrel can collect the water that runs onto your patio from the drain pipes; you can use the collected water to irrigate your new herb beds, which surround your freshly painted concrete living space. I wish that I could figure out how you can recycle your washing machine water to use too...




Well good luck with your patio refresh project! You are in good hands with all information that “steel toes” George gave you! I just wanted to throw out a thrifty, green suggestion. We would love to see some pictures of your project as you go!


Posted 2011-10-27T18:26:35+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS

I would also like to install slate over my existing concrete slab patio; however, I live in Nebraska and it gets plenty cold here.  Can you get frost proof mortar/grout that would tolerate freeze/thaw?  Can you get slate to do the same?  If not, what sort of tile or other product can be used outdoors in my type of climate?   Thanks  Chad

Posted 2012-01-30T23:44:33+0000  by cschlueter


Hello Chad and thank you for your question.


Chad there is really no frost proof mortar, there are mortars that are highly resistant to frost thaw cycles but there is no 100% frost proof mortar, at least not that I know of.


Trick is to properly slope the surface, in your case patio, so that during freeze/thaw cycles there is no standing water on the surface of the tile. So proper drainage it’s the trick to lasting exterior tile installation.


For setting  I would recommend using Uncoupling Mat Mortar in conjunction with Schluter Ditra Mat mentioned in the one of the above posts.
uncoupling mat mortar.JPG


Schluter-DITRA's uncoupling feature protects tile installations from cracking in both interior and exterior applications.  The unique geometric configuration of the membrane provides a forgiving shear interface that allows both the tile layer and the substrate to move independently, thus preventing differential movement stresses that would otherwise result from temperature gradients within the assembly.



When used in exterior applications Uncoupling Mat Mortar needs to be mixed with Thin-Set Mortar Admix ANSI A118.4

 mortar admix.JPG


 As far as the tile goes, tough body porcelain would probably be my first choice in a harsh climate like yours;

tough body.JPG


Hope this helps.




Posted 2012-05-15T18:36:37+0000  by George_HD_CHI
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