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Interlocking Deck Tiles – Review Features

Archatrak Articles

Whilst on first glance there might not seem to be much difference between interlocking deck tiles from various suppliers, it’s important when considering their long-term use to review the main specifications of each tile and check the differences.

Some manufacturers might make claims that theirs is the “best build quality”, that they are “handmade”, that there is “no better deck tile on the market”, that other tiles are just “imitations” made in Third World countries, that they are the “original” manufacturers or designers of all deck tiles etc. But it’s best not to take too much notice of over hyped and unsubstantiated claims but just take a critical look at the main technical characteristics and features.

How Thick is the Wood?

Archatrak Ipe wood deck tiles are 11/16″ thick, considerably thicker than many low cost wood tiles that are available, which are typically just under 1/2″. As well as having a rather flimsy appearance, these thinner tiles are more subject to twisting or warping in certain weather conditions.
And because of the thinner wood, it can be more difficult for the manufacturer to securely attach the wood slats to the plastic base.
A few tiles on the market are 3/4″ thick, but generally speaking, if a stable wood species is used, then this very slight additional thickness will make little difference, if any, to the long-term performance of the tiles.

What is the Wood Species?

It is important for an outdoor decking product that the wood species not only be extremely durable, but it should be both hard and dense so that it resists scratching and scuffing.
Archatrak Ipe wood tiles use one of the most durable and hard wearing wood species commercially available.
On the other hand, many low cost wood tiles use Acacia wood, or low durability Eucalyptus species, neither of which are designed for long-term durability.

Some wood species also weather much better than others. For example Ipe does not splinter as it weathers and maintains a smooth surface, but other species can splinter quite significantly in the long term, and may begin to show signs of cracking.
If you are considering a wood tile made of a specific exotic wood species, we suggest you review the specifications of that species from a reputable online authority.

Check the Plastic Base

There are essentially two main designs of interlocking plastic base. The most common is the ‘loop and pin’ design which has loops along two of the sides which mesh with the pins on the other two sides. Not being a completely symmetrical tile, it’s necessary to think more carefully how the tiles are to be installed. But the main disadvantage is that it’s quite difficult to remove a tile from the center of the paved area once the tiles are laid, because it requires disturbing more than just a single tile to lift up the required tile.

On the other hand, the plastic base that Archatrak uses is a completely symmetrical design so any side will lock with any side of another tile. And lifting a tile from the center of the paved area just requires pulling up a single tile, and then pushing it back down again in the same spot when it needs replacing. No surrounding tiles need to be disturbed. This type of design also has the advantage where edge pieces are being used, in that it’s not necessary to have two types – one to mesh with the female connectors and another to mesh with the male connectors.

It’s important that the plastic base also contains UV stabilizer compounds, otherwise it can degrade when exposed to the sunlight. Unfortunately it’s not possible to tell by simply looking at the plastic, whether it has UV stabilizers added or not, but if a manufacturer doesn’t state specifically that it contains UV stabilizers, then be careful.

The plastic base should also be somewhat stiff and sturdy, not floppy and overly flexible, as a particularly flexible tile can rise up on the edges and therefore create a tripping hazard.

How is the Surface Material Attached to the Base?

On wood tiles or composite wood tiles, the most common method of fixing the slats is to use screws. On higher-quality tiles, including those made by Archatrak, stainless steel screws are used. On lower quality tiles, standard steel screws are used, which may (or may not) have an anti-corrosion treatment applied. Generally speaking however, except in areas perhaps like seaside locations, non-stainless steel screws can in fact last quite a considerable time.

Review the Warranty Offered

You should always check and review what warranty the manufacturer offers, if any!

If no warranty is offered or if a warranty of only 12 months is offered, then you can almost guarantee that the tiles will not last a long time.

If you think about the above points before buying a deck tile, then your purchase should give you years of use and enjoyment from your new deck.