So what are the advantages or disadvantages of either type of tile?
The main advantage of interlocking wood tiles is that the integral plastic base lifts the wood off the surface that they are laid on and enables the tiles to be quickly and easily connected together. With any outdoor wood decking product, the wood should not be allowed to remain in contact with surface water for extended periods, otherwise, it can absorb water and lead to twisting or warping of the wood pieces. So the integrated plastic base on interlocking tiles successfully overcomes this issue.
In addition, the interlocking plastic base makes the tiles easy to install by anyone, even without any particular DIY skills, as it ensures that the tiles are accurately and precisely positioned with constant gaps between the tiles. Normally all that is required is for the final row of tiles to be trimmed to size, which can be accomplished with just a normal hand saw or power saw.
By their very nature however, an interlocking tile with a plastic base is somewhat flexible in one direction, and therefore cannot be used as a structural tile.
Solid wood structural deck tiles on the other hand have two or three solid wood bearers on the underside of the tiles to which the top wood slats are screwed. But if these structural tiles are laid directly on a solid surface such as concrete in an outdoor flooring application, not only is there an issue with them remaining in contact with water for extended periods, but they can restrict the flow of water under the tiles, depending on the configuration in which they are laid.
The easiest way to overcome this issue is by using special plastic spacers on the corner of each tile. Low cost, fixed height plastic spacers are available which raise the tile approximately 1/2″ to 3/4″ off the surface and have inbuilt tabs on the top of the spacer to provide fixed spacing between the tiles. But because the structural tiles do not have any interlocking mechanism, it is essential that tiles used in such an application are installed in locations where there is a boundary wall around all four sides of the area being covered, to prevent the tiles from moving.
One of the most common uses for wood structural deck tiles however is in conjunction with pedestal paver systems using adjustable height pedestals. This allows the tiles to be successfully installed over a sloping or uneven surface. The pedestals can be adjusted by screwing them up or down to create a perfectly horizontal surface, which would be difficult or expensive to achieve by other more conventional methods.
For more information about structural Ipe wood tiles and their use with pedestal decking systems for constructing elevated decks or roof deck applications, call 866 206 8316.