What are Interlocking Deck Tiles?

Posted on June 20th, 2016

Archatrak interlocking deck tiles are squares of precision cut materials (wood, stone, ceramic or composite wood) securely attached to a plastic grid base by either screws or adhesives. The tiles cover an area of one sq. ft. (nominal) except for the Double-C style which covers an area of two sq.ft.

Inbuilt connecting tabs on all four sides of the base enable the tiles to be quickly and easily clipped together over practically any hard surface, creating a continuous “floating” tiled surface. The tiles are not screwed, nailed, or bonded to the surface in any way, so installation requires no special tools, minimal surface preparation, and little effort or time.

The weight of the tiles, the interlocking structure and friction between the plastic base and the surface they are laid on prevents the tiles from moving, except of course in extreme wind conditions such as hurricanes or tornados.


The open mesh base with multiple ‘feet’ enables water to drain away freely under the tiles and provides good air circulation around the tiles, helping to prevent mold or mildew in damp and dark locations. With the SwiftDeck wood deck tile range, it also serves to raise the wood slats off the surface, minimizing cupping or twisting that can sometimes occur if wood is allowed to remain in contact with water for lengthy periods.

Types of Deck Tiles

SwiftDeck wood interlocking decking tiles are manufactured from high durability, hard wearing, dimensionally stable hardwood species. Ipe is the primary wood species we use wood due to its exceptional durability, hardness, freedom from splintering and stability in terms of twisting or warping. Each Colorado and Double-C style tile has four wood slats. Corrosion resistant screws attach the slats to the plastic grid from the underside, providing a smooth, splinter free surface, free from nail or screw heads. The tiles are factory coated with a light decking oil to enhance their appearance and provide some initial waterproofing effect. SwiftDeck tiles are available in either 12″ x 12″ or 24″ x 12″ size.

ResiDeck interlocking composite wood deck tiles are similar to SwiftDeck wood deck tiles except they use slats of co-extruded foamed PVC with ASA capping instead of natural hardwood. Composite wood is generally regarded as a low maintenance alternative to natural wood and is fade resistant, insect resistant, rot resistant and splinter free. ResiDeck tiles are available in 12″ x 12″ size in three colors.

EzyTile interlocking deck tiles combine the beauty and durability of natural granite, slate, sandstone and ceramic with the ease and simplicity of an interlocking, clip together installation . Natural stone or ceramic is bonded to a plastic grid base with a special adhesive. No adhesives or grouting is required for installation as the tiles are simply locked in position on the deck surface with the inbuilt tabs on the integral plastic base. The interlocking tile base also ensures perfect positioning, precise spacing and accurate alignment, without the fuss or frustration of conventional tile installation. EzyTile tiles are available in 12″ x 12″ (nominal) size only.

For most applications however, 3/4″ thick non-interlocking 2′ x 2′ structural porcelain stoneware pavers offer more versatility at a similar price. Although these pavers are primarily designed for installation on adjustable height pedestals in construction of elevated decks and rooftop decks, they can can also be used for on-grade applications including laying over existing concrete surfaces. In this situation, low cost rubber or plastic support pads with inbuilt spacer tabs are placed under each corner of the paver which lifts the pavers off the surface slightly so they will not rock on the surface if there are any slight irregularities.

Archatrak’s structural Ipe tiles are larger format solid wood, non-interlocking pavers designed specifically for use with adjustable height deck supports. Ipe slats are attached to solid wood bearers using stainless steel screws, making the pavers sufficiently strong for mounting on pedestal systems. The pavers can also be laid directly over concrete using low cost fixed height deck supports 1/2″ to 1″ high, to lift the pavers off the concrete and permit good drainage underneath. The standard size of the structural Ipe tiles is 24″ x 24″ but 48″ x 24″ tiles can be supplied on special order. These tiles are primarily used for commercial decks and roof deck applications but can be used for residential decks if so desired.


Interlocking Deck Tiles – Review Features

Posted on June 20th, 2016

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?

HandyDeck 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.
HandyDeck Ipe wood tiles use one of the most durable and hard wearing wood species commercially available. Even HandyDeck Teak tiles have exceptionally good durability, although they are slightly softer than the Ipe wood tiles.
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 HandyDeck 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 HandyDeck, stainless steel screws are used. On lower quality tiles, standard steel screws are used, which may (or may not) have an anticorrosion 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.

How to Choose a Deck Tile

Posted on April 18th, 2016

How to Choose a Deck Tile

With the ever-increasing choices available for interlocking deck tiles, it’s becoming more difficult to decide which tile to use. The notes below hopefully give some useful pointers to consider

Wood species

This is probably one of the most important aspects in choosing a decking tile. As the tiles are normallyy used in exterior applications, its normally best to choose a wood species which has the maximum exterior durability. One of the most durable and hard wearing species is Ipe wood from South America which is used on our SwiftDeck range of deck tiles. In the next durability category, there are a large number of wood species also with  a very high durability rating. A good reliable source to check durability ratings is the USDA Forest Service at http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/Menu.ssi .

But in your particular area you may also need to consider the resistance to insect attack such as termites. But it does not always correlate that high natural resistance to decay implies the wood species has a high resistance to termite attack.

Other wood properties may also be important to you. For example with some wood species, the surface can become quite rough after being exposed to the weather and can cause splinters. With other species, expansion and contraction under certain weather conditions can be manifested as cupping of the surface of the wood slats, although this generally disappears when the wood returns to a stable moisture content. And if a high resistance to fire is required, you may need a species with a high fire rating such as Ipe, which has been given an “A” rating by the NFPA.

As for colour, wood species can vary tremendously in colour, from light straw through chocolate browns to deep orange red colours. However all wood will eventually fade to a soft silver grey colour over time. The speed at which this will occur depends on the degree of exposure to UV sunlight in particular, and whether the wood is treated at regular intervals with decking oil.

Environmental considerations

An important consideration for many people is whether the wood has been responsibly harvested or comes from managed forests. Apart from the well-known FSC certification procedures, there are other government and non-government schemes adopted by some countries which may (or may not) provide some assurances that the wood has been sourced from responsibly managed and harvested forests and not sourced from illegal logging operations.

Wood thickness

Most tiles use wood slats which are approximately 5/8” (15mm) thick although some manufacturers produce tiles with 3/4″ thick slats and others with ½” thick slats. The choice of wood thickness to some extent depends on the location where you intend to lay the tiles and also to the wood species used. For interior situations such as basements, covered patios, gazebos, and other areas not subject to extreme weather conditions, then ½” thick slats maybe entirely suitable. However in areas with more extreme climatic variation, we would suggest that the thicker wood is a better choice. The main potential problem with thinner wood slats is that the slats can experience some cupping on the surface if for example the underside of the wood is wet whilst the surface is exposed to the heat of direct sunlight. In most circumstances however, this cupping will disappear once an equilibrium moisture content is restored.

Plastic base composition

The integral plastic tile bases used on these interlocking deck tiles may be produced from many different combinations of plastic including polypropylene, polyethylene, EVA etc. Whilst different manufacturers have their particular reason for choosing a specific plastic compound, the main considerations in terms of usage characteristics for the tiles are the brittleness of the plastic, the low temperature characteristics (only if you happen to live in a very cold area), and the UV stability of the plastic used.

Generally speaking, extremely high temperatures are not a problem, since the plastic processing temperatures and their melting/softening points are considerably higher than temperatures that are inexperienced in normal use. But it’s extremely important to ensure that the plastic is specifically designed for exterior use and contains a UV stabiliser, as otherwise it can degrade very quickly particularly in areas subject to strong sunlight.

Plastic base design – Interlocking mechanism

Broadly speaking, there are only two types of interlocking mechanism used on decking tiles currently available.

a. Loop and pin design. Female connectors on two sides mesh with male connectors on the other two sides. Most often, the female connectors are a series of loops which mesh with the pins on the other two sides. The pins may be square, round or rectangular shaped, but basically the concept remains the same.

In many cases, the pins simply slip into the corresponding slots and there is no mechanism to lock the pins into a fixed position, so the tiles can be simply slipped in and out as required. Other designs use a one way connector. In other words, once the tiles have been snapped into place, it is almost impossible to pull them apart. Whilst this may have some advantage in situations where for example the surface is somewhat uneven, it does mean that you have to be very careful in laying the tilesplus you no longer have the option of taking up and re-laying the tiles or changing the design at a later stage.

The disadvantage of the loop and pin style is firstly that it requires a bit more thought in laying the tiles as you generally need to start in one corner of the area to be covered and keep on moving from that corner. It is also quite difficult to install or remove this design of tile in the middle of your deck or patio without having to lift at least three of the tiles around it. The other problem is that on the outer edge of final row you will have one tile with loops on the edge and the next tile with pins on the edge. As well as visual considerations, this means that if the manufacturer provides an option of clip-on transition strips, then you need two types of these – one which will connect with the pins, and one which will connect with the loops. And similarly if corner transition pieces are supplied as an option, then you also need two types of these as well.

b. Symmetrical design The other main type of locking mechanism is completely symmetrical so that any side of any tile will lock with any side of any other tile, such as used on our SwiftDeck wood deck tile range.

The advantages of this particular design are that it makes laying the tiles much more simple and easy. You can start laying the tiles anywhere on your patio, you can easily lift up any individual tile anywhere in the deck without disrupting any other tiles, and you only need one type of click on edging strip (reducer) and corner reducer.

Availability of different designs

Some manufacturers only supply one design of deck tile, generally with four slats of wood running in the same direction. Sometimes there is an option of a five or six slat tile. Other manufacturers such as with our SwiftDeck and LinkDeck ranges offer an option of more than one style. You can thus mix and match different styles to make attractive borders, centrepieces or other features. Some manufacturers also offer the option of a double length tile such as the SwiftDeck Double-C tile.

Optional accessories

If you are using the tiles to cover an existing concrete patio, you would probably have at least one open side. On all tiles constructed with an integral plastic base, on the outer edge of final row tiles, the plastic base and the connecting pins will remain visible, unless they are hidden somehow. Thus to provide a neat, professional looking finish, some manufacturers supply optional clip-on transition strips which also have the advantage of reducing the danger of tripping on the outer row of tiles. Corner transition strips are also normally available from such suppliers for the external corners. Generally speaking the transition strips are made of the same wood species as the tiles, although some manufacturers supply plastic clip on edging strips.


Warranties offered with decking tiles may range from as little as 12 months to up to 10 years, and in some cases no clear warranty is even offered. Warranties offered are generally a limited warranty which generally covers defects in manufacturing only and does not cover any natural imperfections in the wood, the effects of the natural weathering process of the wood or if the tiles are not installed or maintained as recommended.

Edge Finishing of a Raised Deck or Porch with SwiftDeck Deck Tiles

Posted on April 18th, 2016

Edge Finishing with SwiftDeck Wood Deck Tiles

A common question we are asked is how to finish off the outer edge of an area where SwiftDeck wood deck tiles are being installed.

Although in many instances the clip on edge pieces which simply attach to the outer row of tiles provide a satisfactory solution, especially in ground level situations such as on a patio, terrace or a walkway, in other situations where perhaps they are being used to resurface a slightly raised deck or on an existing porch, you probably want the edge of the deck to feel as secure as possible. One possible solution to this is as follows.

Firstly you would install a facing board around the outside of the deck or porch area and install this facing board so that it protruded above the existing deck by the same height as the plastic mesh base on the wood tiles (5/16”). Then you would take a wood tile and trim back the plastic base so that the tile when installed would slightly overhang the facing board. The quickest way to trim off the plastic base if you have a relatively large area to cover is normally to use a table saw, setting the blade height to the exact height of the plastic base and making sure that the blades do not hit any of the screws attaching the mesh base to the wood slats. Alternatively you could cut the plastic off with a box cutter, removing all screws that are in the plastic section to be removed.

If you need to install the tiles around a corner, then on the corner tile you would cut the plastic base away on two sides rather than one.

Now when you install the outer row of tiles, the plastic base will butt up against the facing board and will not only prevent any movement of the tiles, but will provide a safe and secure edge to the deck or porch.

The pictures below will explain the procedure in more detail.

Lip over face board on edge of deck
Trimming off the plastic base
Tile with section of base removed
Base sections removed on two sides for corner tile

Installing Wood Deck Tiles on Stairs

Posted on April 18th, 2016

Installing Wood Deck Tiles on Stairs

We normally don’t recommend using interlocking deck tiles on steps and stairs, firstly because the tiles are primarily designed as a “floating” system which are not (normally) fixed to the surface with nails or screws and secondly, they are not really designed to be installed in a vertical plane as required to cover the stair riser.

However if you have a set of wood stairs and are using our SwiftDeck wood deck tiles, there is quite a neat solution which you may wish to consider, although it does require a little skill with carpentry.

Firstly you need to attach a facing board to the stair riser. This board must protrude above the level of the stair tread by the height of the plastic base on the wood tiles (5/16”).

Then you measure the distance between the front of the stair riser and the front of facing board. Cut the tiles which will be used for the stair tread so that they will overhang the facing board by about ¼”-3/8”.   Then take one of the cut wood tiles and trim off a section of the plastic base so that when the tile is laid on the stair tread, the mesh base will fit between the front of the riser and the back of facing board. The quickest way to trim off the plastic base if you have a relatively large number of tiles on the stairs is to use a table saw, setting the blade height to marginally higher than the height of the plastic base and making sure to remove any screws that attach the mesh base to the wood slats which could come into contact with the saw blade. Alternatively you could trim off the plastic base with a box cutter, removing all screws that are in the plastic section to be removed.

Now when you place the tile on the stair tread, it will sit on the tread with a slight overhang over the facing board.

Finally, to ensure the tiles cannot move when walked on, you should screw the tiles to the treads. Drill holes through the wood slats with a countersink so the holes can be plugged. Insert screws, then glue plugs into the screw hole to give a neat finish.

The pictures below will explain the procedure in more detail.

Lip over face board on outside of stair tread
Plastic base trimmed from tile
Drilling holes for screws
Plugging the screw holes

Wood Durability Rating

Posted on April 18th, 2016

Wood Durability Rating

One of the more important factors to consider when choosing a wood deck tile is the lumber species to use, as characteristics such as durability and wearability can vary quite significantly between different wood species. With durability however it’s unfortunately not a precise science as durability can vary quite significantly within the same species. In particular, certain species may be natural harvested or others may be plantation grown and harvested at a much younger age.

Iit’s also important to ensure that any wood chosen does not contain any sapwood, or no more than about 10%. The reason is that sapwood of most hard wood species is non-durable and therefore can decay particularly rapidly even though the heartwood may be classified as highly durable. Fortunately, sapwood can be fairly easily distinguished in most cases because it tends to be a much lighter colour than the heartwood

Wood species are typically graded into one of four durability categories:

Highly durable – Class 1

Generally speaking, the denser, harder lumber species will possess the highest durability. Such species are referred to as Class 1 or “Highly durable”. Examples of such species includes Ipe, Cumaru, Tallowwood and Ironbark. Under normal conditions, and not in permanent contact with water, wood of such species can be expected to resist decay and insect attack for at least 25 years and up to 50 years in many cases. HandyDeck’s SwiftDeck range of deck tiles includes Ipe wood.

Durable – Class 2

Lumber species in the “Durable” group also exhibit outstanding durability characteristics with the wood typically having a life of 15 to 25 years or more. Some species in this group closely approach the performance of the Class 1 timbers even under severe conditions of service. In fact all species in this group may be regarded as approximating the service of Class 1 species where conditions are less severe, as in typical decking.

This group includes a large range of species including Teak, Jarrah, Jatoba, Bongossi, Purpleheart, Selangan batu, Western Red Cedar, Merbau, Blackbutt, Spotted Gum, River Red Gum.

Moderately durable – Class 3

Species in the “Moderately Durable” group can be expected to provide good service life without preservative treatment if the wood is kept clear of the ground with only intermittent wetting followed by reasonably rapid drying. Such species could still be used for exterior decking purposes but it would not normally be advisable to use such species wet weather conditions are more severe unless a strict maintenance schedule of coating the deck with a good quality decking oil is followed.

Some species in this group include Cambara, Kempas, Karri, Eucalyptus saligna.

Non Durable – Class 4

Lumber species in the “Non Durable” group should not be used on decking fully exposed to the weather because of their low natural durability.

Termite resistance

Apart from decay due to weather conditions, in many locations the other factor to consider this insect resistance and in particular termites. Unfortunately there is no direct correlation between durability and resistance to insect attack so both decay resistance and insect resistance needs to be taken into account in termite prone areas. Some species with high resistance to termite attack include Ipe, Cumaru, Jatoba, Teak, Jarrah, Selangan batu etc.

Twisting, cupping and bowing

Although not directly related to durability, another important factor to consider when choosing the wood species is that it should not twist, cup or deform in service. Provided the planks are nailed or screwed securely to the bearers, none of these factors should be a concern, but in the case of interlocking decking tiles it is a much more important issue as there is nothing to prevent the wood from moving in service, and some wood species are more prone to twisting than others. Although not a definitive measurement, looking at the ratio between the tangential and radial shrinkage can give some indication of stability.

Even when properly kiln dried, all timber will expand and contract to some extent particularly in humid or very dry conditions. In such conditions, a timber species with a low shrinkage rate would be preferable. Such species would include Ipe, Selangan batu, Merbau and Teak amongst others.

Using Deck Tiles in Windy Locations

Posted on April 18th, 2016

Using Deck Tiles in Windy Locations

A very commonly asked question is whether interlocking tiles can be used in windy locations. Since each situation is different, it is really not possible to give a definitive answer to this question. But the following guidelines and suggestions may be helpful.

Firstly, in regions subject to hurricanes and tornadoes, there is really nothing that will ensure that any object which is not securely fastened to a fixed surface would not potentially become a flying object, irrespective of whether it was a deck tile or some other article. But since interlocking deck tiles are quite easy to lay down as well is remove, it is quite possible to take up any deck tiles if there is an imminent danger of severe weather conditions, and re-lay the tiles after the danger has passed.

For locations where wind gusts are less severe, there are three features of interlocking deck tiles that will tend to mitigate the possibility of them being lifted by wind gusts.

1. Because they are all locked together by interconnecting tabs on all four sides, is more difficult for wind gusts to lift a completely connected section of deck tiles.

2. With interlocking wood deck tiles or composite wood deck tiles in particular, there are gaps between the individual slats, so it is more difficult for wind to lift individual tiles compared with a sheet of plywood for example.

3. Certain deck tiles such as stone tiles can weigh more than 7lb each so it would take a very strong wind to lift such tiles, especially if they are connected together with interlocking tabs.

What steps can be taken to alleviate concerns about wind gusts lifting tiles?

if the area has a small wall around all sides of the deck, such as might be present on a roof deck, then there is much less chance of any wind gusts lifting the tiles.

For areas such as balconies where there may not be a low wall or lip on the outside edge exposed to the wind, then one suggestion is to purchase lengths of ‘L’ shaped aluminum profile, (preferably anodized to a color which will blend with the tiles) approximately 1″ in width. The profiles should be as long as possible,no less than 8′ for preference. Then depending on the material of the tile, one side of the profile would be screwed to the outside edge of the deck tiles that run along the outside of the covered area. this is easier to achieve with wood deck tiles as with the stone deck tiles, the profile would need to be screwed into the plastic base. So effectively this interconnects the row of tiles more securely and makes it much more difficult for wind to uplift the tiles on the edge of the balcony.

Of course if it was permitted to penetrate the surface on which the tiles are laid, another alternative is to insert at least one screw for each tile on the outside row through the tile and into the surface below.