Plastic tiles for garden paths: is it worth the candle?

Polymers, as the know-how of human thought, are gradually replacing natural materials from landscape design, imitating their appearance, but winning in terms of characteristics and price. And if people are already used to plastic gnomes and pools, then plastic tiles for paths are used less often than paving stones or stone. It is being actively introduced into city squares and streets, and an ordinary summer resident is still cautious or simply not familiar with the technology of laying this material. Let's try to understand the nuances of building garden paths from different types of plastic tiles.

How is plastic tile different from polymer?

On the Internet, often all tiles that contain polymers are called plastic. Therefore, in this category you can see a material made of 100% plastic and a mixture of polymers with natural ingredients, such as quartz, crushed wood, etc. But in terms of durability and beauty, the coatings are completely different.

Pure plastic looks simple, it has low frost resistance, after several winters it begins to burst, crumble, gradually fade, etc. Such tiles are used as a temporary coating so as not to carry dirt into the house, or in places near outbuildings where aesthetics are not so important.

Plastic tiles are produced in bright colors and unusual designs, but over the years they lose their spectacular appearance and begin to crack at the joints

The mixture of polymers and quartz sand is highly durable, thanks to a quartz additive that will withstand both frost and active movement of people and transport. But in appearance, such tiles remain artificial, not imitating any other materials. Its monochromatic embossed surface is perfect for paths near pools, ponds, where high humidity threatens natural surfaces. But not everyone chooses polymer sand tiles as the main one leading from the gate to the central entrance to the house. If the house is sheathed with artificial material, for example, siding, then the coating will look harmonious. But against the background of wooden or stone buildings, such a path will lose in aesthetics.

By the ideal smoothness of the surface, you can immediately recognize that the coating is made of artificial components, but the track will not slip in any weather

The decking has the most luxurious look - a decking board, in which wood flour is mixed with polymer additives. Outwardly, it strongly resembles wooden planks, i.e. natural parquet, therefore the appearance of the path turns out to be solid and respectable. It is only a stretch to call decking plastic tiles, since different manufacturers add shredded wood and polymers in different percentages. These components can be mixed in a ratio of 50:50, but the closest in texture to natural wood are coatings, where there are only 20% polymers. Accordingly, the requirements for styling change. The more natural in the composition, the more it is afraid of moisture, which means that it requires an appropriate foundation.

The texture of decking is very similar to natural parquet, but it is much easier to install due to the large size of the tiles.

Laying modular tiles: assembly by type of constructor

Modular plastic tiles for garden paths most often have a perforated surface so that moisture and dust can freely escape through it. Such tiles are joined together using locks located along the edges of the ribs. Their assembly resembles a game with a children's construction set, so even a child can assemble a track.

Often, for a firm fixation of modules in the plastic tile, additional fasteners are provided, which makes the coating more resistant to stress.

Lattice tiles are laid on any flat base in which the height differences do not exceed half a centimeter. They can be laid both in a straight line and with turns at right angles. Tiles are laid on the lawn without any preliminary work, since the surface has already been leveled before the site is sown with grass.

You can lay plastic tiles on the lawn in just half an hour, but in order to save it for a long time, the path must be dismantled and hidden in the outbuilding before winter

When laying on the ground, for example, when creating paths between the beds, it is recommended to first line the base with non-woven material so that weeds do not break through, and on top to join the tiles.

If there is an old concrete path with cracks and potholes on the site, then first it must be slightly repaired, covering all visible defects with glue or cement mortar, and a modular coating should be put on top. Modular plastic tiles are not designed for strong static loads, so they can only be walked on.

Polymer sand tiles: laying as paving stones

Tiles made of polymers with quartz additives appeared as an alternative to paving stones, which are capable of absorbing moisture and from this gradually collapse. The plastic coating does not have this problem. And yet, the technology for laying polymer sand tiles is identical to concrete. It is necessary to create the same trough, sand and gravel cushion, put curbs, etc. Moreover, you can put it on a concrete base, crushed stone or an ordinary sand-cement mixture, depending on the load that your path must withstand. We have already written about all the intricacies of laying in the articles Technology for laying paving slabs and Rules for laying paving slabs on a concrete base, so we will not describe the process in detail here.

Let's just say that the quality of laying the base in the future will affect whether your paths will maintain a perfectly flat surface through the winter. At the seams, moisture will still seep between the tile and the base, and if the sand is poorly compacted, it will sediment, thereby pulling all the upper layers with it. Conversely, concrete will not let water through unless drainage holes are created and will block it under the tiles. And in winter, expanding, the ice puffs up your path. The tile itself will not suffer, because it is not afraid of either water or frost, but the path will have to be shifted.

In Europe, they figured out how to get rid of plastic paths from heaving in a completely simple way. Instead of creating a trough and a pillow, fertile soil is removed there by no more than a shovel bayonet, the surface is leveled with densely compacted sand and extruded polystyrene foam is laid on top of it - an insulation that is absolutely impervious to moisture and therefore does not freeze in winter, keeping the structure warm. Next, the usual sand-cement mixture is poured into which the tiles are laid. The seams are filled with sand. This technology is especially in demand in Finland, where swampy soil during the winter lifts even concrete slabs at airfields, not to mention lightweight plastic.

Some owners complain that in summer, polymer sand tiles give off a specific smell, but if it is regularly spilled in the heat, then this problem will not occur.

Decking: decent look + simple installation

Decking in another way is called decking, liquid wood or garden parquet, emphasizing its outdoor purpose. It consists of thin strips resembling parquet planks, which are fastened together in 4-5 pieces into one tile. There are gaps between the slats for the passage of water. The width of the gaps varies from 0.1 to 0.8 cm, and when laying a garden path, they are guided by soil moisture. The higher it is, the more clearance you need to select the decking.

There is also a seamless version of decking, which looks like elongated rectangles. But you shouldn't use this type of decking for tracks.

To ensure good moisture wicking and ventilation of the material, manufacturers have created a square deck with two components: a wood-like exterior and a backing. The substrate is a plastic lattice with perimeter fasteners for joining the tiles together.

Thanks to the plastic backing, the garden parquet retains its ventilation properties, removes moisture and thereby extends the service life up to 50 years

It is necessary to lay the decking on a flat, hard surface where the coating will not sink and maintain an air gap due to the backing. That is why sand is not used as a base. The lattice substrate will simply press into it and cease to function.

Optimum base materials:

  • concrete;
  • boards;
  • a layer of fine crushed stone or gravel;
  • ceramic tile.

Of the listed options, boards and tiles are used more often on open terraces, and concrete is poured for paths (if vehicles move along them) or they are dumped with rubble (a layer up to 5 cm is enough).

You can decorate the edge of the track with either a skirting board or side overhead strips.

As you can see, polymers are capable of acquiring completely different characteristics due to the introduction of other components into the composition. Therefore, before buying a plastic tile, check its composition so that you know how long your path will last.

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Types of garden paths

All tracks can be divided according to the type of material from which they are made. You should choose the material for making the path based on the style of your garden and financial capabilities.

Concrete or concrete tiles

Paths with such a surface, perhaps, have the highest popularity in the summer cottages of our country. Such paths are frost-resistant, durable, very durable and relatively inexpensive.

Concrete path

Concrete tiles can be used for both footpaths and motorways. The concrete slabs themselves can have different configurations: hexagon, wave, brick, corner, etc.

A natural stone

According to many, this is the best option from an aesthetic and practical point of view. However, such paths will cost you dearly. For the production of natural stone paths, marble, granite, labradorite, basalt, limestone and others are used.

Natural stone walkway

Today you can buy natural stone track coverings of absolutely different colors and shapes. Small grass or moss looks especially important between such stones.

The grass between the stones looks very picturesque

Important: do not forget to consult a specialist about how slippery this or that material is.

Pebbles, gravel and rubble

This is perhaps the least laborious and fairly cheap option. All that is needed to create such a track is to clearly outline the boundaries, purchase material and fill it with an even layer. This option is also suitable for places where the path is difficult to pave with something else due to its configuration.

Gravel path


The brick has earned trust for its ease of installation, relative cheapness and warm colors.

Brick path


On sale today you can find a huge number of wooden track pavements. They are treated with a special compound against slipping and decay. But those who prefer durable options should still choose other coatings.

Board path


Such paths are an excellent economical option for many summer residents. Most often on sale you can find flooring 30x30 cm in size, which can be easily connected to each other.

Plastic track. Photo from

Ceramic tile

The main advantage of such a coating is its decorative appearance. The surface of the tiles is covered with glazes of different colors, which makes it possible to make paths with a variety of patterns or even use waste after repairs.

Ceramic tile

There is a huge selection of tiles that imitate natural stone. As in the case of a stone coating, do not forget about the slipperiness of the tile. It is better to choose corrugated options.

Decorative concrete

This material is suitable for those who cannot choose between tiles and ordinary concrete. The composition of this material includes various additives that make it resistant to temperature extremes, mechanical damage and ultraviolet light.

Exposed concrete walkway

However, every year such paths will have to be treated with moisture-proof solutions. The price of decorative concrete is on average 2 times higher than that of paving slabs, which also reduces the demand for it.

Tracks from scrap materials

This species is gaining popularity today. The creation of such a track will cost you inexpensively, but it will bring a lot of positive emotions. That is why tracks from scrap materials are becoming more and more popular today. You can:

  • Make a stepping path from homemade segments, the so-called stepping stones, or from log cuts

A path made of wooden saw cuts

  • Lay out the mosaic on the pebble path

Pebble path

  • Or even plastic lids.

A path made of plastic lids. Photo from

The number of options is limited only by your imagination.

After choosing a cover for your garden path:

  1. Think about where it will be located. The starting point for planning is the home. It is desirable that the main routes go without winding bends. It is best to pull the threads along the path of the paths.
  2. Don't forget to define the width of the track. There is one basic rule: two people walking towards you should calmly pass each other on your path. It is optimal to make garden paths 1-1.5 m wide, and paths no more than half a meter.
  3. We take into account the slope of the track. It is necessary so that water does not stagnate on it. If the path bends around the flower garden, it is better to make the elevation a few centimeters. This will help keep it dry after watering the flower garden.

It doesn't matter what material you will make your garden path - concrete, natural stone, wood, brick, plastic - do not forget: this is a creative process. Your possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Track creation is a creative process

The variety of materials on sale today is able to satisfy the most unexpected requests. Go for it and you will succeed! The following track publications will be of great help to you:

Video description

How to make paths from natural stone, this video will tell:

Concrete allows you to create an integral canvas, which is distinguished by its durability and high strength. Not afraid of sudden changes in temperature or moisture, does not accumulate water. Other materials can be stacked on top. The alleys are quite expensive due to the need to use a large amount of crushed stone, sand and cement. The paths are practical, but not the most beautiful, but you can refine the alleys by adding other materials.

Gravel is an inexpensive material, but its cost will be different in different regions, taking into account fractions, volumes, type and weight. An environmentally friendly material that is easy to install, the process does not take much time, and has good aesthetic properties. However, such a track coating is not able to withstand heavy loads. Over time, it can "grow" into the ground, clogged with debris, overgrown with grass, so a good substrate is needed. Gravel is impossible to sweep, it is not distinguished by the highest comfort of movement.

Grass often sprouts between the slabs that cover the garden path; it has to be removed manually.

Grass paths give the site maximum natural beauty and are the most sustainable option. It is very pleasant to walk along such alleys barefoot even after rain.But the grass cannot withstand heavy loads, from frequent movement it begins to be trampled over time, constant care is needed.

Durable tennisite is also an ecological material, it is characterized by injury safety, it is easy to care for, and is water permeable. During drought, a lot of dust forms on the surface, it is necessary to periodically moisten it.

The characteristics, advantages and disadvantages largely determine the choice of a suitable material. Also, the choice of material is influenced by the design of the landscape, the characteristics of the soil and the appearance of various materials.

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