Can I Use Porcelain Tile on an Exterior Veneer in a Freeze Thaw Climate?


Can I use Porcelain Tile on an Exterior Veneer in a Freeze Thaw Climate? - I am interested in using a "frost proof" porcelain ceramic tile application for about 3300 sf of exterior wall application for a light industrial building/office in the Buffalo, NY area. Though I read that porcelain ceramic is suitable for this application (a harsh freezing winter environment), I don't seem to find either applications that have been done or contractors who have done this. I have become pretty skeptical that this is a viable option. I do like the aesthetic quality of Porc Ceramic tiles I have looked at but do not want to be the "guinea pig" for someone who has never done this. Do you have any information on case studies where this application has been successful (not forensic cases!). I have stripped the old facade on the building down to the CMU. I may go with brick or face brick if I cannot gain confidence in a Porc Ceramic system.


ANSWER - I know there have been lots of exterior veneers where porcelain tile has been used in freeze thaw climates over the last 20 plus years.  We have worked on several ourselves over the years.

Not all porcelains are created equal, so you should get a data sheet from the manufacturer of the porcelain tile indicating it is suitable for your Buffalo, NY conditions.  You can have it tested in a laboratory to verify its performance. Technically a porcelain tile should have an absorption rate of 0.5% or less, which makes it impervious by definition, but you should still test it to verify.

I would apply a liquid applied waterproof/crack isolation membrane over the CMU after it has been properly scarified, cleaned, and prepared the substrate, as required by industry standards.  I would use a single source installation product system from a manufacturer who provides a minimum 10 year labor and material warranty for those conditions.  Go to our website at for a list of manufacturers with links to their websites.

Most important is that you provide quality control during the installation to make sure the installers are installing the tile per architect's specifications, industry standards, and product manufacturer's requirements.

We do provide quality control services to verify the suitability of the tile and the application, to make sure the installation specifications are appropriate and clear, and to provide onsite quality control services and training during the installation. We do have inspectors in the New York area.  Please visit our website at for more information.

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