Homeowners crave products that bring a touch of the outdoors inside and now many are clamoring for the reverse: pavers that take the beauty and versatility of interior flooring tiles out to the backyard. With new frost- and slip-resistant properties, these formerly interior-only products are being used for walkways, patios, and even decks.

“More and more homeowners are viewing exterior spaces as an extension of their living space,” says Denver-based designer Mary Atwater of Debra Toney Residential Design & Development. “So materials that transition from indoors to outdoor are becoming increasingly popular, as are those that are durable and easy to maintain.”

New York builder Marc Schlesser, chief design officer of MyHome, finds his clients gravitating toward this continuity. “People like matching,” he says. “If they live in a house with an opening to a patio and swimming pool, they can leave everything open in the summer months.”

Manufacturers are stepping out with new styles, types, and sizes of outdoor pavers to accommodate this trend. Builders too say they see a renewed interest in this centuries-old building material as ground cover for yards in just about any climate.

Designed in Italy, Chateau Lyon glazed porcelain tile from Esquire mimics the subtle shading of natural aged stone in four colors and comes in a variety of sizes. “A lot of people like natural stone,” says Schlesser. “It's a matter of look. Homeowners who want an old style for a traditional house will probably go for something natural that has a patina.” Reclaimed stone tile from Israel such as Ann Sacks' Antique Biblical Limestone, “rescued” from old buildings ready for demolition and reformatted, are currently among his clients' favorites.

Marazzi's Super Saltillo glazed porcelain is a dead ringer for high-maintenance terra-cotta. These frost-resistant pieces have slightly rounded top edges and come in two colorations. But it's buyer beware with natural stone, says Jim Dougherty, Florim USA executive vice president of sales and marketing. “What people don't realize is that stone absorbs moisture and stains easily,” he says. To appease those who want the look of the real thing without the maintenance, his company developed products such as the AFI brand Antelope Canyon and Esquire Chateau Lyon glazed porcelain tile collections. Both have been engineered for outdoor use.

With the texture and slip resistance of slate, Crossville's Buenos Aires Mood series of porcelain stone tile is available in five subtly shaded colors, such as creamy Polo and grayish-beige Pampa (shown). Rock Solid. If tile meets International Organization for Standardization for frost resistance, then it is appropriate for outdoor use, says Vancouver-based tile consultant Patti Fasan of Professional Attention to Tile Installations.

An example is Keope's Percorsi d'Italia, which looks like paving stones and is guaranteed to be frost- and slip-resistant. Moreover, unlike stone, the tiles have installation-friendly square edges, and have been calibrated, which means they are reliably consistent as to thickness.

Meanwhile, Panaria's Pietre di Fanes is designed to be a dead ringer for the smaller stone formats, brick shapes, and peacock fans found in European courtyards, piazzas, and terraces.

Down to Earth from Metropolitan Ceramics has commercial strength, natural slip resistance, and a low absorption rate, the manufacturer says. Colors include red paver, golden desert floor, gray cobblestone, and earthen bedrock. “The porcelain manufacturers have made a lot of progress in terms of imitating stone,” says Schlesser. “Sometimes I have to look really closely at a product to tell what it is.” This is due to recent innovations that produce life-like textures and a single coloration as well as digital printing with natural clays. This technique, used in Ceracasa's new Emotile, fills the surface reliefs and doesn't repeat within a minimum of 52 square feet.