Learn the pros and cons of each option and make the choice that’s best for you.
Because you don’t want to spend your summer hanging out in the dirt.
But really…choosing the right flooring for your backyard, front yard, poolside and patio decking is important and, often, overlooked. People be like “GIVE ME THAT HARDWOOD” and then forget about that little thing called curb appeal.
In fact, most people don’t know what their options are, which makes it hard to make an informed decision on the best outdoor flooring for you. There’s plenty of options out there, but we’re just going to share our very favorites.
This post is a long one, so if you’re interested in a specific type of flooring feel free to skip ahead by clicking on any of the following links:
1. Composite Wood-Look Decking
Probably the most versatile in terms of appearance, composite wood-look decking can give your outdoor patio flooring a rustic, homey feel or a chic, polished, modern look. As we know, wood never goes out of style, making composite wood-look decking a choice that won’t go out of style.
Think of these tiles as a trendier and inexpensive version of the traditional wood deck boards. These tiles give you the most sought after “wood-look”, minus the weight and pain of installation. And, they’re gorgeous!
Composite wood decking gives you the best of both worlds. With modern technology, you can achieve a gorgeous, realistic wood look without the challenges of traditional wood.
Composite deck flooring is like the luxury vinyl of the porch flooring market. Maybe some out-of-date folks are still turning their nose up at it, but others are embracing composite decking as the outdoor flooring of the future. Composite decks, like vinyl floors, bring you realistic wood looks without any of the hassle.
Pros of Composite Wood Decking Maintenance: Listen, we all know wood is notorious for being high-maintenance. Expansion, contraction, termites, wood rot, resanding, refinishing, the list goes on! With composite decking, simply clean off your deck with soap and water when it gets dirty. The end. Fire resistance: We all know wood burns, but composite floors are made to be fire resistant to keep your floor and, more importantly, your family safe. Accessibility: When you’re purchasing solid wood, you have to make sure you get it from a reputable source and that it was legally harvested. With composite decking, you just click, purchase, finito. Perfect for sitting with your morning coffee or evening wine: For me, a wood (or wood-look) deck just screams cozy, relaxing sitting area. If I had one, I would be sitting out there every single morning. Great for balcony flooring: Not every outdoor flooring option works or looks good on a smaller upstairs balcony. Composite deck tiles do Installation: Do you want to work outside in the hot sun for hours, trying to build a deck with a hammer and nails? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Composite deck tiles connect together in a snap, and you can cut them to size with a tile cutter or utility knife. What could take days is now a project you can complete in a few dedicated hours. Eco-Friendly: Newer composite decking is 100% recyclable, made from bamboo, wood fibers, and recyclable resins. Now, you can enjoy the greenery of your yard with a deck made of “green” materials. Cost: Wait, what?! No, I ain’t lyin’ (well at least when you compare it to wood – not necessarily compared to other options)! Everything you read will tell you that composite decking is more expensive, but that just is not the case. Pressure treated wood will run you $15-25 per square foot, while higher end woods will run $25+ (source). Our high-end composite decking runs $9-17 per square foot. So let’s compare the top end composite to the bottom end wood:
$15/sqft + installation at $9/sqft + yearly sealing at $3/sq ft. (average cost of sealing in 2016 via Home Advisor) on a 200 sq ft deck = $4,800 initial cost, but just look at how that $3/sqft sealing adds up over time. At $600/year, that adds to a total (including purchase and installation) of $28,800 over 40 years. Umm, that is CRAZY!
$17/sqft + installation at $9/sqft on a 200 sqft deck = $5,200 with no treatments needed. Then you save $600 on sealing each year, which adds up to a savings of $23,600 savings over 40 years. I’m not kidding. Composite decking will literally save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Cons of Composite Wood Decking
So, composite decking is kinda the bomb if you haven’t noticed. But it does have two noticeable drawbacks.
Heat: Plastics retain heat more than traditional wood, and therefore they will get warmer if they are in a sunny area. They will still remain cooler than concrete, and you can combat the heat by choosing a lighter color. Bragging rights: Yeah, yeah…it’s not real wood. If you’re someone who really cares about using real wood, then composite might not be for you. It doesn’t feel exactly like real wood, so you may not be able to pull one over on your stuffiest dinner guests, but you could definitely fool someone like me! Cost: Wait, but you just said…! I know, I know. Cost is a benefit when compared to wood decking, but compared to the options below, composite deck tiles will still run you a pretty penny.
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2. Porcelain and Ceramic Tile
Is there anything more gorgeous than classic stone patio tiles or a wood patio? I have a secret. Most of those “stone” or “wood” patios you see aren’t really stone or wood at all, but tile. Patio floor tiles, and specifically, porcelain exterior tiles, are often even more durable than natural materials like stone and wood, depending on the PEI rating, so you can really get the best of both worlds.
Pros of Using Outdoor Tile Flooring Cost: You can get gorgeous stone-look or wood-look tile for, like, $2/sq ft. Just to remind you, above we were discussing options at $15/sq ft for wood, so outdoor tiles are a major bargain! Upscale look: Tile can give you not just a natural stone look, but a gorgeous, realistic wood look as well. Maintenance: Tile is famous for being super easy to clean and maintain. Just sweep and mop occasionally, and you’re good to go. Great for entertaining: A tile patio or fire pit area is the perfect place to entertain guests outdoors. Cons of Using Outdoor Tile Flooring Elements: While tile makes a great outdoor flooring option, it’s not necessarily the burliest when it comes to standing up to the elements, especially cold. After a lot of exposure to harsh environments, tile can become damaged, especially if it’s a basic ceramic and not porcelain. Slipping hazard: Some tiles can be extremely slippery, making them a less-than-ideal choice for near pools and other areas with a lot of water.
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3. Artificial Grass
Wait! Don’t leave!
I promise I’m not about to try to convince you that ugly 1980s astroturf is the next big thing and you should get on it right away. It isn’t.
The truth is, turf these days (20-teens turf? does anyone say 20-teens?) is, like composite decking, an incredible lookalike to the real deal! In fact, I bet you pass turf yards on the daily and have no idea.
Now with a realistic look and feel, turf has become a sought-after alternative to real grass. I live in Phoenix. Do you know how much it costs to try to maintain a lawn when it’s 115 out and hasn’t rained in 11 years? Okay, that last part might be a bit dramatic, but that doesn’t change the fact that turf is, like, my dream come true!
Pros of Artificial Grass Maintenance: No more time spent mowing the lawn, setting up sprinklers or staying home for your irrigation; turf requires practically nothing of you as the owner other than the occasional hose down. Seriously, so easy. Looks: Like I said, if you purchase a high-quality turf, no one will know it’s not grass unless you tell them. Allergies: Grass make you itchy? Turf won’t bother you a bit! Great for kids and pets: Kids and dogs love running around in the grass. They’re not going to have the same fun running around a cement patio. You can also get playground turf or pet turf and create a special place for the kiddos (both 2 and 4 legged). It’s soft! Most outdoor flooring options are hard. You have to sit in a chair in order to be comfortable. With turf, you can have a picnic, or just lay down right in the turf, especially since it doesn’t attract bugs the same way traditional grass does. You can keep it cool: One of the cons of turf has always been the heat – under heat, it does get warm and stops feeling soft and, well, grassy. Now, you can easily add some snazzy Hydrochill to keep it cool and natural-feeling all summer long. Cost: While it’s true that it is initially more expensive to purchase turf than grass, just take a look at the cost over the long run!
**Notes about cost:
Information is courtesy of Synthetic Grass Warehouse. Yearly estimations for grass maintenance come in at $2,268, which includes fertilizers, chemicals, irrigation and trimming.
Turf installation price estimates all labor, gravel removal, possible irrigation movement, etc.
Cons of Artificial Grass Upfront cost: Although it is less expensive over time, you do need to be able to spring for the initial cost of material and installation. It’s not grass: Hi, my name is Captain Obvious. But if you’re concerned with having grass that is ONLY GRASS, obviously turf won’t cut it.
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4. Artificial Grass Deck Tiles
You know about artificial grass rolls, but have you heard of these great new grass deck tiles? With grass tiles, you get the best of both worlds – the comfort and convenience of a deck, with the lush greenery of a lawn.
This is the perfect solution for folks who might not have any yard space, but you still crave that yard-like experience. The best part is, there’s basically nothing to it when it comes to maintenance. They interlock together with ease, and they’re self-draining, which is a big plus for those rainy days.
There’s also your pet to think about. Fido and fluffy will want to explore the outdoors too, and these grass tiles are completely pet-friendly. They’re something that the whole family can enjoy.
Pros of Artificial Grass Deck Tiles Virtually no maintenance: No mowing, no trimming, and no watering. Just think of all the time and effort you can save with artificial grass instead of the real thing! Green all year: Tired of looking outside and seeing dead, brown grass in the winter and during droughts? Those drab days are over once you purchase these tiles. You’ll have a lush, green paradise all year round. Self-draining: A self-draining system means no standing water after a big rainstorm. This also keeps the surface from getting too slippery. DIY Installation: There’s no need to hire a pro for installation. You won’t need any adhesives or tools, either. Simply interlock the tiles together, like their pieces of a big puzzle. That’s about as easy as it gets! Long-term cost: As you save on watering and maintenance, these tiles are going to pay for themselves. That’s not the case with real grass. Pest-free: Bugs and other creepy crawlies aren’t going to set up camp in artificial grass. Plus, all the allergens in real grass are eliminated. Cons of Artificial Grass Deck Tiles Not the real thing: Having natural grass is important to some people, so they’ll prefer the real thing over grass tiles no matter what other great benefits come with the synthetic version. Upfront cost: Over time, artificial grass will pay for itself, but that initial cost is going to be more than natural grass. Consider these tiles an investment for a brighter, more easily maintained deck in the future.
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5. Outdoor Carpet
Yes, it is a thing!
Now, we’re not talking ultra-thick, plush bedroom carpet. If you’re going to use carpet outdoors, you need to make sure it’s manufacturer approved for outdoor use. Outdoor carpet is the very short, low pile carpet similar to what you see in offices.
Our ribbed outdoor carpet tiles are often used under covered patios and areas not super susceptible to lots of water. The self-adhering backing makes for a simple but secure installation. Plus, these carpet squares are mold- and mildew-resistant, which perfect for patios, basements, and other areas with the potential for moisture. If eco-friendliness is important to you, you’ll love the fact that many carpet tiles are made from recycled materials.
Pros of Outdoor Carpet Comfort: Carpet, even low pile carpet, is naturally soft and comforting. It gives you a much homier place to hang out outside, especially compared to brick and concrete. Style: You have a lot more options than you would think. Not to mention, many outdoor carpet options are carpet tiles, which means you can mix and match colors and create fun, unique designs. Price: You can get outdoor carpet tiles for under $1/sqft – it’s like they’re giving it away! Cons of Outdoor Carpet Longevity: Outdoor carpet is very durable, but it requires a decent amount of maintenance to keep it in good shape. Also, it just won’t last as long as many of the other outdoor options. Upkeep: Like I said, it requires a lot more maintenance to keep your carpet in good shape. They are built to hold up to commercial traffic and the elements, but it’s still carpet and that means you’ll have to vacuum and occasionally give it a legit carpet cleaning.
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6. Plastic Deck and Patio Tiles
Plastic drainage tiles are like the ultimate outdoor flooring. They’re mold- and mildew-resistant and designed specifically to prevent slipping when they get wet. The vented surface allows water to drain under the tile, so there aren’t any standing puddles after a rain. The hard plastic of the tiles is UV stable, which means the color won’t fade even after extended exposure to sunlight.
Drainage tiles work great for decks and patios, as well as around pools, outdoor showers, and anywhere that moisture might cause some challenges. Installing them is a easy as connecting them with the hook and loop system and laying them out.
Pros of Plastic Deck and Patio Tiles Slip-resistant: Around pools and other high-moisture areas, a safe surface is important. These vented tiles offer plenty of traction, even when wet. Mold- and mildew-resistant: Outdoor flooring faces more exposure to moisture and warmth, which increases the chance for mold and mildew. Drainage tiles are made to resist mildewing, so they stay hygienic. Drains water: Water can come from anywhere: rain, sprinklers, splashes from the pool, you name it. Prevent puddles with drainage tiles in water-prone spaces. UV stable: No need to worry about your flooring fading in the sun. Hard plastic tiles will stay vibrant and look new even after extended exposure to sunlight and UV radiation. Cons of Plastic Deck and Patio Tiles Comfort: Hard plastic tiles aren’t the most comfortable option for outdoor flooring. You probably won’t be doing a lot of lounging on them, but they provide a solid, stable, slip-free surface.
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7. Rubber Flooring
And now for a round of “Floors You Never Thought to Put Outside”.
I’ll take rubber flooring for 600, Alex!
Seriously though, rubber is one of the most versatile flooring options there is. Although it is primarily used as gym flooring, rubber flooring is durable, slip resistant and shock absorbent. That means you can run, play and fall on it all you like, and both you and your floor will come out a-okay.
So where do you start with rubber flooring? There’s a lot of options which can make it a little overwhelming. That’s why we’re breaking it down into the primary outdoor rubber flooring categories: rubber pavers, rubber tiles/rolls and rubber playground flooring.
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Rubber pavers mimic the look of stone, brick and concrete, but give you the resiliency, comfort and ease of rubber. More economical than brick and in lots of cool colors and looks, rubber pavers are versatile and safe, easing your mind if you have kiddos playing outdoors, or just giving you and your guests comfort in your outdoor get-togethers.
Pros of Rubber Pavers Price: Unlike many other outdoor flooring options, you can get rubber pavers for under $2/sqft! Of course, there are pricier options, but they are still usually pretty affordable. Comfort: Rubber is resilient and shock absorbent, making it super comfortable for walking, standing, jumping and back flips.* Slip resistance: Rubber is rare in that it gets more slip-resistant when it gets wet. It’s great for rainy climates, near a pool or anywhere with lots of water. Maintenance: A quick sweep or occasional mop. That’s all.
*Note: You should probably not use rubber pavers to practice backflips…
Cons of Rubber Pavers Longevity: While rubber pavers will last you quite some time, they won’t last as long as something like brick or concrete. Look: You can get brick and cobblestone looks, but they are not the same as the real deal.
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Rubber Floor Tiles and Rolls
These are the guys that most people only think of for gyms and fitness studios, but the truth is, they are super versatile, and they make a great outdoor flooring option!
Pros of Rubber Tiles & Rolls Outside Flooring Price: Like rubber pavers, you can get rubber interlocking deck tiles and rolls for practically a steal! In fact, rubber rolls often start as low as $1/sqft. Comfort: Rubber is resilient and shock absorbent, making it super comfortable for walking, standing, jumping and back flips.* Slip resistance: Rubber is rare in that it gets more slip-resistant when it gets wet. It’s great for rainy climates, near a pool or anywhere with lots of water. Maintenance: A quick sweep or occasional mop. That’s all. Cons of Rubber Tiles & Rolls Outside Longevity: While rubber flooring will last you quite some time, they won’t last as long as something like brick or concrete. Ability to stand up to the elements: Rubber can wear in the sun. It is not as tough as something like concrete that can pretty much handle the harshest environments.
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Related content >> Rubber Flooring: Tiles vs. Rolls
Rubber Playground Flooring
Okay, so this is kind of a niche thing, but it’s still an excellent outdoor flooring option. In fact, if you have playground equipment, I’d be bold enough to say it is the best outdoor flooring option.
No, this may not be your number one choice for a deck or patio, but if you have kids playing and jumping, regardless of equipment, rubber playground flooring is a safe option with lots of colors to choose from.
Pros of Rubber Playground Flooring Safety: Rubber playground flooring is the safest option out there to protect you from falls and even general outdoor roughhousing options are rated to protect people falling from as high as 8′! Durability: This rubber is tough as nails. It will stand up to just about anything. Maintenance: While rubber mulch requires a bit more maintenance, it is still relatively easy. And playground tiles are a piece of cake – a quick sweep and the occasional damp mop and they are good to go. Cons of Rubber Playground Flooring Niche market: Rubber playground flooring is designed mostly for….playgrounds. You can use it in any outdoor area, but it’s typically a pretty niche market. Price: Kind of. Rubber playground flooring is (often) the most expensive outdoor flooring option, but it still comes in well below many of the other choices.
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8. Court Flooring
When the weather is nice, it’s only natural that you’ll want to bring your games outside. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor basketball court, pickleball court, shuffleboard court, or something else entirely, there’s court flooring to meet your needs.
Outdoor sports tiles can withstand the challenges that come with weather and temperature changes. These court tiles for sports are slip-resistant when wet. The perforated surface allows water and dirt to drain, reducing the need for upkeep.
They’re also UV stable, so the vibrant colors won’t fade over time. Speaking of color, you can choose from a wide selection of bold colors to customize your court with team colors or any combination you like.
Pros of Outdoor Court Flooring Slip-resistant: Even when wet, our court tiles provide a stable, slip-free surface to players. UV stable: Since these plastic tiles are colorfast, they won’t fade in the sunshine. That means your basketball or shuffleboard court will look great for years to come. Color options: Display your team spirit with themed colors, or just created the coolest court you can with a wide selection of tile colors. Easy installation: The hook and loop system makes installation a breeze. You can easily install these tiles on your own. When you need to cut, just use a utility knife or fine-tooth tile saw. Cons of Outdoor Court Flooring Not fall height rated: Our court tiles are great for playing sports on the playground, but they don’t absorb impact from fall. If you need flooring to install under playground equipment, consider rubber mulch or playground tiles.
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9. Rooftop Flooring
To create a relaxing rooftop paradise, you need the right kind of flooring. Rooftop flooring, to be exact. Roof tiles are designed to protect rooftops from loud walking, punctures, temperature transfer, which is perfect if you have a lot of people walking around. That means there’s no need to worry when you’re hosting an outdoor event with tons of guests. These durable tiles have got you – and your roof – covered!
The thing about rooftop flooring is that it’s going to be constantly exposed to the elements. There’s nothing up there to provide shade or protection from the rain. For those reasons, it’s really important you get something that holds up well to challenges. Rooftop flooring is built to withstand moisture, UV radiation, high traffic, and just about anything else you can throw at it.
Pros of Rooftop Flooring Designed for drainage: All the water from rain can’t just sit there on your roof! Rooftop deck tiles are developed to optimize water drainage and prevent pesky puddles. No fading: Even after extended time under the unforgiving sun, it won’t fade or discolor, so you don’t need to worry about replacing washed out flooring. Durable: Rooftop tiles are made to add another layer of protection to your floor. They’re great for holding up in high traffic spaces. Cons of Rooftop Flooring Price: Specialized rooftop tiles aren’t the cheapest outdoor flooring option out there, but that’s because they come with so many benefits. Something, it’s worth it to invest a bit more on something you really want to last.
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10. Foam Tiles
Really? Foam? Well…yes and no.
Not all foam tiles are created equal, and most of the low-cost options won’t stand up to outdoor use. However, there are foam tiles specifically designed for outdoor use, particularly near pools and water play areas.*
Soft, durable, slip-resistant and waterproof, these non-porous tiles will make your pool deck safe, fun and stylish.
Pros of Foam Tiles Outdoors Safety: Outdoor foam tiles are soft, cushiony and slip-resistant. They’re great next to the pool to keep kiddos from slipping and falling on the harder surface. Anti- all of the bad things: Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, nontoxic and mold/mildew resistant. Maintenance: To clean these babies, just wipe off the dirty area with a damp cloth. Really. It’s that simple. Cons of Foam Tiles Outdoors Longevity: The truth is, foam is soft and, probably, the least durable of all the outdoor flooring options. It will likely last you a decade, but not necessarily a lifetime. Price: Foam is usually a super cheap material. However, the foam tiles created specifically for outdoor use are built to stand up to the elements, especially water. This means they come at a higher price point.
*For outdoor foam, we only recommend our Life Floor brand.
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Let’s go back in time to 1960s New England. The classic, elegant look of brick architecture. That’s what I imagine anytime I see brick, whether it’s walls or floor. I love it. It makes me feel almost like I’m in a different country traveling the world.
Brick can give you a lot of different options for colors and patterns for your porch flooring and it definitely creates a unique look that sets you apart from the rest. Perfect for by an outdoor fireplace, or a cozy patio, brick is an often forgotten, but gorgeous outdoor flooring option.
Pros of Brick Flooring Durability: This will come as no surprise. Bricks are one of the most durable materials out there, and they hold up well to outdoor foot traffic over the long haul. Cost: This one is tricky. Technically, over the short term, brick is one of the more expensive options. However, if you install brick correctly, it will literally last you until you destroy it yourself. Additionally, brick flooring is different than solid bricks – it usually comes in pavers, which are thinner and significantly less expensive. Look: There is just nothing out there that can compare with the look of natural brick. It adds a very unique feel to your space. Also, as your brick gets slightly worn with age, it just adds even more character and personality. Maintenance: Or…lack thereof. Slip resistance: Brick is naturally slip-resistant. Environmentally conscious: Brick is made from (almost) all natural materials and is often recycled during building demolition to make reclaimed/recycled brick. Warmth: Unlike stone, brick naturally stays pretty warm, but that can also be a negative in hot environments. Cons of Brick Flooring Water retention: Brick is naturally porous. Although it boasts a hard, solid exterior, if you don’t keep it sealed properly, it can retain water. That means you could have problems with mold and mildew down the line. Hardness: I mean….I think we can all agree that brick isn’t exactly soft. Uneven: Brick is already uneven and through natural wear, it will only get more so. Difficult to take up and replace: Removing brick flooring is, well, a process. It’s best to only commit if you can commit for the long haul.
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Does concrete really count as a floor? I guess you could say concrete is the anti-flooring outdoor option.
Many homeowners are drawn to using concrete outdoors because, well, have you ever heard the expression ‘hard as concrete’? You’d have to really put some effort into destroying concrete, which means it will probably last you forever.
Also, you probably don’t even need to do anything. Chances are your house came with a concrete patio and, if you want, you can stain it. Or you can just leave it be and go au naturale.
Pros of Concrete Flooring Durability: Like I mentioned, concrete is one tough cookie. If you go the concrete route, you will probably be able to keep your concrete porch flooring for the entire time you live in the home. Maintenance: I mean, sweeping and hosing when it gets dirty – it doesn’t get much simpler than that. Versatility: With staining and stamping, you can really create a unique, stylish design on your existing patio. These techniques, however, will not last nearly as long as just plain ol‘ concrete. Price: If you just go with the concrete you already have, or even lay some new concrete down without any staining, this is a super cheap option. Environmentally conscious: Since the concrete is usually already present, you don’t have to use any new materials and, if you don’t stain it, you won’t be using any solvents or chemicals. Cons of Concrete Flooring You have to pay to play: Basically, if you want to jazz up your concrete and make it look trendy and stylish, you’ve gotta put some money into it. This changes the lifespan of your anti-floor and comes with the likelihood of chipping/peeling over time. Dirt: Have you ever walked barefoot over concrete and ended up with no dirt on your feet? Yeah, me either. Even freshly cleaned concrete, unless it’s stained, never really looks or feels clean. Hardness: If you’re going to be standing on your patio (for example: if you put a cooktop/grill out there), it is going to feel hard on your joints. Likewise, you won’t want to lay on it the way you would with artificial grass. Conclusion
As you can see, there are lots of great outdoor flooring to choose from. Most of it comes down to location, personal preference and budget. If you’re ready to jump on board, check out a few of our most popular outdoor flooring options.
Ready to get started? Check out a few of our most popular outdoor flooring options:
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