Porcelain Paving is the rising star of modern paving products and forms the biggest area of growth in British decorative paving, with its sleek stone or wood finishes appearing in more and more outdoor spaces and garden designs.
But what exactly is porcelain paving? Is a porcelain patio worth the additional cost? Isn’t porcelain the same as kitchen tile? For the answer to these questions and more, welcome to our potted guide to porcelain paving.
How is porcelain paving made?
Porcelain paving slabs are highly compressed clay tiles that are inkjet printed with a high-resolution image to replicate natural stone or wood, then fired at an extremely high temperature resulting in an extremely tough, resilient tile with exceptionally low water absorption. The clay and other minerals vitrify (become molten) during firing, giving the finished slab its incredible strength. Each slab is then carefully machined to give a consistent size.
Porcelain slabs can be thinner than stone or concrete slabs because of their strength, the industry standard is 20mm – beware of cheaper, thinner tiles which are not suitable for the cold and wet UK climate.
Is porcelain paving worth the cost?
Porcelain paving slabs are undoubtedly a premium paving choice, but they have many long-term benefits over traditional paving:
- Durability – extremely hard wearing, frost resistant and non-fading
- Low maintenance – highly stain resistant, easy to clean with a mop, no need for regular sealants or moss/algae treatments unlike natural stone paving
- Versatility – because it is printed, porcelain paving is available in a huge range of colours and natural finishes for contemporary paving projects
- Consistency - quality porcelain paving is machined to a low sizing tolerance resulting in a uniform, premium finish
- Quality – porcelain paving is perfect for clean, contemporary garden landscaping designs. High resolution printing techniques, and surface textures, result in highly realistic natural finishes
What is the difference between porcelain and ceramic?
It’s complicated, but in essence porcelain tiles have a finer composition than ceramic, are more heavily compressed and are fired at a higher temperature. This means that porcelain slabs are far more durable and water resistant than ceramic (less than 0.5% water content), hence are suitable for patio areas, garden paving and other outdoor uses. Ceramic tiles are only generally suitable for indoor use.
One way to tell the difference between the types in situ is to look at the side of the slab. The patterned surface of a porcelain slab will form an undistinguishable layer on top, whereas a ceramic slab will have a defined, glazed layer.
How do I clean porcelain paving?
One of the biggest benefits of porcelain paving is its low maintenance requirements. Because of its stain resistance, all that is needed to clean porcelain is a mop with soapy water, rinsed with a hose. You can use a power washer, however as with all paving be careful not to disturb the grouting between the tiles.
Is porcelain paving slippery?
Quality porcelain paving is slip resistant, despite its smooth, glossy appearance. Our Marshalls porcelain range is certified as R11 (the ‘slip skid’ rating of a tile ranges from R9 for dry-only areas to R13 for areas such as swimming pools) making it perfect for outdoor areas that are occasionally wet.
Will porcelain paving scratch?
No surface is 100% scratch resistant, but porcelain is a highly durable, scratch resistant surface, suitable for high traffic areas. As with any paving stones, always take care when moving garden furniture or plant pots on the surface, lifting rather than sliding.
Will porcelain paving fade?
The beauty of porcelain paving is that it does not fade – the UV resistant inks used in printing, combined with the tough, vitreous composition of the porcelain mean that the slabs you lay today will still look the same in 50 years time.
Does porcelain paving get hot?
Porcelain paving does not get significantly hotter than other types of paving. If your patio is in constant full sun then choosing a lighter paving colour, rather than dark grey or black, will reflect more of the heat away from the surface.
How do you lay porcelain paving?
The method for laying porcelain paving is essentially the same as that used for stone paving, however a porcelain primer will need to be brushed onto the underside of the slabs to ensure adhesion with the concrete base (as porcelain is so water resistant, it doesn’t naturally bond with concrete like stone slabs do), then grouted with a specialist porcelain paving grout.
Another method is to apply the tiles to a pre-installed poured concrete, or concrete slab base using a bed of specialised tile adhesive.
As with all DIY projects, thoroughly research the job before starting, and if in any doubt consult a professional contractor, or the experts at your local branch of AVS Fencing & Landscaping Supplies.
How do I cut porcelain paving?
The sheer strength of porcelain paving does mean that it is difficult to cut and is a task probably best left to a professional contractor or experienced DIYer. Alternatively, many porcelain slabs are produced in varying sizes, so you can design your patio without cutting individual tiles. Cutting porcelain requires a cooled circular saw with a specialised, continuous diamond edged blade. Do not use a standard, segmented diamond blade even if marked as suitable for cutting paving – this can chip or even shatter the slab as it is being cut.
Do you need to seal porcelain paving or use moss/algae treatments?
Porcelain paving doesn’t need regular sealing or treatment for moss/algae growth, unlike some natural stone slabs. The hard, vitrified (glass like) surface is extremely water, stain and frost resistant.
Can you use porcelain paving on a driveway?
Porcelain paving is traditionally used for patios, however some contractors are beginning to recommend porcelain slabs for driveways because of their inherent strength and stain resistance. Specialised porcelain driveway products are also beginning to appear – our advice, always consult an experienced contractor to ensure that porcelain is suitable for your specific driveway project.
Ask the experts
For further advice about your paving project don’t hesitate to speak to our experts at your local AVS Fencing & Landscaping Supplies branch. They can talk you through the different options and even place your order in store. Our ranges of high quality paving are all available for home delivery within our AVS Branch delivery area.