Garden Porcelain paving products are a relatively new to the outdoor tile market, but as word of their toughness, strength, quality and reliability spreads, they are rapidly becoming a highly popular material choice for the landscape gardener and home owner.
This article will discuss the pros and cons of using Garden Porcelain tiles in your outdoor space and what makes them stand apart other tiles/products on the market.
One of the big selling points of Garden Porcelain paving is that it's low-maintenance, with Garden Porcelain paving companies promising an easy to maintain tile that you’ll only have to clean once or twice a year.
Often, with traditional stone paving is that, although it looks lovely when initially laid, it very quickly succumbs to stains and ages very rapidly. Garden Porcelain tiles can give the same aesthetic appeal but can stand up to the test of time and cause less maintenance.
Why Outdoor Garden Porcelain Tiles?
Garden Porcelain tiles are more durable than the natural stone and timber they replicate, most do not require post-installation sealing, they have in-built UV protection that will prevent them from fading in direct sunlight, and will not absorb water or be susceptible to staining from organic matter such as leaves/moss.
Garden Porcelain is ideally suited to use outdoors as it is extremely strong and hard-wearing. Tougher than timber, stronger than stone, Garden Porcelain represents the ideal solution for outdoor paving for gardens, terraces and swimming pools.
Often natural stone or concrete slabs are used on patios, however these materials can require regular cleaning and sealing, and can look a little old fashioned.
Once installed, it is highly unlikely for a Garden Porcelain tile to crack, and the most common time for cracking to occur is during installation or if something very heavy and hard is dropped from height onto the paved area.
How To Lay Outdoor Garden Porcelain Tiles?
Due to being very dense, Garden Porcelain tiles can be more difficult to work with too. The things that make it so long-lasting and reliable, also make it harder to cut through and layout.
A powerful diamond blade wet saw is needed to cut Garden Porcelain tile. Wet saws can chip porcelain tiles, so tile installers use tricks to ensure a cleaner cut. A wet saw with an adjustable blade is best, but a standard-depth saw can reduce porcelain chipping. Working slowly and with a new blade helps prevent chips.
Garden Porcelain paving slabs should be placed on a solid mortar bed made with a maximum of 4 parts sharp sand / grit to 1 part cement, with the addition of a slurry bed on the back of the tile. But you should always try to match the strength of the bed to the density of the slabs you are installing. It is recommended that you lay the slab into position, one corner at a time – this ensures an accurate placement. Also, rather than laying a bed of mortar for all your pavers at once, it is good practice to work on one paving slab at a time. That way, the mortar won't dry before you actually get the chance to install your pavers. (Always consult your landscaper).
What size spacers for outdoor Garden Porcelain tiles?
Regardless of the type or style of tile (porcelain, ceramic or stone) a minimum of 3mm tile spacers should be used for outdoor floor tiles. Depending on the tile, the spacer required can go as high as 10mm. Most commonly a 5mm spacer is used, especially if you're using indoor to outdoor tiles.
How To Grout Outdoor Garden Porcelain Tiles?
Sanded grout is recommended for any install using ceramic, porcelain, granites, flamed or brushed marble, terrazzo, rock pebbles or meshed pebbles with a 1/8" or up grout joint.
It is not advisable to use short-cut brush in jointing compounds on Garden Porcelain. A brush in jointing compound will not last the test of time and may need replacing several times over during the life of the porcelain.
The surface of most ceramic and porcelain tiles do not need to be sealed, although some require a light application of a penetrating sealer to fill the micro pores on the surface of the tile. However, the grout joint between the tiles is usually very porous and generally made of a cement-based material.
How To Cut Outdoor Garden Porcelain Tiles?
It is not possible to accurately cut these types of paving slabs with hand tools or with basic abrasive blades, even if they are marked as suitable for cutting stone or hard materials. For quality installations, cutting is critical, otherwise a good finish will not be achieved.
A powerful diamond blade wet saw is needed to cut porcelain tile. Wet saws can chip porcelain tiles, so tile installers use tricks to ensure a cleaner cut. A wet saw with an adjustable blade is best, but a standard-depth saw can reduce porcelain chipping. Working slowly and with a new blade helps prevent chips.
Do Outdoor Garden Porcelain Tiles Need Sealing?
Fully vitrified or glazed porcelains (the largest group/type of porcelain) are non-porous so technically do not need sealing. But you can use a micro top-coat sealer to alter colour or produce a sheen.
Polished porcelain tiles however do require sealing. This is because the surface of the porcelain tile has microscopic holes in it. These are produced by the polishing process. When the tiles are being installed, adhesive and grout can become stuck in these microscopic holes and produce an effect called 'grout haze'.
Are Outdoor Garden Porcelain Tiles Slippery?
Outdoor Garden Porcelain tiles are not slippery. Similar to natural stone or concrete, there are many different types of finishes that are possible in porcelain tiles, with different levels of traction in each type of finish. Compared to other non-synthetic floor tiles that are available, porcelain pavers are the most slip-resistant. That’s because the manufacturing process uses very dense clay and granite which is non-porous.
As a result, water does not soak into the concrete bed easily and evaporates from its surface. This isn’t the case with most stone tiles. Garden Porcelain tiles are manmade. This makes it much more straightforward to add special slip-resistant surfaces to them.
There are ratings for anti-slip tiles based on assessing the trip resistance of surfaces. These slipperiness calculations give an R-value to surfaces. Usually, outdoor Garden Porcelain tiles have an R11 resistance rating.
To get this resistance rating, outdoor Garden Porcelain tiles have a special texture added to their surface during the manufacturing process. This texture increases the slip resistance of the individual tile.
Unlike natural stone surfaces, porcelain tiles are non-porous. They don't absorb moisture and so will not attract algae or moss. This is another factor that helps stop porcelain tiles from becoming slippery.
How Thick Should Outdoor Garden Porcelain Tiles Be?
Outdoor Garden Porcelain pavers are 2cm thick, or 20mm. 2cm porcelain pavers are designed and manufactured, specifically with exterior use in mind. outdoor tiles should be at least 20mm thick to withstand the pressures of your garden.
Thicker tiles are able to support heavier loads meaning they're ideal for driveways and patios. Thicker tiles can also cope better in inclement weather including high winds and heavy rainfall.
Do Outdoor Garden Porcelain Tiles Get Hot?
Porcelain tile is made from feldspar (or crystal powders) and non-porous clay materials. It's practically waterproof, making it a good option for warm, humid climates since it doesn't absorb moisture and is naturally cooling.
With a specialised production, porcelain products offer high resistance to hot temperatures that other pavers do not. Cream, beige, or light gray porcelain will be even less prone to absorbing heat.
Do Outdoor Garden Porcelain Stain?
Porosity refers to the empty space in material; think of something with high porosity being like a sponge, filled with gaps that can absorb all kinds of moisture. When stone paving absorbs moisture, it can be incredibly difficult to get it out again. Since porcelain has such a low porosity, it makes it almost impossible for it to absorb any moisture at all; as a result, it also means that porcelain is very stain-resistant.
However it is still recommened to clean up stains as soon as possible, particularly if you spill stubborn materials such as red wine. If left to sit for long periods of time, such persistent stains can leave marks on your porcelain tiles that will need to be removed.
It's also worth noting that having low porosity has other benefits on top of being stain-resistant, including being very easy to clean! If you do spill something on your porcelain tiles, simple warm water with a bit of soap will be sufficient to move the spill.
How To Clean Outdoor Porcelain Tiles?
Here are some tips on how to maintain porcelain pavers and keep them looking good:
Maintaining Unpolished Porcelain Tiles
If the porcelain paver is unglazed or unpolished, here are the steps to follow to clean it: Sweep the dirt and debris from the surface of the tiles. Cover the tiled surface with hot water and pH neutral cleaning solution. Allow the water to stand for about five (5) to ten (10) minutes. Ensure that the cleaning solution does not dry out. Use a scrub brush to scrub the pavers and get rid of stains. Wipe away the cleaning solution and water, and rinse the floor thoroughly. If you have a wet vacuum cleaner, it will be ideal for sucking up the water. Let the pavers dry
Maintaining Polished Porcelain Pavers
If there is loose dirt or soil on the pavers, sweep it away. You can also vacuum clean it. Use a dry dust mop to sweep and not a broom, as it could be abrasive and scratch the polished surface. Use a pH neutral cleaning detergent to mop the tiles
Make sure you rinse the tiles with water to get rid of all traces of the detergent. Gently dry and buff the tiles with a lint-free, soft rag to impart a sheen and eliminate the chances of watermarks.
In no particular order, we are going to cover some of our favourite outdoor porcelain tiles:
- Marmi Grigio
- Strata Chalk
- Mattstone Grigio
- Moonlit Grigio
- Nordic Anthracite
Marmi Grigio Outdoor Porcelain Tile
Size: 600mm x 900mm x 20mm
A beautiful Grey that looks stunning in any setting.
Levanza Outdoor Porcelain Tile
Size: 1200mm x 1200mm x 10m (NB:10mm)
Stone looking porcelain tiles that use the latest anti-slip technology.
These porcelain tiles can be used outside as well as on floors and walls.
View Levanza Tiles
Strata Chalk Outdoor Porcelain Tiles
Size: 600mm x 600mm x 20mm
Modern & warm, looks great outside and under cover in heated snug.
Mattstone Grigio Outdoor Porcelain Tiles
Size: 600mm x 900mm x 20mm
Looking for the modern contemporary look, well here it is!
Moonlit Grigio Outdoor Porcelain Tiles
Size: 600mm x 900mm x 20mm
White body marble effect.
Nordic Anthracite Outdoor Porcelain Tiles
Size: 600mm x 900mm x 20mm
Classical looking with a chic touch.