Porcelain Paving

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External Porcelain Tile Paving - Online Shop

Porcelain is a type of ceramic that is made using specific types of fine clay, with the addition of very fine-ground and graded sand plus quantities of the mineral feldspar also added into the mixture. This mixture is sieved and combined in a compulsory shear mixing plant to produce a uniquely smooth and homogeneous base. This mix can be adapted and used through complex pressure moulding and extrusion to make many different things from high quality, but almost see-through china tea services, to high-tech electrically insulated components for specialist applications in many production and processing industries.

Porcelain tiles are produced by moulding this specially produced mixture over a ceramic base mix and this is then fired at higher temperatures (~1400°C) than are generally used for ceramics (~1150°C).

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This results in porcelain tiles that are far denser, less absorbent and more abrasion resistant than normal ceramics. Because these characteristics can be combined with the recent technical advances in being able to virtually print any colours and images into porcelain surfaces, their use is growing tremendously all over the UK.

External grade porcelain paving is a fast growing trend, also rising in popularity due to the almost unlimited range of porcelain paving unit sizes as well as the virtually unlimited designs and colours that can be produced e.g. from porcelain tiles closely imitating natural stone, through various other floor coverings from mosaics to timber planks or almost any other materials, basically whatever you and your Architect can imagine!

Some of the key criteria for selecting porcelain tiles on recent paving projects includes all of the following:

  • red wine will not stain it!
  • BBQ grease, fats and oils will not mark it!
  • bird droppings can just be wiped off!
  • algae, mould, moss and other green growths just wipe-off too!
…. Plus the porcelain does not need surface sealing to do all of this!

However, there are also some other aspects of performance and claims being made for porcelain tiles that should be considered just as carefully, such as:

- Porcelain is anti-slip / slip resistant ……?

Well yes it can be, especially when tested to the European DRY INTERNAL FLOOR Test procedures. Results of from R-11 to R-14 are frequently claimed and used to infer excellent slip resistance / anti-slip properties. BUT these Tests and results DO NOT apply Externally and NOT to wet surfaces or one with oils and grease spillages under foot!!!

- Porcelain does not need water jet cleaning……?

Well maybe, BUT ONLY if you keep it clean and treat the surfaces like you do your indoor floors, where you clear-up any spillages immediately. Plus the surfaces are swept and mopped clean at least once a week or so, according to use, and this is done EVERY WEEK of the year and NOT JUST IN SUMMER! - Otherwise we can confirm that you will find it necessary to jet wash your new porcelain surfaces regularly if not frequently every year, certainly for the start & end of the season, as well as after any heavy use!

Important Note: As YOU WILL most definitely need to jet wash your porcelain surfaces, be sure to use a joint sealant that can also take this treatment – as mentioned elsewhere on this website, NONE OF THE 1-Part vacuum packed, bag in a tub, brush in compounds are suitable for this and though very easy to do they will cause problems sooner or later.

Once again there is a lot of useful advice on the UK’s only fully independent source of natural stone and concrete paving information, including information on use of external porcelain paving on www.pavingexpert.com/porcelain-paving

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Jointing porcelain paving: The key to the successful jointing of external porcelain paving is to use an equally high-performance jointing material, which is initially easy to apply and importantly at the installation stage, to remove and clean residual jointing material from the porcelain surfaces. For example, all the 1-component brush in, bag in a pail type jointing compounds are just not suitable. They may go in easily, but they will also come out easily within just a few years – Why would you put a cheap DIY jointing compound in between expensive and professionally installed porcelain paving….Madness!

Traditionally, cement based tile grouting was and is used for porcelain tiles on internal walls and floors but beware for external porcelain paving, as not many of these tile grouts are sufficiently durable for external exposure to weathering and can stain easily in outside areas. There is also the issue that dense porcelain has only limited adhesion to cement mortars and so shrinkage cracking and debonding due to normal thermal movement is likely.

The suggestion that porcelain tile grouts must be totally impermeable when laid on full concrete beds rather than consolidated granite chippings as prevails in Italy for example, is also a bit of a ‘red herring’. This is explained in detail by an excellent article by the paving expert Tony McCormack at www.pavingexpert.com In principle it is irrelevant because like all external paving, the porcelain must be laid to a recognised falls to ensure water run-off into adequate surface drainage, plus the method of laying with an SBR or proprietary slurry on the backside into a wet mortar bed, also prevents any possible theoretical underflow. In any event there is no evidence of any sub surface freeze-thaw damage to paving anywhere throughout the vast majority of the UK.

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The best solution for good quality, high performance, external grade porcelain paving jointing is not an internal tile grout, but it is an equally high performance, 2-part, epoxy resin bound, graded fine alluvial sand system. This is the unique solution provided by using GftK’s vdw 815+, which is undoubtedly the best we have seen. This solution is also extremely durable like the porcelain. As mentioned earlier with regard to natural stone paving jointing, why would you want to invest in expensive, high performance, top of the range, external porcelain tiles – and then point them with an internal bathroom grout, or a one-part jointing compound that is primarily stocked by merchants because it is cheap and easy to use, or a cement based grout that is going to be difficult to clean and have inadequate flexural and tensile properties and limited adhesion to dense surfaces, such as porcelain. A well as these materials being very difficult to clean off the finished surfaces – Why would you ever even want to do that….?!? Call NCC Streetscape, use the GftK solution and get it right first time and for the long term!

For more advice or assistance with your specific porcelain paving project including selecting the right jointing product, the estimated consumption and the installation, please call 01257 266696 for FREE Expert Advice.