External Porcelain Installation Advice and information for installing porcelain paving.

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How To Install Porcelain Paving Slabs

Last Updated 9th April 2019

Porcelain is very different from traditional paving materials like natural stone or concrete, therefore it needs to be treated differently. We have outlined some of the most popular fixing methods below, including some of their benefits and disadvantages. Care should be taken when fixing over problem conditions such as clay. In these situations, a reinforced concrete system is recommended.

All the fixing methods mentioned below have a common preparation which involves removing the top soil to the sub base, laying a geotextile and then laying a compacted and suitable aggregate such as MOT Type 1 to an appropriate depth.

Solid Concrete Base & Adhesive

A 75-100mm bed of concrete is laid, and the porcelain slabs are stuck down with a solid bed of polymer modified cement based tiling adhesive. This method can be used for both patios and driveways.

This method works well when fixing over problem sub bases such as clay, however it does have disadvantages. Concrete slabs need to be left to cure and shrink before tiling. This will typically take 6-8 weeks. It is also difficult to lay a concrete slab to accurate falls which can require a lot of adhesive to make good any undulations in the surface and will take extra laying time. This type of installation will require expansion joints running through the screed and tiles at perimeters with walls and at approx. 6 metre intervals across the tiling.

Shop our range of outdoor tile adhesive and grout online.

PorcelQuick Adpeds

Plastic Adped formers are positioned at the intersections of the where the porcelain slabs are to be fixed and filled with a screed mix. This is allowed to set and the porcelain slabs are then fixed to the Adped adhesive pedestals using polymer modified cement based tiling adhesive.

Only suitable for areas subject to foot traffic, but uses 80% less fixing material, 80% less carbon footprint and is a quicker fixing solution. Not suitable for roof terraces and balconies.

Shop for PorcelQuick Adpeds online here.

Height Adjustable Plastic Support Pedestals

Height adjustable plastic pedestals such as Eterno Ivica can be used to support porcelain slabs on balconies and roof terraces. This is a simple fixing system that allows for the slabs to be lifted and to run services underneath. The joints are left open which allows for drainage, but means it is best to use rectified tiles as the edges are unprotected by grout.

Shop for Eterno Ivica adjustable pedestals online here.

Sand & Cement Wet Bed Method

This method involves laying a wet mix of sand and cement to a thickness of 50-75mm. The porcelain slab would then be bedded into the mix and tapped down to meet the required levels. Traditionally used to fix riven concrete slabs and stone with wide joints. Engineered rectified** porcelain fixed with narrow joints requires much tighter fixing tolerances and will take longer to fix.

Porcelain slabs are impervious so it is critical the bed mix has a suitable volume of polymer admix added to the mix, or polymer bridging coat (primer) is applied to the back of the slab. If the correct mixes are not added or applied the mortar will not bond correctly and the installation may fail.

Wet bed installations will rarely achieve a solid bed underneath the slab as the system will commonly leave voids. As the porcelain slabs are impervious any residual moisture in the bed will tend to collect under the tile and condense in cold weather (unlike stone and concrete will allow moisture to slowly escape from under slabs over time). Even if the installation has been correctly laid it is possible the water in the voids will freeze and the pressure of the expanding ice could be sufficient to overcome the bond strength and the installation may fail.

A solution to this problem can be to lay a level semi-dry screed and apply a porcelain primer or polymer modified cement based tiling adhesive to the back of the porcelain and fix to the screed mix thus avoiding any voids.

*18mm and thicker porcelain slabs

** Rectified tiles have their edges ground so that each tile is exactly the same as another within a batch. Non-rectified tiles can vary in size by a small percentage within a batch.

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At Green Garden Paving we are passionate about porcelain. As UK market leaders in the supply of porcelain paving, we stock a variety of vitrified products suitable for a range of landscaping and architectural projects. We have over sixty years experience in the tile industry, which gives us valuable knowledge and experience in working with porcelain. We believe that porcelain cannot be treated in the same way as traditional paving products, which is why we recommend different installation methods to many of our competitors who specialise in natural stone or concrete paving.

All external porcelain at Green Garden Paving is a minimum of 18mm thick with R11 rated slip resistance. We offer full or cut samples and delivery is free on all orders over £300 (ex VAT). Products are available from stock in our Hampshire warehouse, where you can also view our external porcelain display garden which has been installed using the PorcelQuick Adped system. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly team for advice.

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