Posted on 13th July 2021
Porcelain paving is manufactured using a mixture of sands, clays and other minerals such as feldspar, which are pressed into a mould at high pressure then baked in a high-temperature kiln. Porcelain tiles are generally vitrified to reduce their porosity and increase their strength, which is created by combining the clay with other elements such as quartz, silica, or feldspar under incredibly high temperatures. The vitrification process creates porcelain tiles that contain a glass substrate. The glass substrate gives the tiles a sleek appearance, provides added strength, and makes the tiles water and scratch-resistant.
Before being fired in the kiln, the material is dried and coloured or printed on. In the kiln, the material is subjected to temperatures reaching as high as 1,200 degrees celsius before eventually being slowly cooled. This cooling stage is just as important as the heating in producing a quality porcelain paver.
The key attributes of porcelain paving are:
- Long-lasting – Vitrified Porcelain is strong and hard-wearing, meaning it will be long lasting and able to handle the varying climates of the UK.
- Stain resistance - Being non-porous means that porcelain paving tiles are naturally stain-resistant and will likely keep their colour and looks even with the very basics of cleaning.
- Enormous Range of choice – Thanks to advances in porcelain inkjet printing technology, you can now get porcelain paving that looks like stone, slate or wood finishes and patterns.
- Frostproof – Because porcelain has extremely low porosity, the tiles are unaffected by changes in temperature, which can sometimes cause damage to natural products. They don’t expand or contract, and they don’t bend and warp like many kinds of wood can do when used outside.
- Engineered products – Most porcelain paving is both calibrated and rectified, meaning that the sizing is consistent throughout the batch and the edges will be extremely sharp and square, perfect for creating contemporary narrow grout joints.
- Low maintenance – natural stone and decking will require regular sealing and sometimes specialist cleaning products to keep them looking clean and give some protection against stains and harsh weather. Porcelain paving does not need sealing and can be cleaned with a basic brush & mop or a pressure washer.
- Fade-resistant – unlike some limestone paving colours commonly used on patios, porcelain is unaffected by the sun, so the colour will not fade or change over time.
- Slip-resistant – Most exterior porcelain paving is man-made with a light textured surface that acts as an anti-slip finish and has a minimum R11 slip resistance rating. The non-porous nature of porcelain also makes it resistant to moss & mould growth, another factor that can cause outdoor paving to become slippery.
Natural stone still has its place against porcelain
While there are many ultra-realistic porcelain paving options out there, natural stone is a unique material that has been used for 100s of years. Used in the right way, porcelain is an excellent paving material for the patio or garden. Natural stone tiles have their own individually, whether in the slight difference in the shade of the colour or the vein and patterns through the material.
In addition, the better porcelains are still more expensive than the cheapest natural stone sourced from India or China and concrete paving slabs but provide an incredible range of options to choose from for any garden patio or pathway.
View our full range of porcelain paving.