09 Mar 2023

Installed Properly, Porcelain Will Create the Perfect Finish

For a beautiful, stylish finish, porcelain is unbeatable for paths, patios or even domestic driveways, and it can last for years – provided the installation is carried out to the correct standards, writes Jamie Gledhill, Technical Engineering Manager at Brett Landscaping.


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Brett Landscaping, a leading manufacturer and supplier of high-quality, ethically-sourced paving slabs, has produced porcelain installation guidelines to ensure self-builders or their landscaping contractors have the very latest guidance available.

The advantage of porcelain

Porcelain tiles are made with raw materials, such as ball and china clays, that are finely ground and then fired at temperatures on or above 1300°C.

This manufacturing process vitrifies the porcelain, resulting in the material having a very low water absorption and porosity.

In fact, the porosity is so low that porcelain is almost waterproof. This results in enhanced frost resistance; provides longevity to the installation; meaning the paving is less likely to stain or retain moisture and is easier to clean and maintain.

If installed properly, porcelain tiles are extremely durable and can last for many years, even in high-traffic domestic settings.

Brett Landscaping’s guide gives a step-by-step reference to creating long-lasting porcelain patios, paths and driveways – starting with creating the sub base.

Setting the sub base

Creating a suitable foundation should consist of at least 225mm compacted Type 1 aggregates – although previous foundations may be used if they are of a suitable thickness and made good prior to the application of mortar.

It’s also important to think about the amount of surcharge required to achieve a compacted thickness of 225mm. If you’re not familiar with a material, trial an area to see how much surcharge is required.

As a rough guide, 125mm of uncompacted Type 1 aggregate will compact down to 100mm and should be installed in maximum 150mm layers.

Making the bedding course

A stiff workable mix of one part cement to three or four parts sharp sand or grit sand is needed for frost resistance with porcelain. The mix is needed to ensure there is enough water to hydrate the cement but also stiff enough to support the weight of the porcelain paving. If using a bagged mix, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

The mortar’s final thickness should be 40mm. Similar to when creating the sub base, care needs to be taken regarding the amount of surcharge required to achieve the final thickness of 40mm. Again, if you are not familiar with a mortar, trial an area to see how much surcharge is required. As a rough guide, 45 to 50mm of mortar will reduce to 40mm.

Placing porcelain paving

Before laying, ensure the paving is fully primed with cementitious primer. This ensures a good adhesion between the paving and the mortar bedding. This will dramatically improve the longevity of the project.

After coating the back of the paving, immediately place it onto the mortar bed and tamp it to line and level. Between adjacent paving units, use a spacer to maintain a consistent 5 to 6mm joint width during installation and never butt joint.

After 24 hours, you can walk on the patio to do the jointing. For the grouting, the paving needs to be wetted and allowed to dry out throughout the process. The grout is poured and worked into the joints. Do this in manageable amounts, so the joints are fully filled over an increasing area.

After an initial set of about 10 minutes (depending on the weather), start to wipe the excess grout from the paving and keep repeating this process to clean the paving – changing your sponges and water frequently. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the grouting material. Additionally, care should be taken to prevent and remove any jointing residue from the face of the paving.

If in doubt, we would suggest seeking advice on how to apply from the manufacturer and carry out a trial in a discreet area before committing to the entire installation.

Porcelain driveways

While 10mm porcelain slabs would suit an interior and 20mm slabs suit a garden, Brett Landscaping’s 60mm GeoCeramica makes it suitable for use on driveways and areas of very high pedestrian traffic.

GeoCeramica porcelain surface slabs are permanently and inseparably bonded to a drainage mortar base, which offers excellent stability, strength, drainage and adhesion.

As the system is supplied as a porcelain tile with a concrete backing, it means it can be laid and walked on much more quickly. It is installed as simply and flexibly as a concrete slab, with sand filling of joints, rather than by following the porcelain installation guidance. It is as easy as with a standard concrete unit.

For more advice on installing porcelain paving, visit the Brett Landscaping website.

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