Porcelain paving looks stunning once installed and will continue to for many years to come due to its hard-wearing properties and its low water absorption values.
The two main ways to instal porcelain paving are using traditional mortar, and a more recent method using suspended rails and supports. In the article, I will cover the main steps to both methods, how easy they are to install, and whether its possible to DIY install each method.
Method #1 – Mortar laid
First up, the most common – the traditional mortar lay. This consists of five main steps;
Preparing the base – using either concrete or hardcore, build up a 100mm base layer – ensuring a fall is allowed for.
Mixing the mortar – this requires mixing correct ratios of material to achieve a mortar that will hold. Too dry or wet and your paving will not last.
Applying primer slurry – due to porcelain having such low water absorption rates, a primer slurry will have to be applied to ensure that the porcelain sticks to the mortar.
Laying the paving – lay the tiles carefully to ensure they do not sink too low, using spacers to create the right gap.
Applying the grout – once this has dried, apply grout along each space in between the tiles, working it in so it doesn’t break up in the future.
As you can imagine, this is very time consuming and is quite an art. It is almost essential to use a professional for install, and DIY would only be possible with a lot of previous tiling experience. We would recommend a professional landscaper to install porcelain tiles using this method, as once there is no changing it. The finished area will look amazing if the due care and attention is taken to ensure all the correct steps are followed.
Method #2 – Rail and Support System
The second method to laying porcelain is using a rail system. This suspends the porcelain from the ground allowing for drainage. It also means that you can save significant time and money when installing, as it is perfectly possible to carry it out on your own. See link to a suspended rail system here: https://ovaeda.com/collections/porcelain-paving-slabs/paving-subframes . There are three main steps to installing porcelain on a rail system;
Preparing the base – like using mortar, you will have to ensure that you have a sturdy footing that will not sink over time. However you will not have to prepare the whole area, just a solid pad every 1.2m in one direction, and every 0.6m in the other direction. This is for the adjustable pedestals to sit on. This does not need to be in any direction at all, just solid so that it will not sink over time.
Constructing the subframe – this consists of levelling the pedestal feet to the desired height and inserting rails for the porcelain to sit on.
Installing the porcelain – sit the porcelain tiles on top of the rails in the desired pattern, ensuring the rail spacers are used to maintain correct spacing.
This method is quick and simple to install, taking around a quarter of the time to complete as the traditional method. Installation is also not weather dependant, as there is no mortar or grout that needs time to dry. Install video link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFIDZdFxcAI .
So…..depending on what method you choose to use, porcelain can be easy to instal. It can take as little as one day to install a 30sqm area of porcelain paving using our aluminium rail system. However, installing porcelain using the traditional method takes a lot of skill and is best left to professionals. Even then it will take up to a week to install a 30sqm area using mortar. Depending on the weather it could take even longer!
Interested in finding out more about the aluminium rail system for porcelain? See our other articles or contact our friendly team to find out more about how the system could work for you in your garden – or even on your terrace.
Now that you have read all that you need to know about porcelain paving, you may begin thinking about using it as an option for your garden or balcony. With so many options available, we know it can seem like a big decision to make. Why not begin by ordering one of our free sample boxes to help you choose which style will best suit you?
You can also call us on 0208 159 2999 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get quotes, guidance and any technical support with your plans. If you think you will require the help of a professional installer, we are happy to recommend one to assist.