What Thickness of Porcelain Tile Should I use?

April 2022
Anton White

Porcelain Paving continues to rapidly grow in popularity due to its high durability and low maintenance characteristics coupled with the stunning colours and finishes available.

Porcelain tiles are available in a range of different thicknesses to meet different requirements. You can get porcelain as thin as 3mm in a veneer format, however this is usually used where minimal weight is required. For example, on an interior wall. Porcelain tiles are also available as thick as 50mm; however, this is hardly ever necessary.  The common Porcelain Tile thicknesses are 6 – 10mm for internal floors, and 20mm thickness for external use.

One of the most common questions we get asked about Porcelain Tiles is “What thickness of Porcelain Tile should I be using for my project?” – Well, let’s answer that one!  In this article, we will explore four common porcelain tiles applications.  Then we will look at the different Porcelain Tile thicknesses available, where these are suitable to be used, and hopefully help you decide what tile thickness you require for your project.

4 Common Porcelain Tile Applications, and the Most Suitable Tile Thickness to Use

  • External Porcelain Tile Applications;
    • Install method #1 - When Installed on a Mortar Bed
    • Install method #2 - When Installed on an Tile Adhesive Bed
    • Install method #3 - When Installed on an Elevated Frame or Pedestal system
  • Indoor Porcelain Tiles
  • Porcelain Tiles for Heavily Trafficked Areas

External Porcelain Paving Tiles – What thickness of Porcelain Tiles should be used?

Normally 2cm thick Porcelain Tiles are used on all outdoor applications.  2cm (20mm) thick porcelain is obviously significantly stronger than 1cm (10mm) thick porcelain and will provide a more durable, longer lasting paved area.  As 2cm Porcelain is designed for outdoor use, it is normally manufactured and tested to achieve R11 slip rating, which is recommended for outdoor applications.  1cm thick porcelain tiles are normally are normally manufactured to be used as indoor tiles and therefore achieve an R9 or R10 slip rating.  If a homeowner is happy with a less slip resistant tile on their project, then a 1cm thick tile would work in an outdoor application, however we would recommend only considering this if installing the tiles onto an tile adhesive bed on a solid screed surface.

Install Method #1 – When installing Porcelain Tiles on a Mortar Bed:-

When installing Porcelain Paving Tiles onto a mortar bed, whether this is a traditional sand & cement mix or a specialist Porcelain Paving mortar mix or mortar additive, we would recommend that you don’t use Porcelain any thinner than 20mm.  A tile thickness less than 20mm in this application would be more susceptible to breaking.  In in order to ensure your porcelain patio lasts for many years without any issues, you need to ensure you only mortar bed the tiles onto a suitable, properly compacted sub-base material, and you use a proper porcelain primer to maximise tile adhesion.

Install Method #2 – When Installing Porcelain Tiles Installed on a Tile Adhesive Bed:-

When installing Porcelain Tiles onto a tile adhesive bed on a solid screed surface, we would recommend using 2cm thick porcelain.  This will ensure the longest lasting and most robust paved area, and will normally mean you achieve R11 slip rating.  However, if you would prefer to use a 1cm thick porcelain tile, this is acceptable as long as you use a good quality tile adhesive and ensure the tile is fully bonded to the surface below i.e there are no large cavities below the tile.  Be aware of the fact that 1cm tiles normally wont achieve an R11 rating, unless they specifically state otherwise.

Install Method #3 – When Installing Porcelain Tiles on an Elevated Frame or Pedestal System:-

Using an Aluminium Paving Support System or pedestals to support your porcelain provides several benefits over the more traditional methods of laying porcelain. It is often faster to install so can have lower install costs, and depending on the height build-up that needs to be achieved from ground level, it can work out cheaper in materials too.  The fact it is a ‘dry’ install method means it will make less of a mess of your garden, and as water drains away through the gaps in the tiles, it can be installed above damp-proof level, meaning you can install your patio level with your internal floors – creating that seamless indoor/outdoor design.

Porcelain tiles on an elevated frame or pedestal system . For this reason, we recommend using a 20mm tile, as these have sufficient strength to span up to a maximum of 600mm between supports. In this configuration, Ovaeda 2cm Porcelain Paving Tiles will be capable of supporting a point load of 250kg or 400kg per square meter. You can always use a thicker tile on a suspended system; however, this adds unnecessary cost and weight to the system.

Indoor Porcelain Tiles – What thickness of Porcelain Tiles should be used?

Indoor porcelain tiles are most commonly 10mm thick or less. This is perfectly adequate for indoor use as they will not be subject to the same physical demands. Indoor porcelain tiles are normally installed using tile adhesive onto either a screed surface or tile backer boards.

Porcelain Tiles for Heavily Trafficked Areas – What thickness of Porcelain Tiles should be used?

Sometimes for applications which will be subject to very high traffic levels, for instance a driveway, car showroom or public street space, porcelain tiles thicker than 20mm will be specified.  This is not required for garden patios and even a domestic driveways will be sufficiently robust with 20mm porcelain tiles if installed correctly.

Summary & Next Steps

Now that we’ve been through the different application for Porcelain Tiles and the recommended tile thicknesses to use in each, why not have a browse through our range of stunning Porcelain Paving, and order your Free Porcelain Sample Pack?

Looking for porcelain for your new outdoor area? We’d love to help, so please get in touch with your requirements.  Give us a call on 0208 159 2999 or email us on sales@oveada.com