By SiteOne Landscape Supply
Photograph courtesy of SiteOne Landscape Supply
Porcelain, originally created in China, is manufactured material formed by combining materials like minerals or clay and firing it at a high temperature. Depending on technique, results range from delicate porcelain tea sets to dense, durable, non-porous finishing material used for hardscapes.
Benefits of Porcelain
Porcelain is highly customizable. It is available in multiple sizes and shapes and can be installed with narrow grout joints for a sleek, seamless look that many homeowners appreciate. Porcelain also has the added benefit of being more uniform in size and color than other materials due to being manufactured. This allows manufacturers to control finishes, which are most commonly interpretations of natural wood and stone but can take on any look.
There is a newer trend in hardscaping to create outdoor spaces that seamlessly flow into indoor spaces, and porcelain pavers are the ideal product to create that aesthetic. Belgard tiles coordinate with indoor tiles, indoor/outdoor porcelain wall veneers, and trim for steps and pool coping to create a cohesive design.
While porcelain tiles might sound great based on looks, they are also easy to clean and stain resistant. The normal cleaning procedure is a simple sweep and hose down. These pavers are resistant to acids, bases, and salts (including pool additives and household detergents). Most porcelain pavers do not require treatment or upkeep, so they are a practical choice for both residential and commercial applications as sealing isn’t a factor. This saves money, especially as an alternative to natural materials like marble, granite, slate, or travertine.
Tough and Durable
Tough and durable, porcelain is far more resistant to erosion, scratching, and chipping than other hardscaping materials, especially concrete pavers. Chipping is also usually less noticeable than it would be in ceramic tiles due to the uniform color of porcelain. According to Belgard, porcelain can handle incredibly high breakage loads of up to 20,000 pounds. This makes porcelain pavers an excellent choice for gardens, terraces, and high-traffic outdoor areas.
Porcelain tiles are also impervious and according to the ATSM International C373 test method, have a water absorption rate of .5% or less, which is excellent. Ceramic typically has a higher water absorption rate than this. Natural stone water absorption rates vary greatly, but as an example, limestone has an average water absorption rate around 4.5%.
Because porcelain is non-porous, it is stain and moisture resistant. When created with a texture, it is also skid-resistant, making it a safer option in areas with lots of moisture and high traffic. When fired in a kiln, the tiles have a glaze that stops the water from penetrating the tile. This makes porcelain hold up to water much better than natural stone or cement, great for a pool deck, areas with heavy rain, or around irrigation systems. Non-porous means these porcelain pavers withstand extreme conditions and big shifts in weather, such as thaw-and-freeze cycles.
Conversely, a quality of porcelain that is often overlooked is fire-resistance. Porcelain’s baking process involves over 60 minutes of exposure at 1,200 degrees Celsius, so it’s capable of withstanding extreme heat and won’t become damaged from expansion and contraction. Additionally, porcelain pavers are UV and fade resistant because of the high temperature at which they’re glazed. In hot sun, they stay cool on your feet longer than other materials and color will remain intact through decades of sun exposure.
Far denser than other comparable materials, these pavers are also anti-microbial and resist mold because there are no pores, unlike concrete and stone pavers. This makes porcelain pavers an excellent choice for pool surrounds to resist bacteria growth.
Porcelain is available in larger formats for your convenience. It can also be dry-laid into grass, gravel, dirt, and sand, making it easy to install. Porcelain pavers can also be installed onto terraces using raised supports without grout, adhesives, or specialized workers, saving you time and money. Regardless of the materials you choose, visit your local SiteOne Stone Center today to get the supplies for the job. Check out our hardscapes gallery to see what different materials look like installed.
By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
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