What are porcelain tiles?
What are porcelain tiles?
Porcelain tiles are a popular type of paving stone here in the UK, made from materials like clay and quartz rather than natural stone. They’re renowned as the ultimate low-maintenance solution, with an excellent scratch resistance, and a porosity that’s close to zero.
A lot of that is down to their manufacturing process, which is quite distinct from the one used to create Indian sandstone. First, the virgin material (typically clay) is fired at very high temperatures in specialised moulds, creating identical slabs in pre-defined shapes. The shapes are left to dry, before being wrapped in a veneer that gives them a tangible texture and pattern.
It’s worth being aware of the trade-offs to their incredible density - most importantly, it can make them more difficult to install than Indian sandstone paving slabs. You generally need a set of specialised tools to cut them, and they’ll also need an extra layer of primer to properly bed them to the mortar. That’s not to say you can’t do the job yourself, but you should only attempt it if you’ve got the skills, experience, and you know exactly what you’re doing. Otherwise, here at Bridge Street Stone we’d generally recommend leaving the job to a professional!
What are the benefits of porcelain paving slabs?
Since porcelain is a man-made product, it offers a number of distinct advantages for your outdoor space. For example, it’s very consistent when it comes to size and thickness tolerance - unlike raw natural stone, which can be somewhat varied and unpredictable. (Indeed, that’s part of natural stone’s appeal - but if it’s not for you, porcelain is an excellent alternative.)
Another key quality of porcelain paving is its strength. Porcelain slabs are fired in kilns at temperatures of up to 1250 degrees Celsius, which makes them incredibly dense. That ultimately results in a product that’s harder and more durable - perfect for those high-traffic areas outside. By the same token, they’re highly scratch resistant, and you can count on them not to crack in the frost or fade in the sun.
What’s more, their minimal level of porosity means they absorb very little water, so they’re highly resistant to moss, algae and mould. Porcelain tiles are also certified with different grades of slip resistance, which is largely dependent on how textured the surface is.
Hardy, practical, and virtually maintenance-free, porcelain paving slabs provide a fantastic alternative to natural stone, and the tiles we supply have been specifically manufactured for external use.