The advantages of Patio Porcelain Tiles and how to care for them

Should you choose outdoor Porcelain tiling for your Patio?

Porcelain has become an increasingly popular alternative to stone paving. As a leading manufacturer and supplier of stone care products, we’re at the forefront of new innovations in sealing technology with our Micromesh and Aqua shield nanotechnologies and most recently 100% breathable formulas. We listen intently to marketplace demands and see a definite shift in preferences as more and more consumers are choosing modern Porcelain Tile Paving for their outdoor spaces. Outdoor porcelain paving have evolved rapidly in recent times but like all surfaces exposed to the elements your investment need protecting and maintaining. It’s always best to understand how to care for your surface and at Universeal we are here to guide and support in doing so.

Why are outdoor porcelain tiles becoming so popular?

Traditional materials used for outdoor paving such as natural stone and engineered surfaces like cement are inherently porous and must be maintained and protected on a regular basis to keep them at their best. Tiles or pavers made from porcelain however are usually non-porous and do not absorb liquids, do not stain and are incredibly durable which greatly reduces the risk of cracking, fracturing or surface wear and tear.

Because porcelain tiles for outdoor patios are very hard wearing and durable, it’s becoming increasingly viable and attractive for homeowners and DIY enthusiasts to choose to install these types of materials.

Understanding the anatomy of modern outdoor porcelain tiles

Modern porcelain paving tiles are made to be extraordinarily strong and durable, frost proof and non-porous, typically specified to a 20mm thickness. Outdoor porcelain paving can be designed in a huge range of colours sizes and textures as these are artificially created to imitate, and at times best, the look of natural stone paving finishes. After the kiln process each porcelain tile is typically machine fabricated to the desired finish, smooth hones, textured or polished and sometimes rectified, ensuring they are of a consistent size and colour.

It should be noted that the commonly used terms ‘ceramic’, ‘vitrified’ and ‘porcelain’ are often mentioned by manufacturers, however there are some subtle differences between these types of finished paving tiles. ‘Vitrified’ and ‘Porcelain’ paving are better suited to outdoor uses; they are made using clays that are fired to an extremely high temperature to create a hard and durable finish. The term ‘ceramic’ can refer to a variety of materials, including porcelain, but some of these materials may not be suitable for outdoor use. If you choose ‘ceramic’ paving for your outdoor space, then make sure that it is a proper modern porcelain grade as described above or you could experience problems.

So, why is outdoor porcelain rising in popularity today?
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons

Advantages of Patio Porcelain Tiling:

Density and strength
An exceptionally dense material, 20mm porcelain paving is extraordinarily hard-wearing; something not always synonymous with natural stone paving. Indeed, the rectified tiles are designed to achieve a typical breaking strength of over 9500N, which makes them able to withstand pretty much anything you could throw at them, including parking vehicles on some grade. Scratch resistant too, they are perfect for those high footfall paths and for pairing with garden tables and chairs to shape stunning outdoor spaces.

Suited to the British climate, porcelain patio slabs will withstand extreme temperatures and weather conditions without being susceptible to damage or becoming too hot underfoot in the sun. Outdoor porcelain tiles are increasingly impervious to fading and will stay true to their original colour, even when subjected to excessive heat and sunlight UV rays. Winter frosts will also not trouble the dense porcelain so you should be safe from frost damage or cracking.

Lower levels of maintenance
With super high density and next to no porosity, porcelain for outdoor paving has extremely low water absorption rates and this means it greatly reduces the risk of staining, marks and organic soiling.

Surface Texture
Most modern porcelain paving for outdoor spaces are designed to have an anti-slip finish, and those touted as anti-slip generally have a ‘R’ rating of R11 which is excellent.

Machined finish for consistency
Porcelain is a man-made manufactured product, which makes it very consistent when it comes to size and thickness tolerance. The consistency of modern porcelain paving also makes it easier to take flooring from inside to outside the home. This means you can significantly extend your living space and create an alfresco haven.

Freedom of design
Because it is artificially designed to replicate the styles found in the natural environment (such as wood effect, marble effect, slate effect etc) porcelain paving for patios can deliver excellent styling consistency with subtle variations adding character to the surface, giving them a very convincing modern natural look.

Disadvantages of Patio Porcelain Tiling:

Variable quality choices
The marketplace is growing rapidly and the quality continues to improve year on year, however you must be very careful when choosing your outdoor porcelain tiles because not all are created equal – always check to make sure that they are engineered to the most stringent modern standard and are properly designed for outdoor use.

Artificial versus Natural
For all the benefits of porcelain paving listed previously, one inescapable fact remains, porcelain designed to look like slate will never actually be slate: natural stone is an organic material that has character and warmth, huge innate variation of colour and textures and what some might call a ‘soul’. Consider a natural rainbow sandstone and the ways in which it completely changes appearance depending on the weather, temperature, sunlight and if it is wet it puts on a show few can rival and this natural process is something that porcelain tiles are simply not engineered to achieve.

Anti-slip surface compromises
Most, if not all, outdoor porcelain patio paving are engineered to have an anti-slip surface finish which is generally a desirable quality and certainly prevents slip fall accidents. However, this also means the surface can be very flat and the texture itself can lead to cleaning problems which many porcelain patio owners find very frustrating – but luckily Universeal have a solution to this problem!

So, what are the best care options for outdoor porcelain spaces?

How to protect and enhance Porcelain paving

Although modern Porcelain Paving is promoted as being durable and low maintenance it can come with minor difficulties for the diligent homeowner.

As suggested, impervious porcelain is exceptionally durable and very hard wearing. This is true, but because of the nature of its usages it is necessary for the paving to have a textured anti-slip finished surface. Although very practical these tiled surfaces can create issues with general cleaning and sometimes a dull powdery uninspiring appearance.Universeal Patio Porcelain Floor Tile Sealer

We get contacted on a daily basis from customers stating the above issues. Customers saying that they are looking for a product that will make life easier regarding general cleaning and wanting a sealer that will make the porcelain look more attractive, most saying “it looks great when it’s been rained upon”. Taking this information on board, Universeal have developed the perfect solution: Patio Porcelain Floor Tile Sealer.

Applying our advanced breathable polymer water based Universeal Patio Porcelain Floor Tile Sealer will resolve all these problems regarding the difficultly in keeping your anti-slip / textured patio clean and free from soiling. It also offers an attractive clear durable coating leaving the tiles more colourful and vibrant with an easy to clean shine finish.

How to maintain and care for Porcelain Paving

With all the inherent advantages of modern porcelain, it doesn’t take much to keep them in good condition, however with the British climate it doesn’t also take long for the grime and debris to start to accumulate even if it cannot get a grip on the dense, vitrified porcelain surfaces. We would recommend a seasonal general clean with a low impact outdoor cleaner, ideally a PH neutral option such as our Stone Floor Cleaner as this will lift off dirt that can’t cling on and will minimise any damage to joints and any coatings that may be applied too.

Whilst our Patio Porcelain Floor Tile Sealer should last a very long time due to its complex nano polymer structure, we would always recommend that you apply top up applications from time to time to maintain a consistent integrity of the sealant matrix. With these simple maintenance tips and the porcelain’s engineered stain and scratch-resistant surface, its the perfect choice of low-maintenance garden paving.

The future of external paving is… porcelain?

So, unless you hanker for the authenticity of natural stone materials or desire to have the highest quality stone pavers no matter the cost, it seems that outdoor porcelain is increasingly the future choice for many.

Porcelain slabs are suitable for patios, pathways and even driveways due to the extremely durable nature of the tiles and if correctly configured and protected you won’t need to worry about any shock or crack damage, moisture issues, temperature changes or accidental spillages.

With exceptionally low levels of maintenance and a price trend that continues to become more and more affordable, your next patio might very well be laid with outdoor porcelain tiles.

Finally, remember you want to protect your investment and make sure you achieve the best look and finish for your Patio Porcelain Floor Tiles. Your stunning new external porcelain flooring can be protected and enhanced with Universeal’s Patio Porcelain Floor Tile Sealer modern polymer sealant technology for peace of mind and reduced maintenance burden. With lots of positive reviews, we think we have provided a valuable care solution that will help you to enjoy your outdoor porcelain paving for many years to come.