We get lots of questions everyday from landscape dealers, contractors, and landscape architects on outdoor porcelain tiles. Below, we’ve summarized the top 10 questions on outdoor porcelain tiles:
1. Are porcelain tiles not meant for bathrooms and kitchens? Can I use porcelain tiles outside?
Yes – to both! Porcelain tiles were a premium replacement to ceramic tiles that were used in bathrooms and kitchens in the past. Porcelain tiles are far superior than ceramic tiles as they absorb nearly no water as they are much more densely packed, fired at a higher temperature, and much more durable for all conditions.
Traditional, porcelain tiles have been used indoors but in the last 5 years, there has been increasing popularity to use porcelain tiles outdoors. It all started when architects and designers wanted to continue the same design aesthetic from the inside to the outside. Today, outdoor porcelain tiles have become extremely common in Europe, especially in places with similar climate as Canada, as they can easily withstand freeze-thaw cycles and are impervious to water.
2. Are outdoor porcelain tiles slippery? Can you slip on outdoor porcelain when it is wet or with snow?
No – outdoor porcelain is not slippery. Similar to natural stone or concrete, there are many different types of finishes that are possible in porcelain tiles, with different levels of traction in each type of finish. All Porcea Stone porcelain tiles are designed for outdoor landscape use, specifically rated to meet North American standards for slip ratings. All our outdoor porcelain pavers are rated R11 or higher, which is similar to a flamed granite in terms of texture and slip. We can also provide ASTM reports to show the dynamic coefficient of skid resistance (DCOF) for our Porcea Stone pavers.
In summary, outdoor porcelain does become a little slippery when it is wet or with snow, but not any more slippery than you’d find with a flamed granite or a traditional concrete paver.
3. Is outdoor porcelain hard to cut? What is the best way to cut outdoor porcelain tiles?
The short answer – water cut using a continuous diamond blade. We get asked this question all the time from contractors and installers. In truth, all of the benefits of porcelain outdoor paving such as <0.1% water absorption, resistance to fading from UV radiation, and resilience against staining from salt/moss/chemicals, results in a material that is very dense and durable.
As a result, porcelain is a hard material to cut and 20mm or 30mm outdoor porcelain pavers are even more challenging to cut. With the right blade (ask a Porcea expert which one to use!) that is a continuous diamond blade and the use of water, you can cut porcelain pavers with precision.
4. Is it possible to get matching copings and steps made in outdoor porcelain?
Yes, depending on the budget and the timeline. As leaders in outdoor porcelain, our commitment to you is to work with you on your projects and help find practical and aesthetic solutions for your project.
In most cases, we advise you to use natural stone or concrete steps as outdoor porcelain is still very much a large scale paving option. With that said, outdoor porcelain copings and steps can be custom fabricated for you if you’d like to achieve a seamless look.
5. What is the best way to install outdoor porcelain tiles?
Outdoor porcelain is an extremely versatile product when it comes to installation. The four common methods to installing outdoor porcelain are grass, pedestals, sand/gravel, or concrete & mortar. Our industry-leading Porcea Stone blog covers each one in more detail.
The big caution with outdoor porcelain is that joints should be tight but pieces should not be touching each other, as this can result in movement of the pieces over time and chipping on the edges. We usually recommend a gap of 1/8″ between outdoor porcelain tiles.
Take a look at a recent project using Porcea Sand outdoor porcelain pavers, installed as stepping stones on grass.
6. What is rectified vs. non-rectified outdoor porcelain?
Simply put, non-rectified porcelain is lower quality outdoor porcelain. There are five steps to creating a high quality outdoor porcelain:
- Raw materials pressed into a tile mold based on desired size
- Tiles are baked in a kiln at 1200+ degrees Celsius for 60-90 minutes
- Tiles are cooled on a drying rack allowing them to harden
- Tiles are rectified which involves perfectly machine cutting all sides
- Tiles undergo extensive quality control & are packaged for shipment
With non-rectified outdoor tiles, step D is skipped as it is an expensive part of the production process. This means the tolerance level on each tile increases significantly as tile edges are not perfectly cut to 90 degrees.
Porcea Stone recommends only using fully rectified outdoor porcelain tiles for any project as non-rectified material requires larger installation joints which in turn can cause pieces to move over time. Another common name for non-rectified tiles is pressed outdoor porcelain tiles.
7. Are outdoor porcelain tiles worth the extra cost / money?
We’re a little biased when it comes to this question but let’s lay out all the facts. Do you agree that it’s unfair to compare an Italian sports car to an American or Chinese sedan? This same logic applies to outdoor porcelain tiles. Here are the facts:
- Maintenance – Natural stone and concrete pavers frequently require ongoing maintenance as they absorb more water in comparison to outdoor porcelain, which results in staining from de-icing salts and surrounding leaves or trees. Landscape architects often tell us that outdoor porcelain saves their clients $0.50-$1.00 / SQF every year in ongoing maintenance costs in comparison to natural stone or concrete pavers.
- Installation – Unlike concrete pavers, outdoor porcelain is available in much larger sized sheets/panels which means each time you put down a tile, you are covering a much larger square footage. Further, Porcea Stone porcelain pavers are fully rectified and consistent, which means there will be no need to re-level the subbase or spend additional time in cutting or sorting through pieces. This means you or your contractor can save time when installing outdoor porcelain, reducing the installation cost in a project.
- Aesthetics – Our exclusive collection of outdoor porcelain tiles are designed with beauty and practicality in mind. The abundant options means that you can create a unique look for your specific project – whether the goal is to find a stone-look in outdoor porcelain, wood-look in outdoor porcelain tiles, or a concrete-look in outdoor pavers.
Finally, and most importantly, Porcea Stone is competitively priced regardless of whether you are comparing our products to outdoor porcelain from China, India, or another European country. We’ll work with you to ensure we can find a suitable option for your specific budget and your specific project.
8. Can I install porcelain on my driveway?
Yes, you can install 30mm or 3 cm outdoor porcelain on driveways, with the same method that you use to install concrete pavers today. We suggest a gravel base and the use of a broken brick or herringbone pattern to lay out the pavers. You also need to use spacers in between the joints to ensure the porcelain tiles do not move when vehicules turn their wheels or there are heavy objects on the surface.
9. How to determine if my outdoor porcelain is high quality?
First, assess where it is made. Second, identify if it is rectified. Third, determine if it is true 20mm or 30mm.
Porcea Stone’s Italian-made tiles are the best, highest quality outdoor porcelain tiles in the market. They are fully rectified to ensure all pieces are cut with perfection and meet our tests for 90 degree right angles. Finally, all our products are real 20mm and 30mm in thickness, unlike many other manufacturers that may cut corners and provide an 18mm or 28mm thickness porcelain which allows them to save money but ends up compromising on the quality of the product.
Poor quality outdoor porcelain will result in product breakage after installation, issues with the glaze overheating from the sun, stains from de-icing salts, higher water absorption, and many other challenges which will result in reducing the longevity of your overall project.
All of these little nuances are often difficult for an ordinary person to assess so please don’t hesitate to reach out to a Porcea Stone expert if you’d like some guidance on whether the outdoor porcelain pavers you’ve selected meet the highest standards of quality and precision.
10. What is the weight of outdoor porcelain tiles?
The answer to this question is a bit nuanced depending on the thickness of the tile and the texture or relief of the tile as well. Porcea Stone’s 20 mm outdoor porcelain weighs between 4 kg to 4.5 kg per SQF, while our 30mm outdoor porcelain pavers weigh between 6 kg to 6.5 kg per SQF.