by Giovani Ricetti
The first thing that most people think about when they hear the word porcelain, is their mother’s or their grandmother’s china sets. The assumption is that it is a fine, decorative form of pottery, but in reality it is so much more complex and a material unique to itself. With a long history starting in China, the method of making porcelain has been refined over centuries and even “counterfeited” by Europeans. So what is porcelain in relation to a flooring option? Like ceramic, the materials are ground up minerals like clay, but the major difference between porcelain and ceramic is that porcelain is fired at a far higher temperature. The results of which create a substance that is incredibly dense, durable, and non-porous.
Benefits of Porcelain Pavers
Porcelain has come a long way from its Chinese roots. The manner in which it is manufactured today has it performing as an amazing material used to resemble stone pavers on a pool deck or as beautiful tiles or fixtures for a slick and clean, classic look in the bathroom.
Porcelain is picking up in popularity as an outdoor floor material for a number of reasons, many of which have to do with its versatility and performance. These pavers, as compared to ceramic pavers, natural stone pavers, or other natural materials; have a reputation for being incredibly durable. Durability is vital when selecting materials to be used in outdoor spaces. The elements alone are merciless on these materials and that’s before you factor in the wear and tear of use. This makes porcelain pavers an excellent choice for outdoor areas.
Here are some major reasons why so many people are choosing porcelain pavers for their decks and patios.
1. Slip Resistant: Porcelain is a non-porous material. Because of this, it is very moisture resistant, and in areas with fluctuating temperatures, it also means that it will not freeze and become a giant ice slick. This anti slip feature makes them highly desirable for use on walkways and other highly trafficked areas.
2. Tough as Nails: Previously mentioned, the porcelain pavers are non-porous. This means during times of extreme cold, they are frost resistant because they do not absorb moisture, and they avoid becoming super heated in hot climates. The biggest benefit though is the transition of temperatures. Since porcelain does not fluctuate in temperature at the same rate as the weather, it also avoids damage from temperature expansion and contraction, most commonly cracking.
In fact, when testing a materials temperature flexibility, it must survive 50 freeze thaw cycles! Because the porcelain Paver is nonporous, this also means it is a denser substance. But pavers are made to comparable dimensions regardless of the material, so this means that a 24 x 24 inch Porcelain Paver is far heftier than a ceramic or stone paver of the same size. It’s tougher and resists wear far more easily such as erosion, scratches, and chipping.
3. Resists Mold and Bacterial Growth – Because there are no pores, it has the added side effect of also being anti-microbial, so porcelain tiles are great for use in swimming pools because they will resist mold and bacterial grown!
4. Easy to Clean: Simply said, porcelain does not accumulate dirt as fast as other paver options. It is easy to clean by hose. Dirt and bacteria have a hard time sticking to porcelain, which is definitely not something we could say about its concrete paver counterpart.
5. Stylish & Versatile: Likely one of the biggest benefits to porcelain tile, is that it is a composite material. It is created and not harvested, so it can take on the look and texture of just about any other hard surface that you would use for outdoor flooring. You can literally create any aesthetic you would like with this product. Use the oversized 24 x 24 inch tiles surrounded by grass or sand to create pathway. Use a mixture of marble looking tiles in various shapes and sizes to create a classic yet striking pool deck. Play with levels and give your space some added depth and dimension by using a pedestal system. With countless colors, finishes, and sizes to choose from, the possibilities are endless!
Now that you are aware of all the possibilities for porcelain in your outdoor spaces, it’s time to move to an area where it has been no stranger for a long time, the home’s interior. Porcelain tile offers many of the same benefits indoors as it does out. It is particularly well suited for rooms and spaces that deal with constant temperature fluctuation and see a decent amount of moisture such as kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways. The classic white “subway tile” has been a standard of timeless bathroom and kitchen style for decades because of its clean and simple design. It easily adapts to a range of looks and feels that has been pleasing people across time.
Things to Keep in Mind
If you feel that after reading thus far that porcelain pavers are for your next project, here are some product details to keep in mind.
1. Expense: As it often does, with quality comes expense. Porcelain pavers are by no means the most expensive product on the market, but it is a notable step up from its ceramic counterpart. So if you have a tight budget, you may consider using porcelain in the highest trafficked zones and filling out the rest with something attractive, though less durable.
2. Installation: These pavers are no different to install than any of the other comparable products and therefore have a relatively easy installation. The only caveat is that since the paver is physically denser, it is also quite a bit heavier than other products, so you might benefit from leaving this one to the professionals.
3. Weight: Because this product is so heavy, you need to make sure that if you were planning on using them in an elevated application like a raised deck, or in a second story bathroom, that the support system is engineered properly to be able to take the weight of the product.