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How to Lay Porcelain Paving

 How to Lay Porcelain Paving: A Step-By-Step Guide

When it comes to landscaping, porcelain paving continues to be a popular choice among homeowners due to its durability, low maintenance, and elegant appearance. Resistant to stains and weather damage, this hard-wearing material is non-porous and long-lasting, making it perfect for a range of outdoor spaces.

At RF Paving, we have a wide range of luxury porcelain tiles available to suit your unique style. From Italian porcelain and wood effect porcelain, to premium tiles and budget-friendly options, there’s something for everyone in our extensive collection. 

Whether you’re transforming a garden patio, pathway, decking area, or driveway, laying porcelain paving can significantly enhance your outdoor area. 

In this guide, we cover the step-by-step process of everything you need to know about laying porcelain paving to ensure a professional and lasting installation. 

Equipment Needed for Laying Porcelain Paving

The equipment you need to lay porcelain paving is pretty much identical to what you need to

lay regular paving with only a couple of differences. So, before you get started make sure

you have the following:

  • Porcelain Tiles
  • Circular Cutting Saw & Blades
  • Freshly-Mixed Mortar (Sharp Sand and Cement)
  • Type 1 MOT Stone Sub-Base
  • Porcelain Paving Grout
  • Shovel
  • Mallet (Rubber)
  • Measuring tape
  • Spirit Level
  • Wooden pegs
  • String Line
  •  Trowel
  • Rake
  • Hard-Bristled Brush

We also recommend wearing the relevant PPE to keep yourself safe when cutting tiles, this includes:

  • Gloves
  • Facemask
  • Eye protection

Quality Checking Your Porcelain Tiles

Always check the quality and condition of your porcelain paving slabs before you begin. Once they’ve been delivered make sure you check the tiles for any damage, including chips around the edges, cracks and any visible imperfections.

If you do have damaged tiles, don’t throw them away! These can be put to one side and

used later in the process for any infills required. Once you’re happy with your materials, it’s

time to get started on preparing your base.

Planning and Preparation

Before you begin it’s important to prep the site where you’ll be working, clearing it of any debris and taking into account the layout and necessary measurements.

  • Measure the Area: Accurately measure the area where you plan to lay the porcelain paving. This will help you calculate the amount of materials you need.
  • Design Layout: Create a design layout for your paving. This will help you visualise the final result and assist in the correct placement of the paving slabs.
  • Clear the Area: Remove any existing grass, plants, and debris from the area. Dig down to a depth of at least 150mm to allow for the sub-base and paving layers.

Cutting Porcelain Paving Tiles

Due to the delicate nature of porcelain flags, cutting through them requires a steady hand. But with the right tools and knowledge, you can create a clean cut with ease. The only way to properly cut through porcelain paving is to use an uninterrupted diamond blade

Hand tools or abrasive blades will only damage the porcelain, creating chips and

scratches or even shattering the full tile. When cutting the porcelain, it’s important that you wet the surface of the tile to suppress the dust and create a clean cut. 

Priming Your Porcelain Paving

Due to its non-porous characteristics, porcelain paving requires an extra step for installation.

Without priming your tiles, the porcelain cannot absorb anything from the mortar

and therefore it won’t be able to stick securely to the tile.

In order to create a strong bond between your porcelain slabs and the mortar beneath, you

must use a slurry primer. Painting the reverse side of your tiles with a slurry primer mix will

keep your paving in place for many years to come. 

  • Prepare the Sub-base: Spread a layer of sub-base material to a depth of approximately 100mm. This layer provides stability and ensures proper drainage.
  • Compact the Sub-base: Use a plate compactor to compact the sub-base. This step is crucial for creating a solid foundation for your paving.

Top tip: use a damp sponge to gently clean any excess primer away from the tiles as once dried this can be tricky to remove.

Setting the Sand and Cement Base

One of the most important steps is mixing and spreading the mortar adequately. This will provide you with a more even, polished finish across your paving.

  • Mix the Mortar: Prepare a mortar mix using four parts sharp sand to one part cement. Gradually add water until the mixture is workable. The consistency should be firm but pliable – not too wet or runny.
  • Spread the Mortar: Spread a 30-40mm thick layer of mortar over the compacted sub-base. Use a trowel to ensure an even spread.

Laying the Porcelain Paving Slabs

Now all the prep is done, and your pavers are primed and ready to go, it’s time to get laying!

Follow these step-by-step instructions for a seamless installation:

  • Lay the Slabs: Begin laying the porcelain slabs on the mortar bed. Use the string line to keep the slabs straight and ensure consistent spacing. Carefully place each slab, pressing it into the mortar.  

Your mortar should be roughly 30-40mm thick and sit around 15mm below your string line, filling the entire area of a slab. Using your trowel or float, create a smooth texture on the surface.

Once in position, use your rubber mallet to tamp the slab down. For best results all of the tile to be in contact with the mortar bed below for the strongest bond

  • Level the Slabs: Use a levelling system, such as a spirit level, to check that each slab is straight and uniform. Adjust by adding or removing mortar as necessary. Tap the slabs gently with a rubber mallet to ensure they are firmly in place.
  • Maintain Consistent Gaps: Ensure consistent gaps between slabs for grouting. Leave a 3-7mm gap between each paver and never butt joint them. Using plastic spacers can help you to maintain even spacing.

Step 5: Grouting the Paving

The last step in your paving process comes the grouting. This requires any necessary grout and adhesives, plus a steady hand and smooth application for an even finish. 

Prepare the Grout: Mix the porcelain grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Apply the Grout: Fill the gaps between the slabs with grout using a pointing trowel. Ensure the grout is pushed well into the joints.

Clean Excess Grout: Wipe away any excess grout from the surface of the slabs with a damp cloth or sponge. 

 

Step 6: Final Touches

Now the main labour tasks are over you can begin to make those final finishing touches to ensure your paving looks pristine. 

Allow the Mortar and Grout to Set: Let the mortar and grout set for at least 24 hours before walking on the paving. This ensures that everything is properly bonded and secure.

Top  tip: Check the weather forecast! If there’s any chance of rain during those 24 hours, it’s vital that you cover the paving.

Clean the Paving: Once the grout has set, give the paving a final clean with water and a soft brush to remove any remaining residue.

 

For more expert tips on all things landscaping, visit our blog, where you’ll find advice on everything from how to choose the right paving slabs to paving cleaning tips and everything in between. 

Got any further questions? Contact us today and one of our friendly experts will be happy to help.

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