Ask the Contractor: Porcelain pavers are frost-proof, flexible
They come in various sizes and are easily installed
Our neighbors installed porcelain pavers on their patio and before we “take the leap” could you share additional information on this product. Thank you.
— Anne and Tom, Prescott
What is a Porcelain Paver? One of the most exciting developments in outdoor living is the arrival of ¾-inch and 1¼-inch thick porcelain outdoor pavers. The concept began to spark interest in 2012 and Belgard introduced a porcelain paver line to their products in 2015 and is continuing to grow in popularity, now making an impact in our region. Porcelain pavers are seeing a response from the field locally regarding this contemporary product line that bridges the gap between natural stone and concrete pavers, installs over multiple surfaces, and allows for outdoor applications that mirror the most current interior design trends.
Outdoor porcelain pavers have great benefits, such as being frost-resistant. Because porcelain pavers have a water absorption of less than 0.1 percent, water cannot penetrate, so it avoids issues of freeze-thaw cracking. Porcelain pavers are skid-resistant, durable and easy to clean — combined with incredibly high breakage loads (up to 2,000 pounds), porcelain pavers create the perfect solution for gardens, terraces and high-traffic outdoor areas. Porcelain pavers offer the installation flexibility to install over sand, grass, gravel, concrete, or raised pedestals, depending upon application.
Although considered pavers, porcelain pavers install more like tile because there is no interlock, and only the base can be compacted, not the installed product. Installation is incredibly easy. Porcelain pavers are stylish, durable and easy to clean.
With a contemporary look that is ideal for both residential and commercial applications, Belgard porcelain pavers are available in over 40 interpretations of stone, wood, and concrete textures, as well as a variety of modular shapes. According to Belgard, sizes vary by region, but are available up to a 24-by-24 square and 12-by-48 planks. Additional sizes such as 18-by-36, 24-by-36, and 24-by-48 are regionally available or can be ordered as needed. Additional sizes can also be special ordered, including large slabs for steps and outdoor kitchen countertops.
Depending on color selection and use, a construction project that uses porcelain pavers can earn up to 10 LEED credits. Some colors have a solar reflectance index (SRI) of 60-80 percent, indicated low heat absorption and reduction of urban heat island effect. These lighter colors are recommended for areas with high levels of sun exposure.
From the installer’s perspective, proper handling of the product is key. Pallets of porcelain pavers are shipped with a heavy duty plastic protective pallet cover, and the individual porcelain pavers are packaged in protective cardboard boxes. The protective cardboard boxes should not be removed until the pavers are ready for installation.
Sand Base: For small patios or walkways over concrete or level ground in dryer climates, porcelain pavers can be installed over a compacted sand base. Installing porcelain pavers requires the bedding course sand to be pre-compacted and then struck off with a screed. The sand should have a 5 to 6 percent moisture content so that it will compact cohesively and allow for a smooth strike off finish.
Grass Base: Installing directly over grass is an option for small patios, walkways, or stepping stones. Sand should be added where needed to help with leveling and to prevent future breakage.
Gravel Base: A compacted gravel base is an option for small patios, walkways, or Japanese-style (recessed) stepping stones.
Standard Paver Base: The most common installation method for patios, walkways, and pool-scapes follows a similar installation method for installing standard concrete pavers.
Joint Options: When installing over sand, gravel, grass, or a standard paver base, clear disc spacers are used to create even joints. Joints can be left open, to create a permeable surface, or can be filled with either polymeric sand or cement-based grout.
Concrete Base: As an option to overlay an existing concrete slab, or to provide additional strength for vehicular applications,
Installation Training: It is important to use trained Belgard porcelain paver installers for your project and Vicente Landscaping in our area is trained and certified. We talked with the owner, Mr. Welborn, and he did mention that porcelain pavers are gaining in popularity in our area because they offer the same beauty and aesthetics of stone, without the maintenance and upkeep. Welborn said “they will remain looking as good as the day they were installed.”
Belgard porcelain pavers ward off all stains, including red wine, acid and oil. The color will never fade, and they never need to be sealed. There is no color variation from unit to unit, like with natural stone, and pavers won’t discolor or allow moss or mold growth.
Breakage: With a PSI strength of over 38,000 pounds, Belgard porcelain pavers support up to 2,200 pounds for pedestal installations, and support vehicular loads with a concrete base. If a paver should crack or chip, it can easily be removed with a special tool and replaced.
Cleaning: Belgard porcelain pavers can be cleaned using any type of cleaner and can withstand pressure-washing without deterioration of the finish. It is recommended to pressure wash at 1,600 PSI or less to avoid degradation of any jointing material.
Belgard porcelain pavers are frost-free and resistant to thermal shock caused by freeze and thaw cycles in our climate. Porcelain pavers also resist degradation from deicing salts and other chemical agents.
Remember to tune in to YCCA’s “Hammer Time” every Saturday or Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 AM/99.9 FM and 95.5 FM or the web kqna.com. Listen to Sandy to Mike talk about the construction industry, meet your local community partners and so much more. You will be entertained.