How To Lay Porcelain Patio Paving

How to lay porcelain patio paving


How To Lay Porcelain Patio Paving

Find out everything you need to know to create a beautiful porcelain patio, covering what tools and materials you’ll need, how to prepare the area, how to mix all the materials and how to lay and grout the paving.


Reasons for choosing porcelain


Why Choose Porcelain?

Many types of natural stone paving have a riven surface which can make it awkward to stabilise patio furniture and tables. Riven or uneven slabs can also be a trip hazard, not only for young children but also for adults. A key benefit of porcelain paving over natural stone or concrete paving is that it is much more resistant to staining and as such is much easier to keep clean and maintain. The face of porcelain paving has no pores making it impossible for spores of 'black spot' algae to root into the surface, which is common amongst all other paving materials. So if you want to retain the clean, 'new look' of your just laid patio for many years to come, then you will choose porcelain paving tiles for your garden patio.


Choosing the right tools reeqiuired to lay porcelain patio paving


Make a checklist of what you’ll need:


String, Line & Pegs      Spirit Level      Tape Measure
Rake   Shovel   Wheelbarrow
Trowel   Wide Paint Brush   Drill and Maxing Paddle
Rubber Mallet   Broom   Bucket and Sponge
Joint Spacers   Grouting Tool    

Equipment needed to bee used in the laying of porcelain patio paving


Equipment you’ll probably need to hire


Cement Mixer      Vibrating Plate
Stone Cutting Wet Saw or Table Saw   Porcelain Cutting Blade
Electric Angle Grinder    


All the installlation materials required to lay porcelain patio paving


Instalation Materials


Sub-Base (MOT Type 1 or GSB)      Sharp Sand
Cement   Priming Slurry
Flexible Tile Grout    


The safety equipment needed to install porcelain patio paving tiles


The all-important safety gear


Protective Footwear      Gloves
Ear & Eye Protection   Facemask (FFP3)


Preparing the sub-base for a porcelain paving tile patio


Preparing your sub-base

Digging out the correct amount below your proposed patio surface is critical. Not digging out enough could end up in having to relay your paving, or worst-case scenario is that it could cause structural problems inside the house.  
Most properties will have a damp proof course (DPC), which sits between two brick courses to stop damp from rising into the property. It's essential that your paving is not laid too close to this damp proof course. Get to know your property and count down two full bricks from your DPC or 150 millimetres. The finished height of your patio should not be above this level.


Make sure you are far enough below the damp proof course when laying a garden patio


Far enough below DPC?

Make sure you are far enough below DPC by marking down a further 150-160 millimetres, this is the level to dig out to, which will give the slab around 20 millimetres, the laying mortar around 40 millimetres, and then finally, 100 millimetres of sub-base. When digging, check the soil at the bottom is firm with your heel. If your heel sinks in, you’ll need to dig out more until the ground is harder.


The materials and depths required for your garden patio sub-base


the correct levels

Bear in mind the fall of the patio, which is so water can run off the surface. The fall should be 1:60, so for every 60 centimetres of paving, the drop should be 1 centimetre. For example, if your patio is three metres, then one end should be five centimetres lower than the other end.
Hammer the peg into the ground until the top is at the level of the finished paving height. Hammer another peg where the patio will finish and run a string line between the two pegs. Ensure the string slopes down from the building to the edge of the patio. Some spirit levels are already marked at 1:60, which makes getting the correct fall much easier. Now that you're happy with the levels and the correct fall, the sub-base can be tipped in.


Solid foundations are fundamental to laying a successful garden patio


Sound foundations

MOT Type 1, or a General Sub-Base aggregate (GSB) are the best materials to use. Spread the sub-base out to about 30 millimetres below the string line. Then, using a vibrating plate, compact the sub-base down. Compaction is extremely important because doing it poorly will lead to areas of the paving sinking. Compact down to 60 millimetres below the string line – it may be necessary to top up with more stone. Go over the area to compact at least 7 times, don’t worry about over-compacting. Check that the 100 millimetres of sub-base leaves 60 millimetres for the bedding mortar and the paving. It’s ideal to regularly check to make sure the whole area has the correct levels.


Always check the batch codes when laying porcelain patio paving. If they don't match they will look different when laid.


Check the batch codes

With porcelain paving, you must check that the batch and shade numbers match. If the numbers are different, you could have a mis-match of colours across the patio when laid.


Mixing the mortar when installing porcelain patio paving tiles


Mixing mortar

There are many different mixes and mixing methods around the UK that depend on the type of sand available in your area. With Pavestone porcelain paving, it’s recommended to lay on a mix of 5-part sharp sand, 1-part cement and water.
When using a cement mixer, use a bucket to gauge the correct proportions. First add some water, then three buckets of sand and then the cement. Keep the drum moving to avoid the mixture sticking. Let that mix together, and then add the last 2 buckets of sand, keeping an eye on the wetness and adding a small amount of water at a time to create a creamy mix. Check the consistency before pouring out into the wheelbarrow. 


Choosing the right paving for the environment is verry important


Practical paving

When choosing paving, you need to consider the environment around the patio as well as the design of your space and what you want to achieve. It would be very labour intensive to keep clean a white or light coloured paving should it be chosen for a shaded, wooded location.

There’s a whole host of porcelain paving to choose from, like the Discovery Porcelain which is made up of large tiles, perfect for big patios, where a seamless look is desired. On the other hand, the Deckwood Porcelain can add a relaxed and coastal feel with the visual appeal of wood, but the durability and strength of porcelain.


The very important stage of priming with a slurry primer the porcelain tiles prior to their placing on the bedding mortar

The all important Priming Slurry

With all porcelain paving, you must apply a coat of Priming Slurry to the back of the paver. It acts like a glue, which gives a strong bond between the paver and the mortar bed. Take the powder out the tub and mix with 4 litres of clean water. The mixing of the slurry can be done using an electric drill with a mixing paddle fitting. Once the slurry is mixed, it’s ready to be applied to the back of the paving stone. An essential part of applying is to make sure the slurry goes right to the edge.


It is important to ensure at a full wet mortar bed is used and is in full contact with the patio paving tile to ensure no pockets of air are trapped underneath the paving as water will build up here and can stain the tiles


Wet Mortar Bed

Shovel enough mortar where the slab is to be laid. Then, with a builder's trowel, knock the mortar around to create a full contact bed. As we are laying 20-millimetre-thick porcelain, the mortar bed should be around 10 to 15 millimetres below the string line. The primed slab can then be lowered carefully onto the bed and tapped down with the rubber mallet. This will compress the mortar down to create a smooth full contact bed.


Make sure you lay porcelain paving flush so as to not create trip points


Keeping the tiles flush

The edges of the slab should sit flush with the adjacent ones. Use a spirit level across the other slabs to check there are no high or low spots. When everything is level, give the slab a wipe down with a damp sponge and insert a tile spacer. The Jointing Grouts will work in gaps between 2 and 15 millimetres, and generally the most commonly used gap is 3-5 millimetres.


Cutting porcelain patio paving and using the correct safety wear


Cutting porcelain

Before carrying out any form of cutting, you must wear the correct personal protective equipment. You can cut the slabs as and when required, but it’s ideal to lay all the full slabs first and then do the cutting in one go.


Hire a table saw to cut long cuts through porcelain paving tiles


Hire a table saw for larger projects

Hiring a table saw is handy if your project requires a lot of cutting. However, a petrol-powered wet saw or electric grinder will do the job well as they're also perfect for cutting curves and small, intricate cuts around drain covers. When cutting porcelain with any type of equipment, the most important thing to do is take your time and use a continuous rimmed porcelain cutting blade.


Grouting porcelain patio paving tiles


Grouting Porrcelain Pavng Tiles

The paving must be completely dry and free of dust and debris before grouting. The joints must also be dry and free from moisture.


Grouting porcelain patio paving tiles

A quality finish

Take out the sealed bags of the Jointing Grout and use clean water to mix half the tub at a time. Once the grout is mixed and ready to be applied to the paving, you can use a squeegee, float, or a grout application gun.


Keep the grout off thee paving after jointing. If it dries on the tiles it will be almost impossible to remove

Easier cleaning


Always try and keep any excess grout on the slab to a minimum, which will make it easier for you to clean. To help the cleaning down process, Pavestone’s Porcelain Tile Protector can be applied along the joints before grouting.


Good planting always helps to create an idyllic garden patio


Burst of blooms

Once your paving is laid correctly, it’s the perfect place to plant up containers full of your favourite plants. Choose a mixture of flowering and foliage plants that will satisfy the senses while you spend time on your patio.


Patio planting recommendations by David Domoney

Pick perfumed flowers like Dianthus (pink) ‘Memories’ which is a lovely compact plant with white double flowers and a spicy scent in summer. Position the container in a sunny spot and this evergreen will thrive, growing up to 50cm tall. Or focus on evening fragrance with the strong scent of Lilium regale (regal lily). The statement trumpet-shaped blooms are sure to make an impact. Growing up to 1.5m tall, these will grow happily in containers.


Lavender planting close to patio seating areas not only looks lovely but smells good too


Lovely lavender

You also can’t go wrong by bordering your patio with lavender, which has a fantastic fragrance, evergreen foliage and flowers that will keep the pollinators very happy.
Transform your patio into a beautiful contemporary garden with Pavestone’s low maintenance porcelain paving. With many porcelain styles to choose from, when installed well, you can have a beautiful patio to enjoy for years on end.


Your landscaping project represents a sizable investment. Get it wrong and you will be not only be very disappointed but may also be faced with having to spend thousands of pounds, all over again, to rectify the work done.

I have got together with Mark Brown, Pavestone's resident expert landscaper, to present you this article and video demonstrating how to lay porcelain paving tiles correctly.


How To Lay Porcelain Patio Paving


There are many more videos featured here for you to explore.

David Domoney, TV gardener, horticultural expert and Pavestone brand ambassador blogs monthly on the Pavestone website on all things landscaping related.

We look forward to seeing you back again next month.


David Domoney is a Pavestone Ambassador