If you want to give your garden the wow factor, you might be considering porcelain paving stones for your patio. Not only do these slabs look luxurious and sleek, but they are also extremely durable and resistant to moss, frost and many other stains.
Sounds great, right?
The only downside to porcelain paving is that these slabs are more fragile than traditional slabs and can be harder to lay. This can make life difficult if you plan to save money by laying these yourself.
That’s where we come in.
Below, we’ve put together a guide on how to lay porcelain paving, so you can transform your garden this year.
1. Prepare the base for your paving
The first thing you need to do is to lay the groundwork for your paving to ensure these go down as easily as possible and stay strong and secure for years to come.
Luckily, this process is pretty similar to preparing for any type of paving; you need to do the following:
- Measure the area you wish to pave and mark this out clearly with wooden pegs
- Remove all roots, vegetation and topsoil from the area you’ve marked out and dig this to a depth of at least 20 centimetres.
- To make sure that your paving drains properly, you should set your gradient at a 1 in 80 fall using a spirit-level
- You can then rake the surface to get this all level before compacting the area with a roller or tamper
- Finally, fill the area with MOT Type 1, compacting this down to 10 centimetres. You’ll need the remaining 10 centimetres for laying the slabs
The final thing you need to do in the preparation stage is to mix your mortar. This is where porcelain paving slightly differs from others.
Porcelain paving tends to require more cement than other paving slabs. This is because you need to build a stronger bond between the slabs and the earth.
So, in this case, you’ll want to mix your mortar using four parts sharp sand to one part cement.
You’re almost ready to get laying!
2. Prime your slabs ready to lay
Another difference between porcelain and other slabs is that porcelain paving needs a little extra treatment before they can be put down. This is because the slabs are non-porous and so they don’t stick to the mortar base as easily.
The good news is, there’s a simple solution. Before you begin laying, be sure to pain the reverse side of your slabs with a slurry primer. It’s likely you’ll be able to buy this primer from the same place that you get your slabs.
This will help to create a stronger bond when you do get round to laying your slabs.
Just be careful not to get any of this primer mix on the face of your slabs, as this can quickly dry on and leave permanent, unsightly marks.
3. Check you have everything you need to lay
The next stage is laying your slabs, but because you don’t want to make a mistake at this point in the process, it’s a good idea to do a final check to make sure you have everything you need. So before you start laying, make sure you have:
- Your porcelain slabs (and enough of them)
- Freshly-mixed mortar
- A mallet
- A measuring tape
- A spirit-level
- Jointing compound
- A hard-bristled brush
Once you’re sure you have everything you need, you’re ready to get laying.
4. Start laying your slabs
When you lay your slabs, it’s a good idea not to lay the whole bed of mortar at once. Instead, work one slab at a time. This ensures your mortar won’t dry out before you get round to laying on it.
So going one porcelain slab at a time, put down a bed of mortar and lay the slab on top, ideally one corner at a time, rather than just dropping it on top.
You then need to secure the slab in place by gently tapping it down with your mallet. Although these slabs are strong, it’s always best to be careful and not hit them too hard.
Once the slab is in place, you should quickly make any adjustments to the positioning, using your spirit-level as a guide.
Remember, once the mortar has dried, you won’t be able to move the slab, so don’t rush this process and make sure you get each slab perfect before moving on.
Once in place, lay the next slab, leaving approximately five millimetres between each one.
5. Fill in the gaps
The final step is to fill in the gaps with the jointing compound. Again, you should be able to get this from the same place as you get your slabs and slurry.
Once you’ve filled all the gaps, brush away any excess compound material and leave your patio to dry for 24 hours.
If you’re concerned that there might be rain, you can cover your new patio with a tarpaulin to protect it and allow it to dry properly.