Porcelain paving

Durable and incredibly easy to keep clean, these sleek porcelain tiles are the best choice for a modern patio right now.

Patterned porcelain patio tiles at night with lanterns and fire pit

by Jill Morgan |

Want to spend less time looking after your garden and more time relaxing in it? Then the latest porcelain floor tiles should be on your want list this year. Hard-wearing and low maintenance, these affordable, man-made pavers will look good day in, day out for years to come. And they’re available in a huge range of colours and finishes from ornate patterns to remarka-bly accurate mimics of natural materials. So even if you’re after pale limestone squares or rich wood-effect planks, porcelain paving can give you the look for far less effort and outlay.

It’s versatile too, with tiles in many different shapes so it’s simple to try complex laying patterns or extend paving upwards to clad walls and raised beds, to create your desired look.

No wonder, then, that it’s massively popular with top garden designers right now – and architects too, as you can buy matching porcelain paving for inside and out to achieve a seamless look. These outdoor flooring tiles really are a garden game-changer so if you’re thinking of up-dating your paving this year, here’s what you need to know before you buy.

What is porcelain paving?

Porcelain paving is made from a mix of white clay, quartz, fine sand and feldspar (a widely found rock-forming mineral), materials which absorb a very low amount of moisture, making them exceptionally durable and able to cope with the extremes of the British climate. Fired at extremely high temperatures – often up to 1,240°C – the separate particles and grains within the minerals melt and fuse together to form a single, extremely tough material. This process is often referred to as ‘fully vitrified’.

Exterior tiles range between 5 and 20mm deep so if you need a slimline paver that doesn’t raise your patio above the height of your lawn, or you’re after thicker paving that will withstand the heaviest of wear, there’s a range to suit. The extra rigidity, along with the firing process, enables them to withstand extreme fluctuations in temperature without weakening the tile.

Why is porcelain paving so good?

Because they’re so tough, these sleek tiles stay looking good for years and need very little care to keep them in tip-top condition. Simply sweep as and when needed, then hose or power-wash annually and the surface will be as good as new. No labour-intensive re-staining or seal-ing is needed, just wait for the tiles to dry, push back the furniture, kick back and relax.

Impenetrable to water, there’s no danger of these dense tiles cracking in frosty conditions, unlike their more porous ceramic cousins or natural products like timber or stone. Their tough, hardened character also means less unsightly algae or mould growth, which not only reduces staining but means the surface is less slippery too. They don’t fade in sunlight either.

What options are there?

Exterior porcelain paving comes in a variety of formats. Square tiles are hugely versatile and can be laid staggered for a traditional vibe or corner-to-corner for a more contemporary feel. Available in different sizes, you can use them to visually expand or shrink the look and feel of an outside space, a trick that’s often exploited by garden designers to dazzling effect. The recent interior trend for open living spaces has led to a rise in oversized porcelain tiles known as ‘field’ tiles, and these have migrated outside, where they can make a compact plot look bigger.

Another strong trend is to use the same-style pavers inside and out, and many manufacturers now offer interior and exterior versions of the same tile. “When it comes to selecting outdoor tiles, we recommend unifying your internal and external spaces with the same tile, as it will assist in enhancing the space you have,” says Amanda Telford, marketing manager of CTD Tiles. “Whether you’re creating a small courtyard or an extensive patio, indoor and outdoor tiles will provide a continuous flow.”

Porcelain planks and replica flagstones are also hugely popular, recreating the look of timber deckboards and traditional stone paving, without the upkeep of the real thing. There are a vast range of finishes to choose from, with rich walnut, silvered oak and Welsh slate currently hugely popular. “The manufacturer will take inspiration from real wood, stone or marble and will recreate this digitally so this image can be applied to the surface of the new porcelain,” explains Amanda. “A mould is made that can create a structure to the surface and produce the product in a particular size.”

How much are porcelain tiles?

Many factors influence the end-price of these tiles, so there’s something to suit every budget. The quality of the raw materials, as well as the minerals used to create the surface definition and the clarity of the glaze, plays a big part. The process used to create and apply the laser-printed image to the tile body can also vary widely in detail and precision, along with the level of care invested in the shaping and moulding of each tile. These pavers are sold by the square metre so it’s straightforward to compare prices. But do remember that the larger the tile, the more wastage there will be, and factor in a 5mm grout gap when working out how many tiles you need.

Can I fit porcelain paving?

If you’re a competent DIYer, then porcelain paving is relatively straightforward to lay as it’s uni-form, lightweight and easy to cut. “Prep is the secret to a successful job,” says Abbas Youssefi, director of Porcelain Superstore. “We recommend a 25mm bed of mortar laid onto a layer of compacted hardcore that’s at least 15cm deep. This will ensure there’s no movement or subsistence underneath the tiles.”

Shop our pick of the best porcelain paving below.

Berkeley Essence Sky Tile

Patterned porcelain patio tiles at night with lanterns and firepit

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Pattern perfect Because theyu2019re easy to cut, creating a rug effect using patterned tiles is straightforward. Itu2019ll instantly cosy up your seating area as well as providing a chic, contemporary lift. Berkeley Essence Sky Tile, £67.50/m2 toppstiles.co.uk

Cream Porcelain Planks

pale porcelain paving with orange flowers and slatted fence

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Optical illusion These pale cream planks with long, narrow dimensions (900 x 145mm) are great for visually stretching your outside space, especially when laid at an angle to the boundary fence. Cream Porcelain Planks, £48/m2 londonstone.co.uk

Everscape Enis Black Slate

black slate porcelain tiles on sunny patio

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Inside out Matching tiles indoors and out blurs the boundary between the two spaces. This slate-inspired finish features bold tones on its laser-printed surface and with three tile sizes, there are endless laying patterns. Everscape Enis Black Slate, from £42.99/m2 toppstiles.co.uk

Clifton Bone Porcelain Paving Slabs

sandstone porcelain paving with black fire pit

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Classic made easy Itu2019s hard to believe these elegant porcelain tiles arenu2019t the real deal. With a textured surface, subtle tones and crisp sawn edges, they look every inch like palest sandstone but require far less maintenance. Clifton Bone Porcelain Paving Slabs, £33.95/m2 wallsandfloors.co.uk

Everscape Walnut Outdoor Tile

walnut porcelain paving tiles on sunny balcony

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Interior vibes With all the beauty of a hardwood but without the cost and upkeep, these large format tiles add a swish note to any patio. They have an anti-slip and fade-proof finish. Everscape Walnut Outdoor Tile, £55.79/m2 toppstiles.co.uk

Oaktime Cherry Outdoor Tile

cherry wood-effect porcelain paving

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Natural effect Measuring 1200 x 300 x 20mm, these matt, wood-effect tiles have a rich warm-hued grain and characteristic knots, adding a smart contemporary vibe. Oaktime Cherry Outdoor Tile, £49.99/m2 ctdtiles.co.uk

Witton Noir Porcelain Paving Slabs

modular porcelain paving on patio with fire pit and festoons

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Modular design Quick and easy to lay, these porcelain tiles have all the character of traditional flagstones but none of the hassle. Designed to look like tiles of varying sizes, their square 595 x 595mm format makes installing them a cinch. Witton Noir Porcelain Paving Slabs, £35.95/m2 wallsandfloors.co.uk

Canyon Grey

stone-effect porcelain paving on patio with pergola

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Sleek & stylish We adore the subtle veining and neutral tones of these stone-effect tiles. With super-crisp, rectified edges, laying them corner to corner gives a sleek, spacious look. Canyon Grey, £39/m2 porcelainsuperstore.co.uk

5 stylish steals for a chic update

Pine Wood Greige Matt Wood Effect Porcelain Outdoor Floor Tile

Pine Wood Greige Matt Wood Effect Porcelain Outdoor Floor Tile

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Pine Wood Greige Matt Wood Effect Porcelain Outdoor Floor Tile, 800 x 200 x 8.3mm, £15/m2 diy.com

Ardosia Black Anti-Slip Porcelain Floor Tiles

Ardosia Black Anti-Slip Porcelain Floor Tiles

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Ardosia Black Anti-Slip Porcelain Floor Tiles, 600 x 600 x 9.5mm, £19.99/m2 tilemountain.co.uk

Magma Antracite

Magma Antracite

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Magma Antracite, 300 x 300 x 5mm, £18.27/m2 crowntiles.co.uk

Forma Graphite

Forma Graphite

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Forma Graphite, 600 x 600 x 20mm, £39.99/m2 exteriorpavers.co.uk

Slate Anthracite Matt Slate Effect Porcelain Outdoor Floor Tile

Slate Anthracite Matt Slate Effect Porcelain Outdoor Floor Tile

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Slate Anthracite Matt Slate Effect Porcelain Outdoor Floor Tile, 600 x 300 x 8mm, £13/m2 diy.com

What to read next

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