Hardscaping Made Simple: How to Install Your Porcelain Pavers

porcelain pavers installation

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Every hardscape contractor knows that a paving project requires two things: an excellent product and excellent technique. The most beautiful yards, driveways, and patios out there always use high-quality pavers – and they always have some top-notch contractors working on the installation. We provide details here for porcelain pavers installation.

At Elegance US, we strive to give our customers the best pavers possible (including our wide selection of Italian porcelain pavers). But once you’ve got your hands on these truly beautiful tools, will you know how to transform them into the perfect paved surface?

Don’t worry; we’re here to help. Here are a few tips to help you install porcelain pavers. Download PDF Now.

What Are Porcelain Pavers?

Firstly, let’s discuss what makes porcelain pavers so great for your customers’ yards. These rectangular pieces are made from natural raw materials like sand, quartz, feldspars, kaolin, clays and inorganic pigments. During production, these materials are fused together and fired at 2,240 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a hard, beautiful paver around 20mm thick.

Porcelain pavers have become especially popular in recent years. This is likely due to their many advantages: they are easy to clean, resistant to frost, maintain their color (even after years of rough treatment from the elements), skid-resistant, and they handle breakage loads up to 2,200 lbs!

With so many wonderful features, it’s no surprise that porcelain pavers are the go-to choice for most contractors and their clients.

Tools You’ll Need

If your client wants porcelain pavers in their yard, you’re in for a treat. The material is lightweight and easy to install, which makes your job quick and painless with incredible results. However, you will need a few specific tools before you can get started.

·         Make sure you have the following:

·         A wet cut tile saw with a diamond blade

·         A paver clamp (you’ll use this to both installs and remove pavers)

·         Notched trowels and grout float tools (note: select these tools based on the recommendations from your adhesive and grout manufacturer)

·         Gloves

Handle with Care

Porcelain pavers are incredibly durable once installed – but you still need to handle them with care. Most manufacturers ship their pavers with heavy-duty plastic pallet covers (or if you’re working with a smaller order, individually wrapped in protective cardboard). Once your pavers arrive, make sure you don’t remove the protective boxes until you’re ready for installation, as this will prevent accidental damage.

It’s also important to be careful as you install the porcelain pavers. Never use a plate compactor (this puts unnecessary pressure on the pavers), only cut them with a wet cut blade if necessary, and always make sure there is at least 4mm of space between your pavers.

If you follow these rules, you’ll be able to give your clients a paved space that’s as sturdy as it is stylish.

Joint Infilling

As we just mentioned, porcelain pavers should have at least 4mm of space between them for proper installation. So, how do you fill the space in-between? There are a few different joint filling options, but here are the ones we recommend:

Traditional Sand

This method uses traditional dry sand to fill the open joints. While dry sand is quick and easy to use, keep in mind that it can suffer erosion from the wind and rain over time. Therefore, it’s important to inform your clients that these joints may eventually need re-sanding.

Cement Blended Sand

For this method, combine three parts sand with one part cement to create a thicker, more durable paste. This cement blended sand can be swept into open joints and then misted with water to cure. However, make sure you remove any residual from the pavers themselves, as they can stain if left unattended.

Polymeric Sand

This method uses polymeric sand (sand blended with polymers that harden with moisture). You can use this filler in the same way you would use cement blended sand: sweep it into the joints and mist it to cure. However, please make sure that the polymeric sand you use is suitable with porcelain pavers. Some varieties require porous pavers, and porcelain pavers are non-porous.

Installing Your Pavers

You have all the tools you need – your pavers, your saw, the joint filler of your choice. It’s finally time to start installing this porcelain! But what method should you use? The answer depends on the space you’re paving and the road base.

Here are a few different ways to install your porcelain pavers:

Sand Set over Compacted Road Base

This option is ideal for areas that see a lot of pedestrians foot traffic.

·         Pour your base material 6-8 inches beyond the edge of the pavement

·         Secure a peripheral restraint system spike over the base area

·         Lay your pavers over the base material at a 1.5-2 degree slope pitched away from any buildings

·         Make sure all pavers are 4mm apart and use your joint fillers to close any gaps

Sand Set over Concrete Overlay

If you’re working with an area that already has concrete, spray a thin layer of sand over it and use this method.

·         Secure a peripheral restrain system into the concrete base

·         Drill ½-inch drainage holes in the concrete

·         Lay a layer of geotextile over the concrete

·         Make sure the concrete is covered by a 1-inch thick (pre-compacted) layer of sand, then compact it

·         Lay down pavers (4mm apart) and fill in joints with the material of your choice

Cementitious Adhesive Overlay with Concrete Base

If the area you’re paving expects light vehicle traffic (such as a driveway), consider the following method:

·         Use an approved cementitious adhesive to cover your concrete base

·         Lay down your pavers with the approved spacing and fill the joints with the appropriate grout

Permeable Over Open Graded Aggregate

For spaces that use a permeable subgrade, use this method:

·         Extend base area 6-8 inches beyond the paved area

·         Place a peripheral restraint system over base area

·         Make sure there is a base of ¾-inch open-graded aggregate, as well as a 2-inch bedding course of 3/8-inch open-graded aggregate

·         Lay down your pavers and fill the joints

Steppingstone Sand Set on Compacted Road Base

If you plan to install porcelain paver stepping stones, use this method:

·         Dig out space for each stepping stone and fill it with a compacted road base

·         Add a 1-inch thing layer (pre-compacted) of sand bedding

·         Lay down your porcelain paver

Fixed Pedestal on Concrete Floor

Finally, if you are installing your pavers over a concrete floor or slab, use this method:

·         Level out your concrete and ensure it is smooth with a 2-degree pitch angled away from any building

·         Install 1/8-inch or ½-inch pedestal supported at the corners of each paver

·         Lay down the pavers and fill in the joints with the appropriate filler

Make Your Yard More Elegant

Whatever project you’re working on, you can trust that Elegance US will give you the best product in the hardscaping business. Take a look at our selection of porcelain pavers, natural stone, wall tiles, and much more today.