Porcelain Pavers Installation: A Complete Guide
Porcelain pavers have taken the hardscape world by surprise during the last years. The new trend is a welcomed breath of fresh air in a world dominated by the kings of cost benefit: the concrete pavers. However, porcelain has been proving to be a worthy competitor to the throne. So what are the steps to a porcelain pavers installation, and why is porcelain such a good choice?
This article aims to answer those questions, giving you a complete guide on how to install porcelain pavers.
Installation of Porcelain Pavers
The good news about porcelain pavers is that they can be installed basically anywhere. Porcelain is really versatile and can be installed in a classic flexible base installation, on dry land over grass, over decking, over concrete. Your options with porcelain are almost endless.
So let’s first talk about the one thing you will need to do in every type of installation. Be mindful of the slope.
Your installation must have a slope of at least 2%, moving away from any buildings. This you will have to take care in every installation, and for that, a level will be your best friend.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to calculate slope, starting with the materials you’re going to need.
Materials: Stakes, Construction Line, Level Line, Measuring Tape, Shovel
1 – First, you’re going to place a stake at the “beginning” of your paver installation. The beginning being the point closes to the building in question.
2 – Now you place the other stake at the end of the installation. In that case, the furthest point from the building.
3 – With that done, you tie both ends of the construction line to the stakes, as close to the ground as possible. That might need to be done after excavation, if it is necessary (in the case of a flexible base installation, for example).
4 – Now you calculate the slope. To do that, you simply divide the rise (height of the highest point) by the run (the length of your installation). Multiply the value by 100, and you have the percentage of slope in your installation.
5 – Now you adjust either your rise or your run, according to your preference, until you reach the desired minimum of 2% slope.
Recommendations Before Installing Pavers
- A paver clamp is recommended when handling porcelain pavers. In the lack of one, a pair of sturdy working gloves will suffice. It is never recommended handling porcelain pavers without either one of those options.
- If your installation requires you to cut pavers, make sure to use an electrical cutter with a diamond blade. Also, porcelain pavers need to be wet cut. This article will help you in preparation of having to cut porcelain pavers.
- Never compact porcelain pavers. Any compaction needs to be done prior to the installation of the pavers.
- Porcelain pavers should have at least 4 mm of distance between each other. Never install with porcelain to porcelain contact. 4 mm spacers are recommended on most installations.
Now, let’s finally move on to the installation guides, where we will discuss the three most common types of installation: flexible base installation, dry land over grass, and mortar set on concrete.
Porcelain Paver Installation: Flexible Base
The flexible base is one of the most common way you can install porcelain pavers, or any kind of paver, for that matter. It consists of digging a hole depth enough to be filled with a bed of gravel, a bed of sand, plus the pavers. It is recommended for most forms of pedestrian traffic, like gardens, courtyards and walkways.
Materials you’re going to need:
- Compactor (Hand or Plate)
- Geotextile Fabric
- Gravel Base
- 4 mm spacers
- Edge Restrains
- Rubber Mallet
- Polymeric Sand
- Soft Bristle Broom
- Start by digging your installation after making the proper measurement regarding slope. This excavation needs to account for the gravel base (from 4” to 5”) + the height of the sand base (1″ to 2″) + the thickness of the pavers. This value will usually be between 6″ and 8″.
- Once the hole is excavated, cover it with a large sheet of geotextile fabric.
- Add the gravel base and compact it.
- Add the sand base, compact it and screed it.
- With the help of the 4 mm spacers, lay the pavers, slightly tapping them with a rubber mallet to secure them in place.
- Install the edge restrains along the edges of the installation.
- To finish, add polymeric sand to the joint of the pavers, sweeping it around with the help of a soft bristled broom.
Porcelain Paver Installation: Dry Land Over Grass
This is the easiest way you can install your porcelain pavers. There is only one thing you have to ask yourself: do you want your pavers to be on ground level or slightly above the ground?
If you want them on ground level, you simply have to dig holes of depth equal to the thickness of the paver plus 2″ inches, for the sand bed.
If you want them slightly above, you can dig holes of 2″, for the sand bed.
Careful! Even over grass, you still want to be mindful of the slope, so keep an eye out for that.
Simply dig one hole for each paver, place the sand, compact it, and lay the paver on top of it.
The space of 4 mm between pavers is still recommended, as well as the use of edge restrains on each paver to lock them in place.
Porcelain Paver Installation: Mortar Over Concrete
This is another very popular way of performing a porcelain pavers installation, often recommended for areas with heavy traffic use, like driveways.
Installing porcelain pavers with mortar over concrete can be tricky. You have to be mindful of the control joints in your concrete foundation. If the foundation is small enough to not need control joints, you have nothing to worry about.
However, if your foundation does have them, the 4 mm spacers need to be installed directly on top of it to prevent pavers from cracking. That might require a bit more planning and eventual cutting of some pavers to fit the area.
But once that is done, the process is really simple. You just need to cover the area with a heavy tile mortar, place the spacers in place and lay down the pavers. Again, tapping them slightly into place with a rubber mallet.
As for the grout lines, you are free to use any cementitious adhesive or grout in the market. Just make sure they are made for outdoor use.
Aside from those option, there are still several ways in which you can do your porcelain pavers installation. Installation on superior decks, for example, is really popular. But that requires a lot more care, since they are more dangerous.
It is always recommended that you hire the help of professionals both to acquire your pavers and install them. You can never know what difficulties you might face when installing pavers, and something it is a little too much to handle from a DIY perspective.
If you happen to be around the Sarasota and Manatee Counties, in FL, we here at Eagle Pavers are happy to help with any paver need you might have.