When we hear the word porcelain the first image that comes up is delicate kitchenware and dainty figurines. But, can you believe that this delicate material has a strong side?
It was the ancient Chinese who perfected the art of making porcelain over 1000s of years ago. Besides using porcelain for statues and pottery, the Chinese also discovered the hidden potential of this material over hundreds of years ago. The 260-feet tall Nanjing Tower constructed in ancient China in 1431 was made out of porcelain bricks.
In recent years, porcelain has grown in popularity among homeowners, architects and interior designers, especially for outdoor applications. In this guide, we walk you through all that you need to know about porcelain tiles for outdoor usage.
What is porcelain tile?
Porcelain tiles belong to the ceramic family; however, these tiles are manufactured at higher temperatures compared to standard ceramic tiles. Made with refined clay, porcelain tiles are more durable and long-lasting than ceramic tiles. Porcelain tiles can be used on both walls and floors, indoors and outdoors.
Types of Porcelain Tile
Unglazed Porcelain Tiles
These tiles do not have an outer glaze; hence each tile has a unique pattern. Though these tiles do not have an added exterior protective coat, they are naturally resistant to wear and tear and can withstand varying weather conditions. Unglazed porcelain tiles are further divided into the following categories:
- Full bodied tiles – In these tiles, the colour runs throughout the tile’s body. The vein and grain patterns are visible through the entire thickness of the tile.
- Double-loaded Tiles – These tiles are made by pressing two different types of clay together, making them best suited for areas with high foot traffic. The two layers of clay can be of different colours; hence these tiles are available in a wide range of unique patterns and colours.
Glazed Porcelain Tiles
Glazed porcelain tiles have a protective coat and come in various colours and patterns. When it comes to the finish, glazed porcelain tiles are available in the following choices – semi-polished, matte or gloss. Glazed tiles can be further sub-divided into the following categories:
- Printed Tiles – These tiles undergo a special printing process where a digital image is printed on the tile. Because of this technology, porcelain tiles can be designed to resemble natural stone, wood, fabric, leather or any other material convincingly.
- Full bodied, glazed tiles – In these tiles, the colours run through the entire thickness of the tile. Additionally, these tiles have a surface glaze that gives protection as well as beauty to the tile.
Porcelain tiles are graded by the PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) and the grades are from one to five. Porcelain tiles of grade five are the most durable, while grade one tiles are the least durable.
Can Porcelain Tiles be Used for Outdoors?
Porcelain tiles are one of the best materials for outdoor usage. Here are a few reasons why homeowners prefer porcelain tiles for exterior pathways, pavements and corridors.
- The water absorption rate of porcelain tiles is less than 0.5%. As a result, they do not stain easily and can withstand extreme weather conditions – rain, sleet, snow, and shine.
- Since porcelain tiles do not absorb water, they don’t crack in extreme freezing weather, making them a great choice for areas with severe winters like the northern parts of India.
- They do not fade, even when placed under direct sunlight. So, outdoor porcelain tiles retain their colour for years to come, even when used outdoors.
- Porcelain tiles are highly durable and can withstand heavy footfall without showing signs of wear and tear.
Pros of Porcelain Tiles – The Good Side
- Versatile – Suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications
- Long-lasting and durable
- Perfect for outdoor applications
- Available in a huge variety of colours, textures and patterns
- Thin and lighter than natural stone
- Easy maintenance
- Weather resistant
- Non-porous & non-slippery
Cons of Porcelain Tiles – The Not So Good Side
- Heavier than standard ceramic tiles
- Costlier than standard ceramic tiles
- Difficult to install and cut – requires special equipment
Installation of Porcelain Tiles
Just like any other tile, porcelain tiles require special equipment and skilled labourers. They are difficult to cut, which makes them highly durable and impervious to wear and tear.
Porcelain Tiles Maintenance
Porcelain tiles are super easy to maintain and clean. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, while cleaning porcelain tiles:
- A regular solution of water and mild detergent is ideal for standard cleaning.
- For tougher stains or deep cleaning, use a dedicated porcelain tile cleaner or a homemade vinegar water mixture.
- Avoid using hard brushes, especially on glazed porcelain tiles.
- Do not use harsh chemicals like bleach or acid.
Hope this clarifies all your queries on porcelain tile installation, maintenance and usage. If you have any further queries, shoot your questions to our tile experts. As the top tiles’ manufacturers in India, we can provide you with the best solutions for all your tiling needs. Get in touch with our team to find the perfect tiles for your upcoming design project. We also offer wholesale tile supplies all over the country as well as globally.