Published: December, 2019
One of the most stylish of modern home and garden developments is rooms that flow naturally through patio doors into the garden outside.
It’s a great look, with the inside and outside at the same level, and porcelain tiles creating a seamless link between the two areas. Not only a stunning feature, it creates the illusion of a kitchen or living room being far more spacious than they really are.
You’ll have noted we specifically said porcelain tiles, not just any tiles and definitely not ceramic. That’s for a very good reason. Porcelain has many qualities essential for outdoor areas, among them extreme durability and moisture resistance. They’re non-porous, with a water absorption rate of less than 0.5%, which makes them frost resistant too. And as well as withstanding extremes of weather and fire, they can also be made slip-resistant, offering high R-Values.
Ceramic, on the other hand, is really only for indoor use. It’s got a much higher moisture content than porcelain, which means cracks appear almost as soon as the rains or snow arrive.
These marvellous qualities - so useful for landscapers - come about because porcelain is made from very fine clay which is fired at such high temperatures – up to 2500F - that the moisture is removed and the tile becomes hard and dense. Its hardness is measured on a scale of one to five, devised by the Porcelain Enamel Institute, with the toughest getting a PEI rating of 5.
Porcelain tiles have been around for hundreds of years. China is said to be the first to produce them in the 15th century, though some historians trace porcelain back even earlier to Ancient Egyptian times. Now they’re made all over the world, with Brazil, Spain and Italy in the vanguard but plenty of top-class manufacturers operate in Britain today.
Despite many modern refinements, the process of creating porcelain tiles is still pretty much as it’s always been: water is mixed with natural ingredients such as feldspar, dense clay and silica sand until a sand-like consistency is reached with most of the moisture removed. This mix is then shaped into tile forms, dried and patterns and colours added before a glaze is applied to protect the tiles. They’re fired in a kiln and emerge as beautiful and extremely hard-wearing objects.
Given their 100% natural components, porcelain tiles are very environmentally friendly. No toxic fumes are created in the manufacturing and being low-maintenance means they don’t require harsh chemical cleaners. Their extremely long lifespans saves on replacement materials. Basically they’ll last a lifetime, and you won’t have to do much to look after them.
Another clever thing about porcelain tiles is they can be manufactured to look like real stone or wood, or there are concrete tiles with a neutral surface. They come in many patterned versions, offering endless design possibilities.
You can also get “outside-inside” tiles, which look exactly the same but with a different surface texture, the outside tiles being more slip and weather resistant.
If you want to know more about the porcelain tiles that work best for your projects, get in touch with us and learn about the design possibilities we can help you unlock.
Kinley’s porcelain tile range offers the widest range of choice, for indoor and outdoor areas. They’re of the highest specification, with an R9 and R11 slip rating, are resistant to chemicals, frost, mildew, moss and algae, have high breaking loads and are as stylish as they are functional.
Check out our NEW enhanced range of Atria tiles to see what we can offer.
Kinley provides innovative and superior quality products to create inspiring gardens and outdoor places people enjoy.
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North West Cambridge
North West Cambridge is a 150 hectare development for Cambridge University with homes for key workers, private use and post-graduate student accommodation, research facilities, community facilities and new infrastructure. The first phase was complete in 2018 with a value of circa £80million.