What are Porcelain Pavers?

So, the time has come to begin hardscaping, and you realize there are so many options to choose from. Some of the more popular choices include concrete and natural stone products such as flagstone, travertine, and granite. But you should know that outdoor porcelain pavers are increasing in popularity as an alternative to traditional hardscaping materials, combining incredible beauty and unbelievable durability. What are Porcelain Pavers, and how do they measure up to the hype when it comes to practical issues like durability and ease of installation?

Porcelain pavers, in the most simplistic definition, are unique paving slabs made from the highest-grade porcelain. They are an excellent alternative to concrete and natural stone products, and they have been proven in some of the most diverse environments around the world. As a further testament to their beauty and engineering, these paving stones have undergone proprietary, patented processes to achieve uniformity throughout the slab, superior density, and unmatched performance. They are made with kiln-fired clay and recycled materials.

Now that we have defined what are Porcelain Pavers, let’s look at what the benefits are when compared to the more traditional concrete and stone products that are typically used. Compared to concrete and stone pavers, porcelain pavers are incredibly stain and chemical resistant and never need to be sealed, which confirms that minimal maintenance will be needed.

Cleaning is extremely easy for porcelain pavers by using standard household cleaners and, if needed, low pressure washing. In addition, porcelain pavers have a very hard surface that is incredibly scratch and abrasion resistant. Their natural beauty and original texture can be retained for many years compared to natural or concrete products.

You are now wondering what are Porcelain Pavers and how can they be so beneficial? Let me give you a few benefits to consider. The top surface of porcelain paving stones is structured to create a non-slip surface, helping to ensure safety in high-slip areas such as walkways around pools or near sprinkler systems. In comparison, stone pavers like granite and quartz, can become quite slippery in these conditions.

What are Porcelain Pavers going to give you with respect to withstanding the elements? Even at temperatures as low as -60°F porcelain paving stones are 100% frost free. And since they are impermeable, de-icing salts and similar materials can be used without damaging them.

What are Porcelain Pavers cosmetic advantages that make them stand out from the rest? Porcelain pavers are extremely durable in many ways. Given that the colour has been fused through a process called vitrification, the colour becomes an integral part of the surface, and creates a liquified glass glaze on the paver. The pavers will not fade or discolour because of the elements – even the most intense sunlight and extreme weather conditions.

What are Porcelain Pavers performance regarding staining, moss or mold? Given they have excellent compressive strength with ultra-low moisture absorption, they have a very dense surface that remains resistant to all of these things. Porcelain Pavers will retain their striking appearance with little to no maintenance involved.

What are Porcelain Pavers going to offer from a strength and durability perspective? On a technical level, porcelain paving stones allow minimal water absorption, and have excellent chemical resistance and significant resistance to thermal shock. On a physical level, porcelain pavers have been precision engineered for reduced breakage and can withstand loads up to 2,200 lbs! Once installed, they are extremely strong and resistant to breakage. In the unlikely event that one does break, replacement is relatively painless.

What are Porcelain Pavers offering those that are environmentally conscious when considering building and hardscaping materials? Most porcelain paving stones are made of up to 42% recycled materials. When this is combined with the fact that porcelain pavers provide a natural look without the mining and quarrying necessary for natural stone such as quartz and travertine, and that they are made of kiln-fired clay, they prove to be a truly environmentally responsible option for hardscaping.

You will find porcelain pavers in a wide range of sizes and colours to allow for your creative designs to come to life, with the ability to closely mimic the appearance and texture of the material as it appears in nature. Residential or commercial entranceways, patios, driveways, steps, pool decks, rooftops, promenades, public spaces, gardens, terraces, and walkways are just a few of the many applications that porcelain pavers work so well for.

Load Bearing Shims

Load bearing shims are thin and often tapered wedges made of wood or plastic, traditionally used to fill small gaps or spaces between objects providing stability. Load bearing shims are typically used to support, adjust for a better fit or provide a level surface. As indicated in the name, load bearing shims are designed to be able to support a particular load or weight. For this reason, ones manufactured from plastic or similar materials such as rubber are better as they are constructed to support a specified load. In comparison, wood ones rely on the composition of the wood used and the moisture content within the wood which does not allow for an exact load bearing capacity.

The main reason one uses load bearing shims when constructing a stone deck or patio is because nothing is ever perfect. The products you are dealing with are not “Mil-Spec” designed to exact and precise tolerances. Load bearing shims not only help you to ensure everything is straight and aligned as you need it to be, but are capable of supporting the heavy loads of the stone you will be using. They are perfect for leveling paver or porcelain tile or ensuring your subfloor is perfectly flat when your framing materials are a little less then desirable.

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish you can install the load bearing shim and use the pressure of the materials being shimmed hold it in place. Put a fastener, such as a screw through it, or use of construction adhesive to hold it in place. As mentioned before, not only are plastic or rubber shims better at supporting an exact load, they will also not crack and split when a fastener is driven through as would happen with a wood shim.

Also, if wet or damp, wood shims will not adhere to the construction adhesive if this is your preferred method of installation.

Most tapered plastic or rubber shims on the market are scored at predetermined locations allowing you to break them off as needed at the required shimming space. Typically, wood ones you need to score yourself and break off. Also, the plastic or rubber load bearing shims are not affected by moisture or other environmental conditions that can cause wood ones to swell up or shrink and deteriorate over time. One of the better load bearing shims on the market is the EZ-Shim, they are manufactured in the USA and have a load bearing capacity of 8,000 lbs psi.

You can even find round load bearing shims that can be easily snapped apart into quarters and stacked up as needed. Bison Innovative Products manufacture two such shims; the B11 is a 1/16² flexible rubber shim, while the PS1 is a rigid 1/8² shim. These types of load bearing shims are ideal when trying to level larger stone pavers or porcelain tiles. If you are working with a rooftop deck and using any of the pedestal systems on the market, the use of round shims that can be broken apart into halves or quarters is particularly useful.

In a perfect world all your construction materials would be straight and true, but we all know that is never the case. So, whether you are transforming your wood deck into a stone deck or building a new one, creating that beautiful maintenance-free rooftop patio or laying that stone deck patio, using a quality load bearing shim will not only save you time and aggravation but will ensure your project comes out straight, level and will last a lifetime.