New ‘PennStone’ Porcelain Pavers from Architrex Recreate the Look of Natural Pennsylvania Bluestone

Posted on October 23rd, 2017


Pennsylvania Bluestone is a layered sandstone found only in the northeastern tier of Pennsylvania, parts of northern New Jersey and the southern tier of New York.

But now the full color range of blue-gray, rust, brown, gray-green that gives this popular bluestone it’s characteristic beauty has been re-created in a 3/4″ porcelain paver.  As well as their lighter weight, porcelain pavers are renowned for their excellent freeze thaw resistance, stain resistance and low maintenance.

This new range of pavers is available in 24 x 24″, 24 x 12″ and 12″ x 12″(nom.) enabling patterns to be created just like natural stone. In addition to the full color cleft pattern, these pavers are also available in a basic bluestone which features only blue/grey toned pavers.

Cersaie 2017 Trade Show Features More Porcelain Pavers

Posted on October 19th, 2017


The major international trade show for the ceramic tile industry held in Bologna at the end of September/early October is a showcase of all that’s new in the ceramic industry. This year there were considerably more companies displaying 3/4″ thick porcelain pavers – at least 40 companies had at least a handful of outdoor porcelain pavers on display. In many cases it seemed that the companies were simply including the exterior porcelain pavers to round out their collections and because their competitors were also offering the same type of paver. But there are now manufacturers in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, China and maybe some other locations as well which were represented at the exhibition or were not specifically featuring exterior pavers.

Wood look porcelain pavers are still prominent and there was an increasing number of cement look pavers being offered. Also different sizes are now being manufactured with one maker offering nine different sizes. The only significant new product this year being displayed were some cobblestone type of pavers which instead of a perfectly straight edge had a somewhat wavy edge to give them a more antique look. Also the surface appearance of these pavers was designed to look like centuries old cobblestones full pavers. Although this was a very attractive look, it probably is more suited to European-style rather than more modern US styling.  A couple of makers also displayed small cobblestone pavers, typically  8″ x 8″

Porcelain Landscape Pavers Increase Options for Outdoor Living

Posted on May 16th, 2017


Until recently, porcelain pavers had been almost exclusively used in rooftop deck applications supported by adjustable height pedestals. For inner city penthouses, rooftop decks, hotel plazas and suchlike, porcelain pavers have steadily replaced bulky concrete pavers for elevated deck applications.

But now there’s becoming a much greater recognition that these versatile pavers can replace the more conventional brick and concrete paving for general landscaping applications. And one of the main factors is that porcelain pavers are available in an amazing range of styles and colors which concrete pavers can’t even hope to emulate. With modern digital hunting techniques, porcelain pavers are able to faithfully replicate not only natural wood, but also a variety of natural stones including granite, sandstone, travertine, limestone etc. And to please anyone that still lacks a cement look, you can also get porcelain pavers with a cement look finish, but generally in slightly warmer and more friendly colors then you would with natural concrete. Plus the porcelain pavers are stain resistant and non-fading.

For general landscaping applications you have the choice of laying the pavers over compacted sand, gravel or you can even use them as stepping stones over a grassed area. And for locations which have vehicular traffic, you can also lay the porcelain pavers in a conventional thin set over a structural concrete base. So there’s no particular preparation required for using porcelain pavers and because they are a lot lighter than bulky concrete pavers, they are much easier to handle, cut to size and placed in position. Essentially anyone with modest DIY skills can lay porcelain pavers, although you will need a wet saw if you need to cut any pavers to fit around posts or pipes or to fit the precise area where you wish to lay them. Just like bricks, you leave the gaps between the pavers open when the pavers are being laid over sand or gravel, or you could fill these with sand if required.

So for your next landscape paving project, take a look at Architrex porcelain pavers and you might be surprised at the very large range of color choices available, which can make it easier to blend with your existing landscaping scheme.

Plank Style Porcelain Pavers – When You Want a Wood Look But Not the Maintenance

Posted on May 12th, 2017


Plank style porcelain pavers are the latest advance on building decks with these remarkable pavers. In the last few years, porcelain paving slabs have generally been available in 24″ x 24″ size, but an increasing number of size options are now available including 48″ x 16″ and 36″ x 18″. But now there’s an even longer porcelain tile, and that’s the DeckWay porcelain plank system from Architrex where the pavers measure almost 9 feet long and almost 1 foot wide. These planks are available in three wood look colors, Nut, Oak and Maple all of which resemble lightly weathered wood complete with typical features that you would get in a normal plank of wood such as knots, pinholes, small cracks etc.

Whilst obviously these planks won’t look totally like a piece of natural wood, you will however get all the advantages of exceptionally good stain resistance, no twisting and warping, no fading, no splinters, no decay due to weather or insects, exceptionally good scratch resistance and of course the pavers are completely fire resistant.  The latter point can be particularly important in densely populated cities where fire regulations have become much more severe in recent years and may even prevent wood decking being used on rooftops.

These porcelain planks are used on a pedestal system just like the 24″ by 24″ porcelain roof pavers except to reduce the number of pedestals which might otherwise be required, a proprietary railing system is used to support the pavers. So firstly you place your adjustable height pedestals over the area you wish to cover at approximately 24″ centers. Then  hollow steel rails are placed over the pedestal heads. These hollow steel rails placed parallel to each other at 24″ centers.

Then you lay the porcelain planks over the top of the rails using pedestal heads which slide along the rails. Generally you will stagger the planks to give a more natural look.

As you might expect, this system is somewhat more expensive than the more common 24″ x 24″ porcelain pavers but the result that you achieve with these longer planks is simply stunning. And you’ll have virtually no maintenance to worry about as you just need to give the planks a wash with water and maybe a brush with a stiff boom from time to time to keep them looking in tip top condition.

 

Fashionable Cement Look Porcelain Pavers Gives a New Dimension to Patio Paving

Posted on May 6th, 2017


For far too long, bland concrete has been the de facto method of paving, especially for outdoor patio flooring, either laid out in bland slabs as an outdoor patio or placed directly over sand, gravel or grass as paving slabs. But, let’s face it, it just looks, well blah – no character, bland and uninspiring. And if you have concrete around your patio, then you’ve got the problem with grease stains that are almost impossible to remove. Or if you live in a particularly cold region, then you have to watch out for freeze/thaw cracking because concrete is somewhat porous.

But these days there’s a better solution if you still like the general look of concrete, especially for patio floor tiles. 3/4″ thick porcelain pavers are now available which you can either lay directly over the top of your existing concrete patio, simply by placing them over low height rubber support pads, or else you can just place them over compacted sand, gravel or even grass, just like you would with a conventional concrete paver.

But the best advantage is that porcelain pavers are virtually impervious to water so they won’t suffer from freeze/thaw cracking, you won’t have worries about grease or oil staining and to keep them maintained in top condition you just need to give them a clean with a brush and water and they’ll come back looking like new again without any problem at all.

And if you really do like a cement look, then porcelain pavers have raised the bar on this type of look. Concrete always tends to look rather cold, but with porcelain pavers, you can get colors such as Kronos Cenere or Kronos Sandalo which have a touch of brown and hence give a much more warmer, distinguished look. In fact both these colors are very commonly used for interiors of bathrooms these days.

As well as ‘Kronos Cenere’ and ‘Sandalo’, another very popular color we have in our color range is ‘Zinc’, which as the name implies, really does look like a zinc surface with a slight metallic sheen. Or maybe you’d like a more rustic look paver to blend in with an older style house. Then ‘Bone’ would be a good choice. And that’s really what sets porcelain pavers apart from concrete slabs – there’s such a tremendous color range including wood look and a fantastic range of pavers in stone styles that look like granite, sandstone, travertine, limestone and a range of other stones. Indeed there’s a color that can blend in with practically any landscape or decorating scheme you might have. So whatever your patio design, you really should consider taking a look at the options provided by porcelain pavers.

Types of Pedestal Systems

Posted on February 19th, 2015


There’s probably about half a dozen types of pedestal systems available on the market these days both imported and locally manufactured, so choosing the most appropriate pedestal system can be a bit tricky. Now whilst  I guess we may be somewhat biased in that we sell the Eterno pedestal system, I would like to make a couple of comments about the type of pedestal systems that are available and note some of the differences or similarities between them.

There’s probably three main types of pedestal systems:
1. A rather simple type which uses polystyrene foam blocks underneath the pavers. It’s claimed that these blocks can be used up to any height, load or steepness of the substrate and the blocks are apparently cut once the pedestals are in place with a hot-wire trolley riding on a
laser-leveled track to trim off excess material above bottom-of-paver elevation. It’s not clear how the laser level track works or whether you need to purchase this laser level track, hire it or whatever.

2. The cut PVC pipe system whereby lengths of PVC pipe are cut to the exact height required and one end inserted in a base component and the other in a head component. The disadvantage of this system seems to be that you have to  cut the PVC pipe very accurately as otherwise your only option for adjusting the height if you happen to cut the PVC pipe slightly inaccurately is to use multiple shims. In terms of the initial cost of the components, it may be a little cheaper than the alternative screwjack type of pedestals, but taking the extra installation effort and time into consideration, would it really be a lower cost alternative overall? And it seems that making slight adjustments to the pedestals after installation would involve lifting up the pedestals and inserting some shims. A slightly more advanced version of this is used by one manufacturer which is somewhat of a hybrid between the screwjack type of pedestal and the PVC pipe system. In this system, the PVC pipe is still used but the head includes a short screwable section which thus overcomes the issue of having to cut the PVC pipe to the precise height that has been estimated. The downside of course is that adding the extra component then brings the pricing to a similar level as the full screwjack type of pedestal system.

3. The most commonly used type of pedestal system would surely be the screwjack type of adjustable height pedestal system which was pioneered by Buzon in Belgium. Various other manufacturers around the world now make a similar type of system, each with their slight differences. Probably the most common difference is  the slope compensation device, used to ensure that the head of the pedestal remains perfectly horizontal to the surface when the pedestals are installed over sloping ground. Some compensation devices are based on moving two concentric rings and others simply stack circular ‘wedges’ on the base of the pedestal but now opinion, the Eterno method of a ‘floating’ automatically compensating device is by far the neatest solution to this slope correction issue. With the Eterno pedestal you don’t have to line up any marks on the slope compensation device, figure out how many wedges you might need etc. The head simply adjusts to provide compensation from 0 to 5° without any further input required. Another unique feature of the Eterno pedestals is that the height is adjusted by inserting a special height adjustment tool into the head of the pedestal and turning it either right or left. The advantage of this is that you can also insert this tool into the head of the pedestal after all the pavers have been laid to make any slight adjustments that may be necessary.

All pedestal systems, no matter what type require a few extra components, which may either be built-in or they are added separately. Firstly there are  spacer tabs on the head of the pedestal which are designed to keep the pavers at the required distance. Some manufacturers require you to insert individual spaces into the head either as a single component or four separate components whilst with other manufacturers like Eterno, the spaces are built into the head and if not required they are simply snapped off.

Shims are normally required to make slight adjustments and they also of a soft rubber material which can provide extra shock protection and/or sound protection. With the Eterno pedestals (available from Architrex), although separate shims are also available, pedestal head is made of a soft rubber material so provides built-in shock protection and sound absorption.

Maximum height may be a consideration. In this case, the Buzon pedestals for example have loops on the pedestal components whereby guy wires can be attached the security measure when pedestals over about 24″ are being installed.

For low height applications up to about 1/2 inches in height, fixed height support pads are used and there are probably not great differences between the various manufacturers with these items. The main difference is  that some of these, such as the pads available from Architrex, are made of a rubber material which is generally better from the viewpoint of sound absorption and also they can provide more friction between the support pad and the substrate as well as the support pads and the paver itself. This can be advantageous if simply lay the pedestals over concrete as it means that you normally would not require a perimeter wall to prevent the tiles from moving. The downside is that rubber pads are normally more expensive of course than plastic ones although in either case they are much cheaper than a screwjack type of pedestal.

So that’s just a few thoughts about pedestals and it’s worth weighing up the advantages of one manufacturer against the other, not only in terms of costs, but in terms of installation time, sound absorption and post installation adjustment ability.

Slate Look Porcelain Pavers Solve Problems of Natural Slate Tiles

Posted on November 28th, 2014


Natural slate is a great looking product which of course is why it’s so commonly used for patios and even indoor applications such as bathrooms. And of course for many years in Europe at least, it has been used as a roofing material due to its laminar structure which effectively enables it to be supplied in slices.

But unfortunately natural slate does have inbuilt problems. Firstly, for a lot of applications the laminar structure is not particularly helpful because it means that the slate can flake. As we also sell interlocking tiles, with natural slate we have many times come across the problem where people have thought there were white patches on the slate were in fact they were simply areas where the slate had started flaking. The second issue with natural slate is that it is not particularly a very hard stone, so it can scratch quite easily and therefore leave marks on the surface. In the third issue is that slate not only absorbs water to some extent but is also not stain resistant. There are of course commercial products available that are designed to seal slate so that it will have greater stain resistance, but the the effectiveness of many of these products is questionable, especially over the longer term. And fourthly, at least in thinner sections, slate is not a particularly strong material, so it can crack.

Fortunately there is now another solution. With the advent of modern digital printing techniques, you can now get 2′ x 2′ porcelain pavers 3/4″ thick in designs that simulate slate not only from the color aspect, but also they simulate the specific texture of a natural slate surface. So far there’s only a few options available in slate look porcelain pavers including a dark gray slate and a multicolor slate, but we would expect that in the future, more color options will become available.

The big advantage of the porcelain tiles is that they are almost completely impervious to moisture and therefore  are frost resistant, stain resistant, and particularly scratch resistant. and they are much stronger than natural slate, so much so that they can be installed on top of adjustable height pedestals, resting only on the corners of each tile.

Wood Porcelain Pavers Overcome Fire Issues with Wood Deck Tiles

Posted on November 28th, 2014


In many urban areas these days there are increasingly severe fire regulations especially in regards to rooftop decks. Even in places like New York City, until recently it was possible to build a large wood deck on a rooftop using the wood species Ipe because this particular wood species is exceptionally hard and dense and actually has a Class A fire rating according to the NFPA.

Then the regulations became somewhat stricter and you could only build a deck using Ipe wood which was only a certain percentage of the complete area. But more recently we have heard reports that its not even possible to construct a Ipe wood deck in certain areas of New York City without running afoul of the fire regulations. So what can you do if you really like the look of a wood deck?

Well, due to the advances in digital printing and the availability of 3/4″ thick porcelain pavers, you can now construct a wood look deck with these specific pavers. And the wood look is  very realistic as it simulates not only the color of the wood, but the  wood grain and natural imperfections that are in wood. What’s more, with the Kronos Teknowood range from Architrex, you can even get a porcelain tile which looks like natural wood decking complete with a ribbed profile and parallel dark lines which simulate the gaps between a traditional deck board.

But the advantages of the porcelain pavers are not just limited to fire resistance. Because porcelain pavers have essentially zero water absorption, they are exceptionally stain resistant, they don’t suffer from freeze thaw cracking, they don’t fade, and they certainly do not twist or warp. And for many people, perhaps one of the biggest advantages is that they have exceptionally low maintenance and you certainly don’t need to consider scrubbing your wood deck carefully and then applying a good quality deck oil every 12 months or so. And as you would know, you can never completely stop wood from fading to a silvery gray, no matter what the manufacturers of the decking oils promise in their advertising.

Also, these porcelain pavers are exceptionally scratch resistant and in fact they are widely used for commercial high traffic situations including installations on top of a pedestal system.

So next time you are thinking of a wood deck and have been blocked by fire regulations, then take a look at porcelain pavers  – they may provide just the solution you need.