Elevated decks on pedestalsInstallation of porcelain pavers on fixed and adjustable height pedestals
Pedestal systems offer the easiest and quickest way to construct a perfectly horizontal deck or terrace over sloping or uneven surfaces, avoiding the need to construct extensive supporting substructures of wood or metal beams. Electrical cables and pipes can be hidden under the pavers but easily inspected at any time by simply lifting individual pavers.
Depending on the width of the pavers, pedestals are either placed directly under the pavers or are used to support an array of hollow steel beams, over which the pavers are laid.
Directly supported pavers
The most common method of installing porcelain pavers 16” or more in width, is to place adjustable height pedestals under each corner of the paver. With pavers longer than 24”, pedestals should also be placed along the edge of the paver at intervals of no more than 24”. For certain applications, additional pedestals placed under the center of the paver should also be considered to ensure adequate support.
Despite the intrinsic density and stiffness of porcelain pavers, in any elevated paver installation, shock resistance needs to be taken into account to avoid risk of damage or injury, should any paver crack or fracture due to heavy objects dropped from a significant height. Thus where hard and heavy objects are likely to be used or where deck heights are greater than 4”, it is recommended that appropriate reinforcement or protection is applied to the underside of the pavers, such as glued glass fiber mats or metal trays. Architrex can supply both protection mats and metal trays as required.
At low deck elevations (3/8”- 1 1/2”), our ‘Eterno’ range of fixed rubber support pads are typically used to support the pavers. These pads are simply stacked to build up the required height, with 1/8” thick shims used to make minor height adjustments. At deck elevations above approx. 1”, adjustable height pedestals which provide continuously variable height adjustment up to elevations of over 36” are used – either our ‘Eterno’ SE series which automatically compensate for sloping surfaces up to 5%, or our economical MN ‘Maxi” range which uses add in twist rings to provide slope compensation. Both series of pedestals feature rubber faced pedestal heads for superior noise and shock absorption and utilize a special height adjustment tool which enables micro height adjustments to be easily made even after installation is complete.
In areas subject to snowfall, a pedestal supported deck can be fitted with a snow melt system to keep either the whole deck or just a row number of individual pavers clear of snow. The Heatizon snow melt system is specifically designed for elevated paver applications, using insulated electrical heating cables laid in channels in aluminum panels installed under the paving slabs. See here for further details.
We know that estimating pedestal requirements can be a challenging exercise. To greatly simplify this task, we developed an online Pedestal Estimator which quickly calculates both the number of pavers and pedestals of each size to cover a defined area. You can get immediate access to our Pedestal Estimator here. Or, if you think it may be too challenging to use or you’d prefer us to make the pedestal/paver estimation, just send us the details of your project including all measurements, heights around the perimeter, slopes, drainage points etc. and we would be happy to provide you with our estimate.
For more specific installation guidelines on using porcelain pavers with pedestals systems, download our Architrex Porcelain Installation Instructions brochure.
A video demonstrating installation of porcelain single slab pavers with Eterno adjustable height pedestals can also be seen at the bottom of the pedestal installation page.
Rail supported pavers
With narrow, plank style porcelain decking (8″- 16” wide), providing support with pedestals under each corner would typically require a large number of pavers. For these applications, the ‘Eterno’ rail system offers a superior method of both providing adequate support and a more rapid installation.
The primary requirement for installation of the ‘Eterno’ rail system is a surface which is solid, clean and sloping slightly for drainage and a solid perimeter containment such as a parapet wall on a rooftop deck, which will prevent the elevated surface from moving.
Firstly, mark out horizontal lines 24” apart over the area to be laid using chalk. Then mark the approx. position for placement of the Eterno ‘Maxi’ pedestals along these lines, also at 24” spacing, to form a grid. The pedestals around the perimeter should be placed as close to the parapet wall as possible. Calculate the number of porcelain planks required to span the area and optimize the positioning so that no plank at either perimeter will be cut to less than 4” in width.
Place the pedestals in the position you have previously marked with chalk, selecting the appropriate height pedestal to ensure a final level surface.
The 94 ½” long steel beams are then placed over the pedestal heads and secured in place with the pedestal caps, with the end of each beam centered on a pedestal head. Check for level as each beam is installed. Beams are installed in a parallel array with 24” between each beam on center.
When all beams are in place, the entire array should be re-checked for level, with small adjustments being made by adjusting the ‘screwjack’ pedestals up or down to ensure a perfectly level deck surface.
Once all the beams are level, the porcelain planks are laid perpendicular to the steel beams and resting on the rubber head of the pedestal caps. The pedestal caps are slid along the steel beams so the inbuilt tabs butt tightly against the porcelain planks. Spacer tabs are easily snapped off where not required.
The entire deck is laid in likewise manner, ensuring the ends of each plank are located on the center of a pedestal head.
For a visual overview of installation of DeckWay planks with the Eterno rail system system, please see the video below:
It is important that project managers, specifiers and customers carefully assess the intended use of porcelain pavers in elevated flooring applications in relation to their specific technical specifications and properties. Any outdoor paving materials installed above the ground level without adhesives or other secure fixing devices will be subject to the action of wind, with the risk in some cases of becoming airborne. You should always confirm the suitability of the installation system in above ground applications and ensure compliance with any local laws and regulations, including regulations relating to seismic events and hurricanes where relevant.
To discuss a specific project or get answers to your questions, call us at 866-206-8316 or send us an email.