Gardens have become an extension of the home; a trend accelerated by the new norm for working remotely and staying in rather than going out. As the nation’s need for creating practical, yet stylish external spaces has soared, so too has demand for patios that deliver on function and form.
A great alternative to traditional paving solutions, large format porcelain tiles deliver a robust, hard-wearing floor covering that will stand the test of time. Easy to install and maintain, these tiles now come in a wide variety of styles, colours and finishes making them an incredibly popular choice for commercial and residential projects alike.
Highly versatile, porcelain tiles work well in all manner of projects. Ideal for bringing a contemporary look to floors in restaurants and hotels, they can also help to transform outdoor seating areas and turn balconies into rooftop havens through their stylish design. Smaller projects and household gardens can also benefit from the functionality of porcelain, especially patios and conservatories, connecting the indoors with the out, while creating a stunning space for entertaining and relaxing.
Porcelain tiles are a long-lasting floor covering that can withstand turbulent British weather conditions while providing a safe, aesthetically pleasing design solution.
While traditional stone flagstones and timber decking remain popular, the growth is within porcelain tiles that can be installed outdoors, allowing designers and homeowners to create a wide range of functional spaces that also deliver in the style stakes. With much more design choice than traditional paving thanks to printing technology, this is the path to take when looking for something a little more striking.
Perfectly suited to high traffic areas, outdoor porcelain offers an excellent slip rating, up to R11, for added safety outdoors. Fade resistant, even in strong sunlight, porcelain will retain its good looks for years to come with no sealing or special maintenance needed. Easy to clean with a brush and warm soapy water or porcelain cleaner, porcelain tiles are resistant to algae and moss, preventing any colour changes over time and eliminating slippery surfaces which can often be an issue with real timber and stone.
Frost proof, porcelain tiles will not crack during winter months or harsh weather conditions making them ideally suited to the British climate. Each tile is manufactured to tight tolerances ensuring an even thickness and level surface for a secure surface underfoot, and has rectified edges for a premium finish
With many collections offering a co-ordinating indoor tile, the look can easily be extended from conservatory or kitchen to the patio for a seamless, continuous design which is proving very popular in modern design schemes.
Porcelain tiles can be installed in the same way as a traditional patio using sand and cement, however they will require a layer of priming slurry to the back of the tile to ensure they bond to the substrate.
For a simple solution that does not require specialist installation, porcelain tiles can also be loose laid onto grass or gravel, simply sink the existing surface by 20mm so the tile sits flush and add a base of sharp sand for stability, if required.
The pedestal installation system is also an advantage for installers, with lots of practical benefits. With many design schemes requiring a raised patio, or a solution which will cover various terrain or uneven spaces, the pedestal system easily elevates the tiles without the need for specialist equipment or adhesive. As the pedestals are not fixed, the tiles can be moved around or removed if any last minute changes are made to the design or if there are any issues to address with uneven substrates.
The pedestal system delivers a clever solution for hiding equipment such as pipes or cables. Once installed, the pedestals create empty space underneath the patio, allowing installers to create a seamless, clutter free finish. As the tiles are not grouted when installed with the pedestal system, water naturally drains through the gaps, ensuring water doesn’t sit on top of the patio.
The Al Fresco collection offers a comprehensive range of installation accessories to complete any outdoor project. From Pedestals and Priming Slurry, to Protectors, Cleaners and Brush-in Grouts, all bases are covered.
For further information on the installation process of Al Fresco outdoor porcelain, Verona has produced a video guide which outlines the various stages, to give installers the confidence they need to finish the project to the best standard and to help retailers to better understand the product.
Unlike flagstones and decking, the beauty of porcelain tiles is in the wide range of striking designs available, which appeal to all consumer tastes.
Tactile textures, dark or light tones; the design possibilities are endless. Printed using the latest technology, porcelain tiles can deliver a whole host of different finishes from classic travertine-effects through to contemporary concrete and wood designs.
Detailed veining and stunning tonal variation create a look that’s difficult to distinguish from real stone and wood, making it a stylish alternative that’s easy to clean and maintain.
Concrete stone-effects in steely grey shades are proving to be strong sellers reflecting the trend for industrial interiors, while washed out, heavy wood grain timber designs are also in demand as consumer tastes veer towards weathered, rustic looks.
Pattern is a massive trend within interior design, with Victorian and Moorish-inspired designs reclaiming space in hallways, kitchens and bathrooms. Over the past year, pattern has slowly started to make its way into the garden, thanks to the likes of porcelain tiles and accessories such as outdoor rugs and cushions. Geometric looks are very popular as they are a relatively modern choice with their high definition print and uniform design. Combined with a monochrome or grey colourway, this is a winning look for creating an impressive zoned area with an ultra-cool aesthetic.
This opens up opportunity to experiment with composition.
The simplest layout is a stack bond, laying each tile side by side, but you can also create some interesting twists for maximum visual impact with diagonal layouts, herringbone and modular patterns, all of which deliver a more contemporary aesthetic.
With some creative thinking, even the smallest space can be turned into a functional entertaining area or extra living room. Often the same collection can be used indoors and outdoors for a continuous look, but you can also create interesting colour contrasts to define and zone living spaces.
A stone effect porcelain tile in light beige on the patio, next to a much darker stone in the kitchen helps to clearly define living spaces but connect the two together.
For the more adventurous who prefer an eclectic look, experiment with different sizes and textures laying wood and stone effects side by side for a visually stunning combination.
You can also create paths and zoned areas with individual tiles that lead further into an outside space for an attractive, low maintenance floor covering that connects the exterior of the house with the lower part of the garden or covered gazebo area.
Al Fresco from Verona
With a neutral colour palette from cool grey through to warm beige, the Al Fresco range from Verona offers 20mm thick premium porcelain tiles for outdoor use with many ranges also offering a co-ordinating 10mm indoor tile for interior use in a selection of stylish finishes including contemporary concrete designs, wood-effects and geometric patterns.
Detailed veining and stunning tonal variation creates a look that’s difficult to distinguish from real stone and wood across a range of different collections. Stone-effects are available in large 600 by 600mm square or 600 by 900mm sizes for outdoor use with coordinating 595 by 595mm indoor tiles, whilst the wood-effect porcelain tiles are available in a 300 by 1,200mm outdoor plank and co-ordinating 195 by 1,200mm indoor plank; all with a matt grip finish.
Hard wearing and practical, the Al Fresco collection comes with a 10 year guarantee. For more information about the Al Fresco collection, visit www.alfrescotiles.co.uk.
Verona has grown to become the UK’s largest distributor of tiles and mosaics in natural stone, porcelain, ceramic and glass.
The company is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, and supplies independent and multiple retailers nationwide, offering a broad portfolio of products influenced by the latest design, fashion and interiors trends to ensure a collection suited to all tastes.