Here at Tile Merchant, we offer a wide range of natural stone and porcelain tile paving slabs, and we get asked about them all the time. Which are the best paving slabs? How much does paving cost? Which material is best for a patio? Are smooth paving slabs slippery?
Well, we’re here to answer all of these questions and more, to help you choose the right paving for your Irish garden. Whilst choosing the right paving slab doesn’t have to be difficult, it does require a few careful considerations.
(If you’re unsure what the difference is between natural stone and porcelain paving, why not check out the article we wrote discussing all the different types of paving we sell!)
There are a few things we think it’s important to think about before you start out on your hunt for the perfect garden paving slab.
If you’re planning to carry out a complete renovation of your garden, driveway, or patio, then you’re in a fortunate position: you can get creative with the look, feel and size of your chosen paving slabs.
On the other hand, if you are merely replacing one section of paving in your garden, or adding a new section onto existing paving, then you should search for paving slabs with a similar aesthetic to those already installed.
Similarly, the use of the slabs should be taken into consideration. If you need your slabs to withstand a lot of pressure (for example: on a driveway, or beneath a jacuzzi) then we recommend searching for thicker, hardier paving options.
Likewise, if children will be running around on the slabs, ensure that they are slip-resistant. (Thankfully, all of our natural stone and porcelain tiles are.)
We recommend marrying the aesthetic of your home with that of your garden. In other words, a traditional, older building tends to work best with traditional-style stone slab garden paving, whilst a new-build might suit minimalist, clean-cut porcelain or slate titling better.
All of Tile Merchant’s porcelain tiles are designed for use both within and without the home, meaning that you can choose an outdoor porcelain tile to match your interior design, should you wish to.
Moreover, if you’re making grand changes to your garden, then it’s important to buy tiling or slabs based on how the garden will look, rather than how it currently does look.
See below a list of aspects to consider before buying 20mm Outdoor Porcelain Tiles or Natural Stone Paving Slabs. Porcelain vs natural stone paving: Which one is right for you? Here are the pros and cons of natural stone slabs (like limestone slabs, sandstone slabs or granite slabs) vs 20mm porcelain tiles for outdoor patios.
Once you’ve taken into consideration the current look of your home and garden, you can start to think about how you want to style your renovation. You’ll be glad to know that whether you’re choosing limestone, sandstone or porcelain, you have a tonne of options to choose from, even if you need to keep the overall style in line with an existing aesthetic.
Natural stone tends to look more rustic and traditional, with colours ranging from striking black limestone to green to sandy reds. All our natural stone is hand-cut and ethically sourced, with a riven finish, meaning that the natural imperfections in texture across the surface of the slabs are kept for their aesthetic beauty. Perfect for older build houses and traditional gardens.
Due to porcelain’s man-made construction process, there is an even greater range of colour in our outdoor porcelain garden tiles: from off-white and Aran black, to those mimicking Quartzite, marble, and traditional cobblestone.
Our porcelain is machine-cut and finished to give each tile a sleek, smooth, identical appearance. Perfect for modern houses and small, compact city gardens, such as those in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.
When considering size, the general rule of thumb is to opt for bigger slabs the bigger the area you’re covering, and smaller slabs the smaller the area.
Depending on taste, you can opt for regimented sizes, or an assorted pack of slabs of different sizes, to achieve the traditional jigsaw paving effect. Our natural garden paving slabs are all 22-35mm thick, and are available in sizes: 300x600mm, 600x600mm, and 900x600mm.
Our porcelain patio tiles are all 20mm thick, and are available in sizes: 200x200mm and 300x200mm (both cobble-sized), as well as 600x600mm, 600x900mm, 1200x600mm, and 1200x300mm.
Time to think about how durable you need your tiles to be. Good news is: whether you choose Tile Merchant’s outdoor natural stone slabs, or our Irish porcelain tiles, you’ll enjoy incredible strength and longevity.
Natural stone paving is naturally anti-slip, thanks to its riven texture, whilst all of our porcelain tiles are made with anti-frost and anti-slip R11-rated materials, ensuring that you and your family can safely use any Tile Merchant outdoor paving slab in any weather.
You may also be surprised to discover that, whilst stone slabs are thicker than porcelain, porcelain is just as up to the task of bearing heavy weight as its natural counterpart. Don’t believe us? Check out this video where we run a fully-loaded van over our 20mm porcelain outdoor tiles!
Whilst limestone, sandstone and porcelain are all strong options, porcelain is arguably more durable in terms of frost resistance, and won’t lose its colour over the years, thanks to built-in UV resistance.
Neither natural stone nor porcelain are difficult to maintain.
Having said that, porcelain outdoor tiles are the easier option when it comes to cleaning and long-term maintenance. Porcelain is more water-resistant than stone, meaning it is far less likely to suffer from moss, algae, or lichen (black spots).
Our porcelain outdoor tiles also don’t require sealing following installation. Whereas, our natural stone slabs must be sealed immediately after installation, and at annual intervals after that.
Stone slabs should be kept clean with a regular brushing and the occasional wash with a PH-neutral soap and water. You can power wash your flagstones too, but be careful not to hose the grouting directly.
When it comes to maintenance, porcelain tiles are hands-down the easiest to look after, since they require next to no maintenance at all.
Natural stone paving slabs for your patio, driveway or garden path are the cheapest option.
The natural paving slabs we sell at Tile Merchant here in Ireland cost around €35.99 per m2 on average. In contrast, our porcelain paving tiles cost an average of €49.99 per m2. Having said that, you can still find porcelain options in a range of colours for the same price as natural stone, so you shouldn’t immediately discount porcelain as an option.
You can take a look at our full range of stone paving here, and our porcelain paving here.
It’s important to remember, most of your renovation budget (about 75-80%) will be spent on ground preparation and labour. And as a good quality garden renovation will increase your property value, we think it’s often prudent to opt for the better quality paving stone now, and save yourself money in the long run.
When it comes to installing your paving, it’s best to first get a few different quotes based on the different tile options you have in mind.
Porcelain is really easy to work with, and as such tends to cost less to install. On the contrary, due to the natural imperfections in the texture of natural stone paving, it can take longer to install (to get the look and level right) and can therefore cost more to install than porcelain.
For more information on the installation processes, check out our articles on installing porcelain outdoor tiling and on installing natural stone paving.
Finally, let’s think about where you’re going to install your Irish outdoor paving tiles.
We’re always asked: What is the best type of outdoor paving in Ireland? What is the best paving for a driveway? What is the best tile for a patio? Which paving slabs should I choose for my outdoor steps?
But the reality is that there’s no single right answer to these questions. The answer depends on all of the factors we’ve discussed above. The best paving option for you depends on the aesthetic and style of your house, the budget you’re working with, the amount of maintenance you’re willing or able to carry out, and the size and stresses of the area you’re looking to renovate.
Ultimately, our porcelain tiles and natural stone slabs can be used in any garden renovation situation. We offer such variety in colour, size, dimensions and quality that you’ll always be able to find a paving stone to match your needs and style.
All of our paving solutions are anti-slip, strong, durable, and come with a long lifespan.
We at Tile Merchant know how important a decision like this is. We know how much time you’ll already have put into choosing the right paving for your Irish garden renovation, and we hope that this guide has helped you along your way.
If you’re still uncertain about which paving solution to choose, why not pop into one of our showrooms to see our range for yourself? Alternatively, if you live further afield, how about ordering free samples and testing them out from the comfort of your own home?
We’re always here and happy to help, so give us a shout and together we’ll find you the perfect paving for your Irish garden renovation project
We offer extremely competitive pricing on our entire range of tiles and likewise. We stock a huge range of wall and floor tiles and our prices are competitive for retail and trade. Our stock is widely available in our showrooms in Dublin which are open 7 days a week
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to shop our tiles online, we can supply you with samples delivered for free.
Blog by Calum
Cal Bannerman is a freelance writer, editor, podcaster and voice actor from the Scottish Borders. They run the storytelling podcast “Stories from the Hearth”, and live in a wee Glasgow flat with their partner and cat.
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