Mark Atkins, technical director at LTP, examines the challenges associated with the rise of porcelain paving.
It’s been pretty incredible to see the rise of the porcelain paver this year. Domestic and contract customers have really embraced these new tiles. They do bring lots of benefits, in terms of their many practical features with their durability and non-absorbency both big benefits outdoors. The new textured finishes also make them a lot more practical. But, like all new trends, they bring new challenges.
The main issues relate to residues. When using a brush-in jointing compound, it’s very important to keep the surface of these tiles as wet as possible, so that any residue can be easily wiped away. Porcelain tiles can dry out quite quickly, causing an element of the resin within the compound to cling to the surface. The textured nature of most external porcelains also makes it more difficult to apply grouts and jointing compounds.
Keeping the surface wetter for longer helps to improve and increase the working time of grouts and jointing compounds – and greatly reduces the possibility of grout and resin staining. Dried on jointing compound can be difficult to remove and the residue left can ruin an installation.
In response, we’ve developed two new products for unpolished porcelain. Our new Porcelain Tile Protector is applied before grouting. Once it has dried it helps with cement and jointing compound release. This water-based treatment is designed to protect tiles from staining, and allow easy removal of residues of cement-based grouts and two-part resin based jointing compounds, as well as stubborn organic matter.
Ideal for textured wood and stone-effect patios, the product creates a barrier, without forming a film or altering appearance. This helps to improve and increase the working time of grouts and jointing compounds – and greatly reduces the risk of cement and resin staining.
The new protector is easy to apply – with a spray, roller or brush. Once residues have been removed – and the surface is dry – a further coat can be applied to the tiles and joints, to help assist with future cleaning and aftercare. LTP Porcelain Tile Protector is manufactured by LTP in the UK and is available from UK stock, in one litre and five litre bottles.
For surfaces that have been stained, our new acid replacement Cement, Grout and Salt Residue Remover can also turn back the clock for cement stains. The new solution replaces conventional acids normally used to remove cement and grout residues, and can be used on all types of tile and natural stone surfaces, except those with a polished finish. This means it can be safely applied to unpolished acid-sensitive surfaces, including limestone and travertine. As well as removing new and existing building residues, the new treatment also disperses rising salt residues caused by issues including substrate moisture and spot fixing.
Developed and manufactured in the UK, the new Residue Remover can be used indoors and outside on porcelain, glazed ceramics, quarry tiles and terracotta, slate, brick, sandstone, granite and unpolished natural stone. A diluted application removes mild residue within 30 minutes, whilst a neat application and agitation gives instant results. Deposits are then removed and surfaces rinsed with clean water. Part of LTP’s ‘clean-seal-maintain’ range, it is available in one litre and five litre cartons and gives coverage of approx. 5-25m2 per litre.
Other complementary treatments include LTP Grimex – a heavy-duty intensive cleaner that can be used before application of the Protector – and LTP Porcelain Floor Tile Cleaner – a highly effective no-rinse aftercare cleaner for indoor and outdoor spaces.
In addition to new developments in the product range, aftercare education is also very important. We’re routinely recommending that customers don’t stop at the bi-folds when they’re cleaning porcelain that’s installed from inside to out. They need to keep going and mop the patio too! This greatly reduces the need for intensive cleaning outdoors – although we have various eco-friendly options up our sleeve should the need arise!
Elsewhere in the range, if dark natural stone and artificial stone surfaces have been installed, then tradespeople should turn to LTP’s new outdoor sealer and restorer, Blackstone. Available in 250ml, one litre and five litre units, its water-based, impregnating formulation, restores the appearance of faded limestone, marble, slate and concrete. The solution can be applied in multiple coats until the desired colour effect is achieved – from grey to ebony. On honed surfaces, it is applied with a cloth or sealant applicator and, on rough cut/textured surfaces, with a foam roller or paintbrush. It is then ‘cut back’ to remove excess. Surfaces can be walked on four hours after the final application and can be returned to ‘heavy use’ after 24 hours.