Porcelain is out-selling natural stone and cementitious products in UK landscapes. Demand for the indoor/outdoor look is increasingly sought-after, so tilers are being commissioned to install tiles in both environments while landscape professionals have more work than they can handle. In the full glare of natural light, imperfections in the installation of porcelain flags are more obvious, and being exposed to the outdoors, there is going to be significantly greater contamination from localised exposure to organic, animal, and mineral matter than property occupiers would experience on indoor surfaces.
So, it is no surprise that systems for cleaning and maintaining porcelain in landscaped gardens are in demand. Over to the solutions manufacturers to offer products fit for outdoor purpose as not all indoor cleaning products may be suitable for the outdoors where garden plants, ground water and animals need special consideration to ensure they are protected.
One of the main reasons people choose porcelain over stone or cementitious products is the ability to maintain that just installed look year after year. Users of the gardens expect their installers to be able to advise them on how to maintain their landscaped gardens. It is therefore important tilers and landscape professionals can offer their clients good advice.
Porcelain maintenance systems fall into four broad categories:
At installation – removing the grout haze and building dust that finds its way onto the face of the tiles during installation. This is important in making sure you create the greatest customer satisfaction – one of the biggest issues is flags and tiles not being cleaned properly so customers get disappointed or angry when there is a grout haze that the installer has not removed. This is even worse when a resin grout is used, or SBR has contaminated the surface of the flag through sloppy installation practices and can be a huge problem to remove.
Removing specific tough stains – rust, grease, and ground in dirt can make a porcelain installation look tired and aged, so these ingrained stains need to be removed.
General cleaning – airborne dirt, bird poo, tannins from leaves and algae, black spot and other contaminants will need to be cleaned.
Preservation – there is a myth that porcelain is entirely impermeable. While water will not get through a whole porcelain flag, there are many microscopic indentations and pin holes in the surface into which contaminants can leach. While they can be removed, it could take a fair amount of elbow-grease to do so. Sealing the surface of porcelain will make the cleaning process much easier for the end user as any stains will sit on the surface and can be easily mopped or wiped away. The best of solutions, such as the Universal Water Based Sealer by TT Paving Solutions² will not change the appearance of the tiles and they are Eco-Friendly.
Outdoor materials will be riven as a matter of course to ensure some slip resistance. These textured tiles offer further challenges to get the best cleaning solutions into the material to dislodge the contamination and remove the used solution before it can pollute the ground.
Landscaped areas can be sizeable, so cleaning by hand-held tools will be a time-consuming challenge, not to mention back-breaking, will use a lot of cleaning materials and is unlikely to end up with the best result.
So, it is natural that people turn to the help of machines. There are several machines out there, such as rotary floor machines, but the drawback with those is while they may be great for polished tiles, they are likely to struggle with textured tiles as the rotating cleaning pads can skip across the tops of the flags and do not get into the valleys where the dirt tends to accumulate.
There are specialist machines such as the Macchia by TT Paving Solutions². The Macchia has been created to work the solutions into the surface of the tiles, minimising the use of huge amounts of water and solutions while the Ventosa has been created to lift and vacuum product residues, soil, and dirt, leaving the flags almost dry and free of dirt. This avoids any contamination being moved from one area to another or working its way into the ground, preventing any pollution to plants or animal life.
Landscape and tiling professionals ought to consider leaving proper after-care files with their clients. Included in these files should be all the tips and products to keep their clients’ gardens looking as good as the day they were installed. They are more likely to value your work and recommend you to their friends if they acknowledge you are interested in their long-term enjoyment of their landscaped garden.