Ceramic, Porcelain and Natural Stone Tile Glossary

Glossary of the most common words and terms used within the Ceramic, Porcelain and Natural Stone industries.

Some terms are cross referenced with hyperlinks to information associated with the subject you're reading about in case you need further assistance.

The list is in alphabetical order.  Use the navigation table of letters to assist your search.

Abrasive Finish
A rough non-reflective surface finish. The specific finish is dependant on the size of the abrasive grit used and the time the material was involved in the process.

Abrasive Hardness
A measure of defining the wearing performance of a type of stone. Used to determine the right material for floors, stairs, or any area subjected to high foot traffic.

A structure built to support the lateral pressure of an arch, thus located at the ends of a bridge.

Absorption Rate
This term refers to the percentage of moisture that is absorbed by the ceramic or porcelain tile.

Any ingredient added to mortar, grout or concrete to speed the curing process.

Lime or cement added to concrete or mortar at the time of mixing. Typically to function as a water repellent and coloring agent. Sometimes the intended purpose is to adjust the curing rate of the concrete or mortar.

Acid Wash
This refers to a treatment that is applied to the face of stone to achieve a distressed look.  In the past it was done by using chemicals to achieve the desired texture.  More recently the chemical process has been replaced with computerized machines that create a guaranteed certain look.  The chemical process is a wait and see method.  What you get will always be a little bit of a surprise.  The computerized approach allows for a great deal more certainty about what the finished product is going to look like.

The state of being securely supported by an approved bonding material adhesive on an approved substrate or backing material.

A small mass of rock having occurred naturally or manufactured.

Pertains to a highly basic, as opposed to acidic, substance; for example, hydrogen or carbonate of sodium or potassium.

The metal fasteners used to secure stone to a structure.

Antique Finish
A finish that mimics a rustic distressed surface look or texture. Produced either through computerized machines or a chemical process. This effect simulates wear due to time and aging.

American Society for Testing & Materials.  Producers of a rating system for ceramic tile.  Testing is done for resistance to abrasion, resistance to scratches, moisture absorption rate, resistance to common chemicals, the breaking strength, and general durability.

Back Buttering
A method of laying tile. Using this method the back of a tile gets slathered with thinset in order to ensure full mortar coverage. This will prevent hollow areas which will cause future cracks in the tiles.

This is usually the area on the walls between the counter tops and the bottom of the cabinets in a kitchen and behind the sink in the bathroom.

A dark-colored igneous rock more commonly known as granite when quarried for commercial use as a slab or tiles.

A beveled edge means the edge of the tile or structure is rounded and sloped not perpendicular to the surface.

A dark brown/reddish arkosic quartz sandstone. The color of stone is due to iron oxide within the stone material.

Brushed Finish
A texture produced by brushing a stone with a coarse rotary type of wire brush.

A method of adhering tile by placing mortar on stone tiles themselves with a trowel before setting them into position. This ensure a full coverage and reduces the likelihood of cracks significantly in the future.

Biocuttura Tile
Biocuttura tiles are fired first without glaze and then fired again after the glaze is applied. Another name for this type of tile is "Double Fired" tiles.  See below Monocuttura tiles for more information.

This is what the clay mixture that the ceramic tiles are made from.  If you turn a ceramic glazed tile on it side you'll see the largest layer, is the fired bisque. The top thinner layer is the glaze. If you have an unglazed ceramic tile you will only see the bisque layer.  Also see Tile Information Page for more information. 

Bullnose Tiles
A ceramic tile trim that is used to provide a smooth and rounded finished edge.  These tiles are usually used to finish off the top of countertops, wainscots, ceiling surrounds, all types of edges and much more...  Click here to read about Sanitary Cove Base Bullnose Tiles.  Click here to learn more about Corner Bullnose Tiles

Calcite is a white or colorless calcium carbonate mineral. A major contributor within limestone.

There are a few kinds Acrylic, Butyl, Elastomeric Latex, Latex, Siliconized Latex, and Silicone (A.K.A) Urethane.  Silicone is essential to use around bathtubs, showers, and lavatories. There are special bathroom formulations which have a mildewcide mixed in as well. This mildewcide is unfortunately poison and SHOULD NOT be used anywhere where food or plates might come in contact with it.

Calibrated Tiles
These are the more common type of tiles found for sale.  These tiles go through a process of being sorted by size which is called "calibration".  Calibrated tiles will differ slightly one from the other in dimensions.  The closest in size are placed into the same box in an effort to have more dimensional consistency between tiles uses on a job.  See rectified tiles for more information

Cement Backer Unit.  This is a method of adhering the tile directly onto a backer board that is nailed down to concrete or plywood.  A much thinner than usual layer of thinset is then used.  This allows for a supportive water resistant layer to exist between the porous substrate, the thinset, and the tile on top.

Ceramic Tiles
The bisque or clay that ceramic tiles are created from as a finished product.  The face of the ceramic tile may be either glazed or unglazed.  Different natural materials taken from the earth, mixed with water, shaped, and fired in a kiln at very high temperatures which vary depending on the type of type being produced. Afterwards the fired tiles are referred to as "Green Tiles" which are then allowed to dry. 

A type of veneer made of stone covering an exterior.

Color Body Tile
A color body tile has a consistent color from the face of the tile all through the body of the tile.  This type of tile is also known as through body tile.  See Porcelain Tiles, Unglazed Tiles, and Through Body Tiles for more information. 

Corner Bullnose
A ceramic tile trim that has two rounded finished edges used to complete a corner. This type of bullnose tile is used specifically for corners.  Click here to learn more about Bullnose TilesClick here to learn more about Sanitary Cove Base Tiles.

Coefficient of Friction.  This is a test for skid or slip resistance.  It is measured by its Coefficient of Friction or "COF". The higher the COF the more slip resistant the tile is. A COF greater than or equal to 0.60 is needed to provide good traction.  This is important when selecting a floor tile for areas that get wet, such outside recreation areas, pool decks, bathroom and kitchen floors, etc... NOTE: In the year 2012 changes to coefficient of friction standards (method called the C1028) for ceramic tile were made.  A new system called DCOF replaced the old COF system.  Click here to learn more about the new DCOF  system of measurement.

typically this is a stone material used as a cap on freestanding wall.

Cross Cut
Cross cut is a method of cutting a stone slab at a 90 degree angle to the veins running through the stone. It shows a cross section of the veins and layers within the stone. This cross or end cutting method tends to creates less linear more rounded wave like patterns.

Cure Time
The time required for the thinset (applied in order to adhere the tiles to a substrate) to dry and set.

Dynamic Coefficient of Friction.  The new requirement is now a ≥0.42 requirement, measured per the Dynamic Coefficient Of Friction or "D.C.O.F" AcuTest ®, for interior level tile that will have foot traffic while wet.  To meet the new DCOF AcuTest® guidelines you cannot use old COF values from C1028 measurements.  The method of measurement is different.  There is no direct correlation or relationship between the C1028 method values and the DCOF method AcuTest ® values.

A decorative accent piece of tile used to highlight and draw the eye to it enhancing the look as a whole.

Dimension Stone
Defined as natural rock material that is quarried for the purpose of creating slabs, blocks, and tiles. 

Eased Edge
Refers to the square edge profile which has softened edges as opposed to sharp square edges.

Epoxy Grout
Epoxy grout is waterless and is a combination of resin and hardener which are mixed on site just prior to grouting. When fully cured Epoxy grout is resistant to stain and mildew. Far less absorbent than cement based grout and is easily cleaned. Epoxy grout is often used for countertops, backslashes, and bathrooms. Epoxy grout is more difficult to apply and so is more time consuming.  Be sure to hire a license contractor who is skilled with epoxy grout installations because it can get quite messy during application. Another good quality of Epoxy grout is that no sealing of the grout is needed.

A surface pattern created by hand or with abrasive chemicals or sandblasting.

Expansion Contraction Joints
A flexible joint between stone units designed to allow for expansion or contraction and accommodate movements due to temperature changes or structural movement.

Extruded tiles are made by forcing clay material through molds for the desired shape instead of pressing the tile into shape.  Pressing is the more common method used today.  Click here for more information

Used in reference to tile and  stone it means having undergone cutting, machining, and other processes in order to refine the product for sale and ready for installation.

A naturally occurring irregularly shaped stones found in any field used for various applications without any fabrication. Commonly used in freestanding walls, walkways, and garden beds.

Field Stone
A naturally occurring irregularly shaped stone found in wild fields. Used for various building applications without any fabrication. Field stone are commonly used Garden bed, freestanding walls, and walkways.

Field Tile
This is the most prominent most widely used tile that is in a pattern of different tiles. This term is often used with mosaics. 

The final surface that is applied to the face of stone during the fabrication process.

The name of the process used to harden tiles.  Raw tiles are fired in the kiln at temperatures around 2000°.

A hairline opening on the face of stone following the stone's natural flaw characteristics. Usually a lineal non-directional void shaped irregularly.

A thin slab or tile of stone used to pave the surface of areas like sidewalks and patios.

This is the glaze liquid made from colored dyes and a glass derivative called frit that covers the tops of glazed tiles. The glaze is either applied by being poured on the face of the tile or a high-pressure spray applied directly onto the tile face.

Gauged VS Un-Gauged
A machine cut on one side of the stone tile to specific thickness while maintaining the cleft for variation on the other side. Gauged stone is ground down or sawed in order to produce a more uniform thickness. This type of stone requires less effort to set due to its uniformity. Un-gauged is hand cleft and commonly has variations in thickness from 3/8M to 5/8. (Also known as natural-cleft)

Glazed Tiles or Glazing
A glazed ceramic tile has a layer of glass-forming minerals mixed with ceramic stains called frit over the face of the tile.  Typically, the finish is matte, semi-gloss and high-gloss.  This offers better moisture and stain resistance than un-glazed tile. Glazed tiles are non-porous with an impermeable hard surface after being fired.

A grading system use to rate the quality of ceramic, porcelain, and stone tiles. This refers to the size, shape, and thickness of the tiles and the condition of material's surface. There are three levels of quality. Grade 3 materials have major flaws in size, shape, surface, or chipping, making them appropriate only as accent pieces, or in certain rustic decorative applications.

  • Grade 1: Uniform materials of high quality ingredients.
  • Grade 2: Materials with minor defects such as chips, scratches, or discoloration.
  • Grade 3 Materials can have many little issues going on or a few major flaws in dimensions, shape, surface texture, and chips.

A granular crystalline igneous rock ranging in color from white through blacks. Granite consists primarily of quartz, mica and feldspar. Granite is the hardest stone ideal for counter tops and high traffic areas indoors or outdoors.

Tile grout comes in a variety of colors.  Basically it is a type of cement the majority of which is sand that is used to fill the spaces between tiles and provide support in tile joints.  There are two types of grout commonly used in home applications, Portland cement based, and Epoxy based.  Either of these grout compounds may or may not have sand added to provide additional strength to the grout lines.  When using Epoxy grout pigment is added to the cement at the job site when the grout is mixed.   There are also latex additives which can be mixed into the grout providing greater resistance to stain.  Sealing the grout with a silicone sealer will help to prevent staining. Click here to learn more about Sealing Grout.  Also see Latex Modified Grout Additives

Guillotine Cut
A method of creating a ragged and chipped edge using a hand guillotine tile cutter.

Honed Finish
A smooth satin velvety to the touch finish on stone but not shiny or reflective. Honed lacks the shininess of polished stone. This method makes the face of the stone more scratch resistant because it lacks the glossy nature of polished stone which would reflect light, instead light is dispersed.

Various volcanic rocks having solidified from lava or magma relating to or involving volcanic processes. There are two basic types the first is "Intrusive" igneous rock. Examples of this type are diorite, gabbro, granite and pegmatite. This rock solidifies inside the earth. The second type is "Extrusive" igneous rock. Examples of this type are andesite, basalt, obsidian, pumice, rhyolite and scoria. This type solidifies above on the surface.

Impervious Tiles
These tiles have less than a .5% moisture absorption rating. Tiles of this type can be used in exterior areas or on the outside of building facades.  This type of tile is frost proof and can can be use even in climates that experience very cold temperatures.  See Porcelain tiles for more information.  See Through Body Tiles for more information on Impervious Tiles.

Applying chemicals containing stain inhibitors like a sealer that penetrates below the surface of the stone deep into it. This is usually applied to protect stone for everyday dirt and moisture.

The spaces between the tiles filled with grout. Also known as "Grout Lines".

A slit or slot cut into stone with a saw blade for insertion of anchors.

Latex Modified Grout Additives
There are many different latex additives that can be added to either sanded and Unsanded grout.  Blends of acrylics and latex that increase the grout strength, reduce the  absorption rate, and enhance the retention of the grout color.  Some grouts have dried latex powder added at the factory and do not need additional additives. Some also add anti-fungal and mildew resistance additives.  See Grout for more information.

The acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design.  The LEED Green Building Rating System was established in order to define standards for environmentally responsible healthier and more profitable ventures. Using different categories like new construction and renovations credit is giving within five categories. These are Sustainability, Water Conservation and Efficiency, Atmosphere & Energy, Materials and Resources, and Indoor living Environmental Quality.

A sedimentary rock composed primarily of the mineral calcite and aragonite both different forms of calcium. Most limestone is also composed of skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as shells, coral, algal and fecal debris.

Lippage refers to differences in the elevation of the tile. Where one edge is set higher than the adjacent edges giving the finished surface an uneven appearance. Also called a "Toe Stubber".

Manufactured Stone
Other names are synthetic, engineered, or agglomerate. They are all the same. A composite material made of crushed stone bound together. Made from natural stone chips suspended within a binder. Often cement, epoxy resins, or polyester is used as the binder. This type of stone material is very strong. Chipping or cracking are less likely to occur than with a natural stone tile.

A non-foliated metamorphic rock possessing a distinctive re-crystallized texture. Marble is composed primarily of calcite and dolomite and is available in a wide variety of color and vein patterns.

Metamorphic Rock
A metamorphic rock is the product of the transformation of a protolith or un-metamorphosed rock into different kind of rock. The original rock is subjected to extremely high temperatures and pressures which cause physical and chemical changes. Examples of this kind of rock are marble and slate.

This can be either different tiles of different sizes which fit together in a unique pattern or pre-set interlocking tiles of different sizes that are easy to assemble.

Also known as mouldings and coving these are decorative stone tiles with various profiles used to cover transitions between surfaces used for decoration mainly. See Sanitary Cove Base Bullnose Tiles for more information.

Moisture Absorption Rating
This term refers to the amount of moisture that the tile will allow to penetrate.  There is a direct relationship with the density of the tile increasing and the moisture the tile can absorb lowering or lessening . Tile density refers to the weight or compact nature of the tile bisque.  This property helps to make the tile stronger. The moisture absorption rating is important for you to understand when selecting tiles for different applications. In particular applications that will be exposed to water and applications that will have foot traffic while wet.  See Porcelain for more information.

Monocuttura Tiles
This type of ceramic tile is fired only once in a kiln at temperatures around 2000℉. The glaze is applied to the dried raw bisque tile and then fired for the first time with the glaze already applied. Not only is the single fire process a time saver but it also creates a stronger more durable tile. See Biocuttura Tiles above for more information. 

Decorative intricate patterns, inserts, and border mosaic tiles that are used to create design patterns that can either act like accents that highlight something and draw the eye or stand alone as art. Can be custom made or purchased pre-made. Some pre-cut mosaic tiles come in different shapes and sizes. The idea is to use tiles of different colors and or sizes to create a pattern or design. However for something truly unique you need to hire a skilled tile contractor who can either create a unique pattern that fits specifically the area in mind or who can create a design or pattern you have in mind.

Natural Stone
A naturally occurring stone material. Examples of commonly used stone materials within the tile industry are granite, limestone, marble, travertine, sandstone, and slate. All of these stone materials were formed by nature not artificially created in any way by humans.

Nominal Size
This size measurement refers to the size of the tile before it was fired.  During the firing process, ceramic tile will shrink, on average, by about 10% in size. A very common size tile is 12 by 12 tile.  After being fired the tile will actually measure around 11 and 7/8 squared.

Non-Vitreous Tiles
These are tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture. They are suited for indoor use only in rooms with no water exposure. If used in a room with a high water content the tiles will absorb moisture when present in the room and lose it again when the room dries.  This will cause a swelling and shrinking of the tile and will also affect the grout in a negative way.  It will loosen the tiles and weaken the grout allowing moisture to penetrate behind both where it will reek havoc.  See Semi Vitreous Tiles for more information.  See Vitreous Tiles for more information

A semi-precious sedimentary gemstone of composed of a cryptocrystalline form of silica with very fine intergrowths of the minerals quartz and moganite. Usually a solid black or a banded or layered black and white. Onyx is valued for its translucent quality.

Oxidation in stone is a concern because of rusting. Very often we see metal particles as part of the material that makes the stone. If the stone is in an exterior application or exposed to moisture or water in an interior application; this can be a problem. Of course you should seal the stone to hopefully prevent it. However if the metal materials in the stone rust and break down that will weaken the stone perhaps even make it come apart. Something to consider if you see a lot of metal stone.

A thin layer that forms on the surface of a materials like stone, copper, and bronze. It can be a tarnish produced by oxidation (exposure to the elements) or other chemicals that changed the color or texture.

A paving stone or single unit of fabricated material for use as an exterior material for pavement or other hard layers.

Within the stone industry this is the bottom support of a statue, obelisk, or a column on which something is mounted. Also known as a base, supporting structure, mounting, a stand, a foundation, or a pillar.

(PEI) Porcelain Enamel Institute Classes 1 to 5
The rating system used for ceramic tiles.  Please see Tile Info Page for a chart of classes and their definitions. 

A finished tile edge which is rounded. This soft rounded feature gives tile a pillowed look.

Pitched Stone
A stone with clearly defined outer edges and a rustic rough finished face cut with a pitching chisel. Typically the stone’s perimeter has a convex projection for an edge.

Polished Finish
A high gloss finish attained by mechanical grinding and buffing of the stone bringing out the full color and character of the natural stone itself.

Porcelain tiles are made up of 50% "Feldspar" a group of minerals distinguished by the presence of alumina and silica in their chemistry.  Fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tile this makes Porcelain tile much harder and more dense than ceramic tile products.  Porcelain is very resistant to scratches and can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations.  Also Porcelain is non-porous, which makes this type of tile very stain resistant..   The low water absorption ratings of 0.5% make this Porcelain tile water resistant.  This allows for use with interior and exterior applications exposed to high moisture or direct water.  Commercial applications commonly use Porcelain tile.  The color goes all the way through the tile making scratch marks less detectable. See Through Body or Through Body Construction Tiles below for more information.

This refers to the amount of open spaces and the size of the pores in a rock. Its permeability or the ease in which a liquid could move through the porous rock is determined by these factors.

The most common way of manufacturing ceramic tile today. The clay is pressed or formed into a tile shape. See Extrusion for more information.

The location of a deposit of stone that is extracted from the earth by means of an open pit or underground mining.

Quartz occurs in basically all mineral environments. It is an important part of many different kinds of rocks. Quartz is also the most varied of all minerals. You find it in all different forms and colors.

A hard, metamorphic rock originally pure quartz sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure.

Rectified Tiles
All tiles shrink a bit when fired.  Typically the shrinkage is between (+/-0.5) and (+/-2mm).  Rectified tile is defined as a tile that has had all edges finished mechanically to a precise cut for uniform tile dimensions even after the firing process. See calibrated tiles for more information.

A sculptural technique that gives the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background surface.

A sticky flammable organic substance that is insoluble in water. Commonly used with stone and tile as a sealant material to achieve a watertight barrier.

Blasting the surface of stone with sand creating a roughen and porous finish. Done with a jet of sand driven by compressed air or steam.

Sanded Grout
Sand is added to grout to provide additional strength in the grout lines or tile joints.  The most common grout used for ceramic tile or stone tiles with grout lines 1/8 or larger.  See epoxy grout for more information.  Mixed with water and toweled into the grout joints sanded grout is as hard as concrete when fully cured.  Like concrete it adsorbs almost anything that comes in contact with it. This means you must seal the grout for it to stay clean and to protect the grout from moisture adsorption.   See un-sanded grout for more information.

Sanitary Cove Base Bullnose Tiles
Sometimes this type of bullnose tiles are use in place of base boards or kicks on a tile flooring project.  Most often they are used in rooms where water could pool in the corners of the room like bathrooms. This is usually more sanitary and commonly used in public bathrooms.  Hence the name Sanitary Cove Tiles.   When bullnose tiles are made for this purpose they are also called "Cove tiles, Cove Base Bullnose Tiles, Ceramic Trim, Mud Caps, and Tile Edging". 

Many different types of bullnose exist.  There are inside corner, outside corner, radius up corners, radius down corners, right radius down corners, left radius down corners, square up, shoulder cove base, and mouldings. These tiles are often used to help with transitioning from the floors to the walls or other floors. Also see Bullnose Tiles and Corner Bullnose Tiles

Sealers for Grout
Sealant, seal, and sealing all refer to the same things.  There are many different formulations of grout sealers. Many don't say what exactly is in the sealant due to trade secrets.  However there are two basic kinds.  You have water based and solvent based grout sealers. The water and solvents found in grout sealers are just there to disperse the sealant materials.  When the sealers dry the water or solvents evaporate leaving only the sealant remaining on the grout to protect it.  Solvent based sealers penetrate deeper into dense natural stones due to a much smaller molecular structure.  Where as water based sealer will penetrated deep into the porous grout because of it's porous nature.

Sealers for Ceramic Tiles & Porcelain - (For use on Un-Glazed Tile or Porcelain)

  • Penetrating Sealer: This type is absorbed into the tile forming a stain resistant barrier just below the surface of the tile.  In general penetrating sealers do not change the look, color or appearance of tile.
  • Surface Sealer: This is a coating that goes on the top of tile. It is a nonporous stain resistant seal.  this kind of sealer will change the color enhance slightly and often increases the luster of the tiles as well.

Formed from successive layers of sediment deposited by water and or air of pre-existing rock and often fossilized sea creatures.

Semi-Vitreous Tiles
Tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% moisture. They should be used for indoor applications only. See Vitreous Tile for more informationSee Non-Vitreous Tile for more information.

Shade Variations
Slight shade variations within the same dye lot is unfortunately inherent with fired ceramic tiles.  Tiles can show even greater variations within different dye lots.  You can find information on shade variation on most tile boxes.  Usually listed on the back or bottom.  A low, moderate, high, or rating of random is used to describe the amount of color variation you will find.

  • A Low Rating: Means a consistent shade and texture throughout
  • A Moderate Rating: Means moderate shade and texture variations
  • A High Rating: Means high shade and texture variations
  • A Random Rating: Means very high shade and texture variations

Also known as Installer or Tilesetter. An experienced licensed individual who installs ceramic, porcelain, and stone tiles to cover such surfaces as countertops, floors and walls, bathrooms, showers, entryways, sidewalks, and lanais or patios.

A wedge, washer or thin strip of some non-corrosive, non-staining material. Used to align and make things fit for both practical and atheistic reasons.

Within the stone industry this term refers to a fairly large thick flat pieces of stone. How large the slab is has a lot to do with the type of stone it is. On average the thickness is between 2 centimeters (3/4) or 3 centimeters (1 - 1/4).

A gray, green, or bluish metamorphic rock. Dense and fine-grained produced by the compression of various sediments layers of (clay or shale) resulting in its characteristic cleavage.

Also known as steatite or soap rock is a talc-schist type of metamorphic rock. It is largely composed of the mineral talc but also including chlorite, pyroxene, amphibole, and magnesium. The name soapstone comes from the "soapy" feel of the material. Some say it has a greasy feel. It's known for its heat, chemical and stain-resistant properties. Commonly used for countertops, kitchens, and tabletops. Also Known for its properties of chemical, heat, and stain resistance.

Square Foot
The area of a square with sides of 1 foot. Most ceramic, porcelain, and stone tiles are priced and sold by the square foot. Abbreviated you may see (ft2 or sq ft).

Stone Tiles
A tile is a manufactured piece of material like ceramic, porcelain, glass or stone. Used for covering a finished substrate like floors, showers, bathrooms, backsplashes, walls, etc...

The tile foundation is called the substrate. On average tile substrates are concrete, plywood, and drywall.

A composite material poured in place or precast which is used for floors, countertops, backsplashes, bathrooms, and walls. Consisting mostly of glass, granite, quartz, and marble poured with a binder that is cementitious, chemical or a combination of both.

The feel, appearance or consistency of the tile or stone material's surface. Color not withstanding.

Textured Finish
A roughed surfaced ceramic, porcelain or stone tile.

A strip of material at the bottom of a doorway and crossed when entering a house or room. Commonly made of tile, stone, or wood. Used in transitioning from one type or color of floor to another type or color.

Thickset, Thick-bed, Mud Thick, and Mortar Bed are all the same thing  This is the method used before the more currently accepted "Thinset" method used now.  Ceramic tiles were installed using a thick layer of mortar applied to a reinforced steel waterproof substrate. The thickset method is a very effective method.  It fell out of favor due to very involved labor-intensive work using this method vs. the easier thinset method.

This is today's tile installers industry accepted method of installing tile.  Not only it is less labor but it's also more efficient.   With the thinset method tile is adhered directly onto a backerboard using a much thinner layer of mortar.  In turn the backer board is nailed to either plywood or a concrete substrate.

Through Body Tiles
This is a tile that has a consistent color all the way through.  Often these tile come unglazed.   Also referred to as "Through Body Construction. (See Porcelain Tiles for more information.)

A thin rectangular slab of clay, stone, concrete, or other material used to cover floors, walls, countertops, etc...

Tile Contractor
A licensed and insured entity either company or person that installs interior and exterior ceramic, porcelain, or stone tile.

Tile Density
Tile density refers to how dense or compact the tiles are made.  The denser the tile the stronger and more moisture resistant the tile will be.  The weight of the tile also increases due to it's denser construction.  The density of tiles is directly related to the moisture absorption rate and weight of the material.  Tile density and moisture absorption rate are important factors for you to consider when selecting tile for different interior and exterior applications. 

A translucent stone allow light through. Mainly lighter colored marble and onyx transmit light well.

A flat stone or tile that is used as the top walking surface. Commonly found on steps and outside pathways.

Decoration added typically along the edges framing something in contrasting colors or materials to add depth and offset it from it's background. Different types are baseboards, casing, chair rails, or wainscot, crown molding, picture rails, and wall frame molding.

Tumbled Finish
also known as tumbling or rumbling this is a technique for smoothing and polishing stone rough surfaces. There can be distinctive differences in the characteristics depending on what type of tumbled finish they have been given. All tumbled tiles will have a soft smooth worn look.

Tumbled Stone
A form of stone polishing causing rocks within a container to slide past each other with an abrasive grit between them. The results depend on the coarseness of the grit used as well as the duration of the process itself.

A cut made with an undercut saw that enables the tile or stone to be placed under things like door frames. Usually looks better as a finished product than trying to follow the outline of complex curves on decorative trims.

Un-Glazed Tile
Unglazed tiles do not have a top layer of glaze applied. This type of tile is often referred to as Porcelain and also Through Body Construction. Often these tiles are more dense and durable than glazed tiles. While good for interior and exterior applications unglazed tiles do have good slip resistance.  This makes unglazed tiles a favorite for outside applications.  A key note of interest is that unglazed tiles need to be sealed due to the lack of glaze. 

Un-Sanded Grout
Also known as Wall Grout.  Un-sanded grout is typically used in joints that are smaller than 1/8th of an inch. Wall grout is used on ceramic tile and or polished marble  with grout lines smaller than 1/8 inch.  Polished marble specifically would be scratched by sanded grout if used in the installation.  Unsanded grout should be sealed after installation to reduce moisture absorbency. See Grout for more information.

A layer, seam or fracture in rock containing a deposit of minerals that is narrow and irregular of mineral material different from the surrounding formation.

Vein Cut
A process opposite of cross-cutting in which the vein in the stone is shown as a well defined parallel linear pattern.

Vitreous Tiles
Tiles that absorb less that 3% moisture. They are referred to as frost resistant tiles but cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze- thaw conditions could cause tile cracking. See Non-Vitreous Tile for more informationSee Semi-Vitreous for more information.

Stands for Volatile Organic Compound. VOC's are many varied and ubiquitous occurring chemical compounds. Some product have a low rating and some a high rating.  This refers to the amount of VOC's at the time of installation.  Afterwards when the materials dry the VOC's will dissipate.

Also known as wainscoting is an area on the lower part walls that is covered in a material like stone, porcelain or ceramic tile.

A slope on the tile or stone intended to shed water.

Water Jet Finish
A surface treatment used on stone. Water is shot at the surface under extreme high pressure causing changes in the appearance. Effects depend on the time the process goes on for the jet sizes, and the water pressure used.

Natural, chemical or mechanical alteration processes due to exposure to the elements present in the atmosphere, soil, water, and other ground minerals, and also by temperature changes.

Weep Holes
A weep hole is an opening that allows moisture or water to drain. Used in many different situations like shower drains, retaining walls, and windows.


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This White Paper is for informational purposes only.

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