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As is the case with any industry, tile placing has many specific words to describe different aspects of tile projects. Help yourself better understand the components of your tile laying project by checking out our tile glossary below!


  • Adhesive - Used for bonding tile to a surface

  • Battiscopa - The Italian term for a bull nose trim piece

  • Border - Strip of tile with design, texture or contrasting color that creates a design concept Brushed Finish - Finish resulting from treating the stone surface with a coarse wire rotary brush

  • Bullnose - Trim tile with a convex radius or finished edge on one side. Used for finishing top of wainscot, turning of an outside corner, or floor base

  • Buttering - The spreading of a bond coat to the back of a ceramic tile immediately before the tile is installed

  • Caulk - Soft, water resistant plastic material used for sealing joints

  • Coefficient of Friction (COF) - Slip resistance of a tile

  • Cove - Trim tile with one edge a concave radius. Used to form a junction between the bottom wall course and the floor or to form an inside corner

  • Cure - The time period that a tile installation setting material must be undisturbed and allowed to set for it to reach full strength

  • Decorative Tile - Any tile face with a decoration on the surface

  • Dry Set Mortar - Cement based setting material for thin-bed installations

  • Epoxy Grout - Two-part grout system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. Made to have impervious qualities, stain and chemical resistant. Used to fill joints between tiles

  • Field Tile - The primary tile used to cover a wall or floor

  • Floating - Method of aligning mortar with the float strips or screeds using a straightedge

  • Floor Tile - Ceramic tile or natural stone tile durable enough to withstand traffic and abrasion

  • Frost Proof - Impervious tile that absorbs 0% to 0.5%. Must appropriate for exterior applications

  • Grout - Silica sand, cement and chemical mix for filling tile joints. Available in a wide variety of colors

  • Glazed Tile - Tile that has an impervious facial finish composed of gaseous ceramic materials fused to the surface of the tile

  • Granite - Natural stone more dense than marble. Granite is molten lava that never rose above the surface of the earth. It is extremely durable and holds a polish. Available in polished, honed or flamed (rough) surfaces

  • Limestone - Sedimentary stone that could have fossils or shells. Usually comes with a honed (matte) finish. Not a wide variety of color; stones have little variety from piece to piece

  • Listello - Decorative border, primarily for walls

  • Marble - Natural stone product quarried from the earth. It gets a distinctive shine from the polishing process it goes through. Available in multiple finishes and a wide variety of colors

  • Mastic - Ready to use organic glue

  • Mosaics - Ceramic, porcelain, glass, metal or stone tile mounted on mesh for ease of installation. May come in squares, rectangles or random shapes

  • Mud - Slang term referring to thick-bed mortar consisting of sand and cement

  • Porcelain Tile - Characterized by a dense and impervious body generally made of the dust-pressed method

  • Quarry Tile - Slang term usually 6x6 impervious unglazed tile. Common tile used for commercial kitchens

  • Sealer - A penetrate applied to prevent the absorption of liquids or other debris. Used with porous materials including: quarry tile, grout, and natural stone. Sealer is not necessary for glazed ceramic tile

  • Slate - Natural material that is known for its dynamic colors and "earthy" appeal. Colors range from grey to purple to black. Slate is used outside as well as inside because of its natural look and wonderful colors

  • Spacers - Plastic pieces that are used in installation to evenly separate tile. Manufactured in various thicknesses and shapes

  • Thin-Set - Term used to describe the bond coat in a thin bed installation. It is made of sand, cement and usually a latex additive

  • Tile - Ceramic unit, usually thin in relation to facial area. Made from clay or a mixture of clay and other ceramic material. Has a glazed or an unglazed face

  • Travertine - Similar composition to limestone but with holes created by hot springs. Colors include beige, red, yellow and brown, with some variation from piece to piece

  • Trim Pieces - Various shaped of bases, caps, corners, moldings, angles, etc.

  • Tumbled - Finish achieved by placing stone tiles in a tumbling machine, sometimes with the addition of acids, to soften the edges and give the surface a worn look

  • Unglazed Tile - Dard, dense tile of uniform composition. No glaze

  • Wall Tile - Glazed tile with a body suitable for interior use. Not expected to withstand excessive impact or be subject to freezing/thawing conditions. It is not appropriate for use on a floor

Use our helpful glossary to better understand your tile project

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