Glossary of Tile Terms
Terminology that might be helpful as you work with your designer, installer, and tile distributor.
Adhesive A substance used for bonding tile to surfaces. Other common names are thinset, glue, mud, mastic, mortar and paste.
Backing Material used as a base over which tile is installed.
Broken Joint Tile installation where each row is offset for half of its length. Also known as brick joint or staggered pattern.
Bullnose A trim tile with a finished edge.
Caulk Waterproof filler used to seal joints and make tile joints watertight.
Cement Board A panel normally ¼” or ½” thick made of cement, reinforced with fiberglass used as a substrate for tile installation.
Cove Base A trim tile having a convex radius with a flat landing on the bottom edge.
Cure The time period that a tile setting material must be undisturbed and allowed to set for it to reach full strength.
Epoxy Grout A two-part grout system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. Made to have impervious qualities and is stain and chemical resistant. Used to fill joints between tiles.
Feature Strip A narrow strip of tile with design, texture or contrasting color that creates a design concept.
Field Tile The primary tile used to cover a wall or floor.
Floor Tile A tile durable enough to withstand traffic and abrasion.
Grout A mortar used to fill the joints between tiles.
Glazed Tile A tile that has an impervious finish composed of ceramic materials fused to the surface of the tile
Granite Hard igneous rock consisting primarily of quartz. This material can be in tile or slab form.
Honed A surface that has been ground down slightly to achieve a consistent, smooth texture and flat, matte finish.
Limestone Sedimentary stone that can have fossils or shells. This material can be in tile or slab form in a variety of finishes.
Marble A natural stone product quarried from the earth. This material can be in tile or slab form in a variety of finishes.
Mastic A wall tile adhesive used to bond tile to wall substrates.
Mortar A mixture of lime or cement or a combination of both with sand and water, used as a bonding agent between tile, stone, and brick.
Mosaics Ceramic, porcelain, glass, metal or stone tile less than six square inches that comes in squares, octagons, hexagons or random shapes mounted on mesh for ease of installation.
Mud A slang term referring to thick-bed mortar consisting of sand and cement.
Porcelain Tile Tile composed by the dust-pressed method known for a dense and impervious body.
Quarry Tile Dense, unglazed tile that is slip resistant.
Sanitary Base A trim tile having a concave radius on one edge and a convex radius with a flat landing on the bottom edge.
Sealer A penetrating liquid 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 A natural material that has a high shade variation. It is used outside as well as inside because of its natural look and
Spacers Cross-shaped plastic pieces that are used in installation to evenly separate tile; manufactured in various thicknesses and shapes.
Thinset An adhesive used to attach tiles to a substrate.
Threshold A raised member of the floor within the doorjamb.
Travertine Similar composition to limestone but with holes created by hot springs. This material can be in tile or slab form also in many different finishes.
Trim Pieces Various shaped of bases, caps, corners, moldings, angles, etc.
Unglazed Tile Dense tile without a glazed finish.