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Abrasion: The degree to which a floor tile’s surface will withstand foot traffic. There are specific tests determined by ISO to decide which standard or classification a floor tile will receive.

Adhesive: Used for bonding tile to a surface.

Angolo: A decorative corner piece used in floor installation. Often used in conjunction with a fascia to create a “rug” border effect. Some angolos may be used together to create a small rosone.


Backing: Material used as a base over which a finished tile is to be installed.

Balanced Cuts: Cuts of tile at the perimeter of an area which will not take full tiles. Also the same sized cuts on each side of a miter.

Base: One or more rows of tile installed above the floor.

Beating Block: A wooden block used to embed tiles in a flat plane. Method is called “beating in”.

Bed: Layer of mortar or other adhesive that covers the surface to be tiled and onto which tiles are set.

Body: Term refers to structural portion of a ceramic product and to the material or mixture from which it is made.

Brick Pattern: Tile is set in a staggered pattern similar to a brick wall. Also known as a running bond. Any shape tile that is square or rectangular may be set with a brick pattern.

Bullnose: Rounded top edge used as the last tile in a wall installation that doesn’t extend to the ceiling or up to the cabinet line, or to turn an outside edge.

Buttering: The spreading of a bond coat to the back of the ceramic tile immediately before tile is placed.


Cap: See Bullnose.

Ceramic Tile: Ceramic tiles are generally glazed. They can be used for both wall and floor applications, depending upon the strength rating.

Chair Rail: Cap piece with a distinctive architectural shape. Used to cap a wainscot or as a decorative element.

Coefficient of Friction (C.O.F.): Measurement, either dynamic or static, to determine the different aspects of slippage on a tiled plane. These measurements are set into guidelines by ISO.

Counter Rail: V- or L-shaped tile for finishing the exposed edges of countertops.

Cove Base: A base trim piece that curves concavely to join the floor tile.

Crackle Glaze: Special glaze featuring fine-line ‘cracks’ for an antique effect.

Crazing: The cracking which occurs in fired, glazed or other tensile stresses.


DCOF AcuTest: ANSI 137.1 now includes a method for measuring Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) and a recommended value of 0.42 for interior, level floors that are likely to be walked upon when wet. DCOF AcuTest differs from SCOF (Static COF Wet and Dry) in that the shoe material moves across the flooring surface and the resistance to movement is constantly recorded and averaged. This test uses an automated device (the BOT 3000) instead of the human hand which reduces the variation in the test method from 30% in the SCOF measurement to less than 10% for DCOF AcuTest. According to this standard, tiles of a DCOF AcuTest value of less than 0.42 are not restricted to dry areas only, but rather are restricted to applications where they are kept dry when walked upon. In the case of a residential bathroom, the common use of bathmats can accomplish this. Similarly, in entranceways, the use of entrance mats can accomplish the same. The tile industry expects this transition to be fully in place January 2014.

Deco / Decorative: Tile with designs, pictures, or relief fashioned with artistic creativity. Decorative tiles are generally used as accents in a field of solid color.

Deep Abrasion Tests: These tests are standardized in ASTM C-501. They apply to unglazed porcelain tiles only.

Diagonal Set: Tile set at a 45 degree angle to the wall.


Efflorescence: A crystalline deposit appearing on stone surfaces typically caused by soluble salts carried through or on the stone by moisture, which has sometimes been found to come from brick, tile, concrete blocks, cement, mortar, concrete, and similar materials in the wall or above.

Embossed: A decoration in relief or excised on the wear surface.

Epoxy Adhesive: A two part adhesive system employing epoxy resin and epoxy hardener used for bonding ceramic tile to back-up material.

Epoxy Grout: A two part grout system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. Formulated to have impervious qualities, stain and chemical resistance, used to fill joints between tiles.

Exterior Tiles: Tiles suitable for outdoor applications because of their frost resistance.


Fascia: A decorative piece used in floor installations. Often used in conjunction with an angolo to create a “rug” border effect.

Field Tile: The main tile in a tile design.

Floor Tile: Any type of tile designated for use on floors. It can generally be used for walls or countertops also.

Frost Proof: Product manufactured for use where freezing and thawing conditions occur.

Frost Resistance: Ability of certain ceramic tiles to withstand freeze/thaw conditions with minimal effect. Frost resistance of ceramic tile is dependent on the tile’s porosity and water absorption levels. Frost resistance does not guarantee ‘frost proof’.


Insert / Inserto: A decorative tile that coordinates with a field tile and is the same size. For example ,if a field tile is 4×4″, an insert that coordinates is also 4×4″, but is decorative.

Impervious Tiles: Dust-pressed ceramic tiles with water absorption levels, 0.5% and high mechanical and chemical characteristics. The surface of these tiles may be glazed or unglazed. Also known as a vitrified or porcelain tile.


Lippage: In finished installation, the condition where one edge of a tile is higher than an adjacent tile. May be unavoidable even for tiles that are within the tolerances of dimensional standards, seen especially in very large format tiles.

Listello / Listel: Italian word for a border tile used to add interest.

Lugged Tile: Tile produced with tabs on the edges for maintaining even spacing. These are usually wall tiles.


Majolica: Tiles composed of raw materials that produce a yellow-pink body of relatively high water absorption level.

Mitered: To cut on an angle to meet on an edge or corner (similar to picture frame moldings or ceiling cove molding).

Moh’s Scale: Scale used to express the measure of a materials hardness. Talc’s rating on Moh’s is a 1 where a diamond is 10.

Monocottura: Tiles produced with only one high temperature firing, generally with harder glaze and denser body than wall tiles with moisture absorption below 3%.

Mortar: The setting material used to bond tiles to a given surface. Different types of mortar are suitable for different backing and conditions.

Mosaic: Small tiles used to make patterns or pictures on walls or floors. Mosaic tile can be made from ceramic, porcelain, stone, glass or metal.

Mounted Tiles: Tiles assembled into units or sheets by the manufacturer for easier installation. Back and edge mounted tiles are bonded to material (mesh, paper, resin or other) that becomes part of the installation. Face mounted tiles are bonded to a material that is removed prior to grouting.


Out Corner: A trim piece with two connecting edges bullnosed.


P.E.I.: Porcelain Enamel Institute, responsible for research, testing and analysis of ceramic materials in the United States. PEI is only applicable in terms of glazed ceramic and porcelains. Deep abrasion tests such as ASTM C-501 are standards for unglazed porcelains.

Pencil: Thin tile of any length, usually between 1/2″ and 2″ in width.

Porcelain Tile: An extremely durable tile that is often used commercially. Porcelain tiles can be glazed or unglazed due to their low porosity.

Portland Cement: Type of hydraulic cement often used in tile installation.


Quarter Round or Bead: A narrow, convexly curved piece designed to create continuity where 90 degree angles occur.

Quarry Tile: Traditional term for single-extruded, natural clay tiles with a water absorption level not exceeding 6%.


Rectified Tile: Rectified tile is first baked in sheets, then cut to size AFTER coming out of the kiln. This is why it can be calibrated to exact specifications. Rectified tile can be installed with “credit card” joints as small as 1/16″. Most other tile is first shaped and then baked afterwards in a kiln, so it often has as much as 1/16″ or more difference in size between tiles in the same box.

Rosone: A square or circle design used as a decorative piece in a floor installation. Rosones are often made of mosaics of stone or glass, sometimes in intricate water-jet patterns.

Running Bond: Tile is set in a staggered pattern similar to a brick wall.


Screeding: Leveling the mortar bed by dragging a screed across it.

Sealers: Clear coating sometimes applied to unglazed tile floor to protect the surface from grease spills or to add luster.

Single-Fired Tiles: Glazed tiles produced by the single-firing method in which the raw tile body and glaze undergo a single pass through the kiln at a high temperature. Also known as monocottura.

Stacked Set: Setting a tile in a stacked set just means to center adjacent tiles next to each other without any stagger. Any shape tile that is square or rectangular may be set with a stacked pattern.

Straight Set: Tile set square to the wall.

Subway Tile: The shape of a subway tile is rectangular and very flat, set with a tight grout joint, and often comes in sizes such as 3×6″, 4×8″, etc. Subway tiles can be set in a brick pattern or stacked vertically or horizontally.


Terra Cotta: Tiles produced with only one high temperature firing, generally with harder glaze and denser body than wall tiles with moisture absorption below 3%.

Trim: Finishing pieces used to cover exposed tile bisque (i.e. bullnose, out corners, step nosing).


Wainscot: The area of a tiled wall that is installed from the floor to the chair rail height, or slightly higher, with a border or cap finishing the installation.

Wall Tile: Tile intended for use on walls. Generally thinner than floor tile. While it can sometimes be used on residential floors and countertops, it is best to consult manufacturer recommendations before installation.