Tile Glossary

Tiles For Ever presents you an in depth tiles glossary which includes all the words related to tiling and terms used by tillers and non-tillers in the tiling industry. The glossary presents you an easy to understand guide for all the tile terms.

What is a ceramic tile?

Ceramic Tiles are made up of sand and clay which has been permanently hardened by the application of heat, often having a decorative glaze. These tiles are comparatively less strong than porcelain tiles. Ceramic tiles are less dense than porcelain tiles and are thus more porous. Ceramic tiles absorb more water than porcelain tiles and are much less slippery than porcelain ones. Their durability is also lesser than those of porcelain tiles and thus they are generally unfit for outdoor usage.

What are Porcelain Tiles?

Porcelain tiles are also made up of clay, the difference arises on the size of the particles of the clay. The clay used in porcelain tiles are much finer than those of ceramic tiles, resulting in denser and less porous tiles. Porcelain tiles are also moulded and hardened by the application of extreme heat and pressure. They are generally long lasting and resistant to heavy usage and extreme surroundings, thus fit best for outdoor use. Porcelain tiles absorb very less water and make the surface slippery, unless the tiles are treated to make them non-slip.

What does glazing on a porcelain tile means?

Glazed porcelain tiles are like any other ordinary porcelain tiles with a layer of glassware coated at the top of it an extra feature. Such tiles are also known as semi-vitrified tiles.

What are full bodied porcelain tiles?

Full bodied porcelain tiles contain the same colour as of the surface throughout its whole body. This means that if ever the tile gets chipped or slightly damaged, the difference is hard to notice.

What are vitrified tiles?

Vitrified tiles are a kind of ceramic tile with very less porosity. Due to their excellent weather resistant qualities, they are installed outdoors or at places with heavy traffic. Vitrified tiles are stronger than ordinary ceramic and porcelain tiles.

What are Encaustic Tiles?

Encaustic tiles contain patterned or colourful surfaces which are not a result of applying glaze or painting the surface but the result of using different coloured clays during the moulding process.

What are antique finish tiles?

Antique finished tiles are processed through some grinding down processes to create an antique looking finish on the tile.

What is crackle glaze finish?

In crackle glazed finish, the glazed layer is intentionally cracked through different means to create an age-old effect. In modern times the glaze used is made to crack in their drying process.

What are iridescent tiles?

Iridescent tiles are composed of a single main colour which appears as different colours when looked from different colours or under different lights.

What are polished tiles?

Polished tiles are most commonly porcelain tiles, which are polished using abrasive wheels to create a very high shiny effect. Polished tiles are different from glazed tiles.

What does matt finish tile means?

A matt finish tile is characterized by a dull surface with absolutely no shine irrespective of lighting conditions.

What does semi-polished tile means?

In a semi-polished tile, only 50% of the surface area is polished with an abrasive wheel to create a shiny effect while the other 50% area remains textured and unpolished. They are also called Lappato tiles.

What are twin-charged porcelain tiles?

A twin-charged porcelain tile is a special kind of porcelain tile created to withstand heavy traffic, there is a thick layer of design over the top of the tile typically of 3-4mm. They are generally cheaper than full bodies or vitrified tiles?

What are bevelled edged tiles?

A bevelled edge tile is characterised as a tile having a slant down to a thinner edge. Bevelled tiles bounce back light from their bevelled edges thereby adding more beauty to the tile.

What are bullnose or round edge tiles?

Bullnose tiles are most commonly called as rounded edge tiles. In a single side round edge tile, the edges of the tiles are made curved to create a rounded look. While in a double side rounded tile, both the sides of the tiles are made curved to create rounded look from both the sides of the tile.

What does Inkjet tile printing means?

Tiles are nowadays printed with designs and patterns by using inkjet printers, for various advantages. These inkjet printers are different and bigger than those at your home and the ink is a special kind of ink used specifically for printing on the tiles. Inkjet printing creates a much higher definition of details in the design and is also more accurate and fast.

What is shade variation in tiles?

Shade variation in tiles is defined as a slight change in the colour shade of the tiles. In most of the cases it is a deliberate attempt so as to create a natural look like in the case of wood effect tiles. Apart from that, it may also be caused due to the printing machines running out of ink and then ink refilling.  Shade variations do not arise in polished tiles.

What is tile density?

Tile density is defined as the density of the composition of individual tiles. Tile density depends on the material it is made from and the production process it goes through.

What is meant by a tile’s water absorption?

Water absorption by a tiles is the amount of moisture a type of tile absorbs.

What is mean by a biscuit of a tile?

A biscuit of a tile is defined as the main base structure of a tile.

What is listel or listello?

Listel and Listello are just other names of border tiles used to enhance the overall look of the tiled surface.

Glossary of Useful Terms


An adhesive or glue is used to adhere or bond substances together, usually available in liquid or semi liquid form.


Development of closed or broken bubbles in the tile glaze or body during the process of firing.


Bowing is also commonly known as warping, it is caused during the heating and cooling process of the tiles. A certain degree of warping is acceptable as per the tiling standards and does not cause any harm to the surface and depends on the size of tile.

British Standards

British standards refer to the tiling standards and regulations for the tiles and tiling industry in Britain.


Cove is characterised at the trim tile whose one edge has a concave radius.

Cure Time

The time duration that the setting material of a tile installation takes to allow it to reach to its full strength. The time varies and during the period, it should not be disturbed at all.

Cushion Edge Tiles

Tiles whose facial edges have some curvature which results in recessed joints.


Drilling is a process of boring holes in a tile.

Expansion Joint

Also known as movement joint, it is a joint that extends through mortar, tile, substrate, and reinforcing wire.


A grout is used as filling between the tiles, generally composed of silica sand, cement chemical mix etc. It is used to prevent the moisture or any liquid to reach the back of a tile and as a buffer to reduce the effects of vibration and expansion/contraction due the surrounding temperature change.

Heavy Duty Tile

Heavy duty tiles are very strong in nature and are used for places to withstand heavy traffic.


Variations in the flatness of a tile is called Lipping. Though it is not much noticeable in smaller tiles, but can be easily seen in large tiles.


A pore of diameter less than 2 nanometres in any substance.


Cutting a tile at a certain angle is called mitreing.

PEI Rating

PEI rating system is used throughout the world to grade a tile against its capacity to wear and tear of its finish. The full form of PEI is Porcelain Enamel Institute.


Imperfections resembling pinholes in the surface of a ceramic body or glaze.

Pot Life

A duration of time for which a substance keeps up its workable properties, after it has been mixed.

Rectified Tile

A rustic tile is a tile having clean edges on all sides, created by cutting the tile after the baking process.

Rustic Edge

A non-uniform and random edge aimed to create a handmade look.

Satin Finish

A satin finished tile has a little sheen, when it is looked at a certain angle it reflects some light.


A film or penetrant used to stop the absorption of liquids and other substances.


A plastic piece used to keep the tiles at even distance from each other during installation.

Splashback Tile

Splashback tiles are used to protect the wall behind a sink or cooker from water splashes and other liquids.


The surface support below the installation of tile; for example, floorboards, concrete, plaster).