tile story

tile story

Tile Glossary of Tiling and Technical Terms

Tile Glossary of Tiling and Technical Terms

– a piece of tiling or technical jargon or terminology. To help clear up any confusion, we’ve put together this complete and comprehensive glossary of tiling tiles. Don’t know what a ‘brushed’ finish is? Don’t know what ‘rectified’ means? Confused by the term ‘bullnose edge’ ?

ceramic tile

What is a ceramic tile?

The main ingredients for a ceramic tile are Clay and Sand. These materials are ground down into a fine powder, water is added and the mixture is then compressed in a mould at high pressure making the “Biscuit”. These are then dried out, primed, painted then glazed, before being fired in a kiln at approximately 1000oC.
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porcelain tile

What is a porcelain tile?

The way porcelain tiles are made is similar to how ceramic tiles are made. But the Clay used in porcelain (called Kaolin) is much denser than the clay used in a ceramic. With the introduction of Feldspar and being fired at temperatures up to 1400oC, this makes Porcelain much harder than ceramic.

Terracotta Tiles

What are Terracotta Tiles?

Terracotta is made from natural clay which has been moulded and then kiln fired to bake the clay and produce rigid tiles. The clay is either moulded by hand, these tiles offer a more rustic feel, or machine-moulded for a more consistent finish. All Terracotta tiles will be subject to edge chipping and variation which is part of the finished look of an authentic Terracotta floor. Terracotta tiles, when untreated, are very porous and as such any unsealed tiles will look very different from your finished floor.

Glazed Porcelain

What does Glazed Porcelain mean?

Glazed porcelain tiles have a single layered porcelain base that is primed and printed before a layer of hardening glassware is coated over the top. The tile is then fired to harden the surface. These are also referred to a Semi Vitrified tiles.

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full bodied porcelain

What does full bodied porcelain mean?

Full bodied porcelain tiles are also referred to as Fully Vitrified tiles. They are made from a single layer of porcelain, for which the pigmentation used to create the face pattern is present through the full depth of the tile.


What does vitrified mean?

A tile that is vitrified has a moisture of moisture absorption rate of less that 0.5%. Semi Vitrified tiles are also referred to a Glazed Porcelain tiles, whereas Fully Vitrified refers to a full bodied porcelain tile.
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antique tile finish

What is an antique tile finish?

When a natural tile is first cut, it will have a given textured finish, either riven, bush-hammered or tumbled etc. Over the years through natural foot traffic or wear and tear, this texture will wear down. An antiqued finish tile goes through a grinding down process that is specially done to simulate these effects.

crackle glaze finish

What is a crackle glaze finish?

Crackle Glaze tiles have a crazed or aged effect, by deliberately having the glazed cracked. To achieve this finish specific glazes are now made to shrink in the drying process. However in the past, it was made by causing thermal shock. That means that when the tile was fired, the glaze would expand. Immediately after being removed from the kiln, they were subjected to freezing temperatures which caused the glaze to rapidly shrink, forcing it to crack.
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ink jet tile printing

What is ink jet tile printing?

The traditional method of printing a tile was via a series of different coloured rollers to create the pattern. Nowadays, Inkjet printing is more commonly used as it is more accurate, easier for the factory to set up and cheaper costs. Similar to a computer printer for your documents, the principle of printing tiles is the same. A print head will “jet” the required amount of ink when and where required as the tile passes under it on a conveyor belt. It is an essential method for creating ultra realistic, high-definition and non-uniform patterns like a natural marble effect where every tile needs a different layout of veining, or Moroccan style tiles that have wide variation of pattern and colour.

"shade variation'

What is meant by 'shade variation'?

Shade variation is a difference in colour or texture from one tile to the next, and is inherent in all tile products. In most cases it is deliberate for the creation of textures that mimic a natural variation like a wood or stone effect tile. But due to the calibration of machinery between printing runs, one batch of tiles to the next may also contain variation in colour or pattern. All natural stone is subject to shading as this is a characteristic within any irregular stone.
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'tile density'

What is meant by 'tile density'?

The density of a tile will depend on the materials it is produced from, how it is compressed and the temperature it is fired at. Ultimately this is calculated before manufacture when determining whether a tile will be created for wall or floor purposes. A lower density will be made from lighter materials like clay, solely for installation on a wall. Where as a heavier density porcelain is more commonly used for floors which will need to withstand years of foot traffic.

water absorption in tiles

What is meant by water absorption in tiles?

Water absorption is the amount moisture that can be taken in by a tile. Most porcelains have an absorption rate of less than 0.5% and are classed as impervious. Whereas the base of a ceramic tile can take in as much as 10% and in some cases more. The absorption amount may dictate where the tile can be used and which adhesive is used to fix it. If an impervious tile is used, a cement based adhesive with additional bonding polymers is required. Whereas ceramic tiles being more porous offer a natural key for the adhesive to key into.
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What is a grout joint?

What is a grout joint?