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Tile Terminology - Tile Terms Glossary

Browsing through our site on your research to revamp your bathroom, kitchen, living room or oudoor area, you might come across the odd phrase or term that you've never heard of before. That's why we've put together this complete and comprehensive glossary of tiles, paving, cladding, decking and artificial grass terminolgy. Don't know what a 'matt' finish is? Don't know what 'rectified' means? Confused by the term 'bevelled'? Consult the glossary below and find all your answers.


The amount of water that is absorbed by a tile. The absorption rate is calculated by ratio of the amount the water absorbed to the weight of the tile, conveyed in a percentage.


The process of allowing your wood flooring to adjust to heat and humidity of your home. All wood expands or contracts relative to the volume of moisture in the air.


Adhesive is a glue that is used to bond items together. Tile adhesive is for bonding tiles to substrate.


A collection of granular materials such as gravel, crushed stone and sand that is used with cement to create concrete, mortar /sub-base.

Antique Finish or Tumbled Finish

The paving stone is distressed for a more aged and worn finish by vibrating it in a container with sand and grit.

Backer Board (Cement Board)

A backboard is a perfect substrate for tiles to be installed on. Often created with cement for a strong, long lasting substrate

Bevelled Edge

A bevelled edge is when the edge of a tile or slab that is not perpendicular to the centre. A bevel is usually present on a tile for aesthetic reasons. Metro Tiles are the most popular tile with a bevelled edge.


The main body of ceramic or porcelain tile.


Tile bowing (or sometimes referred to as warping) is caused during the tile manufacturing process.  


A process where a bush hammer is applied to the stone using a machine or by hand to create an anti-slip finish. Often used on granite.


A soft grey powder that is mixed with water and other substances to form concrete.


Modern ceramic tiles are manufactured with the latest technology but are still made from a mixture of sand, clay and water. The elements are fired at high temperatures in a kiln to bind them together in a solid biscuit.

Decoupling Mat / Membrane

A mat made from multiple layers of plastic or fabric that is created to be bonded to a substrate before tiles are installed. The purpose of a decoupling membrane is to prevent movement or expansion in the substrate.

Diamond Drill Bit / Saw Blade

Diamond Drill Bit / Saw Blade are blades or drill bits that contain diamonds fixed on their point/edges for cutting through tough materials. There are a variety of different blades and drill bits that can cut or drill the following; ceramics, porcelain, concrete and natural stone.


If you have to drill through tiles we recommend using a diamond tip drill bit which will allow for the cleanest cut through porcelain/ceramic tiles.


Is a build up of crystalline or powdery deposit of salts that appear on the surfaces of natural stone surfaces. Can be removed with a mixture of brushing and water pressure or in extreme cases specialist cleaning products.

Engineered Wood Flooring

Multi-layered wood flooring board with natural wood sitting on the surface layer that is bonded to layers beneath that are usually manmade.

Epoxy Adhesive and Grout

A two step system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. Created to have incredible resistance to stains, chemicals and have strong impervious qualities.

Expansion Joint / Gap

Is an intentional interruption in a tile or stone surface that allows movement in the wall or floor. Sometimes referred to as movement joints.


Stone is torched with a flame which cases a thermal shock that fractures the crystals within the core of the stone. Often used on granite.  

Floating Floor

A floating floor is a when a flooring product is not secured to the subfloor with screws or adhesive. Typical examples of this would be laminate or engineered wood flooring

Floor Tile

A tile durable enough to be installed on a floor and withstand foot traffic and abrasion.

Full Body Porcelain / Fully Vitrified

Tile created from a single layer of porcelain. The colour pigment on the surface is present throughout the tile. Full Body Porcelain has a water absorption rate of less than 0.5%.


A hard igneous rock that can be found in the earth’s crust or above ground. Mostly made up of quartz and feldspar.

Glazed Porcelain

A porcelain tile that has been created, printed and then has a hardening layer of glassware applied to it. Helps the water-resistance and strength of the tile. It has a water absorption rate of between 0 and 3%.

Glue Down Installation

When a wood floor is fully fixed to the floor with adhesive.


A mix of materials that are used fill joints between tiles. Grout is typically created from silica sand, cement and a chemical mix. Tiles are not recommended to be butt jointed. Tile grout is essential to prevent moisture getting behind tiles and diminish any vibration from foot traffic or expansion/contraction from changes in temperature.  Available in a range of colours.


Paving that has hand-cut edges for a more rustic natural finish.


A traditional laying pattern for wood/tiles, which are layed to form an interlocking pattern.


The tile surface has been treated by machinery to create a smooth flat surface.

Honed (paving)

The paving stone is sanded with coarse abrasive to buff the stone so it has a smooth non-reflective finish.

Laminate flooring

A hard wearing flooring product made from fibreboard core with a melamine surface layer.


A lappato finish a tile finish that is partially polished and partially textured.

Large Format Tiles

Tiles that are larger than 60x60cm in size. Most common large format sizes: 80x80, 60x120


A sedimentary rock composed mainly of calcium carbonate. Mostly made up of clay, iron carbonate, pyrite, feldspar and quartz.


A border tile that is often used to divide two tile designs either side. Often contains a ridged or textured finish


This is when tiles are slightly thicker in certain areas than other tiles in the same box/batch. Variations in tile flatness are rare and more often appear on large format tiles. Lipping is the term for when tile flatness variations in depth when tiles are installed. For example: one corner is slightly higher than the adjacent corner. To minimise lipping we recommend not installing large format tiles in ‘staggered’ or ‘brick bond’ patterns, as lipping can be more obvious in these patterns.


Paving that has machine-cut edges for a crisper, more uniformed finish.

Matt / Matt Finish

A tile with a non-shine finish with virtually no reflection


A process where tiles are cut at an angle.


Ceramic, porcelain, glass, stone, metal or natural stone tile less than 38cm2. Mosaics come in a range of shapes (square, hexagon, octagon or random). Often mounted onto mesh for ease of installation.


A tile with a vitrification level that has a relatively high water absorption rate, typically over 7%. These tiles are not recommended for areas that will be wet (showers/bath surround).

Outdoor Porcelain

A porcelain tile that has been especially created and treated for outdoor use. Note: outdoor porcelain will always be listed as 'outdoor porcelain'. Standard porcelain is not suitable for outdoor use.

Pile Height (Artificial Grass)

The length of the individual strands of artificial grass


A gloss surface on a tile that shines and helps bring out the colour of the tile. Mechanically polished with a diamond wheel for a high shine.


A tile material that is baked/fired at a higher temperature than ceramic and has some other elements in the composition that often include: clay, silica, feldspar and sand. Porcelain tiles are fully vitrified, which means they are more hard wearing, long lasting and can withstand higher weight loads.

Pot Life

The time period a material maintains its workable properties after it was mixed


A tile primer is a liquid product used to prepare a surface for tiling. Uses include the avoidance pinholes or air bubbles in the substrate.


A hard man made material that consists of one part silicon and one part oxygen.

Rectified / Rectified Edge / Rectified Tiles

Rectified tiles have gone an extra process after being baked(manufactured), whereby a machine will cut the edges of the tile to create perfect, clean edges to allow minimal grout lines when being installed.


A sedimentary rock formed by compressed sand sized grains. Mostly made up of quartz, feldspar and fragmented rock.


A latex levelling compound used to create a level subfloor for installation

Shade Variation

Different batches of the same tile can have slight differences in colour and texture. This is caused by differences in the calibration of the machines used to manufacture the tiles. Shade variation is rare and often impossible to spot to the naked eye.

Shelf Life

Time span of when product is in a usable condition. Important to always check the use by date on all types of adhesive.

Silicon Beading

A silicone beading is used on joints around shower trays, wash basins, baths etc to avoid water penetrating the joint.

Slip Resistant (Anti-Slip)

Tiles have different slip resistances. This is due to the amount of abrasive particles on a tile surface that aids slip resistance. R9 to R13 are ‘anti-slip’, with R13 being the R rating with the highest slip resistance.


A process used by manufacturers to darken wood.

Solid wood

Individual planks of wood made/cut from 100% hardwood.


Plastic pieces that are used to separate or space tiles uniformly during installation.

Silicon Beading

A silicone beading is used on joints around shower trays, wash basins, baths etc to avoid water penetrating the joint.


The area behind a sink, cooking hob or kitchen countertop that is often tiled to protect from water/cooking splashes.


The surface that tiles are applied/installed on, including; plaster, concrete, floorboards, backer boards.

Tanking / Tanking Kits

Tanking is the process of applying a membrane to a shower enclosure before tiling in order to protect the substrate from water penetrating. Tanking is used in most wet rooms to waterproof the area.


Tile Trim is used to hide and protect the exposed edges of tiles, box in plumbing, surround windowsills and create a neat and professional finish to your tiling project.

Under Floor Heating

Electric or water based heat for beneath flooring in homes.


A layer of cushioning beneath wood flooring to improve protection and support for the floor. Made from materials such as ; foam, felt and rubber.


An upstand when a tile is used as skirting for a kitchen countertop in domestic applications or skirting boards in commercial spaces.


Marble and marble effect tiles often have distinct line and streaking patterns across the tile, this is called veining.


A porcelain tile that has been highly compressed to create a tile that is impervious to water. A vitrified tile has less than 0.5% absorption rate.

Wall Tile

A tile body that is suitable for indoor use on walls only. Unsuitable for use on floors.a

Wood Effect Tile

Tiles that have a surface resembling wood flooring. Available in a range of colours for indoor and outdoor use.

Wet Room

An area for showering without the of shower tray. The floor tiles are angled to allow water to enter the drain system built into the floor.