Glossary of Terms

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Percentage amount of moisture absorbed by weight.

acid wash

A treatment applied to the face of a stone to achieve a texture or finish that is distressed. Chemical processes have been replaced by mechanical methods for the texturing of the stone face.


Pertains to a highly basic, as opposed to acidic, substance; for example, hydrogen or carbonate of sodium or potassium.


A metal fastener used for securing dimension stone to a structure.

antique finish

A finish that replicates rusticated or distressed textures. Produced through mechanical or chemical means to simulate the naturally occurring effects of the aging process.


A trim piece under a projecting stone top, stool, etc.


An edge or angle where two surfaces meet; for example, moldings and raised edges.


back buttering

The process of slathering the back of a stone tile with thinset in order to ensure proper mortar coverage. This prevents hollow areas and subsequent future cracking of tiles. Also helpful to ensure a level installation.


The area located between the countertop and upper cabinets.


A dark-colored, igneous rock commercially known as granite when fabricated as dimension stone.


1. The top or bottom of a joint, natural bed; surface of stone parallel to its stratification. 2. In granites and marbles, a layer or sheet of the rock mass that is horizontal. Sometimes also applied to the surface of parting between rock sheets. 3. In stratified rocks, the unit layer formed by sedimentation; of variable thickness, and commonly tilted or distorted by subsequent deformation. It generally develops a rock cleavage, parting, or jointing along the planes of stratification.

bed joint

A horizontal joint between stones, usually filled with mortar, lead, or sealant.

belt course

A continuous horizontal course, marking a division in the wall plane.


A sloped surface contiguous with a vertical or horizontal surface.

bicoturra tile

Ceramic tiles are fired in a kiln at temperatures around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Bicoturra Tiles are first fired after the green tile is dried and then fired again after the glaze is applied. Also called Double Fired.


When you look at a glazed tile from the side you can see 2 layers. The body of the tile, or largest layer, is called the bisque. The top layer is called the glaze.


The proper positioning of adjacent floor slabs, or tiles, by their predominant color.

block cutter

A machine used in the quarrying process for in-line drilling of small diameter holes.


1. Overlapping of joints in successive courses. 2. To stick or adhere.


Within a bundle, slab one and slab two will be cut and polished to create a mirror image of each other. These are then kept in sequence, which allows for a consistent flow in pattern.


A warping or curving of the wall cladding.

brushed finish

Obtained by brushing a stone with a coarse rotary-type wire brush.


Convex rounding of a material, to be used in various applications, such as stair tread.

bush hammering

A mechanical process which produces textured surfaces that vary from subtle to rough.

butt joint

An external corner formed by two stone panels with one head.



There are two COF tests: Static and Dynamic. Most manufacturers will have a rating system that is based on or supported by the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM). Many times you can find these ratings on the tile sample or in the product catalog. One rating system measures Slip Resistance, which is measured by its Coefficient of Friction (COF). The higher the COF the more slip resistant the tile. This is important when selecting a floor tile for areas that get wet, such as your shower or bathroom floor. Other ratings listed by the manufacturer might include: scratch resistance, moisture absorption, chemical resistance and breaking strength.


A crystalline variety of limestone containing not more than 5% magnesium carbonate.


The first step in the finishing process of a stone tile. Coarse abrasives pads are mounted to the bottom of rotating wheels that under extreme pressure and rotation speed are applied to the face of the stone. This process grinds the stone to a uniform and consistent thickness of ±1 mm tolerance, which is crucial for the installation of tile in a thin-set application. Calibration is applicable only to dense stones that can take a honed or polished finish, such as limestone, marble, and granite tile. The term is often erroneously applied to slates, quartzites, and other cleftface stones, where the precision of the calibration process is not possible. Sawn-back or ground-back techniques are applied to these types of stones, and are correctly called "gauging," which is not as precision-oriented as calibration.


A volcanic, quartz-based stone with qualities similar to adoquin, but not as dense. Quarried in Mexico.

ceramic tile

A thin surfacing unit composed of various clays fired to hardness. The face may be glazed or unglazed.

chiseled edge

A process of mechanically chipping the tile edge, thus giving the stone a rustic, aged appearance.


An exterior covering intended to control the infiltration of weather elements, or for aesthetic purposes.


The ability of a rock mass to break along natural surfaces; a surface of natural parting.

cleavage plane

Plane or planes along which a stone may likely break or delaminate.

cleft finish

Rough-surfaced stones such as slates that are cleaved or separated along a natural seam are referred to as natural cleft. These types of stones were formed as a result of metamorphic foliation.

color body porcelain tile

Technically-advanced glazed porcelain. The porcelain body and surface glaze are colored with the same pigments. The result is a glazed tile with consistent color throughout the body. The tile is fired in a kiln at approximately 2,000 degrees, creating a hard, non-porous, impermeable tile with a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less.


A flat stone used as a cap on freestanding walls.

cove base

A ceramic floor tile trim that has a rounded finished top like a bullnose to cover up the body of the tile.

cove molding

A concave molding, typically found at the sloped or arched junction of a wall and ceiling.

cross cut

A process of end-cutting blocks of stone which yields a less-linear, more rounded, "wavy" pattern.

cure time

The time required for the thin-set below the tile to become hard and set.

cut stone

Finished, dimensioned stone ready to set in place.



The DCOF is part of the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard specifications for tile and measures a tile’s frictional resistance in an interior setting, not exterior. The DCOF measurement is not a true measurement of the flooring, but rather a measurement of the interaction between the flooring and what is being placed on it. It can be a useful comparison of tile surfaces, but it cannot predict the likelihood a person will or will not slip on a tile surface. Because many variables affect the risk of a slip occurring, the DCOF test results should not be the only factor in determining the appropriateness of a tile for a particular application.


A decorative accent piece.

diamond sawed

Finish produced by sawing with diamond-toothed circular or gang saw.


A sedimentary carbonate rock, composed mostly of the mineral dolomite. It typically has a very tight grain structure, making it less absorbent. It is harder and more dense than marble, and not as likely to be etched by citric acids.


The shaping and squaring of blocks for storage and shipment. Sometimes called "scabbing."

dry seam

An unhealed fracture in stone which may be a plane of weakness.

dual finish

Two finishes, such as thermal and polished, on one piece of stone.


eased edge

When referring to a slab material, the square edge profile normally has softened edges as opposed to sharp square edges for added safety.


The European Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme, established in 1992 to encourage businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment. Products and services awarded the Ecolabel carry the flower logo, allowing consumers - including public and private purchasers - to identify them easily.


The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a management tool for companies and other organizations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance.

epoxy resin

A flexible, usually thermalsetting resin made by the polymerization of an epoxide; used as an adhesive.


A decorative surface pattern created by a variety of methods, most often with abrasive chemicals or sandblasting.


Extruded tiles are formed by forcing the clay material through a mold for the desired shape versus pressing the tile.



Used in reference to dimension stone, it means manufactured and ready for installation.


At the fabricator's facility the natural stone slabs are customized for specific installations.

field tile

When creating a pattern with different ceramic tiles, the more prominent tile that is throughout the largest areas is called the "field tile".


A trade expression used to indicate the filling of natural voids in stone units with cements or synthetic resins and similar materials.


Final surface applied to the face of dimension stone during fabrication.


The fifth step in the manufacturing of ceramic and porcelain tile. The tiles are fired in the kiln at temperatures around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.


A hairline opening in the face of stone demonstrating stones natural characteristics; a lineal or non-directional void in the face and crystalline structure of stone that typically is very thin and irregular. See: Dry Seam.


Thin slabs of stone used for paving surfaces such as walks, driveways, and patios. They are generally fine-grained bluestone, other quartz-based stone, or slate, but thin slabs of other stones may also be used.


An aggressively-textured finish, achieved by exposing certain types of stones to intense flame.


Shallow, concave, parallel grooves running vertically on the shaft of a column, pilaster, or other surface.


gang saw

A mechanical device, also known as a "frame saw," used to cut stone blocks to slabs of predetermined thickness.

gauged and ungauged

Refers to slate cleft out of blocks into tile. Gauged slate is ground or sawn to produce a more uniform thickness. Ungauged slate is hand-cleft and can have variations in thickness up to 5/8 of an inch.

glazed porcelain tile

A colored, liquid glaze is applied to the surface of a porcelain body. The tile is fired in a kiln at approximately 2,000 degrees. The glazing process defines the color and surface texture and produces a hard, non-porous, impermeable tile with a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less..


The fourth step in the manufacturing of ceramic tiles. Glazing liquid is prepared from a glass derivative called frit and colored dyes. The glaze is applied by either a high-pressure spray or is poured directly onto the tile.


A visibly granular, igneous rock; generally ranging in color from near-white through the spectrum of golds, pinks, greens and blues, to grays and blacks. Granite consists primarily of quartz, mica and feldspar. Granites are the hardest architectural stone, making them ideal for counter tops and high-traffic areas.


The material used to fill the joints between tiles.


honed finish

A smooth, satin (but not shiny) finish on the stone.



Any of the various volcanic rocks, solidified after the molten state, such as granite.

impervious tiles

Tiles that have less than .5% moisture absorption. These tiles are frost proof and can be used in exterior areas or on the outside of building facades.


Applying a chemical containing stain inhibitors that penetrates below the surface of the stone.


To cut inwardly or engrave, as in an inscription.



The space between tiles that is filled with grout.



A slot cut into the edge of a stone with a saw blade for insertion of anchors.


large format

Generally refers to tiles with a dimensional length greater than 15".


The acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design. The LEED Green Building Rating System was established by the U.S. Green Building Council. The system defines standards for environmentally responsible, healthier, and more profitable structrues. Points are awarded to new construction and major renovation in five categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality.

light reflective value (LRV)

In architecture, light reflectance value (LRV), is a measure of visible and usable light that is reflected from a surface when illuminated by a light source. The measurement is most commonly used by design professionals, such as architectural color consultants, architects, environmental graphic designers and interior designers.

LRVs are frequently reported on paint chips/paint samples or other products that are a solid color. The values are used by lighting designers to determine the number and type of light fixtures needed to provide proper lighting for interior spaces.

For tile, stone and quartz products, it is very difficult to provide an accurate LRV due to the fact that these products are not solid colors. Different sections of these products would produce different values, therefore providing one data point is extremely complicated.


A sedimentary rock composed principally of the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate), the mineral dolomite (double carbonate of calcium and magnesium), or some combination of the two. Limestone is generally softer and less dense than granite and more homogeneous in appearance.


Structurally sound sections of stone cemented and doweled to the back of thin stone units to give greater strength, additional bearing surface, or to increase joint depth.


A condition where one edge of a stone is higher than adjacent edges, giving the finished surface an uneven appearance.


An accent tile in a rectangular format generally used as a linear design element.


manufactured stone

This is a synthetic stone made from natural stone chips suspended in a binder such as cement, epoxy resins or polyester. Some of the most popular types of manufactured stone products are those made mostly of quartz. The natural quartz gives the product depth and radiance while at the same time strength and consistency. Manufactured Stone is strong, it has four times the flexural strength of granite, so there's less chance of chipping or cracking. It's also called Agglomerate Stone. The most well known agglomerated stone is poured-in-place terrazzo, used in building for thousands of years.


A metamorphic rock possessing a distinctive crystalline texture. Marble is composed principally of the carbonate minerals calcite and dolomite, singly or in combination. Marbles are typically softer than granite, and are available in a wide spectrum of color and veining.

metamorphic rock

Rock altered in appearance, density, crystalline structure, and in some cases, mineral composition, by high temperature or intense pressure, or both. Includes slate derived from shale, quartz-based stone from quartzitic sand, and true marble from limestone.


Tiles of different sizes that can work together in a pattern.

moisture absorption

As the density of the tile increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less. Tile density means that, as the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile. Tile density and moisture absorption have an indirect relationship to each other. What this means is that as the density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less. Tile density and moisture absorption is important for you to understand when selecting tile for different applications.


Decorative stone deviating from a plane surface by projections, curved profiles, recesses or any combination thereof.

monocoturra tile

Glazed tile produced by the single-fired method in which the raw tile body and glaze undergo a single pass through the kiln.


In addition to standard tile styles and sizes, decorative inserts, medallions and mosaics that are used to create intricate patterns and beautiful borders are also available. Tile size 2"x2" and smaller are usually referred to as mosaics and are often used with different colors to create a pattern or decorative inset. Some of these smaller tiles also come in different shapes, such as hexagon.


natural stone

A product of nature. A stone such as granite, marble, limestone, slate, travertine, or sandstone that is formed by nature, and is not artificial or manmade.

nominal size

Porcelain and ceramic tile are usually referred to by their nominal size, not their actual size. They are produced according to international standards, which us the metric system, and that involves sizing too. However, to help customers in the U.S., suppliers and distributors label products with a double identification, in centimeters (cm) and inches. Therefore, if you’ve selected a 24” x 48” porcelain tile, this size refers to the closest round figure to the actual 60cm x 120cm, which is the true size. In this case the actual size of the tile will be 27-5/8” x 47-1/4”. This amount of deviation is within industry standards.

non vitreous tiles

Tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture. They are suited for indoor use only.



A stone molding with a reverse curved edge: concave above, convex below.


A semi-precious sedimentary gemstone of calcite variety with an extremely fine crystal formation. Onyx is valued for its translucent quality and can be backlit for dramatic effect.



A system of stacking stone on wooden pallets. Stone delivered palletized is easily moved and transported by modern handling equipment. It generally arrives at the job site in better condition than unpalletized material.


When the surface of a material has changed in color or texture due to age or exposure to various elements, it is referred to as patina.


A single unit of fabricated stone for use as an exterior paving material.


Stone used as a wearing surface, as in patios, walkways, driveways, etc.


In classical architecture, the support for a column or statue, consisting of a base, dado, and cap.

PEI rating

This rating is established by the Porcelain Enamel Institute to rate the resistance of glazed ceramic tile to visible surface abrasion. Commonly referred to as "abrasion resistance", this is probably the most commonly used industry rating for wear.

polished finish

A high-gloss finish attained by machine-grinding and buffing the stone.


Porcelain tile is made up of 50% feldspar and is fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tile. This makes porcelain tile much harder and more dense than other tile products. Because of its highly durable make-up, porcelain is more resistant to scratches and can withstand temperature extremes. Also, because porcelain is non-porous, it's very stain resistant, has very low water absorption ratings (Less than 0.5%) and thus can be used for interior and exterior applications as well as heavy-use and commercial areas. Finally, because porcelain's color goes all the way through, small scratches or chips are less noticeable.


The amount and size of the pores in a stone. Travertine is very porous and granite is not.


The third and most common step in the manufacturing of ceramic and porcelain tile. The clay is pressed or formed into a tile shape. These pressed tiles are called green tiles at this stage.


Company or person that quarries and supplies dimension stone to the commercial market.



The location of an operation where a deposit of stone is extracted from the earth through an open pit or underground mine.

quarry block

Generally, a rectangular piece of rough stone as it comes from a quarry, frequently dressed (scabbed) or wire-sawed for shipment.


A silicon dioxide mineral that occurs in colorless and transparent or colored hexagonal crystals or in crystalline masses. One of the hardest minerals that compose stones such as sandstone, granite, and quartzite.


A metamorphic stone which evolved from a sandstone due to extreme heat and pressure.


r11 anti-slip finish

R11 Anti-Slip Finish is specifically designed for outdoor, exposed areas as well as wet applications, including shower floors. To be certified as R11 Anti-Slip Finish, a tile must pass internationally-recognized testing. In order to achieve these results, the tile surface is modified during the production process in such a manner that the finish is rougher, without changing the aesthetic features of the product itself. The rougher finish is primarily achieved by adding a mineral called Corundum into glazing mix. The Corundum mix is added into the production line after the digital surface application and before entering the kiln for firing. Since it crystallizes at the same exact temperatures as all of the other materials involved, it blends perfectly with the other raw materials, resulting in the R11 Anti-Slip Finish without changing the appearance of the tile.

rectified edge

Rectification is a process wherein finished tiles are ground on each side to a precise final dimension. Watch this video to learn more.

red body

The color of the body is determined by the color of the clay used by the manufacturer. The body of a red body tile will be red in color. The quality of the tile is more related to the quality of the manufacturer rather than the color of the body.


A chemical product, clear to translucent, used in some coating processes.


The exposed portion of a stone between its outer face and a window or door set into an opening.


The most pronounced direction of splitting or cleavage of stone. Rift and grain may be obscure, as in some granites, but are important in both quarrying and processing stone.


A term applied to dimension stone used chiefly for walls and foundations, consisting of irregularly squared pieces, partly trimmed or squared, generally with one split or finished face, and selected and specified with a size range.



A finishing process of blasting the surface of stone with sand, which yields a rough, porous finish.

sanded grout

There are two types of grout commonly used in home installations; Portland cement based, and epoxy based. Both of these grout compounds may have sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint. Sanded grout is recommended for tile joints 1/8th of an inch and larger.


A sedimentary rock composed mostly of mineral and rock fragments. Sandstone contains a minimum of 60% free silica. Sandstone is a soft, loose-knit stone that has a natural, rustic look.

satin finish

A satin/matte finish is applied to natural stone by brushing the stone with wire brushes (vs. polishing pads which are used to create a polished finish). Depending on the overall hardness of the stone, brushing the surface of it can lead to more or less texture. A natural stone with a tight structure and that is very hard, will not have much change in its texture when brushed. Brushing a stone with a combination of softer and harder areas will lead to a texture that is more dramatic and apparent.

saw cut refined finish

Saw-cut refined offers a matte finish. After initial cutting, the stone is processed to remove the heaviest saw marks but not enough to achieve a honed finish. You can purchase granite, marble and limestone this way, typically on a special order basis.

sawed edge

A clean-cut edge generally achieved by cutting with a diamond blade, gang saw, or wire saw.

sawed face

A finish obtained from the process used in producing blocks, slabs, or other units of building stone. It varies in texture from smooth to rough, and is typically named for the type of material used in sawing, e.g. diamond sawn, sand sawn, chat sawn, and shot sawn.


An elastic adhesive compound used to seal stone veneer joints.


1. To make a veneer joint watertight with an elastic adhesive compound. 2. Application of a treatment to retard staining.


Rocks formed of sediments laid down in successive strata or layers. The materials of which they are formed are derived from preexisting rocks or the skeletal remains of sea creatures.

semi vitreous tiles

Tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% moisture. They are applicable for indoor use only.


The trade of installing tile and stone.

shade variation

Shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products and certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots. Shade variation is usually listed on the back label of each sample with a low, moderate, high or random rating.


A piece of plastic or other non-corrosive, non-staining material used to hold joints to size.


Large, thin, flat pieces of stone cut from large blocks of stone. Usually 2 centimeters (¾ inch) or 3 centimeters (1-¼ inch) thick, slabs are often fabricated into kitchen counter tops or used as cladding on vertical surfaces.


A micro crystalline metamorphic rock commonly derived from shale. Slate is primarily composed of mica, chlorite and quartz. Slates are predominantly available in cleft-finished tiles; ideal for use in exterior, non-freeze settings.


A talc-rich stone with a "soapy" feel, used for hearths, tabletops, kitchen countertops, farmhouse sinks, chemical-resistant laboratory tops and stove facings. It is known for its heat, chemical and stain-resistant properties. It is highly recommended to use a stone enhancer and sealer on soapstone.

split faced stone

Stone on which the face has been broken to an approximate plane.

square foot

The unit of measure that most tile is sold by.

stone tile

Natural stone tile includes granite, travertine, marble, slate and quartzite and can range in size from 1" x 1" and smaller to greater than 24"x24".


The process for installing a ceramic floor begins with the preparation of the tile foundation, or what's called the substrate. Common materials used as tile substrates in home installations include concrete, plywood, and drywall.



A pattern for a repetitive marking or fabricating operation.


Surface quality of stone independent of color.

textured finish

A rough surface finish.


Today, many tile installers have opted for the industry accepted and more efficient thinset method, where the tile is adhered directly onto a backer board that is nailed to a plywood or concrete substrate using a much thinner layer of mortar.

through body porcelain tile

A solid porcelain tile consisting of no surface glaze. The color pigments are consistent throughout the body of the tile - top to bottom. The tile is fired in a kiln at approximately 2,000 degrees, creating a hard, non-porous, impermeable tile with a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less.


A thin modular stone unit, generally less than ¾" thick.

tile density

Tile density means that, as the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile. Moisture absorption means that, as the density of the tile increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less. Tile density and moisture absorption have an indirect relationship to each other. What this means is that as the density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less. Tile density and moisture absorption is important for you to understand when selecting tile for different applications.


Dimensional allowance in the fabrication process.


The ability of many lighter-colored marbles and onyxes to transmit light.


A type of crystalline or micro crystalline limestone with a distinctive layered structure. Some layers contain pores and cavities which create an open texture. Depending on the product selected, pores in travertine may be filled or unfilled. Travertine is available in warm, earth tones, making it one of the most popular stones for interior and exterior flooring.


A flat stone used as the top walking surface on steps.


The framing or edging of openings and other features on the interior or exterior of a building, including baseboards, picture rails, cornices, and casings.

tumbled finish

A weathered, aging finished created when the stone is tumbled with sand, pebbles, or steel bearings

tumbled stone

Marble, travertine, and slate tumbled in a solution of water, sand and river rock, producing tiles with an old-world, weathered look.


undercut grout

There are two types of grout commonly used in home installations; Portland cement based, and epoxy based. Both of these grout compounds may have sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint. Unsanded grout is typically used in joints that are smaller than 1/8th of an inch.



A layer, seam, or narrow irregular body of mineral material different from the surrounding formation.

vein cut

A process opposite of cross-cutting, where the vein in the stone is shown as a linear pattern.

vitreous tile

A tile with less than 3% water absorption. These tiles are usually frostproof and ideal for most wet areas such as pools and spas.



An interior veneer of stone covering the lower portion of an interior wall.

water jet finish

A surface treatment performed by using water under extreme high pressure.


The practice of filling minor surface imperfections such as voids or sand holes with melted shellac, cabinetmaker's wax, or certain polyester compounds. In the dimension stone industry, it does not refer to the application of paste wax to make surfaces shinier.


Natural alteration by either chemical or mechanical processes due to the action of constituents of the atmosphere, soil, surface waters, and other ground waters, or by temperature changes.

wire sawing

A method of cutting stone by passing a twisted, multistrand wire over the stone. The wire may either be immersed in a slurry of abrasive material or be fitted with spaced industrial diamond blocks.


The inner or outer part of a cavity wall.

No Glossary Found.