Tile Glossary of Terms
American Society for Testing & Materials. Most ceramic tile manufacturers
use a rating system based on or supported by this group. Ratings are typically
found on the tile sample or in the product catalog. The most common system
rates ceramic tile abrasion resistance or its overall durability. Other ratings
may include: scratch resistance, moisture absorption, chemical resistance and
tiles are fired in a kiln at temperatures of around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
These tiles are first fired after the green tile dries and then again after
glaze is applied. Also call Double Fired.
larger of a tile's two layers. The top layer is called the glaze.
ceramic floor tile trim that features a single rounded finished edge. Sometimes
used as a substitute for a cove base.
natural product extracted from the earth that is shaped into tiles and then
fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures.
Cement Backer Unit
Provides a supportive and water resistant layer between the porous
substrate and the mortar and tile applied on top of it.
Classes of Ceramic Tile
- Class 1: No foot
traffic. Suggested for interior wall applications only.
- Class 2: Light
Traffic. Suggested for interior wall applications and residential bathroom
- Class 3: Light
to Moderate Traffic. Can be used for residential floor and wall applications,
including bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, dining rooms and family rooms.
- Class 4: Moderate to Heavy Traffic. Recommended for residential, medium commercial and
light industrial floor and wall applications, including shopping malls,
offices, restaurants and showrooms.
- Class 5: Heavy/Extra heavy Traffic. Can be installed anywhere. Will hold up in floor and
wall applications at airports, supermarkets and subways.
Coefficient of Friction
The higher the COF, the more slip resistant the tile
is. Important when selecting a ceramic tile for wet areas, such as a shower or
bathroom floor. Other ratings listed by the manufacturer might include scratch
resistance, moisture absorption, chemical resistance and breaking strength.
process in which clay material is forced through a mold for the desired shape
versus pressing the tile.
pattern, the tile that is most prominent across the largest area.
fifth step in the process of manufacturing ceramic tile. Tiles are fired in a
kiln at temperatures of around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
derivative that is applied to ceramic tile as part of a glaze liquid, along
with colored dyes, by a high pressure spray or is poured directly onto the
Glass-forming minerals and ceramic stains that are applied to the body or bisque of a ceramic tile in a matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. Offers better stain and moisture resistance than unglazed tile, as well as a hard non-porous, impermeable surface after firing.
The process of applying a liquid prepared from frit and colored dyes to ceramic tile either by high-pressure spray or direct pouring. The fourth step in the process of manufacturing ceramic tiles.
Clay pressed or formed into a tile shape. The third step in the process manufacturing of ceramic tile.
of cement used to fill the space between and provide support for ceramic tile.
Comes in two types: Portland cement based and epoxy based. Both compounds may have sand added to provide additional strength. Pigment is added to the cement at the job site during the mixing process.
less than .5% moisture absorption. Frost proof and can be used in outside or on
weight or the density of a tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile and
absorbs less moisture.
Single fired ceramic tile.
Intricate patterns of ceramic tile, often created with 2"x 2" tiles or smaller.
A reference to an idealized tile size vs. its actual size, which is typically
about 10% smaller due to shrinkage during the firing process.
Absorb 7% or more moisture.
comprised of 50% feldspar and fired at a much higher temperature than standard
ceramic tile, resulting in a much harder and more dense product that is
resistant to scratches and can withstand temperature extremes. Also, stain
resistant with very low water absorption.
process of forming clay into a tile shape, called green tiles. The third and
most common step in the process of manufacturing ceramic tile.
with sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint. Recommended
for tile joints 1/8" and larger.
Sanitary Cove Base
ceramic floor tile trim with a rounded finished top like a bullnose, used to
cover up the body of the tile.
from 3% to 7% moisture.
Inherent in all fired ceramic products. Certain tiles will show greater
variation within their dye lots. Typically listed on the back label of each
sample with a low, moderate, high or random rating. Low: Consistent shade and
texture; Moderate: Average shade and texture variation; High: Extreme shade and
texture variation; Random: Severe shade and texture variation
tile foundation, which may include concrete, plywood and/or drywall.
classic method of tile installation in which a thick layer of mortar is applied
to a waterproofed and steel reinforced substrate. This provides a strong, flat
base onto which the tile can be installed. Effective, but a more labor-intensive process.
accepted and more efficient method of tile installation in which tile is
adhered directly onto a backer board that is nailed to a plywood or concrete
substrate using a much thinner layer of mortar.
Unglazed tiles that are a solid color all the way through and do not have a top
layer of glaze.
weight of a tile. As it increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb
color tile without a top layer of glaze, often referred to as through-body construction.
Typically more dense and durable than glazed tile, thus more suitable for
interior and exterior applications. Have a good slip resistance, but require
sealing to help prevent staining. Come in various surface treatments and
Portland cement based or epoxy based grout without sand as an ingredient.
Typically used in joints that are smaller than 1/8th of an inch.
less than 3% moisture. Referred to as frost-resistant tiles, but cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze-thaw conditions may cause tile cracking.