The Monkeys' Tile Dictionary





Absorption Rate - The percentage of moisture that can be absorbed by a tile.

Acid Wash - This refers to the chemical process that is applied to the face of a stone tile to achieve a distressed look. The chemical process has recently been replaced by computerised machines to guarantee a consistent final appearance.

Adhesive - Is a form of glue that comes in the form of semi-liquid and strengthens the bond between two items. An adhesive is used to install tiles onto the substrate. 

Antique Finish - A tile is grinded down and processed to replicate the appearance of an aged tile. 


Bevelled Edge– A bevelled edge softens the edge of a tile so it is rounded rather than being perpendicular to the surface of the tile.

Brushed Tile- A textured finish is created by brushing a tile with a coarse rotary wired brush. It softens the texture without losing any of the character.

Bullnose Edge -A bullnose edge is when the edge of a tile is rounded. A single round edge refers to just one side being rounded, whereas a double round edge has two rounded sides.


Ceramic Tiles – Slabs that are made mainly from clay and other inorganic raw materials. Ceramic tiles can come in the form of glazed or unglazed.

Crackle Glaze – A glazed finish that contains fine lines, known as cracks for an antique effect. 

Cure Time – The period of time where a setting material should be left to reach full strength before the next step of installation. 


Durability – The extent a tile can maintain its traits of strength and resistance to wear.


Encaustic Tiles - Clay tiles where the pattern appears to be inlayed into the surface. Encaustic tiles traditionally had the pattern hand painted on the face of the clay and then burned to brand the pattern onto the clay. Modern technology allows the tiles to be created by moulding the pattern first and filling a different colour of clay around it.

Epoxy Adhesive - An adhesive consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. Its purpose is to bond stone or ceramic tiles to a substrate.

Epoxy Grout – A grout consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. The grout has impenetrable qualities, which ensures its stain and chemical resistance is increased.


Finish –The final surface layer that is applied to the face of the tile during the fabrication process.

Firing – The process used to harden the tiles. Tiles that are fired in a Kiln reaching temperatures of 1200℃.

Full Bodied Porcelain – A porcelain tile where the pigmentation of the pattern spreads throughout the depth of the tile. Because this causes the water absorption rate to be less than 2% it is also known as fully vitrified.


Glazed Tiles – Glass forming minerals are mixed with ceramic stains called frit, to produce a layer of glass forming minerals that create the surface layer. This creates a better stain and moisture resistance than un-glazed tiles.

Granite Tiles – Granite is an igneous rock ranging in colours from white through to black. The crystallisation process that creates the rock is commonly presented with a polished finish and the hard-wearing nature of granite makes it ideal for any environment.

Grout – A grout is made up by chemically mixing sand and cement to fill the joints between tiles. Grouting reduces the impact caused by tiles expanding and contracting as well as preventing moisture from reaching sublayers.


Honed and Filled – Any holes on the surface of the tile are filled with resin and polished to present a smooth finish.

Honed Finish – Machines manufacture a smooth flat surface at high speed. The finish feels smooth to touch on stone; however, the tile does not become shiny or reflective. The surface becomes more scratch resistant, unlike polished stones where the light would reflect the scratches.


Impregnation– A process where stain inhibitor chemicals penetrate below the surface layer of a tile. It acts as a sealer and protects the tile from dirt and moisture.

Ink Jet Printing – Traditionally, glazes of different colours were poured or rolled onto the tiles to create patterns. Manufacturers have now created an ink jet printing process where the pattern can be printed on at a much cheaper cost.

Iridescent– Tiles are coated with a glaze that gives the appearance that tiles change colour depending on the light or angle you look at the tile.


Joints – The gaps left between the tiles, which are filled with grout


Kiln – Kilns are used during the firing process of clay to create ceramic tiles. They are essentially thermally insulated ovens where a high temperature can be controlled. A kiln may also be used during the glazing process to harden the surface of a tile.


Lappato Finish – A semi polished finish where an abrasive wheel polishes the tiles surface, however not long enough to create a fully polished finish. The tile will have a textured finish with polished aspects.

Limestone Tiles – Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed by an accumulation of organic remains, consisting mainly of calcium carbonate.

Lipping – This refers to the situation where there is variation in the flatness of tiles, it may cause a corner of a tile to be higher than the adjacent tile. It is important to mention that tiles can still be within the British and International standards when lipping occurs.

Listello – A decorative border or feature strip, primarily used on walls to enhance appearance or to separate designs.


Matt Finish A finish where polishing has not taken place. The surface stays dull with no reflection from light. A matt finish shows fewer scratches and requires little maintenance.

Moisture Absorption Rating –  This refers to the quantity of moisture a tile will allow to penetrate.

Mosaic TilesTiles that are separate and sometimes multiple shapes that get arranged together to form a single tile.  

Mural – Tiles that are placed in a pattern to form a picture or pieces of art.  


Natural Stone – A natural stone material that is formed by nature. Examples of natural stone include marble, sandstone, slate, granite and limestone.

Nominal Sizes – The size measurement used to describe the approximate facial size or thickness of a tile.

Non-Vitreous Tiles – Tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture. These tiles should be laid in rooms where moisture is evident. If moisture enters the tiles then this can cause expansion or contraction, therefore loosening the grout.


PEI Rating –PEI stands for Porcelain Enamel Institute and it grades the strength of a glaze applied to a tile, against scratching and wearing. A rating of 1 being least scratch and wear resistant through to 5 being extremely scratch and wear resistant.

Pinholes – A slight defect in the tile surface which resembles a pin prick.

Polished Finish – A finish produced by grinding and buffing the porcelain natural stone. It brings out the natural character of the tile as well as creating a high shining appearance.

Porcelain Tiles – Similar to ceramic tiles, however the clay used when manufacturing is much denser, making porcelain tiles hardwearing and able to withstand heavy foot traffic.

Pot Life – This is usually linked with adhesives and grouts as it refers to the period that they preserve their workable properties after the mixing is complete.


Rectified Tiles – All tiles will slightly shrink during the firing process. Rectified tiles have their edges finished precisely using machinery to uniform the dimensions, after the firing process. 

Riven Effect or Finish – A riven tile carries a very natural effect and creates a rustic, traditional appearance. Slate tiles are an example of a riven tile as the tile will resemble a hand split effect, where the surface layer demonstrates a layered appearance.

Rustic Edge – A random edge pattern which is designed to replicate a handmade tile appearance. 


Sandblasted – Sand is blasted at high speeds onto the surface of stone tiles to create a rough, non-slip finish.

Sanded Grout – Sand is added to grout to increase the strength of the grout lines.

Satin Finish – A smooth surface finish that has a subtle reflective sheen.

Sealant – A penetrant used to prevent dirt and moisture from reaching the sublayers. Glazed ceramic tiles do not require sealing other than crackle glazed tiles. Quarry tile, grout and natural stone should all be fully sealed.

Semi-Vitreous – Tiles that absorb between 3%-7% of moisture.

Shade Variation – Due to many tiles being natural products, you should expect some natural variation amongst the tiles. This is deliberate to replicate the appearance of a natural product, adding to the character of tiles. Also, due to machinery printing many tiles, it may be a case that certain batches have a slight variation due to different printing runs.

Slate Tiles – A metamorphic rock that is produced by compressing sediment layers of shale or clay together, creating vast amounts of character.

Slip Resistant Tile – A tile that increases the slip resistance due to grooves or slight abrasions in the surface. Anti-slip tiles are giving a resistance rating, also known as an R rating from R9-R13. R9 is appropriate for domestic kitchens, whereas R13 is recommended for public wet areas such as a changing room shower area.

Spacers – Small plastic spacers are used during the installation process to evenly separate tiles.

Splitface – Relatively large tiles that are made from pieces of natural stone, usually quartzite or slate. The sections are then glued and butted together to create a larger single tile.  

Square Edge – Once the flooring is connected together you won’t find a groove; the flooring planks will lie flush against one another.

Substrate – The foundation in which the tiles are installed onto; such as concrete, plywood or floorboards.  


Tanking -  A tanking compound and tape is applied to the substrate to make it water tight. This process should take place in wet rooms where high levels of moisture occur.

Textured Finish - A finish that creates a tactile finish.

Tolerance – The limit of variation that may occur with sizing and warping. 

Travertine – Travertine is formed around hot springs with carbon dioxide saturated minerals breaking down calcium carbonate and redepositing it. The tiles have a very coarse texture as holes have been created by air bubbles which were trapped in the rock. 

Tumbled Finish – A form of stone polishing where tiles are placed in a drum and rubbed against one another with grit and small stone in between each tile. The tumbling process creates a smooth finish with a soft worn appearance. 


Unfilled –Pits and voids can be created when cutting travertine tile due to natural air pockets. The holes can be filled with grout during the installation process to create a textured finish.

Unglazed tiles -  Certain tiles do not require a glaze as the body of the tile creates the surface colour. The design of the tile is then carried through to the body, making them suitable for areas with high foot traffic.

Upstand – Tiles that are used in an upright position to be used as a skirting board. The most popular application is skirting a counter top in a kitchen. 


Veining - A layer, seem or fracture in a stone tile, including limestone and marble. The vein is caused by a deposit of minerals in an irregular formation causing natural coloured markings.

Vitrified - A vitrified tile has a moisture absorption rate of less than 2%, for example a full bodied porcelain tiles.


Water Jet Finish - A finish used on stone where water is shot at the surface under high pressure. This changes the appearance of the tile and the appearance depends on the power and size of the jet used.

Wear Rating – The rating is a tiles abilitiy to resist scratches and surface abrasion and is rated through a PEI rating. Please see PEI rating for more information.

Wet Room - A shower area where a shower screen or tray is not required.