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While you’re restructuring your home, sometimes a whole new directory of terms comes up baffling all mind and thought. Even when we are in communication with our clients at Original Mission Tile, we try explaining every term the best we can.

To wholly meet the problem, we compiled a list of the most commonly used terms in the Tile Business and Industry with their simplest definitions, and here it goes, arranged alphabetically:

Back Buttering

The evenly spreading of adhesive on the back of the tile with a trowel is Back Buttering. This process provides a stronger bond with the setting bed and is a must for sheet mounted tiles, uneven back tiles.

Backer Board

Backer Board commonly used on back-splashes, floors, and counters for setting surface and made from sand and cement.


The back-splash is the space above counter top, stove or sink area which needs protection from heat and water damage and that is why tiles are preferred here.

Bull Nose Trim Tiles

These trim tiles have rounded edges and are installed on counter tops and corners.

Butt Joint

A joint between tiles fixed without spacers, abutting each other.


A waterproof and flexible sealant to seal the place where a tile is met with another material like expansion joints. Caulk is used to seal the areas around plumbing and faucets.

Ceramic Tile

These tiles are made from clay which are fired at high temperatures and glazed. These tiles are most widely used tiles around the world.

Coefficient of Friction

The Coefficient of Friction is slip resistance measurement of the tile. Higher the rating makes the tile more resistant, and it becomes less slippery. The lower the rating, the lesser is the grip and thus making it more slippery.

Decorative Tile

Also known as art tiles, these are handmade and come in different types of patterns and images.


Salt like white deposit, found on the grout and mortar surfaced, caused due to the evaporation of saline water used at the time of installation, in processes like grouting.

Expansion Joint

This joint uses flexible caulk. This material allows movement of tiles which eventually prevents cracks on the tile. This is an important consideration where the tiles meet materials like walls.

Field Tile

The main area of the project known as the field uses this tile.

Floor Tile

A heavier and thicker tile when compared with wall tile and is durable enough for the usage on floors.


A coating which is protective and decorative is fired on the tile in a kiln.


A cement-based powder mixed with water which is used to fill joints in between the tiles.  For larger joints grout may contain sand and which is ideal for larger joints.


These decorative border tiles are made from natural stone with a raised design.

Marble Tiles

The tiles cut from the Natural Stone Marbles and they are known for their natural patterns and elegant looks.


Best used for small and wall tiles but not floor tiles is a glue type to adhere tile to surfaces.

Metal Tile

Made from stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, and iron are used on walls and backsplashes.

Mirror Tiles

Tiles with mirror like reflective surface are used on the walls.

Mosaic Tiles

These are normally attached to a mesh backing and are two inches square in size or smaller. Usually used on the walls or floors and are sometimes used to create patterns or pictures.

Natural Stone Tile

Tiles which are made of genuine stones like marble, granite, slate, limestone, travertine or sandstone.


A highly porous and water absorbent tile which is fired at lower temperatures for a short duration of time.

PEI Rating

Using the Porcelain Enamel Institute’s rating, you can find out where and how a tile can be installed.  The rating scale starts from one and ends at five where the rating five being the toughest materials.

Penny Tile

Circular shaped tiles similar to pennies in size and are also called penny rounds.

Porcelain Tile

A tile fired at higher temperatures for longer time period.  It is more durable and is less water absorbent which makes it a great choice for walls, floors and outdoors.

Rubber Tiles

Soft floor tiles made from recycled rubber or foam. These tiles are made specifically for garages, small children and playgrounds too.

Rubbing Stone

After the tiles have been cut stone is used for smoothing the sharp edges.


To protect vitreous and semi-vitreous tiles against water and staining this barrier is applied.


A tile fired at the same temperature as non-vitreous tile for longer time period, to produce a material with medium absorption.

Snap Tile Cutter

A device used to cut tile in small amounts by scoring and then snapping them.


Made from plywood and a base for finished floors, and is attached to the floor joists.

Subway Tile

Originally used in the underground subway train system and is rectangular in shape.

Tile Nippers

A tool used to bite small chunks out of tile with pliers-like carbide tipped jaws.

Tile Spacers

To make sure the spacing is even small pieces of plastic are inserted in-between tiles during the process of installation.

Trim Tiles

Also called border tiles and are used to complete the main installation area.


A handheld tool used for applying mortar, plaster or thinnest to the surface of floors or walls.


A tile which is used in outdoors because it absorbs less water and is fired at a very high temperature for longer time period.

Wall Tiles

The lighter and thinner tiles when compared to floor tiles designed for particular usage on walls.

Waterproofing Membrane

A waterproof covering that protects the sub-floor from water damage, and it comes in sheets.

Wet Tile Saw

A power tool which uses water to keep dust and friction minimum. It is used to cut ceramic, porcelain, glass, and natural stone tile.

We ascertain that this compilation will surely make your job easier. However, if you still come up with another term that baffles you, get in touch with us, and we shall solve it for you.