terminology, a glossary

Terminology, a glossary of tile & related terms





Glue used to stick tiles to wall or floor

Common brands RLA, Davco, ASA, Laticrete


Twice fired/double fired

Fire the base once, then glaze and fire again - makes the body much harder


The clay from which a tile is pressed

People often describe a glazed tile as having a red or white biscuit (or bisque.)

Body Tile

Main tile AKA Field tile

Either the plain tile where a decorator or feature tile is used with, or describes the bulk of the tile


Either a round edge or return edge

Usually used on steps, or to finish a top course of tiles

Capping Tile


Usually used to finish a top course of tiles, usually rounded or decorative profile


Trim with one edge a concave; used to form a junction between the bottom wall course and the floor

Prevents dirt building up in the joint between wall and floor, also provides a harder skirting than glazed wall so prevent damage to walls when cleaning (from mop/brooms hitting)


When glazed cracks

Sometimes can be decorative, or may result from age and exposure to the environment

Decorative tile


Anything used for aesthetics only

Extruded Tiles

Raw materials are forced through a mold then cut into shape

E.g. Terracotta


The top of the tile


Field Tile

Main tile AKA Body tile

Either the plain tile where a decorator or feature tile is used with, or describes the bulk of the tile


Thin glassy ceramic coating

matt, Satin, gloss etc can be wall or floor - floor glazed strength measure PEI


Glazed tile with high shine finish

See Futuris Series glazed walls


Material used to fill in joints between tiles

Can be white or coloured, may be modified or epoxy

Impervious Tile

Has water absorption of less than 0.5%

AKA vitrified, or porcelain


Tile edges cut at 45 degrees to make a neat external edge

See M15 Helsinki, AKA Mitred Edge


Pencil tile, feature strip tiles

See CRM series (200x12mm)

Matt Finish

Dull finish to glazed or unglazed tile

See Glennon M15 series, and FM6…

Mesh backed

Mosaics joint together by the factory to form a sheet

To enable easier and neater fixing, mesh can be paper, cotton, fibre, resin…

Mitred Tiles

See jolly



Once fired



Small tiles, supplied on sheets

Can be glass, glazed, unglazed marble etc (Glennon Glass Mosaic & Bauhaus series)

Paper faced

Mosaic tiles sheeted by the factory with paper on the front, which is removed after adhering to the surface

See Glennon glass mosaics, benefit of paper faced sheeting is that tile adhesive can cover 100% of the back of the tile, where mesh backed cannot achieve this, the paper does not go to the edge of the sheet of tiles, so fixers can still line up the joints between the sheets


Porcelain Enamel Institute

PEI 1-5 (5 being strongest) Measures glaze durability 


level of water absorption



Tiles with water absorption levels <.5%, durable tiles may be glazed or unglazed


Pressed Tiles

Clay is pressed into shape before firing


Quarry Tiles

Tiles made by extrusion, natural clay tiles with water absorption level <6%

E.g. Terracotta.  Other tiles are usually PRESSED

Ramp test

Test using a ramp and oil, inclined and measured by a person walking up the ramp to establish slip resistance

Results either R9 (least slip resistant) to R12 (most resistant) Check HB197 to see recommended rating for particular areas


Edges of tile cut back after firing

cut edges, usually very straight, often allows a narrower grout joint, can be on glazed (F725) or unglazed tiles (see Pietra Series)

Skirting tiles

Bottom row of wall tiles

Can be coved or not, can be floor or wall tile, usually used to protect the wall


Plastic pieces used to ensure even joint widths

Usually tile Crosses or wedges (standard sizes 1.5mm 3mm and 5mm

Slip resistant tiles

Tiles manufactured to reduce slipperiness

Can be glazed (usually have grit added to the glaze), or unglazed, unglazed may have a textured surface.  In Australia slip resistance is measured by 3 tests.  Ramp test, Wet pendulum test, and Wet barefoot test.  Standard for measuring slip resistance is AS/NZS 4586:2004

Step Treads

Trim tiles for stairs featuring ribs or abrasive strips to prevent slipping

See 2 examples Glennon ST9 with ribs and Glennon Q10RL512.  On commercial projects a contrasting colour steptread needs to be used to highlight the edge and reduce chance of people tripping

Tactile Indicators

Studded tiles used to assist vision impaired people, can be hazard (studs) or directional (ribbed)

AS1428 - part 4 & Building Codes of Australia.  General notes: Must be a contrasting colour to its surrounds, used at top and bottom of ramps and stairs.  Either 300 or 600mm widths to denote top or bottom of ramp/steps etc - check standard


Unglazed porous tile (has high water absorption)

Usually different shades of Red

Unglazed tile

Hard Fired glazed tile that has colour that runs throughout the body of the tile


Vitreous (vitrified) Tile

Tiles with water absorption levels <.5%, durable tiles may be glazed or unglazed


Wall Tiles

Usually glazed as mechanical strength & abrasion & impact resistance not usually a consideration although unglazed also suitable


Wet Barefoot Test

Australian test to determine slip resistance in areas were people are normally barefoot and water is present

Results from A-C (A lowest, C highest), all suitable for certain areas, normally pools, and pool surrounds or showers. Check HB197 to see recommended rating for particular areas

Wet Pendulum Test

Australian test using a pendulum to determine slip resistance

Results from V - Z, V highest slip resistance to Z lowest.  Check HB197 to see recommended rating for particular areas



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