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tiles, Glossary
tiles, Glossary
tiles, Glossary

Here is a guide to all of words used to describe tile and stone materials and finishes. This should help to make choosing your perfect tile as easy as possible. Our fantastic staff are always available to help with any questions you may have.


Porcelain – a man-made, kiln-fired, material created from a wide range of clays and minerals formed into tiles of many sizes and formats. Due to the firing process, tiles can be very slightly bowed, which is more obvious in larger tiles.

Ceramic – These man-made tiles have been glazed in a secondary firing process to add a decorative finish, varying from a plain colour to hand-painted patterns and designs.

Glass – This man-made material can be coloured, formed and cut into many sizes, varying from large splash-backs to tiny mosaics. It is non-porous and durable.

Encaustic – These are tiles formed from a cement base combined with clay or marble to create designs that are constant throughout the thickness of the material. They can change in appearance as they wear over time and are not frost-resistant.

Granite – a natural igneous rock with grains of minerals such as quartz that create the variations in colour seen in the material, particularly when polished. Each slab is individual and unique. It is extremely hard, durable and almost impervious – does not stain.

Limestone – a natural, sedimentary rock formed by compression and containing fossil and shell shapes. Can be cut and shaped. Needs to be sealed to create durability.

Marble – a natural metamorphic form of limestone created by high temperature and pressure. it is harder than limestone but still pervious. The colours and veined and varied carbonised crystals within the material can be vivid or subtle depending on the area where it is quarried.

Sandstone – a sedimentary rock created from compacted grains of sand bonded into layers with a mineral such as clay. It is durable and naturally slip-resistant meaning it can be used in interior and exterior installations.

Slate – another sedimentary rock formed from clay or volcanic ashes in layers that split when quarried. Predominantly dark in appearance, it can vary greatly from green, grey, blue and purple in colour.

Travertine – a form of limestone with large crystals that has a naturally pitted appearance when quarried. Resin is used to fill and seal the surface, making if durable.


Antiqued, distressed, vintaged or aged – surface finishes that replicate the distressed textures of an old worn stone. Produced through mechanical or chemical means or by hand. Edges can be lightly chipped by hand or fettered by machine to simulate an elegantly aged, timeworn look. Edges treated in this way will result in varying, feature grout lines.

Bevelled edge – the edge of a tile or surface formed with a slight angle to create what is also known as a chamfer, to establish a more distinctive grout line between tiles.

Brushed or satin – a finishing method used on natural stone to remove softer parts and give it a worn appearance creating a subtle texture. The stone is wet-brushed with a coarse rotary-type abrasive brush to vary the texture over the top surface. Edges can appear slightly rounded.

Calibrated – tiles that have been machine cut to the same thickness and can be laid with very precise grout lines.

Etched – a finish to natural stone using sand-blasting to create a slip-resistant surface. Often used in external and wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Filled – A natural pitted surface such as travertine that is filled with grout or resin when quarried. The stone can be finished to a honed or polished surface depending on the required look. This finish may require occasional maintenance to refill areas with a travertine repair kit.

Fissure – Often mistaken to be a crack in a stone surface, a fissure is a naturally occurring, mineral vein which is noticeable as it is normally differs in colour to the stone itself.

Flagstone – A large format tile usually used to create the look of a traditional stone floor, usually suitable for use inside and outside.

Grip – Non slip, suitable for outside use.

Honed – Stone that has been machine finished to a smooth, satin or matt finish dependant on the hardness of the natural surface.

Lappato – Honed

Levigato – Polished

Lucidato – Semi polished

Lux – Semi polished

Opus Pattern – A laying pattern which uses at least three different sized tiles for a varied appearance. This pattern repeats across the floor in a set pattern and can break up large areas or contribute to a more rustic finish.

Polished – Gives the stone tile or surface a glossy, reflective finish. Best applied to hard, compact materials.

Rettified (Italian) or rectified tile – Tile that has been mechanically finished on all sides to achieve uniformity and precision. The most sought after feature of rectified tile is that the uniform size allows for tile to be installed with narrow grout joints.

Riven or rock-faced – A finish achieved by splitting across natural layers in the stone to give an uneven, textured surface. The natural variations in thickness can be adjusted with the adhesive bed and the finish is useful for disguising wear and tear.

Sawn edge – Similar to a square edge but with subtle, raw imperfections left by the cutting process, often used for external surfaces.

Sealing – A process of applying a liquid form of sealant to protect tiles from staining.

Silky – Smooth

Soft – Matt
Split face – Highly textured, small cut sections of stone are pieced together in this contemporary finish which highlights the stones’ natural textures. Often used for internal wall features.

Square edge – A clean cut, straight finish to the tile edges.

Structured – Textured

Tumbled – A process that leaves the stone with a softly, rounded edge and textured surface to achieve a worn appearance and an increased slip-resistance.

Unfilled – Natural occurring pits and dips in the stone are left unfilled. These pits can be left unfilled for a more rustic look or filled with grout during the installation process.

Weathered – an extreme version of distressing which can be applied to the edges of external flagstones.

Worn – This hand or machine finish is used on riven stone tiles to grid down the surface in softer areas of the natural material and create the appearance of naturally aged flagstones.