Tile talk: The beginners guide to tile terminology

Tile talk: The beginners guide to tile terminology

All industries have their own jargon; easy for professionals but bewildering for a newcomer who simply wants to include architectural stone and tile in their new home. To help clear up any confusion on your hunt for luxury tiles, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of tile terminology.

Abrasion Resistance

This refers to a tiles ability to endure foot traffic and friction. In Australia, we use the PEI rating system to determine wear resistance. Abrasion Resistance is only required to be measured in HIGH traffic situations, commercial applications.


The amount of water absorbed by a tile. This is expressed as a percentage. For example, most Italian porcelain tiles are less than 0.5% while standard glazed wall tiles may absorb anywhere between 1-5 %.


A liquid or semi-liquid mixed with a Cementitious component used for bonding tile to surfaces. Adhesives are either made from natural or synthetic ingredients.

Antique Finish

Refers to a treatment to the surface of a stone to create the effects of a well-worn stone.


A stone which may have natural occurring fissures or veins is reinforced with fibreglass, that is used as a base all-over the back of the tile to allow better and more efficient installation of fragile stone.

There are new methods of backing these types of stone, a porcelain tile is adhered to the back of a stone and the stone can be cut to a very thin layer on the surface of the porcelain which adds strength and ease of installation.


Identical tiles from the same production group. As colours can vary from batch to batch, it’s recommended you look for tiles from the same batch number.

Stone does not have batch numbers as it is a natural product and can change from each block extracted from the earth.

Brushed Finish

A natural, smooth stone tile finish that’s achieved by “brushing” down the stone surface with a coarse wire rotary brush, also known as Antique finish in some cases.


This is a trim tile with a finished edge on one side. A bullnose tile is commonly used for stone application on steps and pool coping.

Ceramic Tiles

A luxury tile made from clay that’s been permanently hardened with extreme heat. It can either be glazed or unglazed, however many tile owners opt for a glazed look.


This is a trim with a concave edge on one side. Commonly used to form a junction between floor and wall tile.

Cure Time

Cure time refers to a period after installation where the tiles must be undisturbed, allowing them to set and reach full strength.


The final surface appearance of a tile. A tile will go through a finishing process to achieve a matte, semi-polished, glossy, honed or even textured façade.

Glazed Tile

A tile that has a waterproof facial finish applied through a process of applying an opaque coating which is then fired on for hardness.

Granite Tile

An incredibly durable stone tile consisting of quartz, orthoclase and microcline. Granite works perfectly as a floor tile, external landscaping and pool surrounds.


A tile with a semi-polished finish that appears soft and smooth. Stone tiles can also be Honed and Filled in some cases filled with resin, then polished to create a smooth surface, but not shiny.

Inkjet Printing

Allows imagery to be transferred to ceramic tiles allowing for a diverse range of tiles. You can have stone, timber or even graffiti images replicated on your tile to achieve a specific look and feel.


A natural stone that is collected by quarrying the earth. It features stunning veins and is available in a variety of colours patterns.


Small, flat tiles made from ceramic, porcelain, glass, metal or stone. Mosaic tile shapes come in squares, circles, octagons, teardrops and more.


The system of how a tile measures up to Australian Standards and the Australian Building Code. The two main rating systems are Slip Rating and Wear Rating.


A substance applied to tiles that works as protection for staining and spills.


Travertine has a similar structure to limestone. It comes in different varieties to achieve different looks. For example, Platinum Travertine is perfect for alfresco areas.


A finishing process applied to stone tiles to give them a soft, dated look. It’s complemented with round edges and a chalky appearance.


A high compacted porcelain tile that’s resistant to water penetration.

Can’t decide what tiles are right for you? Book a complimentary design consultation with our stone and tile Brisbane experts. Stone & Tile Studio specialise a range of luxury Italian tiles, that you can see and feel underfoot in our showroom. Book in with us today.

Tile terminology

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