What Is a Butt Joint? Tiling Terms You Should Know

Here's a glossary of tiling terms so you'll know how to speak the language when you're talking to (or listening to) your tiling contractor.

Here's a glossary of tiling terms so you'll know how to speak the language when you're talking to (or listening to) your tiling contractor.

Accessories: Items affixed to or inserted in tile work-for example, towel bars, paper, grab bars, and so on.

Bisque Cracks: Any tile fractures visible on both the face and back.

Broken Joint: Ceramic tile installation featuring each row offset for half its length.

Bullnose: A trim tile with a convex radius on one edge. Used for finishing the top of a wainscot panel.

Bullnose Corner: Type of bullnose trim with a convex radius on two adjacent edges.

Butt Joint: The act of placing two tiles together closely to create a small grout joint.

Button Back Tile: A tile with round projections on the bondable side.

Cement Tile: A thin, ceramic surfacing unit made mostly from clay.

Composition Tile: A hard tile surfacing unit made from a mixture of chemicals.

Craze: The random pattern of fine lines or cracks on the surface of a crackle-glazed tile.

Double Bullnose: A trim with the same convex radius on two opposite sides.

Dry Spots: Small areas on the tile face which have been insufficiently glazed.

Dutchman: A cut tile used as filler in a wall or floor area.

Encaustic: Tile decorated with inlaid colored clays. Typically, laid in a wall or floor to form a pattern.

Epoxy Grout: A two-part grout system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener used to fill joints between tile units.

Epoxy Mortar: A two-part mortar system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener used to bond tile to back-up material where bond resistance exists.

Expansion Joint: A joint made through tile down to the substrate.

Extruded Tile: A tile or trim unit formed when plastic clay mixtures are forced through a pug mill opening (die) resulting in a continuous ribbon of formed clay. A wire cutter is used to cut the ribbon into appropriate lengths and widths of tile.

Field Tile: An area of tile that covers a wall or floor, bordered by trim.

Fire, Bisque: Kiln-firing ceramic before glazing.

Fire, Single: Maturing an unfired ceramic body and its glaze in a single firing.

Floor Tile: A ceramic paver or mosaic tile that is resistant to abrasion and impact.

Frost-Proof Tile: Tile used in freezing/thawing conditions.

Glass Mosaic Tiles: Glass tiles mounted on sheets of paper.

Glaze: A glassy ceramic coating applied to a ceramic article.

Grout: A rich or strong cement or chemical setting-mix used for filling tile joints.

Grout Saw: A saw-toothed steel blade used to remove old grout.

In/Out Corner: Trim tile used for turning a right-angle either inside or outside a wall corner.

Kiln Crack: Cracks that occur when firing tiles.

Lap Joint: A joint made by overlapping adjacent edges to provide facing surfaces.

Leaching: A condition where liquids ooze out of the joint between ceramic tiles.

Matte: A ceramic glaze with very low gloss.

Mastic: Organic tile adhesive.

Mexican Paver Tile: Terra cotta-like tile. Used mainly for floors.

Mosaics: Small bits of tile, stone, or glass used to form a surface pattern.

Mounted Tile: Tile assembled into units to facilitate handling and installation.

Paper and Wire: Tar paper and wire mesh used as a backing for tile installation.

Pavers: Thick, unglazed tile (similar to ceramic mosaics) with a large facial area.

Pinholes: Imperfections in the surface of a ceramic body/glaze.

Prefloat: A mortar that has been allowed to harden prior to bonding tile to it.

Quarry Tile: A tile made from clay that is fired at a very high temperature to make it durable.

Rack: A metal grid used to space and align floor tiles.

Rubbing Stone: A stone used to smooth the rough edges of tile.

Running Bond: Also known as brick bond. A tile pattern that has the classic staggered "brick" pattern.

Self-spacing Tile: Tile that spaces the tile for grout joints.

Splash Wall: The walls of a tile drain board/bathtub.

Substrate: The underlying support for tile installation.

Thin-set: Bonding tile with substances applied at about 1/8 inch thick.

Tile Cutter: An important tool that cuts tile into appropriately preferred dimensions.

Tile Nipper: Pliers that cut away little pieces of ceramic tile to create small, irregular cuts.

Trowel: A tool used to straighten tiles on walls and floors, mark floated surfaces, fill small depressions, butter tiles and trim work, and place mortar in areas.

Unglazed Tile: A tile whose color, texture, and characteristics are created from the materials by which it is made.

Vapor Barrier: Waterproof membrane placed under concrete floor slabs. Also called a shower pan.

Wainscoting: The lower part of an interior wall when finished in a material different from that of the upper part.

Wall Tile: A glazed-tile suitable for interior use. Wall tiles are not expected to withstand excessive impact.

Wet Area: Tiled areas subject to frequent moisture - for example, showers, sunken tubs, pools, and so on.


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