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.