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Ceramic Tile Glossary Of Terms - Part 2

Part 1

  • Unglazed – There is no glazing or any other coating applied to the tile. Their color is the same on the face of the tile as it is on the back resulting in very durable tiles that do not show the effects of heavy traffic. The most common unglazed tiles are the red quarry tiles or the granite looking porcelain ceramic tiles used in heavy commercial areas.
  • Saltillo Tile – is a Mexican tile made of unprocessed clays.
  • Listello – a narrow tile used to accent field tiles.

Tile Density & Moisture Absorption:

Tile Density – As the weight or the density increase it becomes a stronger tile.

Moisture Absorption – Again as the density increases the amount of moisture that a tile can absorb becomes less.

Tile density and moisture absorption have an indirect relationship to each other. As the density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less. Tile density and moisture absorption are important to understand when selecting the tiles for different applications.

  • Non-Vitreous Tiles – tiles with a water absorption of 7% or greater (wall tile). Suited for indoor use only.
  • Semi-Vitreous Tiles – tiles with a water absorption greater than 3%, but less than 7%. Suited for indoor use only.
  • Vitreous Tiles – tiles with a water absorption less that 3% moisture, but more than 0.5%. Referred to as frost resistant tiles but can not be used in exterior areas where freeze thaw conditions could cause tile cracking.
  • Impervious Tiles – tiles that have less than .5% moisture absorption (Porcelain tile). These tiles are frost proof and can be used in exterior areas, or on the outside of building facades.

Tile Production Methods:

  • Bicottura - It is an Italian word meaning double fired. The clay body is fired on the first pass through the kiln, and the glaze is applied and fired on the second pass through the kiln. This process is only being used today for decorative wall tile products.
  • Monocottura – It is an Italian word meaning, single fired. The tile passes through the firing process one time at a temperature of 2200 degrees. Monocuttura tiles have denser bodies and harder glazes than Bicottura tiles.

White Body Tile versus Red Body Tile:

The color of the body is determined by the color of the clay used by the manufacturer that is available in their geographic region. Look at the body of the tile to see if the color is red or white. The quality of the tile is more related to the quality of the manufacturer not the color of the body.

Wall Tile Trims:

  • Bullnose – This is the most used trim shape for wall tile installations. Wall tile bullnose is sometimes referred to as surface cap. It has one rounded finished edge on the tile and can be used horizontally or vertically. For a 4″ × 4″ tile the industry number would be S4449.
  • Corner Bullnose – It has two rounded finished edges on the tile to be used to complete the corner where the horizontal and vertical bullnose meet. Generally you use only 2 – 3 pieces for a bathtub enclosure. For a 4″ × 4″ tile the industry number would be SN4449.
  • Stack-on Cove Base – This cove base provides a coving on the bottom and a flat edge on top to continue with more wall tile up the wall. For a 4″ × 4″ tile the industry number would be A3401.
  • Rounded Top Cove Base – This cove base has a rounded finished top like bullnose and is used as a cove base in areas that will not have wall tile installed above it. The industry number would be S3419.