ASTM: American Society for Testing & Materials. Most ceramic tile manufacturers use a rating system based on or supported by this group. Ratings are typically found on the tile sample or in the product catalog. The most common system rates ceramic tile abrasion resistance or its overall durability. Other ratings may include: scratch resistance, moisture absorption, chemical resistance and breaking strength.
Biocuttura Tile: Ceramic tiles are fired in a kiln at temperatures of around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These tiles are first fired after the green tile dries and then again after glaze is applied. Also call Double Fired.
Bisque: The larger of a tile’s two layers. The top layer is called the glaze.
Bullnose: A ceramic floor tile trim that features a single rounded finished edge. Sometimes used as a substitute for a cove base.
Ceramic: Is manufactured using natural elements extracted from the earth. Clay is typically the main ingredient, along with other items such as sand, feldspar, quartz. These elements are mixed together with water to create the “body slip”. Eventually, the body will will be pressed with intense pressure into the desired shape, colors and textures are added at this stage, then the tile is fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures creating a impressively durable product. The surface may or may not be topped off with a glaze. What you ultimately need to know is ceramic refers to the materials used to make ceramic tile and the final result is a very durable product.
CBU: Cement backer unit. Provides a supportive and water resistant layer between the porous substrate and the mortar and tile applied on top of it.
Classes of Ceramic Tile: See P.E.I.
COF: Coefficient of Friction. The higher the COF, the more slip resistant the tile is. Important when selecting a ceramic tile for wet areas, such as a shower or bathroom floor. Other ratings listed by the manufacturer might include scratch resistance, moisture absorption, chemical resistance and breaking strength.
Corner Bullnose: A ceramic floor tile trim with two rounded finished edges. Used to complete a corner.
Extrusion: A process in which clay material is forced through a mold to create the desired shape as opposed to pressing the tile.
Field Tile: Usuable for floor applications. Can be used for wall applications as well, but is strong and thick enough for floor use..
Firing: The fifth step in the process of manufacturing ceramic tile. Tiles are fired in a kiln at temperatures of around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Frit: A glass derivative that is applied to ceramic tile as part of a glaze liquid, along with colored dyes, by a high pressure spray or is poured directly onto the tile.
Glazed: Glass-forming minerals and ceramic stains that are applied to the body or bisque of a ceramic tile in a matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. Offers better stain and moisture resistance than unglazed tile, as well as a hard non-porous, impermeable surface after firing.
Glazing: The process of applying a liquid prepared from frit and colored dyes to ceramic tile either by high-pressure spray or direct pouring. The fourth step in the process of manufacturing ceramic tiles.
Green Tiles: Clay pressed or formed into a tile shape, but has yet to be fired. This is the third step in the manufacturing process of ceramic tile.
Grout: A type of cement used to fill the space between installed tiles and provide support for ceramic tile. It’s available in “sanded” and “unsanded” depending on the size and finish of your tile. A wide range of colors are available to coordinate with the color of your tile.
Impervious Tiles: These tiles have less than .5% moisture absorption. Frost proof and can be used in outside or on building facades. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) would label an impervious tile as a porcelain tile.
Moisture Absorption: As the weight or the density of a tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile and absorbs less moisture.
Mosaic Sheets: Ceramic, glass, or stone tile created with small profile tiles (e.g. 1/2″ x 1/2″ tiles) adhered onto a 12’x12″ piece of mesh fabric or on a paper sheet.
Nominal Size: One reason grout is needed for tile is that fired tiles shrink causing a minor imperfection in the literal size. These minute size differences prevent tile from having a “perfect fit” next to one another. So a 20″x20″ tile is “nominally” that size, but is actually a few millimeters off.
Non-Vitreous Tiles: Tile that can absorb 7% or more moisture.
P.E.I. Wear Rating System: To help select suitable tiles for specific applications, tiles are rated according to the P.E.I. (Porcelain Enamel Institute) scale. The tiles are evaluated for wear resistance on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).
P.E.I. Wear Ratings:
P.E.I. 1: No foot traffic. Suggested for interior wall applications only.
P.E.I. 2: Light Traffic. Suggested for interior wall applications and residential bathroom flooring only.
P.E.I. 3: Light to Moderate Traffic. Can be used for residential floor and wall applications, including bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, dining rooms and family rooms.
P.E.I. 4: Moderate to Heavy Traffic. Recommended for residential, medium commercial and light industrial floor and wall applications, including shopping malls, offices, restaurants and showrooms.
P.E.I. 5: Heavy/Extra heavy Traffic. Can be installed anywhere. Will hold up in floor and wall applications at airports, supermarkets and subways.
Porcelain: All porcelain tile is ceramic, but not all ceramic is porcelain. Porcelain tile is typically made using kaolin or bentonite clay and is comprised of 50% feldspar which, when fired, create a very tight structure and nearly pore-less product. Porcelain is fired at a much higher temperature than standard ceramic tile lending to its greater hardness and more density translating into greater ability to resist scratches and breakage than ceramic tile. Porcelain has very low water absorption, can withstand extreme temperatures, and can be installed outdoors. Ceramic tile is a very durable and outstanding product in its own right, but porcelain is a notch sturdier.
Pressing: The process of forming clay into a tile shape, called green tiles. The third and most common step in the process of manufacturing ceramic tile.
Sanded Grout: Grout with sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint. Recommended for tile joints 1/8” and larger.
Sanitary Cove Base: A ceramic floor tile trim with a rounded finished top like a bullnose, used to cover up the body of the tile.
Semi-Vitreous Tiles: Absorb from 3% to 7% moisture.
Shade Variation: Inherent in all fired ceramic products. Certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots. Typically listed on the back label of each sample with a low, moderate, high or random rating. Low: Consistent shade and texture; Moderate: Average shade and texture variation; High: Extreme shade and texture variation; Random: Severe shade and texture variation
Substrate: The tile foundation. May include concrete, plywood and/or drywall.
Thickset/Mud Set: A classic method of tile installation in which a thick layer of mortar is applied to a waterproofed and steel reinforced substrate. This provides a strong, flat base onto which the tile can be installed. Effective, but labor-intensive.
Thinset: An industry accepted and more efficient method of tile installation in which tile is adhered directly onto a backer board that is nailed to a plywood or concrete substrate using a much thinner layer of mortar.
Through Body: Unglazed tiles that are a solid color all the way through and do not have a top layer of glaze.
Tile Density: The weight of a tile. As it increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less.
Unglazed: Solid color tile without a top layer of glaze, often referred to as through-body construction. Typically more dense and durable than glazed tile, thus more suitable for interior and exterior applications. Have a good slip resistance, but require sealing to help prevent staining. Come in various surface treatments and textures.
Un-sanded Grout: Portland cement based or epoxy based grout without sand as an ingredient. Typically used in joints that are smaller than 1/8th of an inch.
Vitreous Tiles: Absorb less that 3% moisture. Referred to as frost resistant tiles, but cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze-thaw conditions may cause tile cracking.