Smart Spacer ®The Professional's Choice

Tile Terminology

Border
Design that helps transition between different tiles or around a focal point.
Bullnose
Tile with rounded edge to finish off a wall or used as base tile.
Butter back
Coating back of tile with thin set prior to setting.
Caulk
Silicone based, sanded and un-sanded, to finish off around tubs, toilets and anywhere tile meets a different material.
Ceramic/Porcelain/Natural Tile
Porcelain and ceramic tile are basically made of clay. Natural stone, not man made, is cut from a quarry. Porcelain tile is fired at higher temperatures than ceramic making them more durable and suitable for outdoor use.
Coefficient of Friction (COF)
Measurement of how slippery a tile is. 0.6 is recommended for residential construction.
Cove
Tile used to transition between a vertical and horizontal surface.
Cure
The time a product takes to set properly where it will not be disturbed if walked on.
Caliber
So tiles line up properly when installed the "Caliber" provides a stated variation to within .25% of tile size. Production of same tile can have different "Caliber". When purchasing boxes of tile be sure they all have the same caliber and dye lot.
Calibrated Tiles
Tiles are sorted by manufacturer's stated caliber. Between Natural and Rectified tiles in dimensional variation.
Natural Tiles
Intended to have more variation for a "natural" tile look.
Rectified Tiles
These tiles are mechanically finished and have the highest requirements against variation.
Dye lot
Tile made at different times can have a variation in look; be it color or finish. Be sure same dye lot is on all boxes purchased for an installation.
Epoxy
A grout or adhesive two part system which consists of a resin and hardener that must be mixed to achieve full strength. Extremely strong bond and resistant to staining.
Float
Tool used to press grout between the tiles.
Frost resistant
Tiles will absorb less than 3% but more than .5% of water on tile.
Frost proof
Tile absorbs less than .5% of water on tile. Most all porcelain tiles are frost proof. Also known as impervious.
Grout
Sanded grout is used for joints 1/8" or greater; unsanded less than 1/8". Sand in grout reduces the shrinkage of the grout while drying. Epoxy is the best grout as it is extremely stain proof but extremely pricey. Epoxy is also a good choice when working with a natural stone that might scratch when working with a sanded grout.
Glazed
Tile that undergoes a final firing step in manufacturing that produces an impermeable finish. Tend to have more of a slippery but stain proof finish. Unglazed tiles need to be sealed.
Impervious tile
Tile absorbs less than .5% of water on tile. Most all porcelain tiles are frost proof.
Mastic
Alternative to Thin Set when installing mosaic/tile on walls. Use in areas with limited water exposure. Can promote mold.
Mosaics
Any mesh mounted tile made for easy installation. Made with any of the following or mix of the following: glass, stone, metal, ceramic or porcelain.
Natural/Ceramic/Porcelain Tile
Porcelain and ceramic tile are basically made of clay. Natural stone, not man made, is cut from a quarry. Porcelain tile is fired at higher temperatures than ceramic making them more durable and suitable for outdoor use.
Non-Vitreous tile
Tile absorbs more than 7% of water on tile.
PEI Rating
Porcelain Enamel Institute rating of tile, the higher the rating, the higher the abrasion resistance.
  • 0 or 1 - walls.
  • 2 - walls and light floor use.
  • 3 - walls and residential floor use.
  • 4 - walls and light commercial floor use.
  • 5 - walls and heavy commercial use, more resistant to abrasive dirt and chemicals.
Polymer
Polymers are used to improve flexibility and adhesion in Thin-set.
Porcelain/Ceramic/Natural Tile
Porcelain and ceramic tile are basically made of clay. Natural stone, not man made, is cut from a quarry. Porcelain tile is fired at higher temperatures than ceramic making is more durable and suitable for outdoor use.
Sealer
Helps reduce/prevent stains on natural stone and grout. Applied after tile is installed and grouted. Not used with glazed ceramic tile.
Semi-Vitreous tile
Tile absorbs more than 3%, but not more than 7% of water on tile.
Shade Variation
Range of color between tiles and in a tile.
  • None - Uniform appearance, little to no color variation among the tiles. Each tile looks the same.
  • Low - Slight Variation, slight difference in color between tiles.
  • Medium - Moderate Variation, difference in color with in a tile and surrounding tiles.
  • High - Substantial Variation, extreme color difference within a tile and the surrounding tiles.
  • Random - Different color between adjacent tiles. Example; black tile next to white tile.
Spacers - Smart Spacer
Used during the tile installation to evenly space tile grout widths. Smart Spacers have three different sizes; 1/16", 1/8" & 3/16" on the small Smart Spacer; 1/4" 5/16" & 3/8" on the large Smart Spacer. Their round design rolls as tiles are adjusted maintaining consistent grout widths. Rigid construction will not compress under tiles when stacking a wall. Easily change between sizes if needed when laying tile.
Sponge
Tool used to clean tile after grout is set between tiles. Be sure to use clean water and continue cleaning tile with sponge until sponge is still clean after wiping tile.
Thin-set
The cement/sand/water/polymer mix used to adhere tile to a surface.
Tile nippers
Tool used to cut/trim irregular shapes in tile.
Trim pieces
Used to finish off the tile at corners, walls or edges of counters. Come in various shapes and sizes; quarter round, bull nose, chair rail, V-cap, V-cap corner, beak.
Trowel
Tool used to apply thin-set to the surface.
Unglazed tile
Does not get final firing step but tends to be thicker/denser tile than glazed tile. Needs to be sealed after installation.
Vitreous tile
Tile absorbs more than 0.5%, but not more than 3% of water on tile. Also known as frost resistant tile.