Glossary of Terms


Tiles are a clever choice for embellishing walls and floors and have been used to decorate homes and other buildings for thousands of years. Tiles have a timeless appeal, never go out of fashion and are also:

• Durable/hard wearing
• Low maintenance
• Available in a wide range of textures, sizes and finishes, with colours and styles to suit many environments
• Can be used in bathrooms, kitchens, utility areas, porches, washrooms, hallways, living rooms and bedrooms. In fact, wherever a practical, hygienic, easy to clean, beautiful wall or floor covering is required.



Tiles and mouldings that are made from clay or clay and other raw materials, which are shaped and fired to give strength and aesthetic beauty.

Porcelain is primarily made from naturally occurring raw materials called kaolin, feldspar and silica. The mix is finely ground in a mill with water and chemicals and spray dried to form a sugar-like granulate. This is pressed at high pressure to form the shape of the tile and then fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tiles. The combination of the raw materials used and the ceramic process yields a porcelain tile that is vitrified, highly durable, scratch resistant, strong and resistant to temperature extremes.

Colour Bodied - Coloured Body tiles are created with continuous coloured stains from the glaze surface throughout the body of the tile. Synchronising the colour of both the glaze and body lessens the visibility of any impact chips which may occur. The colour remains consistent throughout the tile, but any surface design does not continue through the tile body.

Double Loaded - Where a second loading in the Porcelain pressing process adds very fine coloured powders onto the top of the main body of the tile to give a particular depth and aesthetic beauty when fired.

Double Pressed - where a Porcelain tile goes through a press, is decorated and then sent through another press before entering the kiln. This format is often used to produce the appearance of natural stone and also seals the surface so the porcelain is less porous and more durable.

Full Bodied - This typically applies to Porcelain tiles that carry a colour or design pattern through the entire thickness of the tile, so that if the surface is worn down the colour or pattern will not change. These tiles are typically suited to high traffic areas. Also known as 'Through Bodied'.

Fully Vitrified - Ceramic tiles that have been chemically altered during the firing process to produce a material that will hardly absorb water at all, typically with water absorptions below 0.5%. Porcelain is a fully vitrified ceramic.

Semi-Vitrified Tile - Tiles with a water absorption greater than 3%, but less than 7%. Suited for indoor use only.

Non-Vitrified Tile - A tile with a water absorption of 7% or greater. Usually used as a wall covering and suited for indoor, dry area use only.

Structured - Where the face of the tile is changed during the forming process from a flat to a textured surface. This texture can take many forms, ranging from a rough random texture to protruding geometric shapes. Some of our structured tiles can provide a degree of slip resistance.

Vitrified Tile - Ceramic tiles that have been chemically altered during the firing process to yield high water resistant properties, typically with water absorptions below 3%.


Glass tiles do not absorb moisture and do not become stained. They are easy to clean and are available in a wide variety of styles, sizes and colours. Glass tiles are fully vitrified (impervious to water) and suitable for wet room use.

Clear Glass - Transparent glass wall tiles. The colour is provided by the tile backing.

Frosted Glass - Opaque glass wall tiles. The colour is provided by the tile backing.

Glass Splashback - Made from toughened (also known as tempered) glass, a type of safety glass. Splashbacks are suitable for use behind cookers and are available in two hob sizes. These tiles must not be cut or drilled as they will shatter.


Natural Stone
Rock formed naturally over time and by different processes into three kinds of rock type: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. The rock is extracted from the ground, cut and processed into tiles.

Solidified magma or lava formed after volcanic activity. Extremely hard. Examples: granite, basalt.

Metamorphism is the transformation of one rock type into another, brought about by heat, pressure or chemically active fluids. Examples: Marble (originally limestone or dolostone), slate (previously sedimentary shale or mudstone).

Weathering of existing rocks produced sediment which settled in layers and gradually 'lithified' (turned to stone) by compaction and cementation. Examples: limestone, travertine.

Basalt - Formed from molten lava, you can see tiny bubbles that were made when it was cooling into the solid stone that it has become.  Cool, smooth and dark, basalt is incredibly hard-wearing and suitable for most areas.

Granite - Once molten like lava, then squeezed and forced up from the very centre of the earth, granite solidified millions of years ago. The stone is mainly made up of mica, quartz and feldspar. It is these minerals that give granite its characteristic glints of crystal, and the many variations in colour. Granite is dense, strong and durable.

Limestone - Sedimentary layers of shells and micro-skeletons were deposited on the seabed, and then compressed into the hard rock you see today.

Marble - Marble is a crystalline, metamorphic rock that was once originally limestone. Great pressure transforms the limestone into a hard, crystalline rock that can be worked and polished. White in its pure form, impurities form veins of many colours and make each slab unique.

Sandstone - Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-size mineral or rock grains and is composed for the most part of quartz (which lends the stone its glossy lustre).

Slate - Enormous pressures involved in the movement of the earth's tectonic plates, realigned the minerals mica and chlorite in shale and mud stone, to form the smooth flat layers of slate found today.

Terracotta - Clay taken from the earth is stripped of physical and chemical impurities. The resulting balls of clay are then shaped and cast individually into frames where they are left to dry in the sun before firing.

Travertine - Travertine is a form of sedimentary limestone, made from compressed deposits left by calcite-rich hot springs which became, over millions of years, almost like a river frozen in time. The stone is usually pale with some inherent pits and holes which are the result of its creation. There are three different grades of travertine, dependent on the quality, thickness, impurities, and sizes of the pits and voids. Grade 1 is the best, and, as with all things, is worth paying extra for a better quality stone that will last for years if installed and maintained correctly. All of Original Style's travertine (except Umbrian Classic which is suitable for residential areas) is selected from Grade 1 to ensure a consistent quality and excellent visual appearance..


Antique - Treated to provide an aged look.

Brushed - The stone's surface is brushed with rotary diamond pads, resulting in a textured finish to the surface and rounded edges.

Crackle Glaze - A special glaze featuring fine-line 'cracks' for aesthetic antique effect. If used in wet areas crackle tiles should be sealed with an impregnator to stop moisture penetrating the body of the tile and causing discolouration.

Crazing - Highly glazed ceramic tiles may craze with time, and no guarantee can be given against this occurrence.

Decorated - Tiles with designs, pictures, or relief moulded with raised images. Decorative tiles are generally used as accents in a field of solid colour.

Filled - Where voids, pits and holes (a natural characteristic of some stone) have been filled with a resin to create a smooth surface.

Filled & Honed - Where the natural voids in stone tiles are filled and the tile is then smoothed resulting in a flat, matt surface.

Frosted - The surface has been roughened, which also gives an opaque appearance to glass tiles.

Glazed Porcelain/Ceramic - A liquid glass is applied to the face and where specified the edges of the tile. The tiles are then fired at high temperatures in a kiln. The glazing becomes hard and non-porous resulting in a stain and fire resistant surface that is easy to clean and any design on the tile does not wear away.

Honed - A machine process which results in a smooth, matt surface.

Iridescent - Tiles decorated with a glistening glaze that gives the appearance of many changing colours.

Lightly polished - The surface is polished to a softly reflective sheen rather than a high gloss.

Matt - Unpolished tiles, often with a stone effect, have a matt sheen finish. Ceramic tiles can also be glazed with a matt, un-glossy finish.

Natural Finished Porcelain/Ceramic - Natural describes a matt tile surface and imitates a natural surface or finish. A natural finish will typically be a matt or satin tile surface.

Opaque Glaze - A non-transparent colourless or coloured tile glaze.

Polished - Where the surface is buffed by machine, resulting in an even, smooth and highly reflective surface.

Rectified - First baked in sheets, these tiles are cut to size after coming out of the kiln. This allows for the tile to be calibrated to exact specifications. A rectified tile can be installed with a minimal joint gap to give a contemporary look. Non rectified tiles are shaped first and then baked, making the tiles susceptible to marginal size differences.

Relief - Where a pattern is raised or projects above the flat surface of the tile.

Satin - A smooth surface that has a subtly reflective sheen, rather than the highly reflective properties of a gloss surface.

Semi Polished - Ceramic, porcelain and natural stone can be given a semi polished finish to provide a partly reflective surface.

Slip Resistant/Anti Slip - A tile surface with a higher than normal level of friction, reducing the likelihood of a slip. A slip resistant surface can be created by adding abrasive particles to the surface, or through patterns grooved into the surface. Alternatively a tile can offer a naturally low-skid surface, due to the material from which it is constructed. Tiles are categorised with different levels of slip resistance. Our Original Style stockists will be able to help you identify the level you require.

Split Face - A stone tile on which the face has been deliberately broken, leaving a rough edge showing the stone in its natural state.

Structured - Tiles that have a variegated or textured surface are often referred to as structured tiles. This texture can take many forms, ranging from a rough random texture to protruding geometric shapes. Some of our structured tiles can provide a degree of slip resistance.

Textured - A surface with a tactile finish.

Tumbled - The surfaces of the stone have been textured, worn and weathered by contact with abrasive materials.

Unfilled - Where the pits and voids within travertine tiles have not been filled. These can be grout-filled during installation.

Unglazed Porcelain/Ceramic - Some tiles do not require a glaze; they gain their colour and design from the body of the tile. This means that the design or pattern is carried through the body of the tile and makes them suitable for high traffic areas.

Vein Cut - Stone cut through the vein rather than across, this changes its appearance and texture of the tile.

Veining - Natural coloured markings in stone including limestone and marble.

Wood Effect - Porcelain with a textured, glazed finish, giving a wood effect.


Bevelled Edge - When the edge of a tile is angled rather than perpendicular to the face of the tile.

Bullnose - A tile with a rounded top edge so it can be used as the finishing line tile in a wall installation that doesn't extend to the ceiling or up to the cabinet line, or to turn an outside edge.

Chipped - The edges have been deliberately chipped to give an antiqued look.

Cushioned/Pillowed Edged - Where the straight edges of a tile have been rounded and softened.

Interlocking - The edge of two tiles engage with each other by overlapping or fitting together to form a solid surface.

Rectified - First baked in sheets, these tiles are cut to size after coming out of the kiln. This allows for the tile to be calibrated to exact specifications. A rectified tile can be installed with a minimal joint gap to give a contemporary look. Non rectified tiles are shaped first and then baked, making the tiles susceptible to marginal size differences.

Rustic - A rough and textured edge producing a vintage effect.

Straight - A uniform, square edge.


Adhesive - Used for bonding a tile to a surface.

ASTM & ANSI - The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are nationally recognised organisations with the responsibility of identifying and developing tile industry standards in the USA.

Border Tile - Border tiles can add colour, pattern and texture to a tiling design.

Brick Pattern - Tiles are set in a staggered pattern similar to a brick wall. Any tile that is square or rectangular may be set in a brick or 'brickbond' pattern.

Crazing - This is an inherent feature sometimes seen in the glaze of hand finished, fired tiles and adds to their rustic nature.

Cutting - To alter the original size/shape of the tile to allow for fitting in awkward spaces, corners and ending rows.

Dry Areas - An area/room with no possible water or steam presence.

Durability - The ability of the tile to endure and maintain its characteristics of strength and resistance to wear. For example, the length of time the tile continues to provide its intended function with average use.

Epoxy Adhesive Un-Glazed - A two part adhesive system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. Used for bonding ceramic or stone tiles to backing material.

Epoxy Grout - A two part grout system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. This grout is designed to have impervious qualities to ensure it is stain and chemical resistant. This is used to fill joints (grout gaps) between tiles.

Face - This refers to the exposed front portion of the tile.

Field Tile - The primary tile used to cover a wall or floor.

Film Faced Mosaics - These mosaics have a coating of film on the front surface of the tiles rather than a mesh backing. This is due to some of the individual pieces being clear or translucent and any mesh backing would show through after installation and spoil the overall look. The film face is then removed once the tile is installed. See the Fixing Guide for installation information.

Fire - The process of kiln-baking ceramic tiles prior to glazing and again once glazed to set the surface.

Floor Tile - A ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tile durable enough to withstand traffic abrasion.

Grout - Silica sand, cement and chemical mix for filling tile joints. Grout is available in a wide variety of colours to complement, enhance or match tiles being used.

Grout Gap - A space left between tiles to be filled with grout that will act as a joint, sealing out moisture, preventing damage from the tiles rubbing against one another and to facilitate rustic tiles with nominal size differences.

Impervious - The degree of vitrification evidenced by testing moisture absorption.

Impervious Tile - Tiles that have less than 0.5% moisture absorption. These tiles are frost proof and can be used in exterior areas, or on the outside of building facades. Please refer to the Victorian Floor Tile Fixing Guide for more information before installation.

Ink Jet Glazes - Traditionally, glazes have been poured or rolled onto tiles to provide their design. However, in recent years a technique of ink jet printing onto tiles in the same way as a domestic printer has been developed. It means that the look of natural stone and other textures can now be replicated more easily to create an increasingly winder choice of tile designs.

Kiln - A kiln is a thermally insulated oven, in which a controlled temperature is achieved. Kilns are used for the firing of clay and other raw materials to form ceramic tiles. Kilns are also used in the glazing process of a tile, to harden the surface.

Listello - A decorative border, primarily for walls.

Moisture Absorption - 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 tile for different applications.

Mosaic - Pieces of ceramic, porcelain, glass, metal, stone or other materials mounted on a backing material to form a tile shape for ease of installation.

Mounted Tiles - Often used with Mosaics, tiles are assembled into units or sheets for easier installation. Back and edge mounted tiles are bonded to material (mesh, resin or other) that becomes part of the installation.

Nominal Sizes - An approximate facial size or thickness of a tile.

Paper Faced Mosaics - These mosaics have a coating of paper on the front surface of the tiles rather than a back or edge mounting. This is due to some of the individual pieces being clear or translucent and any mesh backing would show through after installation and spoil the overall look. The paper face is then removed once the tile is installed. See the Fixing Guide for installation information.

PEI Rating - The Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) developed a testing system to rate the strength of the glaze that is applied to the tile, against scratching and wearing. The PEI Rating system uses numbers (with 1 being the least scratch and wear resistant, through to 5 being the most scratch and wear resistant) to rate the strength of the glaze on the tile once it has been produced.

PTV - A Pendulum Test Value (PTV) is produced by suspending a representation of a standard rubber soled heel on a pendulum, swinging it in an arc over a test surface (floor tile) until the base of the sole makes contact, and then measuring the 'follow through' after contact. The test is used to give a slip rating for a floor in dry conditions or can be used with lubricants like oil or water to test for slip resistance in unclean conditions.

Sealing - Applying a penetrant 'sealant' will prevent the absorption of liquids or other debris into the tile. Used to treat porous materials including quarry tile, grout, and natural stone. Sealer is not usually necessary for glazed ceramic tiles, other than crackle glazed tiles.

Shade Variation - Shade variation is an inherent feature of hand crafted tiles. We recommend that tiles are loosely laid out and 'blended' prior to fixing in order to achieve the most pleasing distribution of shades. Differences between batches can be more marked. For this reason we recommend that customers buy all their tiles at the same time. No liability for shading issues can be accepted after installation.

Slip Resistance - All floor tiles are measured for their slip resistance in line with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recognised testing method. The testing provides a result which subsequently categorises the product. The higher the number, the more slip resistant the tile, and so it's less likely to cause slips and falls. In dry conditions, the slip resistance of most tiles is good. It is when a tile becomes wet that the risk of slippages is higher. The HSE recognise the parameters to be as follows, according to BS796 Part 2 4S96 pendulum test method.

Test result Slip risk
65+................................Extremely Low

All Porcelain and Ceramic floor tiles from Original Style have undergone the above testing.

These results need to be considered when purchasing floor tiles. NB: Tiles with a result of less than 24 for use in a bathroom will become slippery when wet.

Tile Density - This is the ratio of the weight of the tile to its volume (weight divided by volume). As this ratio increases the density and the strength of the tile will increase.

Wall Tile - Wall tiles for indoor use have a protective glaze coating fired onto the face of the tile that is impervious, but the main body of the tile is open and porous. Wall tiles that are designed for use outdoors are fully vitrified and totally impervious to water and are frost resistant.

Water Absorption - Tiles are categorised by their water absorption. To determine this, tiles are weighed when dry, then immersed in water. After a given period of time in the water they are then re-weighed. The percentage increase in the tiles' weight determines their level of water absorption.

EN standards define tiles by their water absorbency.

<0.5% = B1a (very low water absorption)
0.5% <3.0% = B1b
3.0% <6.0% = B11a
6.0% <10% = B11b
>10% = B111 (high water absorption, normally a wall tile)

Each classification has a technical advantage depending on the end use.

Wear Rating - While the composition of tiles may differ, one of the most important attributes of a tile is its wear rating. The wear rating (also known as PEI Rating) is a tile's ability to resist scratching from surface abrasion. When choosing a tile to install for your floors, it is essential to consider both quality and wear/durability.

Wet Areas - An area subject to steam and water contact, such as a kitchen splashback or bathroom.

Wet Room Floor Use - The product is suitable for the use on floors in shower rooms, wet rooms or areas that can expect to be in regular contact with water.

Wet Room Wall Use - The product is suitable for the use on walls in shower rooms, wet rooms or areas that can expect to be in regular contact with water.