Patrick Collins Tiling - Precision and Creative Tiler - London & the South East

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We reckon most people will know what grouting, firing, marble and limestone are, so here are some more specialized words from the world of tiling that may come in handy…


  • Layer of mortar or other adhesive that covers the surface to be tiled and onto which the tiles are set.


  • A hard fine-grained volcanic stone often used for walls, walkways or patios.

Bullnose tiles

  • Also called cap tiles. These tiles feature a rounded edge used to finish walls or to turn outside corners. They are also applied to the leading edge of steps.


  • Covering, particularly wall covering, usually fixed mechanically at heights above 3 metres.

Cove tiles

  • Cove tiles feature a rounded top edge and are used to finish off or decorate splashbacks.

Double-fired tiles

  • Glazed tiles produced by an initial firing of the tile body and then a second firing once the glaze or decoration has been applied.


  • Resin material used in mortars and grouts for thin-set tile installations.


  • Textural or visual characteristics of a tile surface. For glazed tile this may be high gloss, satin or matt. Generally, for porcelain tiles, finish can be natural, polished, lapato, honed or lapped. Other finishes include bush hammered, raised, embossed, dimpled, etched, scored, ribbed, etc.


  • The size of the tile. Sizes vary greatly, from 10 x 10mm mosaics to formats which may exceed 1 meter square. Larger formats will be defined as 'panels'.

French pattern

  • Also known as the Versailles pattern. It consists of four different size tiles, generally two squares and two rectangles, and a large and small format of each, laid in repeated uniform pattern. A highly decorative pattern for paving outdoors areas such as courtyards and pool surrounds.

Glazed porcelain

  • Currently the most popular type of indoor floor tile. The tile is made from porcelain clays but glazed for aesthetic effect. Glazed porcelain tiles are dense, strong and may require cutting with a wet saw.

Grout joint

  • The space left between the tiles to be filled with grout. The space may be extremely narrow or wide depending on the required installation and/ or its aesthetics. The normal indoor tile joint width is 1.5mm and outdoor tile joint width is 3mm.

Large Format

  • Format is a term which is usually employed to describe the size of a tile eg. 300 x 300, 400 x 400mm. During recent times large format products have become immensely popular. Currently the most popular wall tile format is 300 x 600mm, while home owners frequently buy 500 x 500 or 600 x 600mm for their internal floors. Formats like 300 x 900mm and even larger formats are available, particularly in thin tile.


  • In finished installations, lippage refers to the condition where one edge of a tile is higher than an adjacent tile. Excessive lippage can cause trips and falls.

Mosaic tiles

  • Generally less than 15 cm square and mounted in sheets on a mesh backing for easy installation. Ceramic mosaic tiles may be glazed or unglazed. Mosaics are also available in a range of stone, pebble, glass and metal or mixtures of each.

Pencil tiles

  • Narrow rectangular tiles (e.g.2 x 20 cm), sometimes with a rounded surface, used on tiled walls as accent pieces.

Porcelain tiles

  • Dust-pressed ceramic tiles with water absorption levels less than 0.5 per cent in accordance with ISO Classification B1a. Featuring high mechanical strength and resistance to staining. The surface of these tiles may be polished or natural (un-polished). Often specified for exterior installations, they are also referred to as fully vitrified.


  • Volume of pores relative to volume of tile body and capable of absorbing moisture (and therefore stains).

Quarry tiles

  • Traditional term for single extruded natural clay tiles with a water absorption level not exceeding 6 per cent. Can be glazed or unglazed.


  • Rectified tiles typically exhibit a very square edge – cutting or grinding the edges off a tile allows the dimensions and squareness to be precisely controlled. Rectified tiles are installed with minimal grout lines.

Satin glaze

  • Glaze that produces a low-gloss finish.


  • Uneven concrete floors often receive a fine 12–20mm screed of sand and cement prior to tile or other flooring being laid in adhesive. Certain types of tile can be successfully laid in the screed as work progresses e.g. terracotta. Some screeded floors are not entirely flat or smooth. Application of a thin coat of a two-part leveling compound will provide a flat surface, suitable for tiling.


  • Clear coating sometimes applied to unglazed floor tiles to protect the surface from grease spills or staining materials (also known as sealants).

Slip resistant tiles

  • Tiles treated to prevent slipping either by adding an abrasive grit to the glaze or a texture to the design of the tile surface structure such as ribs, studs etc.

Tessellated tiles

  • Precisely calibrated floor tiles that have been extensively used in the UK and Australia, but have their origins in France. Typically the body of the tile is compact and vitrified, boasting porosity values of 3 per cent or lower. Tile patterns frequently feature geometric motifs. However, vast potential exists for creation of unique designs.

Vitrified tiles

  • Vitreous tiles absorb less than 3 per cent moisture whereas fully vitrified tiles are made from fine particles and fired to high temperatures (1250º C) which results in a denser tile with extremely low porosity (moisture absorption of less than 0.5 per cent). Porcelain tiles are fully vitrified making a layer of glaze unnecessary for the tile to be impervious to water.