Tile Terminology

Tile Terminology

Before you can start to make decisions about which tiles you want to use in your new kitchen or redecorated bathroom, there is a whole maze of tile terminology to wade through.

Would you be able to tell the difference between a ‘rectified tile’ and a ‘full-bodied tile’?  What are ‘encaustic tiles’ and what does ‘tumbled finish’ mean?

An image of a question mark in the middle of a maze

What a maze of terminology!!

What does it all mean? Guide to Tile Terminology

We have put together this list of tile terminology to answer some of these questions.

Rectified tile

This tile has a clean, neat look due to how it is machined and ground to ensure perfectly straight edges.

Full-bodied tile             

This tile is the same colour and material throughout.

Crackle-glaze tile

This tile has been put through a process called ‘crazing’ causing fine cracks to appear in the glaze.

Glazed tile

This tile is coated in a layer of coloured glass.

Polished finish tile        

Typically made of unglazed porcelain or stone, this tile is mechanically polished to give a shiny, flat finish.

Matt finish tile

These tiles are not shiny or reflective and have good slip resistance.

Satin finish tile

Mid-way between matt and polished tiles, these tiles are easy to clean and maintain.

Encaustic tiles

Traditionally produced by firing two or more colours of clay together.  They are frost-proof making them ideal for use outdoors.

Quarry tiles

Despite what the name suggests, these tiles don’t come from a quarry! Ground, raw materials are mixed together to make these unglazed and extremely hard tiles.


This is a character trait of all kiln-fired tiles, where the middle of the tile is slightly higher than the edges.

Split face tiles

Made from textured strips of natural stone cut to different lengths and thicknesses.

Tumbled finish

To create this finish, tiles are placed in a large drum with water, sand and other rocks and then rotated.  This leaves the tiles with a chipped and distressed edge giving them an antique look.


Also known as ‘shot-blasted’, this is where sand is fired at the tiles at very high speed leaving a non-slip or rough finish.

Contact us

If, after reading this, you are still somewhat confused by all the tile terminology, get in touch with our team for help and advice. Alternatively, you can call us on 01832 735 633, or visit our dedicated tiling services page.

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