Technical Words About Encaustic Cement Tiles, terrazzo, stone

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Encaustic Cement Tiles?

Encaustic Cement tiles are made of pigmented cement that is poured into a patterned steel mould. A cement/sand/gravel layer is then poured onto this to form the base, and the filled mould is hydraulically pressed. The mould is removed and the tile is placed on a rack to dry.

What materials do you offer?
We are specialists in Terrazzo and Encaustic Cement Tiles, Porcelain, Natural Stone, Ceramics, Mosaics and Glass sourced .

Terrazzo tiles?

Terrazzo is essentially marble chippings in a bed of pigmented cement. As a traditional material, this cement / chip layer would have been poured on site. Pre-made tile versions would have been quite thick as they were pressed onto a concrete base. It is a very hard-wearing, durable material that you will find in many public spaces such as airports, supermarkets, train stations, schools and universities.

The modern version of this material is pre-cast in one single layer that can be produced to 20mm, 30mm, 40mm and even 50mm thickness.
porcelain tiles?

Porcelain tiles like ceramic tiles are made of clay, however they are fired to a much higher temperature. Porcelain tiles are much more durable than a ceramic tile and can be used in areas with heavy traffic, including kitchen floors, hallways and commercial applications.

They are an extremely versatile option that can mimic a wide variety of finishes appearances including concrete, natural stone and wood. It is often chemically resistant, frost-resistant and non-porous.

Porcelain tiles can be “through body” or “full body” where the tile has the same colour / pattern all the way through the tile so that if it chips, it should look the same (also the edges can be exposed on corners) and they can also be glazed. Glazed porcelain has the colour or pattern glazed to the surface of the tile – it is just as hard wearing, but the colour does not go all the way through the tile.

What’s the difference between rectified and non-rectified porcelain tiles?

Rectified tiles have precisely finished straight edges and exact dimensions and usually have a small bevel around the top edge to reduce chipping. Rectified tiles can be laid with thin grout lines of 3mm or less. They are also known as “dimensionally stable tiles”.

Rectified tiles undergo a process of rectifying the size after they have been fired either by grinding or by cutting with a diamond saw, as changes in moisture during the firing process can lead to the tiles changing shape and varying slightly when they come out of the kiln.

In terms of dimension, rectified tiles are almost identical as the cutting machines have very fine tolerances. Tile thickness isn’t always taken into account so there can be variation between batches. Due to the fact that rectified tiles are usually fitted very close to each other, small differences can occasionally result in the tiles seeming not to be exactly aligned – this is called “lippage”. With slightly thicker grout lines, this would not be noticeable.

Non-rectified tiles are called cushion-edged, soft-edged or pillow-edge and aren’t as sharp or prone to edge-chipping. They tend to be slightly cheaper than rectified tiles, but will have small differences in dimension that require the tiles to be laid with a thicker grout joint.

Natural Stone?

The term Natural Stone covers any material that has been quarried from the earth and has not undergone any mechanical process except cutting or etching. The stones that are traditionally used as tiling materials are Limestone, Marble, Travertine, Slate, Quartzite, Granite and Sandstone. Terracotta is clay that has been moulded then fired. All natural stone is porous to varying extends and should be sealed.


A sedimentary rock, Limestone is formed by millennia of compacted shells, sediment and organic materials. It is a calcareous stone, sometimes similar in appearance to marble, and with varying density. It is quite a soft material, so some edge chipping should be expected, together with pitting and occasional resin fill. Limestone is sensitive to acid, so it should be well sealed and the non-acidic or bleach based materials should be used to maintain it.


Marble is essentially a dense limestone that has changed its chemical composition due to extreme heat, pressure and the addition of chemically active fluids. It is available in many coloured varieties that are the result of mineral impurities that have become crystalized such as clay, silt, sand and iron oxides which would have been present in the limestone.

Marble is a very dense stone which is usually available in a polished, honed or tumbled finish.


Similar to Limestone, Travertine is a calcium based stone that has formed as a result of dispersion by mineral springs. It is often found at the mouth of a hot spring, or in a limestone cave. Because of the essential action of water in its formation, this material has obvious pits and voids in its surface.

Travertine tiles can come “unfilled” in a tumbled or brushed finish and these voids are filled during the grouting process. Sometimes these areas that have been filled can become loose to expose the holes – this is usual and the holes can be filled again with grout or resin.

Travertine can also be supplied “filled” in a honed or tumbled finish – in this case the tiles have been filled at the quarry after cutting with a colour-matched resin.

Travertine can be found “cross-cut” and also “vein-cut”. “Vein-cut” tiles have the veins of the tile running in lines across the tile. “Cross-cut” tiles show the cross-section of the stone’s veins which presents itself in a cloudy pattern.


Granite is an igneous rock, usually available in white, pink, grey or black, depending on the minerals it contains. The formation of this material is the result of the molten lave cooling below the earth’s surface. Although granite is a very dense material, it is still susceptible to acid so should be sealed correctly and maintained using non-acidic, non-bleach based cleaning products.


Literally meaning “baked earth”, Terracotta is thick clay that has moulded and then fired in a kiln. It is available in hand made finishes for that rustic look with irregular edges and colour variation, or machine made for a sharper edge and more consistent colour.

Terracotta is supplied unsealed and needs to be treated when it is laid.


Ceramic tiles are made of cut clay mixed with other minerals that are glazed and fired in a kiln. The production of ceramic tiles dates back to the Egyptians. They can be both machine made and hand-made.

Some ceramic tiles are produced for floors, although these days we strongly recommend using a porcelain tile instead for durability. All of our ceramic tiles are made for walls, with different glazes and dimensions, including matt finishes, glossy finishes and crackled finished.

In terms of sizes, ceramic tiles tend be small formats, in rectangles and squares.

Crackle glazed ceramic tiles will need to be sealed before grouting.


A broad term which encompasses various ageing/distressing methods used to achieve a worn look to the stone. Please note, the effect of the various antiquing methods will vary dependent upon the stone and the country of origin.


A method of finishing stone which gives only slight surface texture and can give a subtly softened edge. The effect of brushing and the edge finish created can differ depending on the stone type; some may have a chipped edge finish applied.


Indicating the tiles are of a nominally uniform thickness.


Ceramic is not only the overall name for man-made tiles formed from clay but also used to describe a tile fired at lower temperatures and with greater water-absorbency than those classed as ‘Porcelain’. Ceramic tiles are usually glazed and are often for wall use only because of this, but many can be used on both walls and floors. Ceramic tiles are suitable for all internal, residential applications.


Chevron tiles are cut so that the short edges are at an angle, enabling them to create this on-trend ‘arrow head’ pattern. Left and right Chevrons will be supplied and should be fitted accordingly.


Generally a smaller stone of greater thickness which is used externally.

Crackle Glaze

A unique firing method which gives a cracked and glossy surface, where no two tiles are the same. Unusually for man made tiles, Crackle Glaze tiles require sealing with Fila MP/90.


Exclusively relates to Travertine indicating the blocks are cut so that the planar face of the tile is at right-angles to the predominant course of the veining.


Decor tiles are strikingly patterned or have an ornate shape to serve as a counterpoint to more neutral base tiles within their range.


Decorative tiles have intricate and beautiful, hand-designed patterns applied to the surface by various means.

Extruded Porcelain

Extruded Porcelain tiles are formed by a process in which the wet clay or raw material is forced through a mould and then cut into shape before firing. As these dry out during the firing process, they can become less dimensionally consistent than pressed tiles.


The process of creating bespoke worktops, vanity tops, bath surrounds, stair treads & risers etc. from large stone slabs.


This term is related primarily to Travertine, which is characterised by surface pits and holes. These holes can be pre-filled at source by a stone resin which is as similar as possible to the colour of the stone. Once filled the stone is then worked to a Honed or Polished finish. Not every single pit/hole will be completely filled, and therefore even a pre-filled Travertine may require some filling by grout during the fixing process. It is not unusual for any natural stone tile to have some degree of surface fill present. Ongoing resin filling may be required as part of your maintenance regime.


This is a thin line of mineral veining which normally contrasts with the base colour of the stone and so can be mistaken for a crack in the tile.


Generally used to refer to a larger stone tile of a greater thickness which can be used externally or internally.


An antique finish obtained by searing the surface of the stone with high temperature flames. Only available in our Granite range, this finishing method gives a textured surface as the various component crystals are affected by the heat. Once Flamed, the stone can also be subsequently brushed for a more subtle feel.

Flemish Bond

A mix of a square and rectangle tile which are laid in courses and alternated to achieve a more random appearance than the use of one size alone.


Fossils are remnants of past animals or plants. Fossils are generally found in Limestones, Marbles and occasionally Sandstone and can take many forms.

Free Length

A laying format for tiles, where the width of the stone is static i.e. 400mm or 600mm and the lengths of the tiles vary randomly or are a mix of a minimum of two different lengths, offering a look which is reminiscent of traditional stone floors. Please see Stone Layouts for available stones.


A coloured glaze is applied to tiles prior to firing; colours range from muted neutral shades through to bold, vibrant tones.


A reflective lustre which is applied to Porcelain or Decorative & Glazed tiles.


A method of laying whereby tiles are laid perpendicular to each other to give a staggered ‘V’ pattern. This fixing pattern works well with small rectangular tiles but can be achieved with any rectangular tile format.


A smooth non-polished finish to the face of the stone. Edges are either straight or beveled which gives a contemporary/classic look.


A non-reflective, more natural finish applicable to Porcelain, Decorative or Glazed tiles.


One, two or more minerals combine to form rock. They are non-living solids that are found in nature and may be sensitive to prolonged exposure to moisture, giving various results. Quartz and Calcite are two of the minerals most commonly found in stone.


Small chips of stone are arranged on a mesh backing or have a plastic sheet on the face for ease of installation, The chips can vary in size and format from squares or rectangles through to hexagons. This covering is designed to hold the chips together during transportation and installation, so excessive handling should be avoided. Because of this method of production, nominal variation of both chips and spacing should be expected.


A small variation from stated sizes and thicknesses which occurs due to production methods used. This variation should always be expected and can be more pronounced the larger the tile.


Non-rectified Porcelain or Ceramic tiles are cut to size prior to the firing process. The firing process then causes expected shrinkage and warpage. These tiles are graded after firing but do not undergo any additional cutting. Because of this, greater variation in size between tiles should be expected than with a rectified tile. Sizes within ranges should not be mixed.


In tile format, a large square tile that has each corner cut off in order to accommodate a smaller ‘inset’ tile, normally of a contrasting coloured material. Please see stone layouts.


A repeating modular pattern made up of at least three different tile sizes in order to give a random effect to the floor. There are various Opus patterns available in specific stones. Please note you cannot choose a stone to come in a particular Opus, a stone will come in an Opus specified by us. Please see individual product pages and Stone Layouts. NB. Where a product is available in an Opus pattern, tiles are sold to the nearest full module but priced per m².


A highly–reflective, gloss finish applied to the surface of stone. Polished tiles can have either straight or beveled edges.


Porcelain tiles are generally formed from kaolin clays and fired at upwards of 1,200°C. They tend to be denser and less porous than Ceramic tiles.


A broad term which encompasses various finishing methods used to achieve a traditional antique floor effect. Each piece of stone is finished by hand; some pieces will have a soft stippled surface, whereas others will have smooth undulations or pillowed edges. These finishes generally create the most authentic looking time-worn floors.


This term is applied to Porcelain or Ceramic tiles that are cut to size after the firing process. Rectified tiles are ‘dimensionally stable’ and will exhibit little variation in size of tiles from one production run. Tiles from different production runs will tend to exhibit greater variation and so enough tiles to complete the installation should be ordered in the first instance. Different sizes within ranges will vary significantly however so should not be mixed.


A mesh-backed tile designed to give the appearance of thin strips. On installation the wall or floor will have a grooved linear appearance.


A naturally cleft face which is achieved by splitting blocks of stone along natural laminations. This term usually relates to Slate, Schist, Sandstone and occasionally Limestone.

Set Lengths

Achievable in ranges that have several tiles which share a common width. Tiles are laid in courses of the same width and the sizes alternated to give a more random appearance.


A large piece of stone which can be fabricated into worktops, vanity tops, bath surrounds etc.

Slip Resistance

A term referring to how much grip a tile offers. This can be measured in several ways, the two most common methods being the Pendulum or Ramp test. This property is more relevant to commercial applications than residential however, additional grip in wet areas or externally is always preferable to increase safety. This information is readily available for Porcelain products.


A method of hand finishing which gives a highly textured, variegated and tactile surface. Often used as a feature wall, Splitface products come in many different materials and are available in cladding blocks and wall panels. This method of finishing is also used to give texture to the external surfaces of some Stone Basins.


A rectangular, glazed tile with a raised profile giving texture to walls.

Textured Mix

Available in our Mimica range, material consists of six different finishes (gloss, matt, brushed, fine-rubbed, combed & flamed), each of which offers a different texture.


A method of ageing stone, whereby the tiles are ‘tumbled’ to give them a rounded, antique edge finish. On certain stones, this process may also leave the surface more open and slightly textured.


These materials vary in thickness both between tiles and across individual tiles. Normally found in Riven materials. Expected thickness variation is detailed in the sizes of the tiles. Grading is required prior to fixing and more adhesive is generally required for bedding up.


This term primarily relates to Travertine which is characterised by surface pits and holes. An unfilled finish leaves these holes open. Unfilled Travertine will need to be ‘slurry grouted’ across the surface of the stone in order that the holes are filled. Small holes can sometimes be found in Limestone and Marble which can be left unfilled or filled with grout dependent on preference.


The occurrence of irregular lines of minerals found in stone, most notably Marble although it can be present in all natural stone.


A Travertine specific term which means the tiles or slabs are cut so that the planar surface runs parallel to the natural veins present in the stone. These striations give a banded appearance to the finished surface of the tile or slab.


Vitreous glass is a virtually non-porous material that is used to manufacture our Plaza mosaics. The low porosity combined with a subtle, acid-etched surface make them ideal for use in wet environments.


As porcelain or ceramic tiles are fired they can shrink and bow or warp. This is usual with man-made tiles but can be more pronounced with larger tiles. To avoid emphasizing this warpage, larger tiles should not be ‘brick-bonded’.

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