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Glossary of Paving Stone

ACID WASHED

Acid washing exposes some of the sand in certain types of stone, giving a rougher texture.

ANTIQUE

A broad term which encompasses various ageing/distressing methods used to achieve a worn look to the stone. The effect of the various antiquing methods will vary dependent upon the stone and the country of origin. The overall effect of these processes is to create an aged, or worn look.

BRUSHED

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. An ageing process which generates a smoother and worn appearance to certain types of stone. It is most commonly used on unfilled travertine and sandstone.

BULL NOSE

The semi-circular, half rounded edge usually applied to thicker slabs of stone where the sawn edge is either not desired or is not safe. Good examples of where bull nosing is used is on vanity tops, swimming pool coping stones, work surfaces, and bath surrounds.

CALIBRATED

Indicating the tiles are of a nominally uniform thickness. Quarried stone, which is cut into even thickness tiles, are calibrated tiles. The majority of tiles manufactured for use internally are calibrated.

CERAMIC

A tile formed from clay and fired at lower temperatures than Porcelains, usually glazed.

CHEVRON

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.

CNC

A computer controlled shaping mill capable of cutting virtually any stone into any shape.

COBBLE

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 manmade tiles, crackle glaze tiles require sealing.

CROSS-CUT

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. This is the most commonly used cutting method for travertine.

CUSHIONED/PILLOWED

This describes stone towards the edging of a tile. Cushioned edges gently slope downwards before meeting the sawn edge. The overall effect is slight rounding and softening of the edge. Often this is referred to also as a pillowed edge.

DÉCOR

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

DECORATIVE

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

DURABILITY

Durability describes a stone tile’s capacity to withstand daily foot traffic and everyday wear and tear. Higher durability stone tends to be selected for commercial use, as well as high traffic areas of the home. Medium and lower durability tiles are still fine for use in most domestic areas. Some low durability tiles should be restricted to use in low traffic areas.

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.

FABRICATION

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

FILLED

This term is related primarily to travertine, which is characterized by surface pits and holes. These holes are pre-filled by a stone resin to create a perfectly smooth and flat travertine tile. Once filled the stone is then worked to a honed or polished finish. Ongoing resin filling may be required as part of your maintenance regime. 

FILLING

This is the inserting of either resin, as described in “filled” or grout, which can also be used to fill travertine after tiles have been fitted.

FISSURE

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

FLAG

Generally used to refer to a larger stone tile of a greater thickness which can be used externally or internally. A slab like piece of stone usually in larger sizes, most commonly used externally on patios, driveways and paths. Various styles, edgings and surface finishes are available.

FLAMED

The process by which stone (usually marble or granite) is treated with intense heat as a form of aging tiles. The stone surface becomes lightly distressed and slightly rough. This is also a popular way of creating a non-slip surface to very hard natural stone tiles.

FOSSILS

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.

GLAZED

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

GLOSS

A reflective luster which is applied to porcelain or decorative & glazed tiles.

HERRINGBONE

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.

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

MATT

A non-reflective, more natural finish applicable to porcelain, decorative or glazed tiles.

MINERALS

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.

MOSAICS

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

NOMINAL

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

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.

OCTAGON

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 colored material.

OPUS

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 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.

POLISHED

A highly–reflective, gloss finish applied to the surface of stone. Polished tiles can have either straight or beveled edges. A high gloss finish, which is created at the quarry as part of the production process. Polished finishes are created using machines which buff the tiles to create an evenly reflective surface.

PORCELAIN

Porcelain tiles are generally formed from kaolin clays and fired at upwards of 1,200°C. They tend to be denser, less absorbent and more hard-wearing than ceramic tiles.

POROSITY

All natural stones will absorb moisture. A stones susceptibility and ease of which moisture is absorbed is described as its level of porosity. It should be noted that all natural stone tiles have to be sealed. Porosity is reduced substantially by sealing.

RECTIFIED

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.

RIGATO

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

RIVEN

A naturally cleft surface finish usually found on flagstones, exterior paving, and most commonly on slate and sandstone. The splitting of layers of hard stone sediment to create tiles will often occur unevenly.

RUSTIC

Similar to “antique.” General term used to describe an overall aged appearance of stone tiles which are either natural in appearance, or manufacture to look worn.

SANDBLASTED

Also know as shot-blasted. Process where sand is sprayed at very high speed onto the surface of stone, usually to generate a non-slip, or rough finish.

SAWN EDGE

An edge with a completely sharp 90-degree cut, such as white granite floor tiles.

SET LENGHTS

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.

SLAB

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.

SPLIT FACE

A method of hand finishing which gives a highly textured, variegated and tactile surface. Often used as a feature wall. Split face 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.

TUMBLED

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.

UNCALIBRATED

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.

UNFILLED

This term primarily relates to travertine which is characterized 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 resulting surface finish is not as smooth as factory filled tiles. Instead a natural looking textured finish is achieved.

VEIN CUT

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. The opposite of cross cut. This terms usually refers to travertine which has been cut vertically as opposed to the more common horizontal method. By cutting in the same direction as the layers of sediment, lines of different colored stone are visible.

VEINING

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

WATERJET

A high pressure computer-controlled waterjet that is used to accurately cut stone into precise shapes. Often used to cut fine art floors and mosaics.

WARPAGE

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’.