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stone glossary

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Abrasion Resistance


The ability of a flooring surface to resist abrasion when in contact with abrasive materials.


Absorbing or a taking in a liquid or gas.

Acid-Washed Finish.

A finishing method often used on concrete, marble and limestone flooring that gives it a rustic, etched look. It can also be used to diminish shine on surfaces.


A chemical with a pH rating below 7.

Acrylic Resin

A transparent, synthetic resin which is made by the polymerization of acrylic and methacrylic acid and is fairly resistant to external contaminates.


A material, often called glue, that bonds one material to another.


An ingredient other than water, cement, and aggregate that can be added to concrete at the site of installation or at the factory to modify its properties in a number of ways. For example, it can lengthen or shorten hardening time.

Agglomerate Marble

Small pieces of marble that are bound together.


A chemical substance often used to neutralize acidic substances.

Back Butter

The act of applying a layer of glue or adhesive to the back of a tile before installation.

Backing (Stone)

The bottommost layer of the flooring that sits closest to the substrate. In carpet, this is the material that the fabric is tufted or woven into.


A section of wall behind a counter or sink.

Balanced Cuts

Tile that is cut to fit where full tiles will not.


A word often used to describe tiles that are cut and placed where a baseboard would normally go.


A floor trim similar to a baseboard.

Beating Block

A block of wood that is often used with a mallet to firmly embed tiles into an adhesive.

Black Granite

Stone composed of interlocking crystals which has a dark gray or black color. It is actually not true granite as it contains little or no alkalic feldspar.


A term that describes the fullness of a finishing material.

Border Stone

A piece of stone that is used to create a border and is often a different color or shade than the other pieces.


A type of sandstone used for stone flooring that has large amounts of iron oxide which gives it a reddish-brown color.

Brushed Finish

A finishing technique that involves brushing a flooring surface with an abrasive brush to replicate the appearance of natural wear.

Building Stone

Natural rock as it is found in the Earth's crust that can be cut into different dimensions for different uses.

Bull Nose Tiles

Tiles with built in bull nosing, also known as caps.

Bull Nosing

A molding applied to the front of stairs and landings, used to create a rounded finish.


See Back Buttering


Limestone that is mostly composed of calcite or aragonite, which is usually fragments of shells.

Calcite Limestone

A type of natural stone composed of limestone and 5% or less magnesium carbonate.


When a material such as stone or cement is cut or sanded so that it is uniformly thick throughout the entire slab.


A trim that usually goes around windows, doors, or entryways.


A flexible product that is spread into joints to provide a barrier against water and air.

Cement Backer Unit / C.B.U.

A layer of material that is placed between a wooden subfloor and cement flooring to provide support and a moisture barrier.

Cement Board


Panels of aggregate cement reinforced on each side with glass-fiber mesh.

Cement Body Tile

Tiles made of cement and sand.

Coefficient of Friction / C.O.F.

Refers to a surface's ability to resist objects slipping or sliding across it.

Conductive Tile

A type of tile flooring that conducts electricity and can often transmit it safely to the ground below.

Conventional Installation

A tile flooring installation method using cement mortar to affix the tile to the subfloor.


A cream, yellow, or grayish colored limestone found on the shoreline near St. Augustine, Florida. It contains full or broken shells and sometimes small amounts of coral that are imbedded in calcite. It is very coarse and porous.


A tile used as a trim around corners and baseboards that is concave on one edge.


A split or separation in the surface of a floor. Often must extend to a specific depth to be considered a crack.


Small cracks or checks that interlace in the surface of a finishing product.

Crystalline Limestone

A type of limestone made of calcite and interlocking crystalline grains of different minerals.


When properties of an adhesive or cement are changed by a chemical reaction which allows it to reach its maximum strength. This is generally done by condensation, heat, or another catalyst.

Cut Stone

Natural stone that has been cut or trimmed to a specified dimension.

Damp Proofing

A coating that is applied to a surface to prevent migration of moisture.

Dimension Stone

Natural stone this is cut to a specified dimension and may or may not have a finished surface.


A layer of material that is used as a foundation for a tile installation, which protects the subfloor and allows the tiles to move slightly without being damaged. It is also known as an underlayment.

Dolomitic Limestone

Limestone with large amounts of dolomite, often crystalline in character. It is available in a variety of colors and textures.

Dry Set Mortar

A cement-based mortar that is used in thin applications usually not greater than 3/16th of an inch.

Edge-Bonded Tile

See Pre-Grouted Tile


Salt deposits that form on the surface of concrete when sodium calcium hydroxide mixes with carbon dioxide.

Embossed (Stone)

A styling technique that consists of a three dimensional pattern or design in a surface.

Epoxy Adhesive

A type of adhesive that contains an epoxy resin and a hardener, used to adhere tiles to the surface beneath.

Epoxy Grout

A type of grout which contains an epoxy resin and a hardener, used to fill joints and grout lines.

Expansion Joint

A space left around the perimeter of the room or between sections of flooring that allows for the movement and expansion of the flooring.

Exposed Aggregate

Colored rocks or other aggregate exposed on the surface of concrete, generally by using abrasive materials or a pressure washer to remove the surface mortar. It is also seen on the surface of natural stone flooring.


A facility or area of operations where stone and other material is cut and customized to specific dimensions.

Facial Defect

A defect on a flooring surface which diminishes the overall appearance.

Feature Strip

A design feature, similar to a border, that is used as an accent to enhance flooring.


Limestone that has a large content of iron oxide and is soft when taken from the earth, but becomes hard after exposure.

Field Stone

Boulders, cobbles, or other loose chunks of rock found scattered around a quarry.

Field Tile

Tiles used for the largest areas of flooring which may be inside a band or border.


The act of filling voids in a surface with a filler.


The coating applied to the surface of flooring to provide protection.

Finished Stone

Stone that has been finished or dressed on the surface.

Fire Decorating

A technique that involves firing decoration onto a flooring surface.

Fire Resistance

A term used to describe the ability of flooring to withstand fire.

Fire Retardant

A chemical used to make a floor more fire resistant.

Flamed Finish

A finishing technique that is often used on stone flooring to achieve a rough, textured surface. The surface is heated by flame until it is very hot and then quickly cooled causing the surface to pop and chip.

Floating Floor Installation

A common flooring installation method where the floor floats on an underlayment and planks are hooked together in a tongue and groove mechanism. Glue is sometimes used in the seams of the tongue and groove, but the flooring is not attached to the subfloor

Floor Tile

A tile that is strong enough to be installed on a floor for everyday use.


An object or surface that is level with another object or surface.


A crack or break in rock or another surface.

Frost Proof Tile

A flooring tile that is resistant to damage from freezing and thawing.

Gauged or Gauging

Measuring stone, cement, or other material in order to produce uniform thickness throughout the entire slab.

Glass Mosaic Tiles

Small pieces of glass arranged and mounted on a backing in attractive patterns.


A protective coating that is fired onto a flooring surface, often colored for additional decoration.

Glazed Tiles

Tiles that are covered with a glossy or matte glaze which also adds moisture resistance.


Firing a protective, sometimes colored, coating onto a flooring surface.


An igneous stone made of quartz, mica, and feldspar that comes from molten lava. It is extremely dense, has a glossy appearance, and may contain small amounts of other minerals.

Granite Gneiss

A layering within stone that occurs when the rock is compressed in one direction and the crystals in the rock grow perpendicular to the direction of the pressure. This results in what appears to be bands.


A moisture-resistant panel similar to drywall.


Stone that has taken on a greenish color due to chlorite, plagioclase, actinolite, or epidote in its composition.


A creamy mixture of mortar, cement or other cementious material and water, used to fill joints and grout lines. It often has sand, gravel or other similar material added and is available in a variety of colors.


The process of filling joints with grout.

Grouting Float

A trowel that is used to push grout firmly into joints.

Hand-Cut Random Rectangular Ashlar

An assortment of square and rectangular pieces of stone fit and cemented together.


Stone that has an edge tooled to match the surface, used in corners, windows or any place where the side of the stone tile or slab will be seen.


The part of a stone fireplace where the logs are laid.

Hearth Stone

The stone or stones that make up the hearth itself and may extend to the front or sides of the fire chamber.

Heavy Duty Tile

Tile that meets specific requirements, making it suitable for high traffic and commercial areas.

Honed Finish

A finishing layer of flooring which has a matte appearance and reflects less light then a polished floor.


One of three main rock classes made when molten rock hardens. It can have a crystalline or glassy appearance.

Impervious Tile

Tile that is considered very water resistant and has an absorption rate of 0.5% or less.

Isolation Membrane

An extra membrane placed below the surface of tile for added protection.


The frames of doors, windows, or other openings.


An area in a wall that is indented in or projects out, making it deviate from a flush surface.

Joint Compound

A compound applied with paper or mesh to joints to provide a flawless joining of two surfaces once sanded.


The final wedge-shaped piece installed in an arch.

Latex-Portland Cement Grout

A type of grout made of Portland cement and a latex additive.

Latex-Portland Cement Mortar

A type of mortar made of Portland cement and a latex additive.


Igneous rocks in their molten form that erupt from volcanic activity.


A sedimentary stone used for stone flooring that is available in neutral colors. It is made from a combination of calcite and sediment and may contain fossils or shells.


A structurally durable backing that a veneer slab is adhered to.


A problem that occurs when the edges of two tiles that come together at a joint are not on the same plane. Some lippage can be tolerated and bridged using grout, depending on the width of the joint. Generally, the lippage between two surfaces should not b

Listel or Listello

A strip or border used for decoration, generally on a wall.

Manufactured Stone / Agglomerate Stone

A type of flooring that consists of a binding material such as cement, polyester, or epoxy with stone chips suspended in it. It has quadruple the flexibility of granite and is less prone to cracking and chipping.


A type of limestone that is extremely hard and durable and often polished to a shine. It contains re-crystallized calcite or dolomite, is available in a multitude of colors, and often has the appearance of veins. Common types of marble include Travertine,

Masonry Cement

A mixture of cement with hydrated lime added to increase the workability.

Medium Duty Tile

Tile that meets specific standards and is suitable for medium traffic areas.

Metamorphic Rock

A type of rock created when igneous or sedimentary rock "morphs," usually due to heat and pressure in the Earth's crust. Examples of this include marble, quartzite, and slate.


The "morphing" of an igneous or sedimentary rock, usually due to heat and pressure in the Earth's crust.

Modular Multiple-Cut / Pattern Cut

Standard patterns or cuts of stone cut in different multiples of a height.


Trims used to cover the expansion gap or to transition to another flooring surface.


A cementious mixture that also contains sand, water, and lime and is used to adhere masonry such as ceramic tile or stone to the surface beneath.


A pattern or irregular design created with smaller pieces of flooring.

Mosaic Tile

Small tiles, usually less than six square inches, which are laid together to form patterns or irregular designs.

Mounted Tile

Tile that is pre-mounted either on the surface or on the backside by mesh, paper, resin, or another material.


A slang term for mortar made of sand and cement.

Natural Bed

The setting of stone parallel to how it was found in the quarry.

Natural Cleft

Stone that has been separated at a natural seam which is said to have a natural cleft surface.

Nominal Dimension

A measuring of flooring that includes the recommended joint size. The actual size of the tile or piece of flooring may be smaller.

Non-Slip Tile

Tile that is resistant to objects slipping or sliding across.

Non-Vitreous Tile

Tile that is not very resistant to moisture and has absorption rates over 7%.

Onyx Marble

A type of marble that is usually translucent and has a layered effect. It is composed of lime carbonate.

Oolitic Limestone

A uniform, non-crystalline, calcareous stone that is able to withstand freezing and thawing conditions. It is formed of full shells and pieces of shells that are calcite-cemented together.

Paper and Wire

A tile installation method which involves using wire mesh and tar paper as a backing.


Stone used as steps or for arches.

Pin Holes/Pin Lines

Tiny holes or lines in finish caused by finish sinking into low or less dense areas, which can be corrected by applying an additional coat of finish.

Pitch Faced Finish / Pitch Face Stone

A method of taking stone from the quarry, similar to split faced stone, only it is chiseled along a straight plane exposing the natural cleft. It has a bold, rough texture.

Plucked Finish

A finish texture that is achieved by plucking small particles out of the surface.


A truly level surface.

Polished Finish

A finish that has a high degree of shine or gloss and a strong reflection of light.


The amount and size of tiny holes or pores in a flooring surface.

Pre-Grouted Tile

Tile that is pre-grouted in sheets and bonded together, usually using an elastomeric material.


Areas where huge rock deposits have been exposed from the core of the Earth's crust, where natural stone is taken from.

Quarry Tile

Tile taken from a quarry that is over 6" in surface area.


A common silicon dioxide mineral that is the main component in sandstone.


Rock composed of quartz crystals which is available in a variety of colors and has a smooth surface.

Quartzitic Sandstone

Sandstone with a large percentage of quartz grains.


An area of flooring with consistent thickness.

Reducer Strip/Reducer

A molding accessory normally used at doorways, fireplaces, or to divide a room that is grooved on one edge and tapered on the other, forming a teardrop shape.


The most general term for what is used to make stone flooring. It is taken from the Earth's crust and consists of minerals and aggregates naturally formed together in a number of ways.


Oddly shaped stone pieces that are often pieced together and held with a cementious material. This is often used for walls or in foundations and may have a finished surface.


A strip of stone used as a threshold.

Sample/Sample Board

A small piece of flooring that acts as a representation of the final product.


Using a small piece of a product as a sample.

Sand Mix

A mixture of sand and cementious material applied not more than 2" thick to patch or level mortar beds.

Sand-Sawn Finish

A finish achieved with the use of a gang saw combined with sand as the abrasive agent. It is relatively smooth but may contain light texturing.


Propelling sand at a high speed onto a surface to clean or roughen it.


Sandstone - Sandstone is one of the most durable, long-lasting types of stone available. It is composed of a sedimentary rock made of feldspar and quartz. It is available in shades of white, grey, yellow, and red.

Saw-Cut Refined Finish

A finishing method achieved by sanding a stone to remove some, but not all, of the marks left from the saw. This results in a matte appearance.

Sawed Edge

An edge that is cut cleanly with a saw or blade.

Sawed Face

A floor surface obtained by using a saw to cut the slab or tile. It can vary in texture from smooth to rough.



Using a straightedge or other tool to level mortar in a mortar bed.

Sculptured Tile

Tile that has been sculpted or molded for decoration.

Sealant Coating


See Sealer


A coat that is applied to the surface of a floor before applying finish or other coats, which prevents them from being absorbed into the flooring itself. Also may be applied as a final finishing step to a flooring surface to add protection and moisture re

Sedimentary Rock

A common class of rock made from deposits that have been consolidated and crystallized, such as sandstone and limestone.

Self-Spacing Tile

Tile that has built in spacers or lugs, making it self-spacing.

Semi-Rubbed Finish

A finish obtained by rubbing high areas of a surface down while leaving some lower areas with their natural texture.

Semi-Vitreous Tile

Semi glass-like tile with a water absorption rate between 3% and 7%.


A rock forming mineral that often gives rocks a greenish color. Serpentine is a general term given to several minerals of a polymorphic group that generally are found in very hard stone.

Shaped Stone

Stone which has been cut, shaved, or shaped by any method.


The act of applying the stress of two forces acting in opposite directions on an object.

Shot-Sawn Finish

A rough finish obtained by using a gang saw to saw random, textured markings with chilled steel shots.


A flat finishing piece often installed horizontally under windows and other openings.


A slightly elastic, fine grained, layered sedimentary rock composed mostly of quartz and silicate minerals.


A rectangular or square cut of stone from a quarry which has two parallel surfaces.


A type of sedimentary rock used in stone flooring that is made primarily from minerals of the mica group and also contains other minerals such as quartz, calcite, mica, and chlorite. It is formed when these sediments are put under pressure and heat by th

Slip Resistance

A measurement of the frictional resistance of an object from moving across a surface.

Smooth Finish / Smooth Planer Finish

A finish obtained using a planer machine with all tool marks removed after use.


A type of stone composed mainly of talc, chlorite, magnesite, and dolomite. It has a soft feel almost like a bar of soap and is often used for bathtubs, hearths, flooring, and so on.


The visible underside of an arch, portico, or other piece generally installed over a door way.

Sound Stone

Stone free of physical defects.


Small device in a cross, T, or Y shape used to evenly space tiles during installation.


Generally smaller sized stones used to fill holes or voids in flooring that consist of larger pieces arranged together.

Special Purpose Tile

Tile that has been specifically made to fit a certain requirement. This can range from a specific color, size, shape, decoration, strength, or other physical property.

Split Faced Finish / Split Face Stone

Taking stone from the quarry, cutting it to a specific height in large chunks, and breaking those chunks in slices to expose the natural cleft. This finish has a slightly rough texture.


The binding together of chunks or pieces of stone with a cementious material.


Refers to a block, slab, or fragment of rock that is used commercially.

Stone Tile

Stone flooring available typically in uniform, square dimensions such as 12"x12" or 16"x16".

Straight 90° Edge

An edge of a tile that forms a right angle, creating a clean look.

Straight Joint

Joints installed in alignment with each other.


A rock structure that has been naturally formed in layers, wedges, or other units.

Strip Rubble

Rock generally removed from a ledge which is then split into strips by machine, making uniform stone slabs.

Structural Defect

A defect in the body of flooring which diminishes the overall appearance or structural integrity.


The base floor of a structure which the flooring is installed on top of. Typically subfloors are made of wood or concrete.


The surface that the flooring is installed on. Generally, it is the subfloor.


A type of flooring that consists of small pieces or chips of stone set or mixed into a cementious material and then polished.

Thin Marble

Marble flooring that is 2" or less thick.

Thin Stone/Thin Veneer

A layer of flooring that is less than 2" thick.

Thin-Set Mortar

A thin layer of cementious adhesive that is spread onto a surface which tile is then laid into.


A thin piece or slab of ceramic, stone, or another material, often used for flooring, roofs, or interior or exterior decoration.


A term used for the leeway a product can have in dimension that is ordered at a specific size.

Tooled Finish

A flooring finish that has 4-8 parallel, concave grooves per inch.


A term used to describe a substance that allows light to pass through but is not completely see-through.


A type of natural stone that belongs to the limestone family. Also called Calcium Carbonate, travertine is formed when minerals dissolve in the water on the ground and are deposited on the surface.

Travertine Limestone / Travertine Marble

A type of limestone that has winding, irregular holes in the surface and often has areas that display small stalactites.


The materials used to give the flooring a finished look and cover expansion gaps. This includes T-moldings, baseboards, quarter rounds, etc.

Tumbled Finish

A finish often used on tiles where they are placed in a machine and tumbled to deliver a tile that is chipped or broken around corners and does not usually have square edges as a result.

Un-Sanded Grout

A type of grout which is applied to joints and requires no sanding once dry, minimizing the risk of damaging the floor. Any excess grout is wiped clean with a sponge before the grout hardens.

Unglazed Tile

A hard tile which does not have a color or glaze over the surface and is often naturally or synthetically colored throughout the entire piece.

Vein Cut

A cut of stone that was taken perpendicular to a bedding plane.


Colorful marking or the appearance of veins in stone flooring.


A thin facing applied to a surface for decoration, insulation, or extra protection. It is commonly seen in stone veneer applied to interiors and exteriors of homes to provide a stone wall look.

Verde Antique

A type of marble often polished and used for flooring that is mainly composed of serpentine. It commonly has very thin white lines running though it that resemble broken spider webs.

Vertical Broken Joint

A tile installation method where each row is offset from the previous row for half a tile's length.

Vitreous Tile

A glassy, rather than crystalline, tile with low porosity that has a low water absorption rate between 0.5% and 3%.

Wall Tie

A device which is used to hold masonry to the wall or to other pieces.

Wall Tile

Tiles often installed on walls that are not made to withstand extreme outdoor temperatures.


The act of applying a wax finish to a floor. Also refers to the filling of small voids in marble flooring with a colored product.


The removal of the finish layer of a flooring surface which is generally caused by friction from dirt and debris.


Alteration caused by temperature changes or extremes of water or humidity, and other natural, environmental factors.


The act of splitting stone by hammering a wedge into a weak spot.