Masonry and Tile Glossary

Back Butter

The spreading of a bond coat to the backs of ceramic tile just before the tile is placed.


Creates a transition from the wall to the floor.


Corner piece for a quarter round.


The angle or inclination of a line or surface that meets another at any angle but 90°.


Unglazed white porcelain.


Tile piece that finishes off a run of tile. These pieces can also be used to turn a corner vertically or horizontally.

Butt joint

Placing two tiles together closely as to create the smallest grout joint as possible.


Items, including tiles and pottery, made from clay and fired in a kiln.

             Cove base

Creates a right angle transition from the wall to the floor.


Random pattern of fine lines or cracks on the surface of a crackle-glazed tile.

Diagonally set

Turning a square tile 45 degrees and setting it with the point touching.


Ceramics made of opaque, slightly porous clay that is fired at a relatively low heat.


Tile or trim unit that is formed when clay mixtures are forced through a die of suitable configuration, resulting in a continuous ribbon of formed clay. A wire cutter or similar cut-off device is then used to cut the ribbon into appropriate lengths and widths of tile.

Face mounted

tile that is held together on the front by tape or paper. Usually used on mosaics.


An area of tile covering a wall or floor. The field is bordered by tile trim.


The controlled heat treatment of ceramic ware in a kiln or furnace, during the process of manufacture, to develop the desired properties.


To move from place to place, especially at random. Also used as term for tool that spreads adhesive or grout.

Greek key

Classical pattern of right-angled vertical and horizontal lines that is generally used for borders.


A rich or strong cementitious or chemically setting mixture used for filling tile joints.


A pattern consisting of rows of short, slanted parallel lines with the direction of the slant alternating row by row.


A special oven used to dry and harden clay objects in a process called firing.


A ceramic glaze having low gloss.


To cut on an angle so that two edges joins without a space.


Provides a decorative or architectural accent as it finishes off a run of tile.


A pattern or picture composed of tiny pieces of stone, tile, glass, or pottery fitted together.


Fabric like backing that holds together individual tile pieces.


Flat tile or stone blocks designed specifically for use on floors and walkways.


Type of tile with edges that are softly tapered to create a shape like a puffy pillow.


Hard, transparent, nonporous white clay, fired at a very high temperature used for decorative tiles and fine tableware.

Quarry tile

Tile made from clay that is fired at a very high temperature to make it durable.

Quarter round

Used to turn a 90-degree corner with a rounded edge either vertically or horizontally.


Figure or pattern that stands out from the surface of a tile.

           Running bond

Also known as brick bond. Tile pattern when installed, varies the grout joint.

Soldier Course

Oblong tile laid with the long side vertical in all joints in alignment.


Ceramics made of strong, opaque, nonporous clay that is fired at a high temperature.


Hard molded and fired clay that is used for tile, floor Pavers, and sculpture. The most common terra cotta is a dark red-orange, but colors vary depending on the trace elements it contains.


Finishing pieces of tile that transitions two area.


A flat bladed hand toll for leveling, spreading, or shaping substances such as cement or mortar.


The lower part of an interior wall when finished in a material different from that of the upper part.