First-Time Buying Tiles? Here Are the Basic Design Terms You Need to Know

Posted by Amandeep Singh on

Buying tile is an art in itself. Do you choose stone, granite, ceramic, or marble? What are the best tiles for a shower vs. a kitchen tabletop? For some, it can be an exciting adventure to buy tile slabs, but for others, it can be an overwhelming choice. Luckily, by learning some basic design terminology to help your eventual choices, anyone can soon feel like a professional at the start of the tile shopping journey.

  • Bookmatching – Slicing a single block of marble into sheets to lay them side-by-side. This makes the adjoining surfaces mirror each other identically looking like an open book.


  • Vein-cut – One of two ways that Travertine stone (i.e. luxury natural stone) can be cut and is also known as ‘cutting against the vein’. The cut shows the mineral veins running either horizontally or vertically against the slab.

vain cute horizontal

  • Cross-cut – The second way to cut Travertine stone and also known as “cutting with the vein.” The slab is cut at a 90-degree angle showing the layers and cross section of the veins.


Basic Design

  • Honed – A honed Travertine tile has smooth texture and a finish that comes from grinding one side of the unfinished stone. Tiles can be filled or unfilled and the finish can range from a duller matte to a shinier satin or high sheen. It is commonly used indoors, outdoors, on floors, walls, bathrooms, showers, kitchens and pool areas.


honed marble

  • Tumbled – Tumbled Travertine tiles is where many pieces of stone are cut to the same size and are placed in a rubber coated or plastic barrel with abrasive grit and water. Tumbled stone is typically unfilled when purchased and can be kept that way or eventually filled with grout. It is important to note that tumbled travertine should be sealed before and after grouting.

It’s popular for walk-in showers, tub surrounds, and backsplashes.


tumbled marble

  • Polished – Polished stone has a smooth texture and a gloss or semi-gloss finish that can sometimes be reflective. The polished stone color is usually not as dramatically affected by enhancing sealers which darken most of other finishes. Because it tends to be slicker when wet it is not recommended as a floor covering in wet areas.


polished marble

  • Chiseled edge – Chiseled edge Travertine has a rough irregular edge instead of the straight or beveled edge that most other cuts of stone would have. The chiseled edge is intended to give the stone an aged or weathered appearance.


Chiseled marble

Buying tile slabs is much more than just choosing what types of tiles you want. Often, the design and what you do to those tiles matter just as much if not more to a beautiful finish. As you go about your journey, contact us for any design questions as you create your tiling masterpiece.

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