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Common Edge Styles

Common Stone Countertop Terms

Accents:  A contrast, outline, or highlight added for detail and emphasis. See Inlays.


Apron Front Sink: (farmhouse sink):  A sink with a large apron in front that sits on a short cabinet.


Backsplash:  Wall protection at the back edge of the countertop; designed to seal the counter and protect the wall from spills and damage; can be integral to the counter or applied directly to the wall.


Build-up:  Strips of material that are sometimes attached to the under-side of countertops to raise it flush with the cabinet tops.

Bull-nose:  A finished edge on an otherwise unfinished natural or man-made tile.


Cantilever:  A beam projecting beyond its supports. For instance, the area where a countertop overhangs a cabinet by a few inches.


Drain Board:  Depressions in a countertop which allows water to run into the sink.

Drop-in Sink:  A sink which contains a rim that fits over the countertop.

Edge Return:  A thick countertop edge that gives the appearance of a thicker slab.


Edge Profile:  Defines the shape of the front edge of your countertops. See the list of common edge profiles on this page..


Engineered Stone:  A man-made substance usually composed of crushed quartz and polymer binders used to emulate natural stone. It is sold under many labels (Silestone, Cambria, CaesarStone, Zodiac, etc.).


Gloss:  A way to describe a finish which has a deep shine and smooth texture.


Granite:  An igneous rock, formed by volcanic action, and composed chiefly of feldspars and quartz, usually with one or more other minerals. It is relatively hard and dense, and will polish to a high gloss. It is an excellent choice for kitchen countertops, floors, and other heavily used surfaces. Granite, quarried from the mountains of Italy, the U.S., India, and dozens of other countries around the world, is one of the most popular natural stones on the market. Available in a striking array of colors, granite's durability and longevity make it ideal for kitchen countertops and other heavily used surfaces, including table tops and floors.


Grout:  The material used to fill and seal the joints between ceramic tiles.

Honed finish:  A satin rather than high-gloss finish achieved by removing the highly polished surface.

Impregnating:  The technical term for sealing.

Impregnators:  Impregnators are designed to penetrate below the surface of the stone. The application of impregnators restricts water, oil and dirt from entering the stone.

Inlay:  An inlay is the use of a contrasting color placed in or between elements of the main color for decoration. This can be simple trim, or complex company logos or diagrams.

Island:  An independent segment of cabinetry that doesn't touch any walls and is typically centrally located within the kitchen floor plan.

Integral or Integrated Sink:  A sink made out of the same material as the countertop to form a continuous surface.

Laminate: A thin material adhered to particle board substrates. Often referred to as brand names such as 'Formica' or 'Wilsonart'.


Limestone:  Any stone consisting wholly or mostly from calcium carbonate.

Lip-Mount:  A lip-mount sink is designed with a lip around the top edge and designed to drop into a cut-out in your countertops, resting on the "lip".


Marble:  A metamorphic rock composed of limestone in a crystalline state. It is capable of being polished to a gloss. Marble is a popular choice for countertops, floors, foyers, fireplace facings and hearths, walls, and windowsills. It is less commonly used for kitchen countertops because it is more susceptible to scratching and staining than granite and other alternatives.

Matte:  A smooth finish with very little shine.

Melamine:  Particle board coated with a plastic material which is used in concrete countertops because of its smoothness.

Mitre:  A seam in a countertop, usually in a corner, where the counter changes direction.

Mosaic:  A pattern formed by inlaying small pieces of stone, tile or other material into a cement, plaster or mortar matrix.

Non-porous:  A material that won't stain. It isn't affected by chemicals, acids, and temperatures; therefore it is easy to clean, and resistant to bacteria buildup.

Penetrating Sealer:  See Impregnators.


Profiling:  Edge detail applied to the stone. See Edge Profile.

Quarry:  The location of an operation where a natural deposit of stone is removed from the ground.

Quartz:  A rock countertop material which, unlike granite, never has to be sealed or polished.

Quartzite:  A compact granular rock composed of quartz crystals, usually so firmly cemented as to make the mass homogeneous. The stone is generally quarried in stratified layers, the surfaces of which are unusually smooth. Its crushing and tensile strengths are extremely high. The color range is wide.

Sandstone:  A sedimentary rock consisting usually of quartz cemented with silica, iron oxide or calcium carbonate. Sandstone is durable, has a very high crushing and tensile strength, and a wide range of colors and textures.


Sealer:  Solvent used to protect and enhance the appearance of a countertop surface. See Impregnators.

Sealing:  The process of using a clear solvent-based product to protect the stone from stains.


Shim:  A thin piece of wood used during installation to insure that countertops are level.

Sink Reveal:  Applicable to under-mount sinks. Used to describe the size of the hole cut for an under-mount sink. A bigger cut-out reveals the top edge of the under-mount sink. A smaller cut-out hides the top of the sink because the stone overhangs the edge of the sink.

Slab:  A large piece of stone from which the counter top sections are cut.

Slate:  A fine-grained rock that tends to split along parallel cleavage planes. Slate is relatively soft and porous.

Soapstone:  A naturally dark gray, yet smooth countertop surface made of talc-quarried, metaphoric stone. It is non-porous and easily maintained.

Solid Surface:  A manufactured product that emulates stone, created by combining natural minerals with resin and additives. Often referred to as Corian, a Dupont product.

Stainless Steel Countertops:  A countertop made from stainless steel. Usually found in commercial kitchens, but can create a contemporary and industrial look in your home. These countertops are heat resistant, durable, and easy to clean but are easily scratched and very expensive.

Template or Templating:  The process of making a full-size mock up, or duplication of your surface to be made out of granite/marble.

Travertine:  A form of limestone. Travertine is a product of chemical precipitation from hot springs. Some that take a polish are sold as marble, and may be classified as travertine marble.

Tumbled:  A surface finish produced by tumbling stone in sand, pebbles, or steel bearings to round off corners and create a rustic, matte finish.

Under-mount Sink:  A sink that physically mounts beneth natural/engineered stone countertops. Alternative to under-mount is a lip-mount sink.

Vessel Sink:  A sink which sits on top of the countertop.

Zodiac:  A product of DuPont®. It is a Natural Quartz surfacing contains 93% natural quartz.

Common Tile Terms

Adhesive:  A substance used for bonding tile to surfaces. Other common names thinset, glue, mud, mastic, mortar, and paste.

Backing:  Material used as a base over which a tile is installed.

Battiscopa:  A floor trim also known as bullnose that has a finished edge on one side.

Broken Joint:  Tile installation where each row is offset for half of its length. Also known as brick joint or staggered pattern.

Bullnose:  A trim tile with a finished edge.

Caulk:  Waterproof filler used to seal joints and make tile joints watertight.

Cement Board:  A panel normally ¼" or ½" thick made of cement, reinforced with fiberglass used as a substrate for tile installation.

Coefficient of Friction (C.O.F):  The measurement of resistance to friction as related to be effect of how smooth or rough a surface is to prevent material to "slip" across the surface.

Cove Base:  A trim tile having a convex radius with a flat landing on the bottom edge. See also Sanitary Base.

Cure:  The time period that a tile installation setting material must be undisturbed and allowed to set for it to reach full strength.

Epoxy Adhesive:  A two part adhesive system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. Used for bonding ceramic tile or stone to backing material.

Epoxy Grout:  A two-part grout system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. Made to have impervious qualities, stain and chemical resistant. Used to fill joints between tiles.

Feature Strip (Border):  A narrow strip of tile with design, texture or contrasting color that creates a design concept.


Field Tile:  The primary tile used to cover a wall or floor.

Floor Tile:  A tile durable enough to withstand traffic and abrasion.

Grout:  A mortar used to fill the joints between tiles.

Glazed Tile:  A tile that has an impervious facial finish composed of gaseous ceramic materials fused to the surface of the tile.


Granite:  Hard igneous rock consisting chiefly of quartz, orthoclase or microcline. This material can be in tile or slab form

Lappato:  A tile finish also known as "Semi-Polished".

Limestone:  Sedimentary stone that could have fossils or shells. This material can be in tile or slab form in a variety of finishes.


Listel or Listello: A decorative border, primarily for walls.


Marble:  A natural stone product quarried from the earth. This material can be in tile or slab form in a variety of finishes.

Mastic: A wall tile adhesive used to bond tile to wall substrates.

Mosaics:  Ceramic, porcelain, glass, metal or stone tile less than six square inches. May come in squares, octagons, hexagons or random shapes mounted for ease of installation.

Mud:  A slang term referring to thick-bed mortar consisting of sand and cement.

Porcelain Tile:  Mosaic or paver tile composed by the dust-pressed method. Characterized by a dense and impervious body.


Quarry Tile:  Dense unglazed tile that is generally 6" or more in surface area and less than 3/4" thick. Use mostly in commercial spaces because of its slip resistant qualities.

Sanitary Base:  A trim tile having a concave radius on one edge and a convex radius with a flat landing on the bottom edge.

Sealer:  A penetrant applied to prevent the absorption of liquids or other debris. Used with porous materials including: quarry tile, grout, and natural stone. Sealer is not necessary for glazed ceramic tile.

Slate:  A natural material that is known for its dynamic colors and "earthy" appeal. Slate is used outside as well as inside because of its natural look and wonderful colors. Because slate is a product of nature, it is characterized by a high shade variation.

Spacers:  Cross-shaped plastic pieces that are used in installation to evenly separate tile. Manufactured in various thicknesses and shapes.

Thinset:  An adhesive used to attach tiles to a substrate.

Threshold:  A raised member of the floor within the doorjamb.

Travertine:  Similar composition to limestone but with holes created by hot springs. This material can be in tile or slab form also in many different finishes.

Trim Pieces:  Various shaped of bases, caps, corners, moldings, angles, etc.


Unglazed Tile:  A hard, dense tile of uniform composition.

Wall Tile:  Glazed tile with a body suitable for interior use. Not expected to withstand excessive impact or be subject to freezing/thawing conditions.


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