We, meaning us evil, scheming people in the tile industry, have a bad habit of using words that are not easily understood or recognized by the general public – and that’s a bad thing. Well, I think it’s a bad thing anyway, since the general public are the ones buying the tile – Hello, McFly??? Take for instance those three ridiculously nondescript words up there: Honed, rectified, and gauged – as well as the word ‘nondescript’. Okay, we’ll leave the last one out of this discussion.

Taken alone they each have very distinct meanings – easy enough. However, when used next to the word tile or stone, they tend to confuse. So I’m gonna try to clear it up a little bit for you so you know what a gauged slate is when you see it, as well as help you find the word you need when you know what you’re looking for but don’t know what word you need. (Is anyone else dizzy right now? No? Just me? okay…)


Honed is used next to different types of natural stone – most commonly with slate – as in ‘honed slate’ (didn’t see that coming, did you?) Although most common with slate it is also used with any natural stone product available. Honed stone simply means that the surface of the stone, has been ground to a smooth, flat, consistent surface. It also means, in the case of normally shiny stones such as granite or marble, that the polish or shine has been removed leaving a matte (unpolished) surface.

Slate Kerdi walk-in Shower in Fort CollinsIf you think about a slate tile (and honestly, who besides me, does that?) with its rough, textured, uneven surface, that would be an example of regular slate – not honed. If that slate tile were ground down with a smooth, consistent, flat surface it would be honed. Just like the tile installed in this Full Kerdi Walk-in Slate Shower with a Mountain Silhouette Relief  installed by Roger from Tile Art in Fort Collins, CO – TileArtCenter.com. 8)

That, by the way, was an absolutely shameless plug for a very excellent tile contractor – me. See, when I self-promote I don’t jack around. :D Unabashed self-promotion aside, that is a photo of honed slate installed on a shower wall. See how flat and unshiny it is – honed.

That was relatively painless, wasn’t it? Which brings us to our next obscure word…


Rectified is a term most often used with manufactured tiles such as porcelain as in, you guessed it, ‘rectified porcelain’. Natural stone tiles are rarely clarified as rectified because they normally are.

Rectified tile means that each tile is identical in size – length and width. As in each 12 inch tile is actually 12 inches – exactly. And each one is identically sized. Or, more accurately, if each 12 inch tile is exactly 11 7/8″ wide, they are all exactly 11 7/8″ wide. The ’12 inch’ part isn’t the important part – the ‘identical’ part is.

What is the difference between a rectified ceramic and porcelain and one that isn’t rectified, you ask? Glad you asked. A normal (non-rectified) ceramic or porcelain tile is formed and baked. This baking process will cause the tile to shrink ever-so-slightly and each tile may shrink a differing amount. This will lead to tiles that are not identically sized. Although the difference in tiles may be only 1/64″ or smaller, if you run a row 25 feet down a floor you may end up with a total 1/2″ difference overall.

Now this is not normally a problem and is dealt with as you are setting the tile by nudging each tile to where it needs to be to make up for this difference. If done correctly you’ll never know it’s there. It’s completely normal.

A rectified tile, on the other hand, is baked then cut to size. All the shrinking will take place during the baking process so after it is cut to size it will remain that size – forever. This makes it much easier, quicker and cleaner to work with and allows for a smaller grout line than may be required for a non-rectified tile. All rectified tiles are cut to an identical size. This is the reason that natural stone tiles are not referred to as rectified – they should all be cut to an identical size during the manufacturing process.

So, if you want really, really small grout lines and an absolutely straight, unvarying grout line, rectified tile or natural stone tiles are the way to go. They are so much easier to keep layouts consistent and lines exactly where you want them. Easier, in this respect, is relative since I prefer the smallest grout line possible with any given tile. The slate shower you see above has 1/16″ grout lines on the wall – this is nearly impossible to do with a tile that is not rectified. You simply have no room in the grout line to make up for inconsistencies in tile size.

*Note: not all slate tiles are rectified! Slate is the only (common) natural stone tile that is not normally rectified unless specifically stated.


Gauged stone is a bit more difficult to explain inasmuch as there are a number of things or descriptions of what constitutes a gauged stone. In the most common usage it simply means that each tile is an identical (or nearly so) thickness. This attribute, however, may also be referred to as ‘calibrated’ stone.

Technically gauged means that the backside of the stone has been ground down to a flat, or more accurately, consistent, rough finish. Going back to slate (since there are so many variations of slate stone it is the easiest example) it means the backside of the slate has been ground down to a flat, normally grooved, surface. This process makes each slate tile nearly (if it is calibrated) an identical thickness – usually within 1/16″ or so.

With most stone tiles this is not really a designation you need to look for – unless it is slate. Most all other natural stone tiles (granite, marble, etc.) are cut to an identical thickness. Slate is the exception because, for the most part, it is meant to have a natural, rough, uneven surface. If you want that – don’t be concerned with a gauged or calibrated designation. If you want tile like that shower wall – it needs to be gauged and calibrated.

So there you have it – the three obscure words badly explained in an effort to further confuse you. I do understand that for normal people – that is people that don’t stand in showers all day – there will still be a bit of confusion especially about the whole ‘gauged’ and ‘calibrated’ thing. If you have any questions about it at all please feel free to ask what the hell it is in the comment section below. If you are new to my blog I actually do answer every question around here. I’m just super-cool like that. 8)

{ 101 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

  • Robin

    Hi there! I just bought a home in Florida and am ripping out the carpet on the entire first floor and would like to put in 24×24 rectified porcelain tiles.

    1. Where is a good place to find these in some type of matte finish? I love the look of the white shiny ones, but I think they might be slippery for a household with a pool and twin 5 year old boys.

    2. What should I look for in the product to know that it can be layer with 1/16 grout lines? What type of grout (sanded or unsanded) with this type of tile?

    3. I don’t know what is under the carpet, but the house was built on a slab. What do I need to be sure the installers do to prep the floor to ensure a good end result? I want to know a bit of the mechanics of it so I know if I’m choosing the right installer. It seems not everyone has used much of this tile before…

    Thanks so much! I really enjoy your info!

    • Roger

      Hi Robin,

      You are asking me questions that I either don’t know (I have no idea what suppliers you have) or can not yet be answered (not all rectified tiles are equal – the tile dictates the allowable grout line size as well as type of grout).

      3. There are many ways to properly prepare a floor. Flattening of the slab and/or a proper membrane such as kerdi are a couple of the key points, although a membrane is not required. It is always a good idea.

  • Matt

    Hi Roger,

    Your tile and stone installation manual you say that large format tiles (>17″) are cupped and therefore, if installed with an offset pattern, should be offset by no more than 1/3 of the tile to minimize lippage.

    I’m installing 10″ x 20″ porcelain tiles on a bathroom wall. Planning to offset each by a 1/3. Also planned to use the ATR tile leveling system. Am I going to run into problems using a tile leveling system with large format (cupped) tiles in an offset installation?

    • Roger

      Hi Matt,

      Nope, you can use them for all installations. I haven’t used that one, but have had no problems with tls or mlt on that size. Also, if your tiles are fairly flat you may be able to do a 50% offset using a leveling system. I DO NOT know whether it will work with the atr, though, I have zero experience with that system.

  • Ben


    Really appreciate your website and advice; I’ve shuffled through your pages here many times looking over various topics. This time, I was hoping to find an answer to the usage of honed vs polished marble in bathroom settings. Particularly I’d like to know which to use on the bathroom floor and the shower floor. Is one inherently wrong to use? I’ve heard that polished is slippery for use on the floor, but it sure looks nice. Is slipping really an issue with polished – should you always used honed? Does one have better durability than the other in floor settings? What would your recommendation be for the shower floor and the bathroom floor – or is the same type best for both? Finally, regarding the best technique for setting marble tile (particularly large size (12″x24″)), what’s the best way to back butter / spread the thinset? And how does sealing marble tile work? I noticed another poster here mentioned the 5 point technique and sealing to avoid variations in the look of the tile when finished. Many thanks.

    • Roger

      Hi Ben,

      Most important thing first: NEVER, EVER use the five-spot method. Ever.

      Polished and honed marble have the same durability, except for the surface. Every little scratch will show up on polished. Polished marble is more slippery, but they’ve been in Roman bath houses for (literally) thousands of years. Honed have MUCH more grip.

      With large format stone I comb the thinset on the floor, skim the thinset onto the back of the tile, then comb it onto the back of the tile, then set it. The variations you mentioned are all due entirely to the skill of the setter. It takes time, patience and extreme attention to detail.

      Sealing works the same with all types of tile: Tile and stone sealers

  • Joe

    You have a lot of helpful information on this website. Thanks. We have some questions.
    1. Regarding grout line, you mentioned that the “The minimum grout line width for any given tile is three times the tile variation”. How do we know what the tile variation is when we purchase our tiles? Is there something we should look for on the box? We’re thinking of buying porcelain wood plank tiles, 6″ x 24″. Is the variation rule the same for square porcelain tiles?
    2. How can we avoid the uneven look that the crowning of the plank tiles will give? Does it have anything to do with the thickness or quality of the tile, as one contractor told us? Is it possible to completely avoid this? Any opinion on rectified vs non-rectified tiles to eliminate the crowning?

    In the end, what is the best tile and grout to achieve a flat, straight look and feel?


    • Roger

      Hi Joe,

      1. Yes, the variation rule is the same for plank tiles. Line up three tiles butted with the long sides against one another and measure corner-to-corner, then the opposite corners. Three times that variation is normally sufficient.

      2. Have it properly installed. The amount of crowning depends on a lot of factors, quality of the tile being one of the biggest. There are parameters of crowning, higher quality tiles adhere to them, the cheaper stuff usually won’t. It is possible to install them correctly and eliminate most of the crowning, but it’s not possible to avoid it. For the most part rectified will be much more uniform with a minimum of crowning.

      A lot of factors will contribute to what you want. Higher quality tile, a leveling system and, most importantly, a contractor who knows how to properly install them are the most important.

  • Joe


    I have a question that I am hoping you can answer. I had porcelain tile installed throughout my home (it’s the plank faux wood style tile) with a grout line of 1/16. The installer used sanded grout. Should he have used unsanded? I ask because a few weeks after the install, about 6, the grout started coming up. He came back to re-grout, and when he removed the old grout, he chipped the edges of almost all of my tiles. Now that the edges are chipped, will the tile and paint (or color) continue to chip with time? I’m trying to figure out where to go from here. Thanks!

    • Roger

      Hi Joe,

      The reason for the grout coming up could be a number of things. Sanded grout is not one of them, I use sanded grout with 1/16″ regularly. Whether or not it will continue to chip depends on the glaze of the particular porcelain you have. There’s no real way I can give you an answer to that.

  • michelle

    Hello, Having a problem deciding whether rectified porcelain tile needs to be put down with mud or will thinset suffice. One shop says must go with mud ($$$) other shop says no need. This is new construction in south Florida. The builder ‘scores’ the floor to avoid settling cracks. If it were you, would you go with the extra $ and use mud? or will thinset be perfectly fine?

    • Roger

      Hi Michelle,

      Ideally mud. Secondly a good membrane such as ditra. Lastly you can install it directly to the slab with concrete but you MUST install soft joints directly above the ‘scores’ in the concrete. You also need soft joints if you use a membrane, but they don’t need to be directly above the scores.

  • Barb

    Hi Roger,

    We had rectified porcelain wood planks recently installed throughout our home. The project manager noticed that there were chips on the edges of some of the tile. At first glance, we thought it was just on a few of the tiles. Then, with closer inspection, we noticed there are chips, always on the edges, on a lot of the tiles throughout. We have not moved back into the areas; so, it is not from foot traffic or furniture being moved.
    We looked at some extra tile that was left for us, new in the box, and these tiles do not have those chips. The project manager took a screw driver and with very little force, knocked against the side of one of the tiles, and sure enough it chipped surprisingly easy. The store, from which the tile was purchased, has now sent two different people out to look at it. They are blaming the installation. They say that the grout should have been flushed with the tile, and the edges are chipping because they are exposed. They say the installer must remove all the chipped tile, and re-install new tile; and then, they must grout in a way that feathers it to flush. They say doing the feathering is critical, and that the installer did not grout correctly.

    I wanted 1/8 grout lines like the store’s showroom displayed, but there was a problem when installing. I showed the installer this article:
    And the project manager called for someone to come out from the store before continuing installation. The store said that 1/16 grout lines had to be used in order to be under warranty. The installer followed that article I just listed, and they did 1/16 grout line as told to be under warranty.

    There is a problem with the grout being too low, and the color is uneven and appears to lack the pigment it was supposed to have. My Mom recently tripped on one the tiles; so, I know there needs to be more grout to make the tile more even. Perhaps the grout would have to be removed, and reapplied and allowed to set longer; so, it will be higher next time.
    I found that the lack of color and unevenness can be corrected with an epoxy colorant that will also seal the grout.

    My question is: do you know why so many of the tiles have chips along the edges? Does porcelain tile really chip that easily, and could it be from the tools he used when installing the grout hitting up against the edges, and that there is not enough grout, and the tile edges are too exposed?
    Or, do you feel the tile is defective? We are afraid the whole floor will have to be pulled up if this is defective tile. If it is not defective, and it chips this easily, how can this installation be saved? How can we prevent the tile from chipping even more? The store said it will continue to chip if the edges are left exposed. Help! I feel for the guys who worked so very hard and took great care in installing all of this! The store is blaming them. I blame the store, it is their own product, for not making this “critical point about the tile will chip if the grout is not flush with the floor” a detail listed in the directions. Is there an industry standard for this regarding rectified tile must be flush with floor or it will chip?
    Thank you,

    • Roger

      Hi Barb,

      Jim makes some very good points in his post, and covers the main issues with plank tile. There seems to be some confusion with your particular installation that is leading to some assumptions on your part. Some due to misinformation, which likely leads to the rest of the assumptions. So let me clear some of those up first:

      No, the tile should not chip that easily. That is indicative of either a cheaply-made tile or one that has a flaw at the manufacturing stage.

      It is highly unlikely that any of the chipping was due to any tools being used while grouting, all those products are soft, not metal (grout floats, sponges, etc.).

      It is nearly impossible for grout to be ‘feathered off’ to be completely flush and flat with the surface of the tile. There will ALWAYS be a concave grout line. The extent of the concave varies, and should be as close to zero as possible, but it will always be there.

      While the grout will protect the edge of the tile to an extent this REQUIRES that the tiles be flush with one another. ‘Sloping’ the grout up to meet a higher tile, or otherwise using grout to cover up or compensate for a non-flat or non-flush installation WILL NOT fix it, and will not prevent chipping.

      The 1/16″ grout line to maintain a warranty is bullshit. It may be required to maintain their particular warranty, which means that their warranty is dependent upon a rule which goes against TCA standards. The minimum grout line width for any given tile is three times the tile variation. Which means that if the tiles varied in sizing from one to another by 1/16″ in some instance, the minimum grout line size is 3/16″. Now if your tiles are rectified a MINIMUM 1/16″ grout line may be required, but that is not how you worded it. And it would have to be damn good tile to have that requirement, almost zero variation, which can be achieved, but rarely is. It sounded to me as if you wanted a larger and they would not let that be done. That makes absolutely no sense at all, especially with a plank tile.

      I don’t understand why you think ‘unevenness’ can be corrected with a grout colorant. Or why the store believes that TILE unevenness can be corrected with the grouting method. Neither are accurate.

      The main problem is that the TILES are not flush. It has nothing at all to do with the grout. Grouting will not fix it, coloring the grout will not fix it. If the edge of a tile is higher than the tile next to it, the corner of that edge will ALWAYS be the highest spot, you can not grout higher than the edge of the tile, which would be required to make either of those scenarios work.

      There is no standard for getting tile flush or it will chip. There is a standard for getting tile flush, but it goes in conjunction with the grout line size standard I mentioned above. The store will almost ALWAYS blame the installer. However, in your case, the store dictated the size of the grout line, which was the first and (from the get-go) most crucial mistake. Especially with plank tile. As Jim pointed out on his site all tiles, especially plank, are crowned. Offsetting by 1/3 (standard, you didn’t mention whether or not that was done) as well as widening the grout line is crucial in the ability to ease that crowning from tile to tile and being able to maintain as flat an installation as is possible with a given tile.

      In my opinion simply removing and replacing the chipped tiles will likely make the problem worse (it will be VERY difficult to get a replaced tile even remotely as flush with the existing) and likely cause even more chipping. Removing and replacing grout will not solve the problem – it may make it look better short-term, but as I stated above the corner edge of the tile will always be the highest point. Always.

      The issue lies with both the installation as well as the requirements for installation. While the installers may not have gotten your installation completely flat, they were hamstrung from the start with unreasonable installation requirements for the ‘warranty’ which go against all documented standards for large format tile installation. All the bs about not grouting correctly, while perhaps accurate, is not the reason for the tile chipping or for having uneven tile. The non-flat installation is the fault of the installer, the requirements to prevent as flat an installation as possible with a given tile is the fault of the ‘warranty requirements’, which is the fault of the store and the people apparently not knowledgeable about correct large format tile installation standards.

      The people at the store need to educate themselves and the installers need to begin refusing to install tile in a manner which prevents the best outcome, and perhaps educate themselves on when and why they need to do that.

  • Travis

    Hi Rodger, My name is Travis. I recently laid a marble tile floor for someone and the marble had a haze on it prior to laying it and now that it is laid, he is claiming that we didn’t properly clean it before we sealed it. So therefore he will not pay for the instillation. We had an extra piece of tile that we cleaned and even used a 7 step sanding and polishing process and the haze is still there. Is it possible to get the haze out of the marble that has it on it from the manufacture? Keep this in mind, the tile was laid and sealed 2 months prior to grouting. The haze is not from grouting!!!!

    • Roger

      Hi Travis,

      Unfortunately you’re likely screwed. If there was haze on the tile before it was installed you should have either sent it back or brought it to his attention to see what he wanted to do. Have you tried contacting the manufacturer of the tile or the sealer? They may have some ideas for you. I know it’s extremely difficult, but sometimes you need to write things like this off as a lesson learned. Believe me, I’ve paid my fair share of shitty lessons. Have a good contract and always, ALWAYS cover your ass with any product you do not personally produce.

  • susan

    Hi. If matte porcelain tiles are factory ground to produce nice shiny tiles – could I do the same with the matte tiles in my kitchen. All sites say if you bought matte, you’re stuck with matte – that no sealers, top coats or anything will change it. There must a way.

    • Roger

      Hi Susan,

      Matte porcelain tiles are not factory ground. Bare porcelain tiles are glazed to either a matte finish or shiny finish, or anything between. Matte natural stone tiles can be ground to a shiny finish, but porcelain or ceramic tiles can not. There is a way – remove your matte tiles and replace them with shiny tiles. But that’s the only way with porcelain or ceramic tile.

  • Jake

    I think that you can improve the look of your outside corners. Instead of butt-lapping the edges of the tile, try making a 45 degree miter on the backside; I have used a regular wood table saw where I changed out the blade to a diamond saw and angled the blade at 45 degrees. Anyhow, when the tiles meet up at the outside corner you will have a nice thin grout line. The layered edges of the tile are virtually non-existent.

    • Roger

      Thanks Jake, but I already do that. And I do it with my DeWalt wet saw, which has miter capability. Any time I do not do it like that it is because my client specifically requests that the corners be done like that.

  • Michal

    Hi Roger,
    We installed Bianco Venatino polished marble on floor, but customer do not like polish finish. Is there any technique I can remove polish look and give them honed finish? this is really important since I want them to be happy.Thank you very much in advanced. You have a very nice source of information on your site.Keep doing great job!

    • Roger

      Hi Michal,

      You can etch it with muriatric acid, but you need to make damn sure you have proper ventilation before you do that. I’m talking fans, filters, etc. It’s potent stuff. You can also do it with a sander, although that takes a lot more work. Make sure whichever you choose you try on a spare piece of tile first. If you use the acid you need to use a neutralizer to stop the etching, if you don’t it will eventually eat through the stone.

  • Chris

    Would you consider honed granite to be suitable for a shower floor ( 12 x 12 ) with a linear drain or would it be too slippery?

    • Roger

      Honed granite will be fine on a shower floor.

  • Bob Ingraham

    My wife and I recently moved into a new apartment. We almost didn’t, because of the rough stone tile flooring everywhere but the kitchen and bathroom. It’s very rough — hard to walk on in stocking feet — and even poses a tripping hazard because of uneven tiles. We decided to buy, thinking that rugs would soften much of it, but we can’t put rugs everywhere. Besides, the tile looks great!

    Question: Would it be possible to grind the tile in particular areas so that it is smoother? It’s very soft. Some tiles got scratched by furniture legs when we were moving in.

    Thanks for your help.


    • Roger

      Hey Bob,

      Yes, natural stone can be grout down and refinished. If you google ‘stone polishing’ you’ll find diamond grinding pads that can be used on variable speed grinders that will do what you need.

  • Mark

    Question: I recently saw a photo online of a marble tile and have noticed the marble tile had circles from… my quess the thinset behind as who ever installed the tile created the dice look? What would cause this? Marble needs to be sealed correct?

    Thanks again and the info on this site is truly the best!

    • Roger

      Hey Mark,

      They probably ‘five-spotted’ the tile. This is (an incorrect) method of installation where five big globs of thinset are placed on the tile and it is pressed onto the substrate. It is supposed to allow extra adjustment to get your tile flat. It does do that, but it does not give you correct coverage or supported corners, and may lead to exactly what you are describing. Normally yes, marble should be sealed.

  • Leonie

    Hi Roger, my house is approx 18 yrs old and has natural slate throughout the kitchen, dining and wet areas. I have had the slate sealed a few times since owning the house. It appears like a clear vanish. My question is can you ‘hone’ layed slate? I am hoping you can ‘buff’ back the slate and all the dirt that has been sealed in over the years (including the grout). I am also wanting a smooth surface going forward to make cleaning easier. Is this possible and if so how do I make this happen?
    I look forward to your response. Regards

    • Roger

      Hi Leonie,

      Yes, it can be honed and polished but it requires a professional to do so. It is a VERY difficult and demanding project. It also requires thousands of dollars worth of specialty equipment. Google stone finishing companies in your area.

  • joe

    Roger Using 16×16 honed travertine in a small shower. The edges are square useing 3/16 grout width will the square edges be unapealling to the eye. And should I lightly round off the edges before setting tiles. This would make a lot more work but, it’s for my daughter. She also want’s me to do the floor outside the shower. And the tub suround. Same question applies to all. It’s a big project for a first timer. I appreciate any advise. THANK’S. joe

    • Roger

      Hey Joe,

      3/16 grout line looks unappealing to me no matter what type of edge the tile has. It’s a big grout line. I would normally go with a 1/8″ grout line on tile like that, but if you want the larger grout it’ll be fine. With a larger grout line like that the edges would look better rounded off because the grout in that joint is going to dip a bit then slope back up to the tile, a square edge may not look right.

  • WOLF

    Is there such a thing as honed gauged slate? We are putting in new floors over radiant heat and do not want the surface uneven as in a random slate floor we previously had in another home. Dirt catches in the surface grooves and cleaning is difficult vs cleaning a smooth surface, thus, honed seems to be the answer. Additionally, I do not want to catch my foot on an uneven piece of slate, thus, gauged seems to be the answer. Does gauged also have a smooth surface that shows in addition to the reverse surface that is adhered to the floor?

    • Roger

      Hey Wolf,

      Yes. I did an entire master bathroom with it here: Slate Tile Master Bathroom It doesn’t necessarily need to be gauged, but it does help get it flat. Any really good contractor can set honed slate flat, but it’s an acquired skill if it is not gauged. :D Gauged slate normally has a grooved backside and a smooth front.

  • Susanna

    Thank you for explaining how rectified tiles are made. In a new build, we have poured concrete floors and want to install rectified porcelain tiles.
    1) Our contractor says he can install 18″ x18″ tiles using thin set. If we go to 24″ x 24″, he will have to set them in mud.
    2) if he uses mud, the price is more than double.
    3) The tile setter charges an additional $1/ft to set tiles with a tight grout. Knowing how the tiles are made, and how accurate their measurements are, this seems odd. I happened to see their workers setting the identical tile (in 18″ size) in another location. They used small spacers and said they had no problem at all.
    I want to be fair and would appreciate any guidance you can offer.

    • Roger

      Hi Susanna,

      While 24 x 24’s aren’t impossible to set with thinset, it does take CONSIDERABLY more time to do so and get an acceptable result. A mudset installation will more than double the price, it is a LOT more work. It is, however, the best method.

      When considering the size of the grout joint you are only taking into consideration the consistency in tile. We, as tile contractors, must also take into consideration the substrate inconsistencies, which are NEVER, accurate. The tighter the grout joint the more defined any height differences are going to be. If you have a rectified tile sitting 1/64″ higher, due to the substrate, than the tile next to it there is a huge difference depending on the grout line. If it’s 1/8″ you will NEVER see that difference, if it’s a 1/16″ grout line the height difference looks huge. The larger the tile the more difficult it is to get flat. The tighter the grout joint the flatter it needs to be.

      Your tile contractor is correct, and it sounds like he is a professional who has been doing it for a while. He’s not trying to rip you off. You may have seen others setting the tile with smaller grout lines, and it’s absolutely possible, but if they claim to have had “no problem” then they either are not concerned with height differences, which affect the end result, or they have used something like mudset or slc to make the substrate completely flat – which increases the price.

      The fact that your contractor has told you these things tells me that he is both experienced and concerned with the end product.

  • Michael

    I have porcelain tile with pits (ie texture). When I’m grouting – how do I not get grout in those spaces (pits, texture) on the tile. Is it as easy as sponging it up when laying the grout?

    • Roger

      Hey Michael,

      With most of those porcelains the pits are too small to hold onto grout as you are cleaning it. Most of it will come out with your initial wash, any you may have missed is easily cleaned out with your sponge. There aren’t vertical sides for the grout to bond to.

  • Michelle

    We need to tile the kitchen but am confused if we should buy calibrated tiles or not (size 30 x 60cm). Will it make a difference only if we want a narrow grouting?

    • Roger

      Hi Michelle,

      Calibrated tiles refer to the thickness of the tile, not the face dimension. Are you speaking of natural stone? If you do not have natural stone and you want very thin grout lines what you want is rectified tile. Most non-stone tiles are already calibrated.

  • Daniel Le Blanc

    Thanks for the reply. I can not sand the slate down as I have cronic pain, I ha ve tried. It is all I can do to cut the slate into smaller sizes with my tile cutter. I have been buying the school house slate tablets, removing the wood and cutting the slate into smaller pieces. I can no longer find the school slate for under $2.50 each. All are over $3.50 and this price is too much for my proffit making.
    I still need help!!!!!! Thanks again

    • Roger

      Sorry Daniel, that would be the only thing I could think of. Maybe search for wholesale slate tablets? I really don’t know how else to go about it.

  • Daniel Le Blanc

    I am looking for slate 1/8 inch thick to make my turkey calls. Do you know where I can order slate in this thickness? The size of the slate should be no smaller than 7″ x 10″.
    I have been searching for this size slate for 6 months. Please be my angel. Thanks
    Danny Le Blanc

    • Roger

      Hey Daniel,

      Why are you searching for something you can make yourself with caveman tools? :D

      The reason you cannot find slate that thin (in that size) is due to the nature of the stone. Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock that splits into thin, smooth-surfaced layers. These layers are referred to as ‘clefts’. If you’ve ever seen cheap-ass slate that seems like it’s peeling apart – it’s called clefting. The individual layers of the stone are pulling apart mainly because the stone has not been compressed as much as the higher quality slate, which holds together well.

      This clefting is where your solution lies. You can split slate apart in layers to get what you need. Get a higher quality slate because this is more stable and will not turn to dust as you peel it apart. But the higher dollar stuff is still formed in layers – it’s still slate. While you will most certainly not be able to split it apart in exactly 1/8″ thick slices (layers of sentiment do not compress in level planes as the rock is being formed – Damnit Nature!) you can split one 12×12 in thirds which would give you a little under 3/16″, and use a hand sander to slowly smooth it down to the proper thickness.

      It’s gonna take some time, but it will be exactly where you want it to be when you’re done. And once you get the hang of it you’ll fly through it. Slate is actually easy to work with (the good stuff) and you can do extremely detailed reliefs with it like this: Slate shower relief The clefts allow much more workability – once you get used to it, of course.

      Sorry, you won’t find it in that thickness anywhere due to the fragility of thin slate, it’s simply not durable enough at that thickness to do what we need, but you can make it be whatever you want fairly easily.

  • andrea

    double thanks!

  • andrea

    I’d like to ask for permission to use this page of definitions on our blog if possible please!
    Wikipedia doesnt have a link to have viewers on our blog go to it for definition of tile lingo, such as rectified. here is our blog:


    thanks if so!

    • Roger

      Hi Andrea,

      Absolutely you can link to it. Nice site, by the way. :D

  • Syed

    Hey Roger! Thanks for the website from up North in Canada. I recently bought a 30 year home in which the previous owners tiled everything (from studs to beams to drywall). So I went to work and removed most of the tiles and will now install a shower stall (round corner stall). The shower walls will be tiled (on backerboard and redgard – just learned that from your website).
    The question I have is that I have a ready-made base coming in and I want to know if there is any special way to stabilize it (I want to use the house for another 30 years and then give it to the kids – and I am really tired of chiseling the old tile from the bathroom studs).
    So my shower project is readymade round base, tiled shower walls (studs -> hardibacker -> redgard -> thinset -> tiles -> grout -> sealant). I would appreciate any advice you have on
    1. stabilizing the base (so it doesn’t crack prematurely).
    2. What to do for water-proofing at the joint of the shower-base and backerboard.

    My dog thanks you for your excellant website that has stopped him from bursting into flames a dozen times by now.

    • Roger

      Hi there Syed,

      To stabilize a fiberglass or acrylic base (as well as bathtubs) you can get one of those really cheap bags of thinset, or concrete, and mix it just a little loose (more water than normal) so it resembles pancake batter, dump that onto the floor where you are putting the base, then place the base into the thinset and squish it down. :D Screw the flange to your studs and you are golden.

      The only thing that will crack that acrylic base is movement. When cured the thinset or concrete beneath the base will give it full support in every part of the acrylic. This prevents undue flex in the acrylic and will allow it to last as long as you want it there.

      When using hardi and redgard you can install the hardi to 1/16″ to 1/8″ above the shower base, silicone that area, then just redgard all the way down to the base of the shower – over the flange. This will allow the waterproofing to go from the top all the way down into the base and not let any water get where it shouldn’t be.

      I am very happy that your dog continues to be flame-free. :dance:

      • Syed

        Thanks Roger! I am lucky to have landed on your website. I was scratching my head about the grout falling off the shower tiles (it was attached to the studs and drywall with no waterproofing of any sort – I am just lucky there was no mold). Having read and re-read your website gave me the courage to take a hammer and chisel to the old tiles.