Tile

Mission, or barrel, roof tiles

A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, clay, stone, porcelain or even glass. Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, and walls, or other objects such as tabletops. The word is derived from the French word tuile, which is, in turn, from the Latin word tegula, meaning a roof tile composed of baked clay. Less precisely, the modern term can refer to any sort of construction tile or similar object, such as rectangular counters used in playing games (see tile-based game).

Tiles are often used to form wall and floor coverings, and can range from simple square tiles to complex mosaics. Tiles are most often made from ceramic, with a hard glaze finish, but other materials are also commonly used, such as glass, slate, and reformed ceramic slurry, which is cast in a mould and fired.


Roof tiles

Fancy Japanese roof tiles The largest (6000 m²)
wooden shingle roof
in Europe: Zakopane, Poland

Roof tiles are designed mainly to keep out rain, and are traditionally made from locally available materials such as clay, slate, or wood (wooden tiles are called shingles). Modern materials such as concrete and plastic are also used. Some clay tiles have a waterproof glaze.

Because of their long history, a large number of shapes (or "profiles") of roof tiles have evolved. These include:

  • Flat tiles - the simplest type, which are laid in regular overlapping rows. This profile is suitable for stone and wooden tiles, and most recently, solar cells.
  • Roman tiles - flat in the middle, with a concave curve at one end at a convex curve at the other, to allow interlocking.
  • Pantiles - with an S-shaped profile, allowing adjacent tiles to interlock. These result in a ridged pattern resembling a ploughed field.
  • Mission or barrel tiles are semi-cylindrical tiles made by forming clay around a log and laid in alternating columns of convex and concave tiles.

Roof tiles are 'hung' from the framework of a roof by fixing them with nails. The tiles are usually hung in parallel rows, with each row overlapping the row below it to exclude rainwater and to cover the nails that hold the row below.

There are also roof tiles for special positions, particularly where the planes of the several pitches meet. They include ridge, hip and valley tiles.

Floor tiles

6"x6" porcelain floor tiles

These are commonly made of ceramic, clay, porcelain or stone. Clay tiles may be painted and glazed. Small mosaic tiles may be laid in various patterns. Floor tiles are typically set into mortar consisting of sand, cement and oftentimes a latex additive for extra strength. The spaces between the tiles are nowadays filled with sanded or unsanded floor grout, but traditionally mortar was used.

See Laying tile

Wall tiles

Tilework on the wall of the Bond Street tube station

While ancient Roman building bricks were broader and thinner than modern ones and are therefore usually called tiles, the term wall tile is normally applied to finishing tiles. These are usually ceramic, but other materials such as mirrored glass or polished metal can be used. Wall tiles are usually glazed, and are often patterned by painting or embossing. Pictorial tiles, consisting of many tiles that the installer assembles like a jigsaw puzzle to form a single large picture, are available.

Modern wall tiles are fixed to a wall using a synthetic bonding agent tile adhesive for dry areas, or a cement-based mortar for areas prone to moisture, such as bath or shower walls. The spaces between the tiles are filled with a fine cement called unsanded grout. The excess grout is scraped off with a hard rubber block called a float immediately after applying; further, the grout is wiped again with a moist sponge before it completely hardens. The sponging provides added moisture to strengthen the grout as it cures. Finally, a cloth is rubbed over the wall tile to remove any haze which may remain from residual grout.

Decorative tilework

Ancient mosaic in the British Museum. Typical tilework on buildings in Santarém, Portugal.

Decorative tilework typically takes the form of mosaic upon the walls, floor, or ceiling of a building. Although decorative tilework was known and extensively practiced in the ancient world (as evidenced in the magnificent mosaics of Pompeii and Herculaneum), it perhaps reached its greatest expression during the Islamic period.

Some places, notably Portugal, have a tradition of tilework on buildings that continues today.

In the United States, decorative tiles were in vogue, especially in southern California, in the 1920s and 1930s. Prominent among art tile makers during this period was Ernest A. Batchelder.

Islamic tilework

Tilework of Hazrat Masoumeh shrine, Qom. First constructed in the late 8th century.

Perhaps because of the tenets of Moslem law (sharia) which disavow religious icons and images in favor of more abstract and universal representations of the divine, many consider decorative tilework to have reached a pinnacle of expression and detail during the Islamic period. Palaces, public buildings, and mosques were heavily decorated with dense, often massive mosaics and friezes of astonishing complexity. As both the influence and the extent of Islam spread during the Middle Ages this artistic tradition was carried along, finding expression from the gardens and courtyards of Málaga in Moorish Spain to the mosaics of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

The mathematics of tiling

Certain shapes of tiles, most obviously rectangles, can be replicated to cover a surface with no gaps. These shapes are said to tessellate (from the Latin tessera, 'tile'). For detailed information on tilings see the tessellation page.

History of tiles

Tiles were developed as a product of earthenware pottery, either as an alternative use for fragments of broken pottery (called potsherds) or as an independent invention. Tiles have been used in construction for at least 4000 years, by the Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, Phoenicians and many other cultures.


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Tiles have been used in construction for at least 4000 years, by the Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, Phoenicians and many other cultures. Organotin compounds such as tributyltin oxide are biocides and need to be handled with care. Tiles were developed as a product of earthenware pottery, either as an alternative use for fragments of broken pottery (called potsherds) or as an independent invention. The small amount of tin that is found in canned foods is not harmful to humans. For detailed information on tilings see the tessellation page. See also Stannous hydroxide (Sn(OH)2), Stannic acid (Stannic Hydroxide - Sn(OH)4), Tin dioxide (Stannic Oxide - SnO2), Tin(II) oxide (Stannous Oxide - SnO), Tin(II) chloride (SnCl2), Tin(IV) chloride (SnCl4). These shapes are said to tessellate (from the Latin tessera, 'tile'). For Stannite (SnO3-) see Stannite.

Certain shapes of tiles, most obviously rectangles, can be replicated to cover a surface with no gaps. For discussion of Stannate compounds (SnO32-) see Stannate. As both the influence and the extent of Islam spread during the Middle Ages this artistic tradition was carried along, finding expression from the gardens and courtyards of Málaga in Moorish Spain to the mosaics of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. 18 additional unstable isotopes are known. Palaces, public buildings, and mosques were heavily decorated with dense, often massive mosaics and friezes of astonishing complexity. Tin is the element with the greatest number of stable isotopes (ten). Perhaps because of the tenets of Moslem law (sharia) which disavow religious icons and images in favor of more abstract and universal representations of the divine, many consider decorative tilework to have reached a pinnacle of expression and detail during the Islamic period. Secondary, or scrap, tin is also an important source of the tin.

Batchelder. The only mineral of commercial importance as a source of tin is cassiterite (SnO2), although small quantities of tin are recovered from complex sulfides such as stannite, cylindrite, frankeite, canfieldite, and teallite. Prominent among art tile makers during this period was Ernest A. Most of the world's tin is produced from placer deposits; at least one-half comes from Southeast Asia. In the United States, decorative tiles were in vogue, especially in southern California, in the 1920s and 1930s. This metal is a relatively scarce element with an abundance in the earth's crust of about 2 ppm, compared with 94 ppm for zinc, 63 ppm for copper, and 12 ppm for lead. Some places, notably Portugal, have a tradition of tilework on buildings that continues today. Tin is produced by reducing the ore with coal in a reverberatory furnace.

Although decorative tilework was known and extensively practiced in the ancient world (as evidenced in the magnificent mosaics of Pompeii and Herculaneum), it perhaps reached its greatest expression during the Islamic period. Nearly every continent has an important tin-mining country. Decorative tilework typically takes the form of mosaic upon the walls, floor, or ceiling of a building. About 35 countries mine tin throughout the world. Finally, a cloth is rubbed over the wall tile to remove any haze which may remain from residual grout. Likewise, so-called "tin toys" are usually made of steel, and may or may not have a small coating of tin to inhibit rust. The sponging provides added moisture to strengthen the grout as it cures. Most everyday objects that are commonly called tin, such as aluminium foil, beverage cans, and tin cans, are actually made of steel or aluminium, although tin cans do contain a small coating of tin to inhibit rust.

The excess grout is scraped off with a hard rubber block called a float immediately after applying; further, the grout is wiped again with a moist sponge before it completely hardens. In modern times, the word "tin" is often (improperly) used as a generic phrase for any silvery metal that comes in thin sheets. The spaces between the tiles are filled with a fine cement called unsanded grout. The alchemical symbol for tin is shown on the left. Modern wall tiles are fixed to a wall using a synthetic bonding agent tile adhesive for dry areas, or a cement-based mortar for areas prone to moisture, such as bath or shower walls. The American Heritage Dictionary speculates that the word was borrowed from a pre-Indo-European language. Pictorial tiles, consisting of many tiles that the installer assembles like a jigsaw puzzle to form a single large picture, are available. The word "tin" has cognates in many Germanic and Celtic languages.

Wall tiles are usually glazed, and are often patterned by painting or embossing. However the pure metal was not used until about 600 BC. These are usually ceramic, but other materials such as mirrored glass or polished metal can be used. Tin mining is believed to have started in Cornwall and Devon ( esp Dartmoor) in Classical times, and a thriving tin trade developed with the civilizations of the Mediterranean. While ancient Roman building bricks were broader and thinner than modern ones and are therefore usually called tiles, the term wall tile is normally applied to finishing tiles. Because of its hardening effect on copper, tin was used in bronze implements as early as 3,500 BC. See Laying tile
. Tin (anglo-Saxon, tin, Latin stannum) is one of the earliest metals known and was used as a component of bronze from antiquity.

The spaces between the tiles are nowadays filled with sanded or unsanded floor grout, but traditionally mortar was used. A superconducting magnet weighing only a couple of kilograms is capable of producing magnetic fields comparable to a conventional electromagnet weighing tons. Floor tiles are typically set into mortar consisting of sand, cement and oftentimes a latex additive for extra strength. The niobium-tin compound Nb3Sn is commercially used as wires for superconducting magnets, due to the material's high critical temperature (18 K) and critical magnetic field (25 T). Small mosaic tiles may be laid in various patterns. In fact, tin was one of the first superconductors to be studied; the Meissner effect, one of the characteristic features of superconductors, was first discovered in superconducting tin crystals. Clay tiles may be painted and glazed. Tin becomes a superconductor below 3.72 K.

These are commonly made of ceramic, clay, porcelain or stone. Other uses:. They include ridge, hip and valley tiles. The tin whistle is so called because it was first mass-produced in tin-plated steel. There are also roof tiles for special positions, particularly where the planes of the several pitches meet. One thus-derived use of the slang term "tinnie" or "tinny" means "can of beer". The tiles are usually hung in parallel rows, with each row overlapping the row below it to exclude rainwater and to cover the nails that hold the row below. Speakers of British English call them "tins"; Americans call them "cans".

Roof tiles are 'hung' from the framework of a roof by fixing them with nails. Tin-plated steel containers are widely used for food preservation, and this forms a large part of the market for metallic tin. These include:. Tin bonds readily to iron, and has been used for coating lead or zinc and steel to prevent corrosion. Because of their long history, a large number of shapes (or "profiles") of roof tiles have evolved. However, this transformation is affected by impurities such as aluminium and zinc and can be prevented from occurring through the addition of antimony or bismuth. Some clay tiles have a waterproof glaze. It slowly changes back to the gray form when cooled, which is called the tin pest or tin disease.

Modern materials such as concrete and plastic are also used. When warmed above 13.2 °C it changes into white or beta tin, which is metallic and has a tetragonal structure. Roof tiles are designed mainly to keep out rain, and are traditionally made from locally available materials such as clay, slate, or wood (wooden tiles are called shingles). At low temperatures it exists as gray or alpha tin, which has a cubic crystal structure similar to silicon and germanium. . Solid tin has two allotropes at normal pressure.
. Tin is malleable at ordinary temperatures but is brittle when it is heated.

Tiles are most often made from ceramic, with a hard glaze finish, but other materials are also commonly used, such as glass, slate, and reformed ceramic slurry, which is cast in a mould and fired. This metal combines directly with chlorine and oxygen and displaces hydrogen from dilute acids. Tiles are often used to form wall and floor coverings, and can range from simple square tiles to complex mosaics. Tin can be highly polished and is used as a protective coat for other metals in order to prevent corrosion or other chemical action. Less precisely, the modern term can refer to any sort of construction tile or similar object, such as rectangular counters used in playing games (see tile-based game). SnO2, in turn, is feebly acidic and forms stannate (SnO3-2) salts with basic oxides. The word is derived from the French word tuile, which is, in turn, from the Latin word tegula, meaning a roof tile composed of baked clay. Tin forms the dioxide SnO2 when it is heated in the presence of air.

Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, and walls, or other objects such as tabletops. Tin acts as a catalyst when oxygen is in solution and helps accelerate chemical attack. A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, clay, stone, porcelain or even glass. This metal resists corrosion from distilled sea and soft tap water, but can be attacked by strong acids, alkalis, and by acid salts. Mission or barrel tiles are semi-cylindrical tiles made by forming clay around a log and laid in alternating columns of convex and concave tiles. Tin is a malleable, ductile, highly crystalline, silvery-white metal whose crystal structure causes a strange screeching sound known as the "tin cry" when a bar of tin is bent (caused by crystals breaking). These result in a ridged pattern resembling a ploughed field. .

Pantiles - with an S-shaped profile, allowing adjacent tiles to interlock. Tin is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite where it occurs as an oxide. Roman tiles - flat in the middle, with a concave curve at one end at a convex curve at the other, to allow interlocking. This silvery, malleable poor metal that is not easily oxidized in air and resists corrosion is found in many alloys and is used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion. This profile is suitable for stone and wooden tiles, and most recently, solar cells. Stannum) and atomic number 50. Flat tiles - the simplest type, which are laid in regular overlapping rows. Tin is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Sn (L.

Hence one use of the slang term "tinnie" or "tinny" for a small retail package of a drug such as cannabis or for a can of beer. Tin foil was once a common wrapping material for foods and drugs; now replaced by the use of aluminium foil, which is commonly referred to as tin foil. Although of higher melting point than a lead-tin alloy, the use of pure tin or tin alloyed with other metals in these applications is rapidly supplanting the use of the previously common lead–containing alloys in order to eliminate the problems of toxicity caused by lead. Tin is also used in solders for joining pipes or electric circuits, in bearing alloys, in glass-making, and in a wide range of tin chemical applications.

Window glass is most often made via floating molten glass on top of molten tin (creating float glass) in order to make a flat surface (this is called the "Pilkington process"). These coatings have been used in panel lighting and in the production of frost-free windshields. Electrically conductive coatings are produced when tin salts are sprayed onto glass. The most important salt formed is tin chloride, which has found use as a reducing agent and as a mordant in the calico printing process.

Some important tin alloys are: bronze, bell metal, Babbitt metal, die casting alloy, pewter, phosphor bronze, soft solder, and White metal.

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