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The Ultimate Wood Flooring Dictionary

a glossary with flooring terms


Here is the ultimate wood flooring dictionary of the most popular wood flooring-related terms and subjects in order to help people to gain knowledge of and better understand the major and common topics related to wood flooring and all processes and services linked to it.


- A -

A suspended floor above ground level (commonly over a basement or crawl area). Above-grade floors have a minimum of 18 inches of air space.


Abrasion is an undesirable and often non-controlled effect of exposure of wood flooring to normal everyday use and exposure to other surrounding elements. Abrasion often results in scratches, scuffs, wearing down.


Abrasion Class Rating
The AC rating system is used for rating laminate flooring. The rating system measures it’s resistance to abrasion, impact, stains, burns. The higher on the AC Rating system laminate marks, the greater resistance it shows.


Abrasion Class Wear Layer
AC Wear Layer is the layer that provides resistance to scratches and other imperfections to laminate flooring.


A process of water being absorbed into the wood’s structure.


Accent Strip
A strip of wood flooring that usually comes in a different colour than the main colour of the floor accompanies the whole composition in order to put an accent and achieve better aesthetics.


The process of wood flooring materials adjusting to the environment of the room/place/area, where the floor laying is intended.


Acrylic Infused
The process of injecting liquid acrylic into and throughout the surface layer of wooden floor for adding durability.


A process of water being absorbed into the wood’s structure.


The process of bonding dissimilar particles of wood floor’s surface to each other - glueing.


In the context of wood flooring, the process of air-drying is the process of drying due to exposure to air, when artificial heat is not used.


Air Humidity
The amount of moisture in the atmosphere. Air humidity is often referred to as wood flooring as a condition in its environment that has an impact on the general condition of the timber.


Aluminum Oxide
Type of finishing product that is recognized for its strength and hard-wearing power. It serves as a protective coat for many wooden floors


Annual Growth Ring
The layer of wood growth formed for one year.


- B -


Belt Sander
Tool used to strip off the surface of the wooden floor during sanding service. Usually, belt sanders consist of two separate rollers and sanding paper is attached to each roller to make the approached wooden surface smooth.


Below Grade
Below Grade areas are areas of the subfloor or undersurface that are naturally not level and need to be filled and levelled to ensure a sturdy and even wooden floor.


Bevelled Edge
Consists of planks with a different groove. Referred to any type of edge available for solid wood, engineered wood and laminate flooring. Also known as a V-shaped groove.


Blind Nailing
Referred to tongue-and-groove flooring, when nails are forced into the groove at a 45-degree angle.


Used for design customisation. Simple designs that frame the wooden floor.


Bound Water
The amount of water held in the timber’s cell.


Brushed Finish
An additional effect to add a distinctive visual change to the wood floor’s finish. The brushed finish is achieved with the help of steel comb and the planks are treated for highlighting the grain. The result is a very textured appearance.


A sudden failure of the structural integrity and bond of wooden planks due to compressive forces.


Buffing Machine
A tool used for polishing sanded wooden surfaces. It employs around pad that rotates very fast and makes the surface smoother and cleaner. It's also popular as a rotary machine.


Formed in wood’s grain. A swirl or twist.


- C -


Chatter Marks
A result of the sanding treatment. A pattern of repetitive marks causing a ripple effect of the wood’s surface.


A type of crack that is a result of the timer’s outer fibres shrinking due to loss of moisture to the surrounding environment.


Colour Variation
A natural tone variation from one board to another. It is also used when we make a comparison between mature and recently cut wood.


Combination Base/Shoe
A finishing molding piece used along the edges of the boards, where the floor meats the wall.


Compression Set
A result of excessive absorption of moisture by the floorboards that leads to expanding of the boards that cells along the floor’s edges are crushed.


Concrete Subfloor
The most common sort of subfloor surface that allows installation of flooring over it.


Contraction is a response of wood to increasing or decreasing amount of moisture in its direct environment. In a result, the boards start contracting or expanding, commonly when there is a drop in air humidity.


Fine cracks that appear on the surface of dried finish film.


Cross Laying
An approach of laying a material perpendicular to the material below it.


A condition in which the centre of a board is high and its edges are lower due to increasing of humidity and moisture levels in the floor’s environment.


A condition in which the edges of a wooden board are high and its centre is lower due to increasing of humidity and moisture levels in the floor’s environment. Moisture causes the wooden boards to swell and enlarge, which leads to crushing the boards together and deforming their edges.


The time required for a floor coating or an adhesive to dry completely.


- D -


Damp Proof Membrane
A protective layer applied over the subfloor to reduce the risk of excessive moisture affecting the flooring.


In this context it’s failure of the adhesive to keep materials bonded together.


Separation of layers of laminate or engineered wood.


A cleaning solution that consists of water and at least one of the following ingredients: surfactants, soap, chelating agents, builders, solvents.


Dimensional Stability
The ability of wood to maintain and retain to its original dimensions.


Dirt Retention
Marks the ability of the finish to embed soil from foot traffic.


A man-made texture of wooden boards and their finish achieved by scraping the surface to give it a time-worn look.


Acronym for “do it yourself”. Referred to projects that are undertaken without a professional.


Door Threshold Plate
A decorative element used to cover the expansion gap between wooden floors from two different rooms boarding


DPL (Direct Pressure Laminate)
The most common fusing method for laminate flooring manufacturing. The process of fusing together all layers of laminate in a single press operation.


Drum Sander
One of the most common tools used for sanding wooden floors.


An effect affecting the wood’s grain due to the use of sanding belts that are used too much and ineffective.


Durability measures the ability of wood species or sealants to withstand destructive agents or conditions.


- E -

Eased Edge
Type of wood boards’ edge that is rounder and shallower.


Edge Detail
Describes the way flooring boards edge and how their ends are cut.


Edge Sander
A popular sanding machine that treats the edges of the floorboards or corners and areas that cannot be accessed with the other sanding tools.


End Joint
The place where two pieces of flooring are joint together.


End Lifting
A swelling of wood flooring boards, occurred at the end joint.


Engineered Wood Flooring
– A type of manmade product with a more specific structure of the boards, where layers of softwood or lumber materials are glued together crisscrossed and then topped with a lamella (hardwood layer).


Equilibrium Moisture Content
The moisture content at which the wood do not gain or lose moisture.


The process of the floorboards swelling, as a result of increased levels of air humidity or moisture.


Expansion Gap
Expansion gap is intentionally left along the wood floor installation process between the walls of the room and the floorboards bordering with the walls to ensure additional space for the floorboards to expand due to increased moisture and humidity.


- F -


Face Nail
Face nail stands for nailing technique used for floor fitting. It consists of securing the floorboards by nailing them down with nails perpendicular to the surface.


Referred to wood flooring, the process of the original or additionally achieved the colour of the floorboards getting less intensive or completely lost. Fading is a result of exposure on direct sunlight, heat or other destructive agents.


Fibre Board Underlay
A fibre-based product in the shape of a sheet that is used with wood-based floor covering and has excellent levelling properties.


Figures are the natural markings and designs on the surface of the wooden floorboards that are a result of annual tree growth, rays, knots, etc.


A substance or mixture (usually consists of resin and sawdust mixed together) that is used for filling in the small gaps and irregularities that are left on the surface of the wooden floor after sanding.


The small components that finger-block parquet consists of. Also known as fingers or slats.


In the context of wood flooring, the finish is the surface coating, usually applied on unfinished or freshly sanded wood floorboards. The floor finish has protective and preservation properties.


Fire Resistance
In this context, is the property of wooden floorboards to withstand fire or protection from fire that is often achieved with the application of fire retardant chemicals.


Flat Sawn
When the wood is cut into long planks where the rings run parallel to the board.


Floating Floor
Floating floor is a sort of installation method and it stands for wooden floorboards that do not need to be nailed or glued down to the subfloor. Most commonly, they are glued to each other, or a glue-free click system is used for arranging the floorboards. Usually, floating floors are installed over an underlay.


Floor Protectors
Attachments that are screwed on the bottoms of heavy furniture pieces and other heavy objects to protect the top layer of finish from getting scratched, when moving or dragging them around.


Describes the properties of a coating substance to spread into a smooth film with a uniform and even thickness.


Flush Reducer
A tool that is used for levelling the height between two-floor surfaces.


- G -


Gap / Gapping
A result of de-bounding of wooden floorboards. Usually caused by failing properties of the adhesive/glue. Gapping can also be a result of the natural expanding and contracting of the floorboards.


Type of finish with high shininess that reflects light.


Gloss Level
There are three main gloss levels – satin with 40% lustre, semi-gloss with 55% lustre and gloss with 70% lustre. If you are trying to avoid this effect, you will need matt.


Glue Down
A type of installation, when the wooden floorboards are glued down to the subfloor or an underlay.


Grade Level
Grade level refers to the construction level in comparison to the ground around it. Below grade level, at ground level and above ground level.


Visible lines in wood that are a result of natural growth of the three and usually form alternating regions of relatively darker and lighter wood.


- H -


A type of treatment of the wood floor’s surface for achieving a distinctive appearance.


The property of different wood species to withstand denting, when pressure is exerted on the surface.


Hardwood Flooring
A type of flooring that is made exclusively from real wood or lumber materials. The floorboards are often cut from a single timber. The preferred species used for it are more durable.


The central part of the tree, where the cells are no longer participating in the life process. Usually darker in colour than sapwood.


High-Density Fiberboard
A core layer/board used for the making of engineered floorboards. It is more durable and stable than plywood.


High Pressure Laminate
An extra-hard process used for manufacturing laminate flooring, when all layers of the laminate are fused together in a multiple-step operation.


Refers to the amount of water/moisture in the air.


A tool that is used for measuring the level of humidity of the atmosphere. Often used before and along with the wood floor installation process.


- I -


The process of arrangement of wooden floorboards or blocks over a subfloor or underlay.


- J -


Janka Hardness Test
A measurement scale used for rating and measuring the hardness of the different wood species.


The point where two wooden floorboards meet.


Jointed Flooring
Type of floorboards manufactured with square edges, usually end-matched.


Joists are the multiple beams used for supporting the whole wood flooring structure.


- K -


The place in a three, where a branch or stem has grown for. When on a wooden floorboard surface, knots are usually with harder density and darker in colour.


- L -


Lacquered Finish
Type of wood floor finish that forms a hard film over the floor with smooth, glossy and hard-wearing properties. A thin and clear resin.


Lambswool Applicator
A tool used for the application of finishing products on large flooring surfaces.


Laminate Flooring
A type of non-wooden flooring that is often manufactured to mimic real wood. Laminate is made out of multi-layer synthetic material.


Laminate Backing
Type of thermos-fused backing that ensures additional stability and protection for floors. Commonly used for floor installation over a concrete subfloor.


Lap Marks
The marks and imperfections left from the poor application of the finish.


Lumber Decking
The timber material used for manufacturing of wooden decks. Also known as decking boards.


Locking Installation System
An installation method with a tongue-and-groove locking system used for the fitting of hardwood and laminate flooring. The installation process consists of locking the edges of the boards together.


Lumber Grade
A rating system for unfinished wooden floors that marks how much imperfections the wooden surface has.


- M -


Manufacturing Defects
All imperfections and defects that appear after manufacturing of wooden flooring materials. Includes chipped or torn grain skips in dressing, a variation of matching, mismatching, machine burn, etc.


Medium Density Fibreboard
An engineered a wood product that is the result of breaking down timber fibres and next combining them with wax and resin. When exposed to high temperature and pressure, the final result is MDF.


Micro Bevel Edge
With shallower “v”-shaped groove than the bevel edge.


Mill Marks
Marks that are left on the surface of wood during the manufacturing process.


Mineral Streak
Mineral matter in wood created by sap.


Mixed Media
Floors that consist mainly of wooden floorboards, but also mixed with other materials such as stone, slate, ceramic, etc.


Moisture Content
In this case, the moisture content is the amount of moisture consisted in real wood.


Moisture Metre
A tool used for measuring the amount of moisture content in real wood floorboards. Commonly, a moisture metre is used before wood floor installation.


Molding refers to trims and transition pieces that ensure the uniform and finished look of the wooden floor.


Multiply Boards
Also known as engineered wood flooring. Consists of layers of wooden, lumber or plywood materials that are glued together in a cross-ply construction.


- N -


Nail-Down Flooring Installation
A wood flooring installation method, when the floorboards are nailed down to the subfloor or to the underlayment.


Natural Stain
A type of finish for wooden floors that are clear so that the natural colour and texture of the wood can show.


Describes a wooden surface that does not absorb moisture.


- O -


Oiled Finish
A wood flooring finish type that consists of oil wax and has a subtler sheen.


Overlay describes the floor that is installed over a subfloor.


- P -


A geometric, mosaic flooring installation/arrangement of real or engineered wood floor blocks.


A product made out of wood particles mixed with resin.


The natural change of the original wood colour over time.


Photo Sensitivity
The proneness of the natural wood colour to change over time.


Plain Sawn
The annual tree growth rings with an angle of or less than 45 grades with the surface.


Planer Bite
A groove cut into the surface by a planer blade that is deeper than intended.


Solid wood or engineered wood flooring board with a width of 3 inches or greater.


Plank Replacement
The process of lifting and substituting an already installed but distressed flooring board with a new one.


Usually the term ply is used for engineered wood constructions. It stands for a layer of engineered wood construction.


A type of hard-wearing wood flooring finish applied and used for it's protective and preserving properties.


The terms is used to describe a wood flooring surface that is not sealed and absorbs water/liquids.


Hardwood or engineered wood floorboards that are stained with colour and sealed with strong chemical product in the factory.


- Q -


Quarter Round Molding
A detail piece that is used for ensuring a finished and uniform look of the wood or laminate flooring, where it meets the wall.


Cutting method, when the cut is perpendicular to the annual growth rings that result in straight grain appearance.


- R -


Radiant Heating
An underfloor heating system.


Random Length
A flooring set that consists of floorboards with different lengths.


Random Width
A flooring set that consists of floorboards with different widths.


Reclaimed Wood
Wooden materials that have been previously used for another place, but are recycled, refinished and used for a new project.


Reducer Strip
A decorative moulding element used for achieving a finished and uniform appearance of wooden floors, where the wooden floor meets other surfaces like vinyl or carpet.


The process of sanding and application of new coating/finishing product on the surface of sanded wooden floors.


Rift Sawn
A type of cut, when the cut makes an angle of 30 to 60 degrees to the annual growth rings of the tree.


Root Mean Square
A metric system indicating the roughness of the wooden surface.


Rustic Wood
An intentional treatment to wooden surfaces to make them appear rustic or antique.


- S -


A treatment for real wood floors that consists of treating the surface with abrasive sanding paper for removing the old wood floor finish and other finer and minor imperfections and issues appearing on the surface of the wooden floor.


Sapwood is new wood or the tree parts that are near the outside of the tree.


Shoe Molding
Molding that is used for high traffic areas of the wooden floor.


In tongues-and-groove wood flooring installation. When the tongue and the groove parts of the wooden boards are located on the sides of the boards instead of on the ends of the boards.


Describes lumber material that is produced from the needle or cone-bearing trees.


Solid Wood
Solid wood boards are manufactured from one timber piece, unlike engineered wood boards that have construction of layers.


Describes the different types of trees.


Square Edge
A type of flooring board edges that are cut in a way, so they can lay flush to the next flooring board. Square Edge floors have a very even and smooth appearance with not many visible lines.


Square Nose
Square nose is a trim that is used on the perimeter of a room with floating flooring, where the floor meets the walls.


The process of application of stain or paint on the surface of wooden floors for changing their original colour, or enhancing their original colour


Staple-Down Installation
A type of wood flooring installation. Similar to nailing down, however staples are used instead of nails.


Strip Flooring
A type of wood flooring with boards’ width less than 3 inches.


The structure underneath the floor covering. The most common type of subfloor for wooden floors is concrete.


A result of wood absorbing moisture.


- T -


Taber Test
A rating system for defining and indicating the abrasion resistance properties of laminate flooring.


Molding piece/detail that is used for finishing the space between two wood or laminate floors.  


A specific construction of the wooden floorboards’ edges that allows a specific type of installation tongue-and-groove wood flooring installation. The installation consists of pushing the floorboards together and locking them for stable and sturdy construction. 


Transition Strip
An installation detail/accessory that bridges two floors of different heights to equalize.


A finishing detail installed in the area where wooden flooring transition to another flooring level or another flooring type/material.


A term that describes the finishing accessories and details of a wooden floor, such as baseboards, skirting boards, quarter rounds, scotia, etc.


A popular tools used for the application of adhesive or glue substances.


- U -


When wooden floorboards leave the manufacturer/factory without any kind of finish or stain applied.


Layer of material that is installed on the subfloor and under the floor covering. Underlayment is installed for its moisture and noise reduction and protective and additional stability properties.


A type for a wood floor finish that is known for its protective properties and beautiful appearance without waxing, buffing or polishing.


A process of improving the stain resistance properties of urethane finishes. The urethane finish if treated with UV lighting. The treatment makes the wooden floor easier to clean and maintain in good condition.


UV Finish
Many wood flooring finishes come with a UV filter added to them in order to protect the natural colour of the wood from fading due to exposure of light and UV rays.


- V -


Vapour Impermeable Membrane
A sort of material or covering that prevents the passage/penetration of moisture.


Vapour Permeable Membrane
A sort of material or covering that allows the passage/penetration of moisture.


A wood flooring finish type based on oils.


A layer of hardwood with different/varying thickness that is glued to the top of engineered wood boards.


VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Used for measuring non-water solvents in particular products.


- W -


Any difference/distortion of a floorboard from its initial condition that may be a result of seasonal transition, humidity, moisture, etc.


A piece of timber that is taped.


When the wooden floor is white-washed, it typically appears chalky and worn.


A type of treatment for changing the appearance of wood that consists of distressing the wooden surface and giving it a time-worn appearance.


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