Please feel free to reference our glossary tool to help your flooring decision-making. As with all industries, flooring materials have their own lingo and technical terms to describe a material’s advantages and disadvantages. The information about each one is our honest assessment of the relevant facts surrounding the term, simply click on one to find out more.
(Click on a letter above to scroll immediately to that section)
Aluminum Oxide – is an additive usually included in the water-based polyurethane finishes. It has the advantage of hardening up the finish, but the disadvantage of scratching very white, powdery, and noticeable. Some manufacturers include it because of its advantages; some don’t because of its disadvantages.
Baseboard/Wall Base – a wider trim piece that attaches to the vertical wall or surface to cover up expansion gaps normally left between the floor and any vertical surface
Base Shoe/Quarter Round – a thin trim piece that attaches to the vertical wall or surface to cover up expansion gaps normally left between the floor and any vertical surface
Box Size/Box Weight/Boxes per Pallet – all quantities that affect both ordering and purchasing
Bull Nose – see Nosing
Commercial – installation occurring in a commercial structure (e.g. office, health care, etc.), or in a multi-family residential application (e.g. condo development, etc.)
Construction – how the individual product is made; what constitutes the makeup of the entire thickness of the material being discussed.
Climatic controls – natural wood materials, like flooring, functions best under relatively tight climatic conditions, such as temperature and relative humidity… it is important to________
Concrete – subfloor material to which additional flooring is typically added.
Click-Lock – a snap together flooring system utilized usually without the use of glue or fasteners in a “floating installation”
Colors – most colors outside of the natural tone of any wood species are either stains (which are topical or can be infused in the finish) or sometimes treatments the woods receive, like steaming for example; as a general rule with all woods, darker colors tend to show wear and tear more easily than lighter colors or complex patterns.
CARB – California Air Resources Board (stricter emissions requirements for off-gassing than national standards, only technically applies to California projects but can be used as a benchmark in other states)
Delivery Time – time at which the material is needed at the job-site, taking into account all ‘acclimation’ protocols.
Dimensions – a general description about the width/thickness of the boards
Engineered – top wear layer on top of another platform of another stable material, usually plywood or HDF or another stable material
Floating – the process of installing wood flooring by NOT attaching the flooring to the subfloor material. Floating is typically done on normal tongue and groove products by using carpenters glue, as well as can be done in a glueless fashion is the locking mechanism of the product used is considered “click”
Finish – sometimes referred to as varnish; the protective coat (sometimes plasticy, sometimes waxy, sometimes oily, etc.) that goes on woods to protect them but is different than a stain which only serves to change the color of wood, not to protect it
Fitting Mechanism – how the boards are laid together and fitted in place on the floor during installation
Format – see Construction
FSC – Forest Stewardship Council (the most respected third party certification entity for sustainably harvested materials)
Gypcrete – a lightweight gypsum and concrete layer suitable for infill subfloor installations, and often used for use with hydronic in-floor heating applications.
Glue-down – the process of installing wood flooring onto a subfloor using a moisture-cured urethane adhesive.
Hand-scraped – mechanically altering the surface texture of the wood
Hardness – a quantifiable measurement of the density of a wood material
Installed budget – the amount of money you have budgeted or set aside for the entire cost of the flooring project.
IIC (Initial Impact Coefficient) –
Installation Instructions – tells how to install the product and instructs on the different options available
Installation Grade – the level of a structure (ground level is “at grade”) where materials are allowed to be installed
LEED – Leadership in Environment and Engineering Design (??) – a program created by the US Green Building Council to help ……….
Lacey Act –
Material Budget – the amount of money you initially have set aside just for the purchase of the flooring material (installation and cost of accessorial components aside)
Materials – what substance(s) make up the thickness of the board
Manufacturing Location – where the material is made
MSDS – stands for material safety data sheet and follows a template to reveal what compounds are present in the component products and what their hazards might be.
Nail-down – the process of installing wood flooring onto a wood subfloor or ‘sleeper’ system using either nails, staples, or cleats.
Nosing – combines with regular flooring to create a stair tread (the horizontal surface of a stair)
OSB – a structural subfloor system using historically small diameters tree species, wherein the wood fibers are chopped, and reconstituted using glue, and then formed into a panel form
Point Load – generally relates to whether there will be spots where a lot of weight is funneled down onto a small load point (high heels is a common example)
Prefinished – Prefinished wood is wood that is already treated with a protective coating, and is typically just installed as is (with no additional finishing needed).
Plywood – a subfloor system using alternating layers of rotary peeled veneers in alternating directions
Residential – installation occurring in a single-family residence (home, condo, apartment, etc.)
Register Cover – see Vent
Regular width – approx. 3 to 4 inches (usually not notated)
Regular thickness – approx. ½ – ¾ inch
Refinishing – the process of sanding down a wood material with the expressed purpose of removing the abused finish and putting on brand new finish (usually has the effect of looking like a brand new floor without installing a brand new floor)
Reducer – a piece that transitions the strand bamboo flooring surface to a shorter, essentially “zero height” floor covering like thin carpet or linoleum.
Species – type of wood (generally relates to grain pattern, possibly color, and known species attributes if applicable.
Sound Insulation – the process of using sound insulative materials to provide a level of sound deadening for a space, and is divided into 2 main subcategories: IIC and STC
STC (Sound Transmission Coefficient) –
Solid – one material makes up the entire thickness of the board
Smooth – no texture on the top surface of the material
Shipping Location – where the material is inventoried
Spec Sheet – gives out technical data on the product
Stair Tread – a single piece of material that makes up the entire horizontal surface of a single stair, no additional flooring needed
Stair Riser – a single piece of material that makes up the entire vertical surface of a single stair; can create risers out of flooring instead during installation
Tongue and Groove – a flooring profile that needs to be nailed or glued for an installation technique
Texture – the decorative and durable surface of each board
Thin Plank – under ½ inch
T-molding – a piece that transitions the strand bamboo flooring surface to another surface of equal height, like another wood material for example.
Threshold/End Cap – a piece that transitions the strand bamboo flooring surface to a different flooring surface that is not an equal height but also is not essentially “zero height.”
Unfinished – Unfinished material will require the further application of a wood sealer and/or finish to protect the wood from staining, spills, additional wear, etc.
Vent – a covering for an in-floor vent or register that is made of the same material and matches the floor. One type is called Flush Mount, where its highest point is level with the floor surface; the other type is called Drop In, where its highest point is higher than the floor surface on which it rests.
Wide-plank – generally considered a plank over 5” in width
Wire-Brushed – mechanically altering the surface texture of the wood, thinner grooves than hand scraped
Warranty – addresses the circumstances of product failure and the remedies available; usually materials have both a structural warranty and a finish warranty as separate statements