If you have ever been to a foreign country you know the frustration of not being able to read or understand what is going on around you. When you buy hardwood flooring for your home, you can often feel that same sense of frustration if you don’t understand the terms that flooring professionals commonly use. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of all terms, we have attempted to highlight the most common so you will be better equipped and more comfortable working with your flooring professional.

What are some of the important terms associated with hardwood flooring?

We have taken an extensive list from a flooring glossary and edited it down to what we feel are the most common terms, grouping those terms into several categories.

Hardwood Installation Terms

Acclimation – Refers to the hardwood’s adjustment to the environment it is in, in terms of moisture and humidity

Baseboard – Refers to the molding installed at the base of a wall designed to cover a portion of the wall and floor. It is typically seen as quarter round, though other styles are available.

Grain – Refers to the alignment of the fibers in the wood, which designates the pattern seen on the flooring.

Inlay – Technique involving laying multiple pieces down to create a pattern inside the hardwood.

Janka Hardness – Refers to the strength of the hardwood material based on a scale which determines the amount of force it takes to drive a .444 inch steel ball into a plank of wood .222 inches in diameter.

Kiln Dried – Wood dried with artificial heat in a controlled environment as opposed to naturally air dried.
Knot – The dark marking where the branch jointed the tree trunk.

Species – Refers to the type of wood, or the kind of tree it was harvested from. Many species are available such as oak, pine, cherry, and hazelnut.

Stud – Support structure for walls and flooring.

Subfloor – A support surface below the flooring, such as plywood or concrete.

Tongue and Groove – Also known as T&G, this refers to the profile construction milled to the panels’ sides allowing the panels to interlock easily with one another.

Veneer – A thin layer of real, solid hardwood glued to the top of a core board to create an engineered wood floor.

Hardwood Floor Finishing Terms

Cure – The action of allowing the finish to completely dry and reach its fullest hardness potential. Different finishes will cure at different rates.

Finish – Refers to the wax based or urethane coating over hardwood flooring.

Distressed Hardwood Flooring – Refers to the intentional scratching, scraping and/or gouging of a flooring surface to create an antique look.

Natural Stain – A clear finish that does not color the wood, but instead allows for the natural look of the wood to show.

Oil-modified Urethane – Most common finish for wood flooring, comes in various gloss levels.

Polyurethane – Type of finish for hardwood that does not require waxing.

Refinish – Refers to the practice of sanding down a wood floor and finishing it again, to reduce the appearance of damage, wear, and tear.

Screen & Recoat – The practice of adding another top coat of polyurethane to improve the appearance of the floor, after abrading it (using a mesh screen) so that the finish adheres better.

Stain – Coloration of flooring other than its natural color.

Urethane – A chemical solvent used to seal and finish wood floors.

Varnish – A finish containing oils with a slow curing time that can be decreased by heat.

Hardwood Flooring Condition Terms

Abrasion – Refers to the wearing away at a hardwood floor finish, thereby damaging the wood.

Buckle – Refers to warped and weakened hardwood as a result of conditions such as excessive moisture.

Burl – Refers to a swirl or twist of the grain of the wood that generally happens close to a knot, but does not contain a knot

Expansion – Changes in dimension due to swelling and contracting of the flooring as a result of moisture.

Chatter Marks – Refers to patterned markings on the floor caused by the use of a drum sander.

Crowning – Refers to a type of warping where the center is higher than the sides.

Cupping – Refers to warping where the sides are higher than the center.

Hardwood Flooring Types

Antique Flooring – Uses older wood recycled from buildings to manufacture the flooring. Or, is distressed either by hand or machine to create an antique look.

Engineered Hardwood – Wood made of a thin layer of solid hardwood glued or laminated onto a core board such as plywood or high density fiberboard to make the planks of flooring.

Exotic Species – Refers to the species of wood found outside of North America.

Floating Floor – A type of installation that does not require the flooring to be attached to the subfloor.

Hand Scraped Hardwood – Historically, floors were hand scraped on site to make the floors flat. Today’s hand scraping is usually done at the factory to achieve an antique or vintage look.

Plank Flooring – Boards that are 3 inches wide or more.

Prefinished – Flooring that is stained and sealed at a factory before installation.

Reclaimed Wood – Wood that is salvaged from an old structure for use in another project.

Site Finished – Unfinished hardwood that is installed and then finished on site.

Solid Hardwood – One piece made from lumber, unlike engineered hardwoods which use other materials to form the planks.

Unfinished Wood Floor – Flooring that has not been pre-finished at the factory, meaning it must be finished on site after installation.

If you are thinking of beautifying your home or business with the luxury of hardwood floors, Cameron the Sandman will make the process easy and stress free. We manage each project from start to finish and everything in-between. Our experienced professionals handle all the details and answer all your questions about hardwood flooring. Having trouble deciding? We can help you make an informed decision about wood floor types, color stains, finishes, floor designs and more! Our hardwood flooring services include hardwood floor sales and installation, refinishing floor services, restoring hardwood and more! Call us today to learn more about how we can make your floor dreams come true!