Back to Table of Contents

ACCENT STRIP - Strip flooring wood of one or more different species or colors than the field wood. Used to border, separate, outline and define areas or as a decorative touch.

ACCLIMATIZATION - Allowing flooring wood to adjust to the ambient moisture and temperature by storing loosely stacked in the area of installation for at least 3 days.

ACRYLIC/WOOD - The generic name for wood-plastic-composites utilizing wood impregnated with acrylic monomers and polymerized within the wood cells by gamma irradiation. Some versions are cured by heat radiation. (In the case of acrylic/wood parquet a semi-built-in finish is developed.)

AIR-DRIED - Dried by exposure to air in a yard or shed without artificial heat.

AMBERING - The tendency of most oil-based finishes to add an amber or yellowish tone to wood. This is due to the oil used, most often linseed or tung oil. Finishes using safflower oil or sunflower oil show minimal discoloration. Water based finishes have virtually no ambering; however, they do produce a markedly "flat", milky tone.

AMBIENT CONDITIONS - The conditions existing in the immediate environment or encompassing atmosphere in which the wood floor will exist, i.e., temperature, humidity, light, amount and type of use.

ANNUAL GROWTH RING - The layer of wood growth, including one springwood and one summerwood, formed on a tree during a single growing season.

BASE SHOE - A molding, similar to quarter round in profile, designed to be attached to base molding. Allows greater expansion space at the edges of a wood floor.

BASTARD SAWN - See Rift Sawn

BEVELED EDGE - See Eased Edge

BOARD FOOT - A unit of measurement of lumber represented by a board 1 foot long, 12 inches wide and 1 inch thick or its cubic equivalent. In practice the board foot calculation for lumber 1 inch or more in thickness is based on its nominal thickness and width and the actual length. Lumber with a nominal thickness of less than l inch is calculated as l inch.

BOW - Distortion of lumber in which there is deviation along an edge, in a direction perpendicular to the flat face of the board, from a straight line from end-to-end of the piece.

BOX LAID JOINT - See Step Laid

BURL - A swirl or twist in the grain of the wood which usually occurs near a knot, at a branch crotch or at some other point of structural stress in the tree. True burl may have inherent structural weaknesses and should only be used in flooring with great caution.

CHECK - A lengthwise separation of the wood that usually extends across the rings of annual growth and commonly results from stress set up in wood during air drying or kiln-drying.

COVERED FOOT - An amount of wood flooring guaranteed to cover one square foot of floor space, including whatever overage is required. Flooring sold in bundles is often sold by the covered foot, not the actual board footage contained.

CROWNING - When flooring boards appear to be thicker or curve up in the center of the face of each board. Usually caused by sanding when the wood is cupped.

CUPPING - When the outside edges of an installed flooring board curl, forming a slight cup like effect across the board. Some cupping is normal during extremely hot and humid weather and usually eases flat as the ambient environment cools or dries.

DECAY - The decomposition of wood by fungi.


DELAMINATION - The separation of layers of laminates through failure within the adhesive or of the bond between adhesive and laminate.

DIFFUSE - POROUS WOODS - Certain hardwoods in which the pores tend to be uniform in size and distribution throughout each annual ring or to decrease in size slightly and gradually toward the outer border of the annual growth rings (example: hard maple).

DIMENSIONAL STABILITY - The ability of wood to maintain the original intended dimensions when influenced by a foreign substance. Wood is hygroscopic and is not dimensionally stable with changes in moisture content below the fibre saturation point. Woods vary in dimensional stability.

DISTRESSED - A heavy artificial texture created by the floor being scraped, scratched or gouged to give it a time-worn antique look. (One method of distressing is wire-brushing.)

DRY WALL -- Interior covering material such as gypsum board hardboard or plywood which is applied in large sheets or panels.

EASED EDGE - The chamfered, or beveled, edges of strip flooring, plank, block or parquet at between a 10 to 45 degree angle.

END-JOINT - The place where two pieces of flooring are joined together end to end.

END MATCHED - Tongue and grooving on the ends of wood strip or plank flooring (end joint).
EXOTIC HARDWOODS - Usually refers to imported hardwoods but can include uncommon or unusual hardwoods native to the U.S.

FACE - The width of that part of wood flooring visible after installation, i.e., does not include tongue.

FIELD - The largest area of wood flooring in a space or room; it may be strip or plank, herringbone, parquet tiles, etc.

FIELD WOOD - The type of wood used in the field flooring.

FIGURE - The appearance given to the surface of wood. It includes swirls, rays, knot marks, whorls, birds eye, quilting, and other deviations from regular grain. Figure can include grain, but it is separate from the growth rings and is a product of only vaguely understood and mysterious natural processes which involve environment, stresses during growth, genetic factors, fairy dust, and the results of tree dryads decorating their homes. Fortunately, like most beauty in life, we don't have to understand it to enjoy it.

FLAG WORM HOLE - One or more worm holes surrounded by a mineral streak.

FLARE - A heavy dark mineral streak shaped like a banner.

FLAT FLOOR - A floor in which there are no low or high places in the plane of the floor. A "flat" floor is not necessarily "level", (see LEVEL FLOOR)

FLECKS - The wide irregular conspicuous figure in quartersawn flooring. See Rays, Wood

FLOORING PAPER - A paper product placed between the subfloor and the flooring. Originally used to prevent drafts coming up between old style plank subflooring. May be treated but is not a moisture barrier and may, in fact, serve to draw and hold moisture. Does nothing to stop squeaks.

GRADES OF HARDWOOD - The more common American hardwoods (oak, maple, ash, walnut) have nationally established levels or grades, "clear", "select", "#1 common", "#2 common" which are determined strictly by appearance. Most imports and U.S. exotics do not have formally established grades although the same terms are often used.


HARDNESS - Ability of a species of wood to resist denting. Determined by gauging the amount of pressure needed to sink a 1/4" steel ball ½ its diameter into the wood.

HARDWOOD - Generally: one of the botanical groups of deciduous trees that have broad leaves in contrast to the conifers or softwoods. The term has no reference to the actual hardness of the wood.

HEARTWOOD - The wood extending from the pith to the sapwood, the cells of which no longer participate in the life processes of the tree. It is usually darker than sapwood.

HEAVY STREAKS - Spots and streaks of sufficient size and density to have a strong impact on the appearance of the wood.

HONEYCOMBING - Checks, often not visible at the surface, that occur in the interior of a piece of wood usually along the wood rays.

HYGROSCOPIC - Describes substances that can ATTRACT AND absorb and retain moisture or lose or throw off moisture. Wood and wood products are hygroscopic. They expand with absorption of moisture and dimensions become smaller when moisture is lost or thrown off.

INLAID HARDWOOD FLOORING - Full 3/4 inch hardwood mosaic parquetry in which a design is installed by cutting into existing or installed strip or plank floors.

LEVEL FLOOR - A floor that is level with the horizon across the average plane of the floor. A "level" floor is not necessarily "flat", (see FLAT FLOORS).

LOG LAID JOINT - See Step Laid

LUSTER - A shine, glow, or deep luminescent quality which appears to come from within the wood itself. Gives many woods a holographic quality of great depth.

MINERAL STREAK - Wood containing an accumulation of mineral matter introduced by sap flow causing an unnatural color ranging from greenish brown to black.

MITERED JOINT - Where flooring boards meet at an angle to each other and are cut so that the joint forms a straight line .

MIXED MEDIA - A floor that is predominantly of one flooring material (such as wood, slate, stone, ceramic, marble, or carpet), but incorporates one or more other flooring materials or metal.

MOISTURE CONTENT - The amount of moisture in wood expressed as a percentage of the weight of the oven dry wood.
The nationally accepted standard for hardwood flooring is 6% to 8% moisture content, and up to 12% moisture allowed in 5% of the wood.
Parquet flooring tile is to be 7% to 11% moisture content at time of shipment. 5% of the flooring may be outside of this range.

MOSAIC PARQUET - Hardwood pieces and sections arranged in a pattern or design and laid as the floor is installed. Not always a repeat or geometrical pattern.

NAILING - Toe nailing: fastening wood to subflooring by angling a nail through the side of the board. In tongue and groove flooring, the nail angles through the tongue, called "hidden nailing".
Top nailing; fastening the flooring by driving a nail straight down through the top of the board. Usually used with wide plank and along the last installed course of wood closest to the wall.

NAILING SCHEDULE - Pattern or spacing for nails/screws in flooring and subflooring.

NOMINAL SIZE - As applied to timber or lumber, the size by which it is known and sold in the market: this often differs from the actual size.

NOSING - A hardwood molding used to cover the outside corner edge of a step, landing or balcony, milled to meet the hardwood floor in the horizontal plane, to meet the riser in the vertical plane.

PARQUET - A patterned floor, usually consisting of strip flooring or parquet tiles laid in a regular, repeat pattern.

PARQUET FLOOR TILE - a geometric shape (4, 5, 6 or 8 sided) composed of individual slats held in place by a mechanical fastening or glued to a plywood backing. The actual hardwood is usually less than 3/4" thick. A tile may or may not possess tongues and grooves to interlock.

PARQUET FLOOR UNITS - A unit consists of four (sometimes three) or more squares or tiles fastened together.

PEGGING - Driving a wooden peg into a hole pre-drilled through the flooring board and subfloor (hand pegged) or using a counter-sunk screw with a wooden "cap" (fake peg). Used to fasten wide planking or to give a rustic look. Pegs can be of the same or a different wood.

PLANK FLOORING - Flooring boards more than 4" wide. Requires construction adhesive in addition to toe nailing, pegging, top nailing or some alternative fastening system.

PRE-FINISHED FLOORING - Wood strip, plank or parquet tile flooring which has been final sanded and finished by the manufacturer. Saves the time required to sand and finish on site and the client knows the exact color before purchasing. Requires extreme care in installation, materials and installation are more expensive, slower to install, can not be combined with inlays or different woods, woods and colors limited, often problems in refinishing or repairing.

QUARTERSAWN - Lumber in which the annual growth rings form an angle of 450 to 900 with the surface of the piece. In quartersawn strips the medullary rays or pith rays in ring porous woods are exposed as flecks which are reflective and produce a distinctive grain pattern. May include rift sawn.

RAISED GRAIN - A roughened or fuzzy condition on the face of the flooring in which the dense summerwood is raised above the softer springwood but not torn or separated. Usually caused by water or water-based stains and finishes on raw wood.

RAYS, WOOD - Strips of cells extending radially within a tree and varying in height from a few cells in some species to 4 inches or more in oak. The rays serve primarily to store food and transport it horizontally in the tree. On quartersawn flooring, most especially the oaks, the rays form a conspicuous figure sometimes referred to as flecks.

REDUCER STRIP - Also known as ½ threshold. A teardrop shaped molding accessory for hardwood flooring, normally used at doorways, but sometimes at fireplaces and when butting to a lower flooring surface. It is grooved on one edge and tapered, or feathered, on the other edge.

RELATIVE HUMIDITY - Ratio of the amount of water vapor present in the air to that which the air would hold at saturation at the same temperature.

RIFT SAWN - Also known as Bastard Sawn. Lumber (primarily hardwoods) in which the annual rings make angles of 300 to 600 with the surface of the piece. May include some quarter sawn.

RING POROUS - A group of hardwoods in which the pores are comparatively large at the beginning of each annual growth ring and decrease in size, more or less abruptly toward the outer portion of the annual growth ring. The large pores are springwood and the smaller pores are summerwood.

SAPWOOD - The wood near the outside of the tree which is usually lighter in color than heartwood.

SAWN - See Plain sawn, Flat sawn, Quartersawn, Rift sawn, Bastard sawn.

SCREEDS - Usually a pine or spruce 2"x4" or 1"x4", laid flat side down and attached to a concrete subfloor to provide a nailing surface for tongued and grooved strip flooring or a wood subfloor.

SQUARE FOOTAGE - The total surface of an area. Is not the same as board foot, but can be equated with covered foot (although an covered foot bundle may consist of square footage plus overage).

STEP LAID - (Also known as box or log laid) When flooring boards are joined at an angle, usually perpendicular, that creates a series of steps. Commonly used in herringbones and when wood is laid parallel to walls.

STRIP FLOORING - Flooring boards up to 3" wide.

SUSTAINABLE YIELD - One of several ecologically and economically sound methods of harvesting timber in a way that ensures regrowth of the wood harvested and which usually strives to provide greater benefits to indigenous people. Often called "green forestry" or "ecoforestry".

THRESHOLD & ½ THRESHOLD - A molding traditionally used where strip and plank flooring change direction or abut a different flooring material, usually at a doorway or edge of a room. May be engineered to allow flooring to expand beneath it. See Reducer Strip.

TONGUE & GROOVE (T&G) - In strip, plank, and parquet flooring and some mosaic parquet, a tongue is milled on one edge and a groove on the opposite edge. As the flooring is installed the tongue of each strip, slat, or unit, is engaged with the groove of the adjacent strip or unit. Nailing is usually done by "toe nailing" through the tongue.

TRIM - The finish materials in a building, such as moldings, applied around openings (window trim, door trim) or at the floor and ceiling of rooms (baseboard, shoemold, cornice, and other moldings).
ULTRA-VIOLET (UV) - All wood ages, or develops a patina, to some degree over time. In most cases this is caused by UV rays from sunlight. UV effects vary depending on the wood.

ULTRA-VIOLET (UV) BLOCK - A chemical which can block out UV rays and thus retard aging. Some finishes contain UV block, many do not.

UNFINISHED - A product which must be sanded and have stain and/or a finish applied after installation.

UNIT - Approximately 1,000 board feet of rough lumber, a bundled package of flooring material, or four or more basic parquet tiles.

VAPOR BARRIER - A material with a high resistance to vapor movement, such as foil, plastic films or specially coated paper, that is used to control condensation or prevent migration of moisture.

V-JOINT - An eased or beveled edge on plank or strip flooring and occasionally in parquet tiles used to disguise separations between boards. Frequently used with wide plank.

WARPING - Any distortion of a piece of flooring from its true plane. May occur in seasoning.

WIRE BRUSHING - A method for imparting an artificial texture or distressed appearance to the surface of hardwood flooring.