Industry
Terminology

Abrasion
Scuffing, scratching, marring, rubbing away or wearing down. Can be done intentionally for artistic purposes or unintentionally because of exposure to normal use or the elements.

Acclimation
Also called Acclimatization Adjusting to a change in environment such as altitude, humidity, temperature, etc. Hardwood flooring must be acclimated to the indoor environment in which it’s being installed to prevent expansion, this usually takes about 3 days.

Adhesive
Non-metallic substance that, when applied, will bond two separate items together and resist separating. Flooring adhesive may be called glue, paste or mastic.

Backing
Also called a Back Layer The bottom-most layer of many types of flooring is often called the backing.

Berber
Named for the woolen, textured carpet made by the Berber tribes of Morocco and North Africa, Berber is a type of carpet made from thick, tufted yarns woven into a loop pile that connects directly to the backing. It is known for being easy to clean and for its ability to withstand heavy foot traffic.

Bevelled Edge
Hardwood flooring with a beveled edge features a distinct, deep “V” shape groove between planks. This type of edge style is commonly used for informal room designs or in spaces where subfloor imperfections or slight differences in plank thicknesses need to be concealed.

Board
A plank, usually made of wood, used as flooring.

Border
A customized design that goes around the perimeter of the room. Sometimes used with tile, concrete or stone flooring or carpeting.

Bowing
Curvature up and down or side to side in a wood board, making it so that it will not lie flat or line up properly with the piece next to it.

Cantilevered
Any part of a structure that extends beyond the foundation and has open air beneath it. Some flooring products should not be installed on cantilevered floors.

Carpet Backing
The back layer of a carpet, formed by yarns and fabrics that help to preserve the appearance and longevity of the carpet’s surface.

Carpet Pile
The carpet pile is the visible surface of the carpet, it is formed by a top layer of fibers that are attached to the carpet backing. A carpet’s pile can be low (fibers less than ¼-inch), medium (¼ to ½-inch fibers), or high (fibers more than ½-inch). High-pile carpets tend to be softer but also more difficult to clean.

Ceramic Tile
Also called Porcelain Tiles Ceramic or porcelain tiles are made with dense clay, then sometimes glazed, the process of making these tiles causes them to be relatively resistant to heat and moisture.

Cork
The bark of the cork oak tree is used to make flooring and underlayment because of it’s impermeable, buoyant, elastic, and fire-retardant properties.

Cove
Cove molding is a type of decorative trim used to create a finished appearance between either the floor and a wall or a wall and the ceiling.

Cut Pile
Cut pile carpet features fibers that are cut, rather than looped into the backing. Different types of cut pile include plush and shag carpet.

Decorative Layer
The decorative layer of vinyl or laminate flooring is situated between the transparent surface wear layer and the foam inner core. It contains a printed or photographic design that often imitates the look of wood grain, marble, or ceramic tile.

Defect
Any abnormality that makes the material unsuitable for installation. Defects may appear after installation too.

Delamination
The process by which layers in a laminated material come apart, in most cases this is a defect in the adhesive used.

Density
Density is a value that refers to how close together the fibers of a carpet are. If a density number is higher, the carpet is denser, which means it can withstand heavy foot traffic and wear. This is calculated by multiplying the weight of a carpet’s pile by 36, then dividing the result by the pile height.

Dimensional Stability
The ability of material to maintain the same dimensions, not swelling or shrinking with rises or falls in humidity level. Engineered hardwood flooring has dimensional stability, whereas solid hardwood flooring does not.

Distressed Hardwood Flooring
Distressed hardwood refers to a broad category of plank styles with intentional scratching, scraping, or gouging of the surface to create an antique look. This style is useful for hiding marks and scratches in high-traffic rooms.

End Joint
The place where two wood planks adjoin one another.

End-Matched
Some tongue and groove flooring has a tongue and groove on the end joints as well as on the sides.

Engineered Hardwood
This type of wood flooring consists of multiple layers of wood pressed together with adhesives (or other methods of fixation) to form a composite material. Compared to solid wood, engineered hardwood flooring costs less and can better resist moisture damage.

Expansion Space
Gaps called an expansion space are left to allow the wood or laminate flooring room to expand safety as humidity levels change, an expansion space of 3/8” is recommended, without this space, the floorboards could shift and push one another out of position.

Fiberboard Core
The middle layer of a laminate floor is the fiberboard core, which is made from softwood fibers, this layer gives laminate greater stability and impact resistance.

Fiberglass
Often used as a backing for vinyl floors, fiberglass is a thicker, durable loose-lay backing. It can be installed with non-permanent adhesive, making it easy to replace tiles should they become wet or damaged.

Fillets
The small pieces of wood joined in a parquet floor.

Finish
Hardwood, laminate, tile, and vinyl floors are coated with a decorative finish designed to protect the surface from scuffs and wear.

Floating
A floating installation is when the flooring does not attach to an underlayment or subfloor, instead, these floors are snapped or glued together at the edges and end joints. This type of floor is typically quicker and easier to install than an attached floor.

Floor Covering
A floor covering is the layer of material such as carpet or tile that covers the floor of a room. It usually sits on top of the underlayment or subfloor.

Foam Inner Core
Layered products such as vinyl may have a foam inner core between the backing and the decorative layer. Its thickness determines the product’s resiliency and cushion levels.

Frieze
A cut pile carpet with high-pile fibers. These fibers are twisted multiple times to give them a distinctive texture and better resistance to heavy foot traffic.

Full Spread Installation
Flooring that requires an adhesive on the entire subfloor.

Gauge
In flooring, this refers to the thickness of the wear layer.

Glaze
A type of finish, Glaze is a clear, glass-like substance applied to the surface of tile to add color, smoothness, and shine.

Gloss
A floor’s gloss level refers to the reflection from its finish. Standard gloss levels include satin or matte—which have little or no reflection—semi-gloss, and high gloss.

Glueless Click-Lock
Several types of engineered hardwood, vinyl, and laminate flooring can be installed as glueless click-lock floors. No glue is required for these installations, as the edges of planks simply click and lock together.

Grade Level
Grade level refers to the level of construction in comparison to the ground surrounding it. On-grade flooring installation is at ground level. Below-grade is below ground level, and above-grade is above ground. Certain types of flooring have limitations on which grade they can be installed.

Grain
The visible, vertical patterns on a wood plank are known as its wood grain.

Green Flooring
Environmentally friendly flooring, usually made from materials like cork, corn or bamboo that are made from quickly renewed plants, it can also be made from recycled materials. Green Flooring does NOT contain harmful chemicals.

Grout
Grout is a paste or mortar called used to fill the gaps and crevices between tiles to hold them in place on a wall or floor.

Hardness
A wood floor’s hardness is its ability to withstand the pressure that would result in visible denting, marks, and wear.

Hardwood
Hardwood flooring is the wood harvested from broad-leaved deciduous trees. Common species used to make flooring include Oak (Red & White), Maple, Hickory, White Ash, Yellow Birch and American Walnut.

Impact Resistance
Impact resistance measures how well a material or composite of materials can withstand permanent deformations cause by high force or shock applied to it over a short period of time. Floors with high impact resistance can withstand regular dropped or dragged items and continue to remain intact.

Jamb
In architecture a jamb is the side-post or lining of a doorway or other aperture. A doorjamb is the side of a door that the hinges attach to on one side and the strike plate on the other. The jamb must be trimmed around when installing flooring.

Joints
The junction of precut surfaces that will be butted together without applying a static load from one piece to another; Often used in subflooring.

Joist
Long thick beams used in framing to span an open space that subsequently transfer weight loads to vertical support structures. These can sometimes be seen in unfinished basements.

Knot
As a tree grows, lower branches often die, and their bases may become overgrown and enclosed by subsequent layers of trunk wood, forming a type of imperfection known as a knot. In flooring such as knotty pine, knots are considered a benefit. In hardwood flooring, knots are less appealing.

Knuckle
Similar in looks to a knot, knuckles are formed in bamboo where a growth spurt took place.

Lacquer
Lacquer is a very shiny type of finish used on wood and metal.

Laminate
Lamination is the technique of manufacturing a material in multiple layers, so that the composite material has improved strength, durability, stability, and/or other important properties. Laminate flooring is a synthetic, hard surface material designed to mimic the look and feel of ceramic tile/stone/wood floors, while cutting down on material costs.

Linoleum
Linoleum flooring is fully recyclable and made from 100% natural materials such as linseed oil, pine resin, ground cork dust, sawdust, and mineral fillers such as calcium carbonate, usually on a burlap or canvas backing. It has a very similar appearance to vinyl flooring.

Loop Pile
Style of carpet where uncut carpet fibers attach to the backing on both ends, creating a loop pile. One popular style of loop pile carpet is Berber.

Mastic
A high-grade construction adhesive commonly used to bond ceiling, wall, and floor tiles, plywood panels, concrete, asphalt, leather, and fabric.

Marble
Sometimes used as a flooring material, marble stone is a natural stone with a distinct swirl or colored vein appearance. Marble tends to be a higher-budget, high-maintenance flooring material.

Melamine
Melamine is an organic compound with many uses, it can be combined with formaldehyde and other agents to produce melamine resins. These resins are used to form part of the back layer of laminate flooring. This helps support and reinforce the laminate tiles or planks. It can also provide a tough and durable finish as part of the floor’s wear layer.

Mosaic
A pattern or picture created from small pieces of glass, stone, marble, tile, or another hard substance, usually held together with plaster or mortar, and covering a surface.

Overlap Reducer
Sometimes called the reducer, it provides a transition from one type of floor to another with a lower height.

Overlap Stair Nose
Fitted on the edge of the top stair, an overlap stair nose is a piece of molding that transitions the material used on a set of stairs to the one on the floor below.

Parquet
Parquet floors are a type of hardwood flooring installation involving an angular geometric mosaic of small wood pieces. Parquet patterns can consist of squares, triangles, herringbone layouts, and more.

Perimeter adhered
When vinyl sheet floors are installed with only the outer edges glued to the subfloor, this is called perimeter adhered flooring.

Plywood
An engineered wood product composed of multiple layers, each layer is rotated up to 90 degrees to improve the strength and durability of each sheet. Plywood is often used as a subfloor.

Plush
Plush carpet features a very soft, high-cut pile in which all fibers are the same height and arranged very close together.

Porcelain
Porcelain tile is a harder, more moisture-resistant type of ceramic tile. It’s prized for being stain resistant and easy to clean. Due to its smoother surface, porcelain tends to be more brittle and fragile under pressure and more slippery.

Prefinished
term that means finish has been applied to the flooring at the factory.

Radiant Heating
A heating system installed below the flooring, designed to keep floors at a comfortable temperature while also improving a home’s energy efficiency—especially during colder months.

Refinish
You can minimize the appearance of scratches, scuff marks, and other signs of wear or damage on your hardwood floors by refinishing, which involves adding a new topcoat of finish.

Remnant
When you purchase carpet, it is cut from rolls into the size you need for your space. The end of a roll is called a carpet remnant and can be used as a throw rug or to carpet a small portion of a room.

Scratch
A light abrasion on the surface of flooring.

Sealer
A finishing liquid designed to stop any other liquids from penetrating into flooring material.

Seam
The line along which two pieces of flooring are joined.

Separation
In flooring, the act of two adjoining pieces coming apart due to buckling, shrinking, cupping, or crowning.

Side-Matched
Refers to flooring with a tongue and groove along the long side of each plank.

Solid Wood If a hardwood flooring plank is made from a single, solid piece of wood, it is referred to as solid hardwood. This type of floor is one of the most durable options as well as one of the most expensive. Solid hardwood is also more susceptible to moisture damage than engineered hardwood flooring.

Stair Risers, Treads and Stringers
The riser is the vertical piece of a step; the tread is the horizontal piece on which you walk; the stringers provide support and run along each side or center of the staircase, the treads and risers are fixed to the stringer.

Stripping
The process of using a dissolving agent and a tool for removing old floor polish prior to adding a new coat or polish

Subfloor
A floor substrate beneath the flooring that gives it the right type of surface for installation.

Substrate
Substrate is a material that provides a smooth surface under a floor covering. It can refer to subfloors, underlayment, or an existing floor covering beneath a floating floor installation.

Terrazzo
This hard, durable flooring is produced using marble chips that’s set into mortar and polished into a smooth surface. Terrazzo flooring is often available in tile form.

Tile
Tile is a floor, wall, countertop, and shower covering made from ceramic clay or stone and then cut into squares or other geometric shapes. Tile is often treated to provide resistance to moisture, stains, and slipping.

Tongue and Groove
Laminate or hardwood planks manufactured with this type of edge protrude in a tongue on one side and a groove on the other. Here, the tongue of one plank fits into the groove of the next for a seamless installation that offers flexibility and movement.

Traffic Wear
Wear on a floor that is caused by the volume of foot traffic over it.

Underlayment
The thin layer of material installed between a finished floor covering and the subfloor below is called the underlayment. It facilitates better adhesion, helps to level the new floor, and provides additional support, cushioning, and insulation.

Unfinished
Refers to solid hardwood, engineered or bamboo flooring that has not been stained or sealed.

Vapor Barrier
Any material used for damp proofing; typically plastic, foil, and/or urethane-coated paper are used as vapor barrier, as they prevent interstitial condensation and protect the longevity of your floors by keeping moisture out.

Veneer
Coarse hardwood floors often receive a thin application fine wood covering called a veneer for decorative purposes. A veneer of a luxury wood species can enhance the appearance of a less expensive wood plank without sacrificing quality.

Vinyl
Vinyl flooring consists of multiple layers of synthetic materials, which provide resilience and resistance to scratches, stains, and other wear. You’ll find vinyl plank that imitates wood, vinyl tile that mimics ceramic or stone, and vinyl sheet that can cover wide areas of the floor. Sheet vinyl can feature solid colors, patterns, or wood and stone looks.

Warping
Many types of flooring tend to warp, bend, and distort their shape due to drastic changes in temperature and/or humidity.

Waterproof
Waterproof floors are treated or sealed to be completely resistant to damage from water. Certain tile, laminate, and vinyl products are considered waterproof.

Wear Layer
The top layer of vinyl flooring is a clear surface finish called the wear layer, which protects the decorative layer below from damage. Wear layers are made from urethane and aluminum oxide and vary in their ability to resist fading, moisture, stains, foot traffic, scuffing, and wear.