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Wood Flooring Terms Glossary


Acclimatisation – The process of allowing your wood flooring to adjust to the humidity in your home. All wood will expand and contract relative to the amount of moisture in the air.

Adhesion – The process by which two materials are bonded together. The better the condition of the two surfaces, the better the rate of adhesion.

Ageing - A chemical process used to darken the colour of wood flooring without the need for stains.

Antique – Timber, usually around 250 years old that is still in its original condition or has been machined to achieve a specific size and finish.



Bevelled Edge – When the edge of a plank is planed to achieve a groove or ‘v’ effect in the join between boards when laid. Bevels can be on all 4 sides of the board or two sides only with a non beveled header joint.

Bleached – Flooring that has been lightened through the application of wood bleach or light stains.

Bowed – A form of distortion that can occur within mistreated wood that results in a curved, rather than flat face.

Brushed – A process carried out during manufacture whereby the timber is heavily brushed with thick copper wires to create a textured surface.




Colour change – Aesthetic changes within the colour of the wood. Caused over time due to a wide variety of factors including; light changes, air conditions or chemical reactions.

Crowning – Strips of flooring in which the centre of the board sits higher than the edges - the opposite of ‘cupping’.

Cupping – Strips of flooring in which the edges of the board sit higher than the centre - the opposite of ‘crowning’.



(DPM) – Abbreviation of damp proof membrane (sometimes referred to as a DPC or damp-proof course). A horizontal barrier designed to prevent the transfer of moisture (also known as rising damp).

Delaminating - Separation between layers in an engineered or laminate floor. Usually caused by the failure of adhesive between plies, or sometimes between the layers of stain or coating.

Distressed – An artificial process used to give flooring a ‘lived-in’ look. Various techniques can be used to create surface damage, dents, scratches and imperfections to edges and face. Boards are usually then finished with an oil to soften defects and give the appearance of a well-worn/period floor.

Durability - The ability of a wood species or finish to withstand external conditions, without a noticeable change in appearance.



End Joint – The end section of a piece of flooring that will be joined to the next plank.  (often referred to as the header joint)

End Matched – The process of milling a male projection onto the edge of a strip or plank to allow a connection with its female counterpart on an adjoining unit.

Engineered Wood Flooring - A multi-layered wood flooring board comprising of a surface veneer of real wood, bonded to a central softwood core and a counter balanced backing of softwood.



Feature strip - A strip of wood used in place of a threshold or used to border a room. Usually purchased in a contrasting colour or species to the flooring.

Filler – A substance used to fill knots, holes or irregularities within a planed or sanded surface. The filler is used before applying any finishes.

Finish – The protective coating applied to a wood floor.

Floating floor – A floor that doesn’t need to be nailed or glued to the subfloor. Normally a floating floor will work on a click lock system, or a tongue and groove join glued together.

Fully Adhered - The term used when a floor is fully adhered to the sub-floor (or stuck all over) with a suitable approved adhesive 



Grade - The term used to define and determine the quality and structural properties of raw timber.

Glue Down Installation - The term used when a floor is fully adhered to the sub-floor (or stuck all over) with a suitable approved adhesive 



Hand scraped - The process used to alter the surface of a wood floor to create an uneven surface. This process aims to replicate the effect of foot traffic and wear characteristics of an older floor.

Hardness - The property of a material that rates its ability to withstand denting or being marked.

Hard wax oil – A surface-finishing treatment made from a blend of natural vegetable oils and wax.

Hardwood – Timber that originates from one of the botanical groups of deciduous trees that have broad leaves.

Herringbone - a traditional pattern used to create an interlocking pattern of blocks of around eight inches long.

HDF - high-density fibreboard is a type of fibreboard, which is an engineered wood product. It is similar to particleboard and medium-density fibreboard, but is denser and much stronger and harder because it is made out of exploded wood fibres that have been highly compressed.

Humidity - The amount of water vapour present in your room’s atmosphere.

Hygrometer - an instrument for measuring the degree of humidity or relative humidity of the atmosphere.

Header Joint - The Joint at the thin end (not sides) of two boards joining together often referred to as the end joint 


Joist – One strut within a series of parallel beams used to support floor loads. These are supported in turn by larger beams, girders or load bearing walls.



Knot – The remaining feature formed when a branch or limb grows from the stem of a tree, these are normally filled with a suitable filler (as otherwise then often become loose and unstable)


Lacquer – A strong, hard wearing finish often used to seal wood flooring.

Laminate flooring – A hard wearing flooring product made up of a fibreboard core and melamine wear layer. Available in planks, blocks and squares.

Load bearing – A portion of a structure that can bear the weight of the force resting upon it.



Moisture content – The relative level of moisture contained within a piece of wood, usually expressed as a percentage of the total weight of the boards.

Mosaic parquet – A wood pattern wherein five fingers of wood are used to make up a ‘basket’; each ‘basket’ is laid in the opposite direction to the next and each panel contains approximately 16 baskets.



Nosing – A hardwood moulding commonly used to cover the outside corner of a step.



Parquet - A common term in the UK used to describe wood blocks or strips arranged in a geometric mosaic pattern for decorative effect. Some manufacturers use the term parquet to describe a 3-Strip floor. In Europe, ‘parquet’ (parkett) is used to describe any kind of wooden flooring.

Pin Holes – Can be caused when a finish flows into low lying or less dense areas of a board. Not necessarily considered a defect but can be covered with the application of additional lacquer.

Plain sawn – The usual way that a log is cut for flooring. This method results in a nice, random mix of grain patterns.

Plank – Solid wood or engineered boards designed to be installed in parallel rows.

Plywood – A board or panel made of cross-directional veneers and/or layers of wood for dimensional stability.

Port A Nailer - A mallet driven nail gun set at a prefixed angle to secret nail structural floors over joists or existing timber floors 

Pre-finished – A hardwood flooring product that has already had protection applied to it by the manufacturer, usually a stain, oil or lacquer.

Prime Grade – A phrase used to describe the grading of a certain type of flooring. Prime flooring is a very clean grade, containing no knots or sapwood.

PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) – A rubbery, synthetic polymer adhesive used for the bonding of porous materials such as wood.



Quadrant - A convex shaped piece of timber, usually supplied in 2.4m lengths used to cover the expansion gap left around the perimeter of a wood floor. See also ‘Scotia’.

Quarter sawn - Wood that features a grain running parallel to the length of the board (sometimes called 'vertical grain'). In oak the boards have ray-like markings running diagonally across them.



Reclaimed - timber salvaged from use in other locations, to give the new environment and aged look and feel.

Relative humidity - ratio of the amount of water vapour present in the air, which the air would hold at saturation at the same temperature.

Rustic grade – A phrase used to describe the grading of a certain type of flooring. Rustic flooring will usually contain a number of knots, some sapwood and wide variation colour.



Sanded & filled – An unfinished product that has been factory prepared for treatment. The timber will be smooth and any open knotholes will have been filled.

Sapwood - The wood found around the outside of a tree. Sapwood tends lighter in colour than heartwood.

Scotia - A concave/half-round/quarter-pipe cut of timber usually supplied in 2.4m lengths. Scotia is used to cover the expansion gap left at the perimeter of a wooden floor.

Screed - A latex levelling compound used to create a clean, level subfloor for installation.

Sealer – The name given to any finishing material applied to stop the absorption of succeeding coats.

Secret nailing – The fixing method by which a ‘lost head’ nail is fired at 45 degree angle into the upper side of the tongue on a tongue and groove board.

Smoked - A manufacturer process used to darken wood flooring.

Softwoods – The designation given to timber produced from needle and/or cone-bearing trees (conifers).

Solid - Individual strips or planks of wood made from 100% hardwood.

Solid Flooring – Flooring made up of boards, which are single pieces of wood from top to bottom.

Solid engineered (semi solid) - A plank of around 20mm in thickness, comprised of a real wood veneer (around 5-6mm), bonded to a plywood base. Although technically an engineered product, solid engineered displays similar properties to solid wood as it can be nailed down to provide a structural floor.

Species - The type of tree from which the flooring is made, e.g. oak, ash or maple.

Split - Separations of wood fibre that run parallel to the grain.

Square Edge – A strip or plank of flooring with edges that are not eased or bevelled resulting in a smooth overall effect.

Staining - Altering the colour of wood with the application a dye, chemicals or finely divided pigments.

Stair nosing - A finishing piece applied to the forward edge of a step in order to create a rounded, quality finish.

Strip flooring - Solid or Engineered boards, usually less than 3 inches wide, installed in parallel rows.

Subfloor – The ground surface that the flooring will sit upon. Usually comprised of concrete, floorboard, chipboard or brick.



Texture – The term often used to describe the surface look and feel of floor.

Threshold - A finishing piece applied to a wood floor where there is either a break or gap to be covered e.g. through a doorway, descending to carpet etc.

Tongue & Groove – The process of milling a tongue into one edge of a plank and a groove cut into its opposite side. in strip, plank and parquet flooring. When the flooring is installed, the tongue of each strip is engaged with the groove of the adjacent strip.

Trim – Any finishing material used to cover expansion gaps around the edges of a wood floor.



Underlay - is a layer of cushioning, made of materials such as sponge rubber, foam, felt or crumb rubber, which is laid beneath flooring to provide protection and support.

Unfinished - a product requiring sanding and staining/finishing after installation.

Under Floor Heating -  (often referred to as UFH) A source of electric or water based heating often used under engineered wood floors, installed by specialist contractors 



V-joint – Another term used to describe edges that have been eased or bevelled.

Vapour barrier - Any material with a high resistance to vapour (foil, plastic film, specially coated paper). Commonly used to limit condensation and prevent the migration of moisture.

Varnish - A finish containing either natural or synthetic oils.

Veneer – A square edged piece of hardwood usually bonded to a softwood core and used to provide the surface face of engineered wood flooring.



Warping – The distortion of a piece of flooring from its true plane.

Width - The width of the cross section of an individual board.

Wire Brushing – A process used to add texture to the surface of a board.

Wood species - The primary plant species from which the wood veneer of a floor is made.v

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