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Flooring Terminology


The following is a list of common terms or phrases associated with the installation, manufacturing or purchase of flooring and/or flooring related services.


AC (Abrasion Class) Rating
- The European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF) introduced the AC Rating System to rate laminate flooring based on a series of rigorous tests. These test measure the laminates resistance to abrasions, impact, stains and burns. The greater resistance that is shown by the laminate, the higher the awarded AC rating will be. For high traffic areas, a higher AC number should be chosen.

Acclimation – This process is required to allow the new floor to adjust and acclimatise to the moisture content and climate conditions of the room in which it is to be installed. Each box should be stripped of polythene and stacked for a minimum of 48 hours before installation.

Adhesion - the process of sticking one material to another. Adhesion is affected by the condition of the surface, which should allow a certain amount of penetration, should be chemically clean and not too smooth, hard or nonporous.


Beveled Edge – Often known as a v-groove. This is where each board is accentuated as an individual plank, providing a traditional floor board feel.

Brushed Finish – This is when the planks have been brushed with a steel comb to highlight the grain of the wood resulting in an authentic textured appearance.


Cupping – The uplifting of the edges of flooring due to excess moisture.


Damp Proof Membrane (DPM) – A polythene sheet installed under floors to act as a moisture barrier.

Distressed – A synthetic texture in which the floor has been scraped, scratched and gouged to give a distressed, antique look.

Durability – A floors ability to withstand certain conditions. This could be foot traffic, moisture change, scratches, indents, etc.


Engineered Boards - Engineered wood flooring is made up of a HDF (high density fiber) or plywood core with a solid hardwood veneer glued on top. This provides the natural characteristics and beauty of a solid wood with greater stability to moisture and heat.

Expansion Gap – Area of perimeter left to account for expansion.


Finish – Protective coating applied to wood floors.

Floating Floor – Each plank is connected together with adhesive or mechanical connectors. This does not need to be nailed or glued to the subfloor.


Gloss – A shiny finish with light reflecting ability.

Grain – The lines of fibers in the wood. This creates the pattern which is seen on the floor.


Hand Scraped - Before sanding machines arrived in the 1920′s, floors where scraped to remove the old varnish before a light sand by hand and then refinishing. Real wood floors prepared this way had a slightly undulating finish. Nowadays people recreate this finish on new, solid and engineered boards by hand-scraping the unfinished wood floors prior to finishing.

Humidity – Represents the quantity of water vapour in the air.


Knots – The hard place or dark marking on a tree where a branch or stem has grown from. 


Lacquered Finish – A thin, clear resin that forms a hard film over the floor. This gives the floor a smooth, glossy, hard-wearing finish which is easy to clean and maintain.

Laminate Boards - Laminate flooring is constructed by pressing together a photographic image of wood or tiles onto high density fiberboard. A special clear coat resin is pressed onto the top of the board in order to increase durability and to make it hard wearing. One of the key benefits of laminate is that it incorporates a click locking system which makes it fast and easy to install.


MDF – Medium Density Fiberboard. The wood is broken down into wood fibers and then combined with wax and resin. Through the application of high temperature and pressure a MDF panel is created. This is then used as a building material or used to manufacture engineered flooring.

Moisture Content – The amount of moisture in the wood.

Molding – Trims and transition pieces which are used to give the project a finished look.

Multiply Boards – An engineered hardwood floor where multiple layers of wood, plywood or MDF are permanently bonded together in a cross-ply construction. This improved the strength and resistance of the floor.


Oiled Finish – This finish has been around for thousands of years and is still a popular choice. This oil wax coating retains the natural character of the wood while increasing durability. This finish has a subtler sheen than a pre-finished lacquered floor.


Random Length – Not all board lengths are the same. Each pack contains a variety of lengths where the shortest and longest lengths are noted.

Reclaimed Wood – Wood that has been saved from an old building or structure, refinished, and then used for another project.


Sapwood – This is the lighter and softer wood near the outside of a tree.

Solid Boards - The term ‘Solid Hardwood Flooring’ is used to describe real wood flooring where each plank is cut as one solid piece which is then milled with tongues and grooves on each side. The market today offers an impressive range of real wood flooring in a variety of species, widths, thicknesses and finishes so you are sure to find a solid wood flooring to suit your individual taste and requirements.

Square Edge – The flooring adjoins without a broken pain.  

Sub-floor - Sub-floor describes your original floor that you wish to fit the new wood floor on top of. Any wooden sub-floor would need to be even and with no loose boards and concrete floors need to be flat and have a damp proof membrane between the sub-floor and the new wood floor.


Tongue and Groove – One length of each plank is manufactured with a ‘tongue’ while the opposite side is milled with a ‘groove’. The tongue of one board fits neatly with the groove of another board ensuring that the floor fits tightly together.


Underlayment – The material that is laid between the subfloor and the main floor. This may act as a vapour barrier, sound barrier, insulation or as light padding.

UV Finish - These rays have a chemical effect upon the dried film of finishing materials. Ultraviolet light is commonly used in curing finishes at the factory for prefinished flooring.


Vapour Barrier – Protects the floor from moisture rising from the subfloor.

Veneer – This is the layer of solid wood that is glued on top of a plywood core to create an engineered product. Also known as wear layer.


White Washed – The application of either a wood bleach or white stain to give a lightened colour.