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Glossary of Terms

A, B & C

  • Abrasion resistance – the ability of surface to resist being worn away by friction or rubbing.
  • Acid – the opposite of alkali, with a PH of less than 7, where 7 is neutral.

  • Adhesion – when two surface are held together.

  • Acclimatising – allowing a wood floor to adjust to the humidity in a room; wood expands and contracts in response to the amount of moisture in the air.

  • Alkali – the opposite of acid, with a pH of 7 or above, where 7 is neutral.

  • Bevelled edge – the edge of a wood plank, which has been a groove or ‘v’ joint between boards when they are laid.

  • Bond – the adherence of one material to another.

  • Brushed – a manufacturing process, usually carried out by copper brushes that results in a textured surface.

  • Ceramic – a tile made of a mixture of clay, earthen elements, powders and water, fired at a high temperature. Often has a glazed finish.

  • Crowning – a wood floor that has reacted to moisture, so that the strip/s in the centre of the planks are higher than the edge. The opposite of ‘cupping’.

  • Cushion-edged tile – tile on which the facial edges have a distinct curvature that results in a slightly recessed joint.

  • Cushion-edged – tile edges with a distinct curvature, resulting in a slightly recessed joint.

  • Cupping – a wood floor that has reacted to moisture, so that the plank has a concave appearance, i.e. the outer strips are raised above the centre. The opposite of ‘crowning’.

D, E & F

  • (DPM) – Damp proof membrane (or DPC/damp-proof course) – a horizontal barrier designed to prevent moisture rising through the subfloor by capillary action.

  • Distressed – a manufacturing process used to give a wood floor or tile a lived-in look. 

  • Efflorescence – surface residue caused by the crystallization of soluble salts.

  • Encaustic – tile decorated with coloured clays inlaid and fired.

  • Engineered wood floor – a multi-layered wood flooring board comprising of a real wood surface layer, a central softwood core and a counter balancing backing of softwood.

  • Epoxy grout – a two-part grout system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener with impervious qualities, stain, and chemical resistance. Used to fill joints between tiles.

  • Expansion joint – a joint which makes allowance for the movement of jointed parts, without distortion.

  • Finish – a protective coating applied to a wood floor. 

  • Floating floor – a wood floor that is not nailed or glued to the subfloor. Flooring planks are connected by using adhesive or mechanical connectors.

G, H & I

  • Grade – a term used to determine and define the quality and structural properties of the raw timber.

  • Hand scraped – a manufacturing process used to undulate the surface of wood floors to create an uneven/aged finish.

  • Hard wax oil – a wood floor surface-finishing treatment made from natural vegetable oils mixed with wax.

  • Hardwood – one of the botanical groups of deciduous trees which have broad leaves, in contrast to softwoods or conifers.

  • Herringbone – a traditional parquet floor pattern.

  • Honed – a smooth surface with little or no gloss.

  • Humidity – the amount of water vapour in the air.

J, K & L

  • Joist – one of a series of parallel beams used to support ceiling or floor loads; supported in turn by larger beams, bearing walls or girders.

  • Knot – a dark, circular area of wood; forms when branches are broken off or cut and grain grows around the base.

  • Lacquer – a type of wood floor finish used as a sealer.

  • Limestone – a sedimentary carbonate rock, composed mainly of calcite and sometimes dolomite.

  • Load bearing – floors that bear the weight and force resting upon it.

M, N & O

  • Matt – a non-glossy surface that reflects very little light.

  • Moisture content – the amount of moisture in wood shown as a percentage of the weight of oven-dried wood.

  • Mosaics – small tiles attached to a mesh backing.

P, Q & R

  • Parquet – a wood flooring term often used to describe a design with three strips across each plank surface.

  • Plank – an individual length of wood flooring.

  • Polished – a glossy surface.

  • Porcelain – a tile made from kaolin clay, fired at high temperatures.

  • Porosity – the state of being porous.

  • Prefinished – a protective finish applied during the manufacturing process.

  • Reclaimed – timber salvaged from another location. Reclaimed-look is used to describe a product/finish with an aged appearance.

  • Relative humidity – the amount of water vapour present in the air.

  • Rustic grade – timber with knots and abundant colour variation in its sapwood and heartwood.

S, T & U

  • Sapwood – the wood near the outside of a tree – usually lighter in tone than heartwood.

  • Scotia – a concave strip of timber used to cover expansion gaps left around the edge of a wood floor.

  • Screed – a levelling compound used to create a clean, level subfloor.

  • Sealer – a protective film or penetrative coating.

  • Species – the type of tree. For example, oak.

  • Staining – changing the colour of timber by applying a dye/pigment.

  • Strip – solid wood floors that are less than five inches in width.

  • Subfloor – the surface that a floor or tile sits upon. For example, concrete or floorboards.

  • Substrate – the underlying support or subfloor.

  • Texture – the look and feel of the surface of a floor.

  • Threshold – a piece of stone or wood used under a door between two rooms.

  • Tongue & groove – a tongue milled into one edge and a groove cut into the opposite edge of a wood flooring plank. These are engaged to join together a wood floor.

  • Tumbled – a manufacturing process that creates softer, rounded edges and an aged appearance.

  • Underlay –  a layer of cushioning material used under a floor to provide protection, support and, sometimes, acoustic benefits. Generally made from rubber, foam or felt.

  • Unfinished – a wood floor that has not been sealed during the manufacturing process.

  • UV – ultraviolet light.


V, W, X, Y & Z

  • Vapour barrier – a material with high resistance to vapour, used to control condensation or prevent migration of moisture.

  • Water-based – a finish that has solids suspended in water.

  • Waterproof membrane – a membrane used to provide waterproofing benefits over a subfloor.

  • Wax – a type of wood floor finish, made from plant or animal origin, used to create a soft lustre.

  • Wire brushing – a manufacturing method used to create a distressed appearance on the surface of a wood floor.