Hardwood Glossary

Hardwood flooring is an excellent investment, a way of improving the look of your home, while increasing value. With so many different options for hardwood flooring, the buying process can seem a little complicated. However, by maintaining a copy of our hardwood glossary, you will have reference points that will make the process much easier.

Acrylic impregnated - The cell structure of wood is injected with monomers made from acrylic material as a way of improving hardness.

Acrylic Urethane - Similar to Polyurethane, acrylic urethane is a chemical used in making hardwood flooring.

Aluminum Oxide - To improve abrasion resistance of hardwood, this substance is added to the urethane finish.

Below Grade - When a cement slab is poured below the level of the surrounding area, it is referred to as "below grade".

Better - When choosing oak flooring, you could go with "better", which is a better quality, meaning only slight dark graining and small knots.

Beveled Edge - Planks with beveled edges are ideal for a more informal look. However, these edges also have the benefit of keeping dirt and debris from collecting in the grooves.

Buckle - Wood expands with high levels of humidity. When wood has too much moisture, it begins to buckle.

Clear - This is a quality of oak, one without visual knots or blemishes.

Cross-Ply Construction - Engineered wood plies that are stacked one on top of another going in opposite directions uses the cross-ply construction.

Cupping - This type of concave warping can occur with hardwood floors.

Eased Edge - In this case, wood planks are slightly beveled.

Engineered - Hardwood floors come in three common types to include longstrip, solid, and engineered. With engineered wood, planks are made using two, three, or five thin plies of wood, all laminated together to create a single plank.

Finish in Place - This term refers to hardwood that is unfinished, meaning it must be cut, sanded, and stained onsite.

Floating Floor - This type of installation process uses a thin pad placed between the flooring and subfloor, giving the floor a more comfortable surface on which to stand and walk.

Glue Down - With hardwood floors, you have a number of adhering methods, one being the glue down. With this, the flooring is glued to the subfloor.

Grade - Floor above the level of surrounding ground is known as grade.

Graining - Wood planks are comprised of grain and texture, which varies between wood species.

Janka Hardness Test - The hardness of wood is tested using force capable of embedding a .444-inch steel ball to half its diameter. With this test, the harder the wood is, the higher the number.

Knot - Wood comes with graining and knots, a natural appearance seen in all wood species. However, some types of wood have knots that are more prominent to include pine.

Laminate - This manufactured product is designed to look just like real hardwood. In fact, the design is so good that many people cannot tell the two apart.

Longstrip Plank - This wood floor is one of three, the other two to include solid and engineered. With longstrip planks, the center core is a softer material, which uses the tongue and groove installation method.

Moisture Cured Urethane - Similar to solvent-based urethane products, this chemical requires moisture so the wood can cure.

Moldings - Used to cover expansion joints, while improving overall performance and look of the hardwood flooring.

Nail Down - When installing hardwood floors, three methods are used, one being the nail down method. With this, the wood is literally nailed to the subflooring with .75-inch nails.

Number One Common - With this quality of oak wood, you see more knots and a darker grain.

Number Two Common - Another quality of oak, this one has even more knots and dark grain than number one common.

On Grade - This refers to a cement slab existing on the same plane as surrounding terrain.

Plank - Hardwood flooring comes in boards or planks of different sizes to include length, width, and thickness.

Polyurethane - Clear, durable finish that is applied to the surface area of hardwood.

Prefinished - Hardwood floors that are prefinished means they have been cut, sanded, and stained at the warehouse so when delivered to your home, installation is the only thing remaining to be done.

Rotary Cut - The way in which a piece of hardwood is cut would depend on the unique grain and texture, using a process called a Rotary Cut.

Select - This quality of oak has little dark grain and small knots.

Sliced Cut - Sliced Cut is a special cutting method that produces a uniform pattern.

Solid - This type of wood floors is one of three types. In this case, you have one, solid piece of wood that uses a tongue and groove installation method.

Solvent-Based Urethane - This oil is a part of the chemical makeup of a polyurethane finish on wood floors.

Square Edge - In this case, boards are squared off so the result is uniform with a smooth surface.

Stapled Down - With this installation method, staples measuring 1.5 to 2 inches are used for connecting the wood floor to the subfloor.

Strip - Hardwood boards come in a variety of sizes with the narrower widths being called "strips".

Tongue and Groove - With this, two hardwood planks can be joined, using a tongue piece that fits into a special groove.

Unfinished Wood Floor - Wood floors that are unfinished have not been cut, sanded, or stained. When finished onsite, you would experience a big mess and time delay in installation.

UV Cured - This term relates to wood that has been cured using UV lights instead of heat.

Water-Based Urethane - Rather than oil, water is a component of the chemical makeup of polyurethane.