Hardwood Flooring Vocabulary Explained

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All You Need to Know About Hardwood Flooring Terminology

Learn about hardwood flooring and understand commonly used terms. For definitions of other terms not listed here, please go to these sections: Hardwood Construction, Hardwood Choices, Before Buying Hardwood and Before Your Hardwood Arrives.

Acrylic Urethane

A somewhat different chemical make up than Polyurethane with the same benefits

Above Grade

Any floor that is above the level of the neighboring ground on which the structure is built.

Below Grade

A cement slab below the level of the surrounding terrain, such as in a basement.

Acrylic Impregnated

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Acrylic monomers are inserted into the wood’s cell structure to give increased hardness and then finished with a wear layer over the wood.

Aluminum Oxide

This is added to the urethane finish on prefinished hardwoods for greater abrasion resistance of the wear layer.

Better

A quality of oak. Better Oak has some minor knots and very little dark graining.

Beveled Edge

These products have a unique groove down the edges of the planks. Beveled edge planks lend themselves to a casual, rustic design.

Clear

A quality of oak. Clear oak has no visual imperfections or knots.

Buckle

In the summer, when the humidity is higher, Hardwood will expand, and gaps will disappear. If there is too much humidity, it may cause the wood planks to cup or buckle.

Ceramic

Advanced technology allows the use of ceramics to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.

Cupping

Warping of  a plank with a concave appearance, the sides are higher than the center.

Cross-ply Construction

Engineered wood plies stacked top of each other but in the opposite direction is called cross-ply construction. This produces a wood floor that is dimensionally stable and less affected by moisture than a 3/4″ solid wood floor. The cross-ply structure allows the plies to counteract each other, which will stop the plank from expanding or shrinking with humidity changes. The additional benefit for you is versatility. These floors can be installed over concrete slabs in your basement as well as anywhere else in your home.

Engineered

One of the three typical types of wood floors. (Others are Solid and Longstrip Plank.) Engineered wood floors are generally produced with 2,3, or 5 thin sheets or plies of wood connected together to form one plank. Most engineered floors can be nailed down, glued down, or floated over a wide variety of subfloors, including concrete and some existing flooring types.

Eased Edge

Each board is just slightly beveled. Some manufacturers add eased edges to both the length of the planks as well as the end joints. Eased edges are utilized to help hide minor irregularities, such as uneven plank heights. Eased edge is also called a micro-beveled side.

Finish in Place

Finish in place, or site-finished hardwood flooring is installed in the home and then sanded. The stain and 2-3 coats of urethane finish are then applied. The urethane finish, mopped on or brushed, is referred to as a “floor finish,” not a “furniture finish.” Finish in place floors may be screened and recoated to revive the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty

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    Floating Floor Installation

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    With the floating installation technique, the floor is not mechanically fastened to any part of the subfloor. A thin pad is inserted between the wood flooring and the subfloor. A recommended wood glue is then applied in the tongue and groove of each plank to tightly hold the planks together. The padding has its benefits: it protects against moisture, reduces noise transmission, is softer underfoot, and provides for some additional “R” value. some engineered floors and all Longstrip floors can be floated.

    Glue Down

    The recommended adhesive or mastic or is spread on with the proper sized trowel to adhere to the wood flooring to the subfloor. You should know that engineered wood floors and parquets can be glued down. Solid strip floors and plank floors can only be nailed or stapled.

    Graining

    Each wood species has its unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Natural variations in the color and grain are normal and to be expected.

    Long Strip Plank

    One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Engineered and Solid.) Long Strip Plank floors are similar to Engineered floors and have several wood plies that are glued together. The center core is generally a softer wood material and is used to make the tongue and groove. A hardwood finish layer is glued on top of the essence. The top layer can be almost any hardwood species and is made up of many smaller individual pieces that are laid in three rows. This gives the effect of installing a board that is three rows wide and several planks long. Long Strip floors come in a wide variety of domestic and exotic hardwood species, and when damaged, they are easy to replace.

    Janka Hardness Test

    This wood hardness rating test measures the force needed to embed an inch steel ball to half its diameter in a piece of wood. The higher the number, the harder the wood. Although this is one of the best methods to measure wood species’ ability to withstand indentations, it should be used as a general guide when comparing various species of wood flooring.

    Knot

    On a piece of wood, the round, harder, usually darker in color, a cross-section of where the branch joined the trunk of the tree.

    Laminate

    Laminate is a manufactured product that simulates the look of Hardwood, ceramic tile, natural stone, and many other types of flooring.

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