Flooring tips and terminology to help with your flooring purchase.
Tip # 1 Average Length tells you all you need to know about the floor! It reveals the grade and what 'run' of the floor if prefinished. Confused? Contact SYP Direct right now to discuss this and any other questions about unfinished or prefinished solid wood floors.
Glossary of wood flooring terms
First of all, you may notice that we have taken some liberty with a few of the hardwood flooring definitions by substituting useful information rather than reproducing marketing terminology which can get extremely confusing. Please contact us with any questions about other types of floors, or floor coverings such as laminate or engineered products. We are happy to share a logic base tripped through the production of any floor cover on the market.
Marketing Terms - Marketing terms differ from flooring industry terms; and in some cases, they differ dramatically. For example, #2 grade at a Heart Pine Flooring mill does not in any way shape or form resemble #2 grade from a lumber mill. One is graded based on suitability for building houses, the other because it lacks sufficient heart/sap wood to be sold as #1 Heart Pine.
‘Antiqued’ – The age a floor should reach before is called an antique is always been my first question, but this point is about the fact that Antiqued Heart Pine is not old at all, even by the marketing terms they use; if you know how to speak flooring. Antiqued is a finish style not an age description.
Reclaimed – Once more unless you do some research or have an honest flooring company, you might not understand the original definition. Repurposed, reclaimed means repurposed such as a beam being repurposed into flooring. It does not mean flooring turned into flooring, big difference scarcity, quality, and (should be) price.
Salvaged Flooring- Is simply old flooring taken up and sold in variety of thickness and state of salvage. For example, along with the holes check for the nails too. Many times, the board looks 5’ but with the ends butchered much of the board will not sustain any new finish or install. 30% waste is safe in this market. Know your source, see the materials, and understand the provenance.
Provenance- From Webster’s Dictionary; origin or area of origin. Antique flooring, for example, such as Kentucky Horse Barn, Cotton Gins and Whiskey Barrel Reclaimed sounds better than Chicken House or random barns thrown together. Right?
Laminate Hardwood Flooring- This sentence would not have been understood 20 years ago before several factors brought this soon to be landfill abomination to life. Every claim every warranty is worthless and there is never a reason to buy it even at .29 or whatever the closeouts go for today.
Vinyl Hardwoods – Other names; Tattoo Flooring, Sliver Floors and my favorite the fumigation required. If that joke does not land, search floors that make you sick (Lumber Box Store Formaldehyde) and you will see what happens when the industry cheaper and cheaper to wear out sooner and sooner.
Acclimation -The act of allowing wood moisture content to become at equilibrium with the environment in which it will perform. Acclimation is not measured in time, it occurs when the moisture level differential between your sub floor and floor are within the range or your wood type.
Air-Dried Dried by exposure to air in a yard or shed without artificial heat. (Not kiln dried)
Annual Growth Ring The layer of wood growth formed on a tree during a single growing season.
Beveled Edge The chambered or beveled edge of wood flooring, plank, block and parquet.
Board Foot A unit of measurement of lumber represented by a board 1 foot long, 12 inches’ wideand 1 inch thick or its cubic equivalent. In practice, the board foot calculation for lumber 1 inch or more in thickness is based on its nominal thickness and width and the actual length. Lumber with a nominal thickness of less than 1 inch is calculated as 1 inch.
Checking (finish) The finish is broken into smaller segments. Crowfoot checking is the name given to the defect when the breaks in the film form a definite three-prong pattern with the breaks running outward from a central point of intersection. When the checks are generally arranged in parallel lines; the defect is known as line checking. Irregular checks without a definite pattern are known as irregular checking.
Cleat A barbed fastener commonly used as a mechanical device to fasten hardwood flooring.
Covering- See Floor Covers
Color Change Visual changes in the color of the wood species caused by exposure to light,deprivation of light and air, or some chemical reaction.
Crook The distortion of a board in which there is a deviation, in a direction perpendicular to the edge, from a straight line from end to end of the piece. Nightmare at installation.
Crowning A convex or crowned condition or appearance of individual strips with the center of the strip higher than the edges. The opposite of cupping.
Cupping A concave or dished appearance of individual strips with the edges raised above the center. The opposite of crowning.
Diffuse-Porous Woods Certain hardwoods in which the pores tend to be uniform in size and distribution throughout each annual ring or to decrease in size slightly and gradually toward the outer border of the annual growth ring. Hard maple is an example.
Distressed A heavy artificial texture in which the floor has been scraped, scratched or gouged to give it a time-worn antique look.
Durability The ability of the wood species or finish to withstand the conditions or destructive agents with which it comes in contact in actual usage, without an appreciable change in appearance or other important properties.
Eased Edge See Beveled Edge.
End Joint The place where two pieces of flooring are joined together end to end.
End Lifting A swelling of the top layer of engineered wood flooring, occurring at an end joint.
End-Matched In tongue-and-groove strip and plank flooring, the individual pieces have a tongue milled on one end and a groove milled on the opposite end, so that when the individual strips or planks are butted together, the tongue of one piece fits into the groove of the next piece. See Side-Matched and Tongue-and-Grooved.
Engineered An assembly made by bonding layers of veneer or lumber with an adhesive so that most adjacent layers have their grains going in perpendicular directions to increase dimensional stability.
Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) The moisture content at which wood neither gains nor loses moisture when surrounded by air at a given relative humidity and temperature.
Fading The loss of color due to exposure to light, heat, or other destructive agents.
Feature Strip A strip of wood used at a threshold or to border a room or to otherwise serve as an accent. Usually of a contrasting color or species. Inquire about Imports such as; Santos Mahogany or Brazilian Cherry for example, which can serve in this capacity.
Fiberboard A broad generic term inclusive of sheet materials of widely varying densities manufactured of refined or partially refined wood or other vegetable fibers. Bonding agents and other materials may be added to increase strength, resistance to moisture, fire or decay, or to improve some other property.
Filler In woodworking, any substance used to fill the holes and irregularities in planed or sanded surfaces to decrease the porosity of the surface before applying finish coatings. Wood filler used for cracks, knotholes and worm holes is often a commercial putty, plastic wood or other material mixed to the consistency of putty. A wood filler also may be mixed on the job using sanding dust from the final sanding, or other suitable material, mixed with a product appropriate for this use.
Flag Worm Hole One or more worm holes surrounded by a mineral streak.
Floor Covers A cover by definition is designed to be placed on top of something to protect or shield what ever it is on top of; in flooring we are talking about anything that is not designed to last as long as the house such as tile, laminate and engineered floor covers.
Floor transition See Transition
Floating Floor A floor that does not need to be nailed or glued to the subfloor.
Hardness (Janka Scale) That property of the wood species or dried film of finishing material that causes it to withstand denting or being marked when pressure is exerted on its surface by an outside object or force.
Hardwood Generally, one of the botanical groups of deciduous trees that have broad leaves, in contrast to the conifers or softwoods. The term has no reference to the actual hardness of the wood. While Southern Yellow Pine is considered a soft wood, Heart Pine and Caribbean Heart Pine of 90% heart/sap has same Janka Rating as Northern Red Oak. Janka Scale
Heartwood The wood extending from the pith to the sapwood, the cells of which no longer participate in the life processes of a tree. It is usually darker than sapwood. See Pith and Sapwood. To learn more about how heartwood is created visit Wood Web or here is the short version; Heart Pine is function of age and species. How Heartwood is sold is based on the amount of Heart and or Sapwood visible on the face. Sapwood become Heartwood.
Heavy Streaks Spots and streaks of sufficient size and density to severely mar the appearance of wood.
Honeycombing Checks often not visible at the surface that occur in the interior of a piece of wood, usually along the wood rays.
Hygrometer An instrument for measuring the degree of humidity or relative humidity of the atmosphere.
Hygroscopic A substance that can absorb and retain moisture, or lose or throw off moisture. Wood and wood products are hygroscopic. They expand with absorption of moisture and their dimensions become smaller when moisture is lost or thrown off.
Jointed Flooring Strip flooring, generally birch, beech, hard maple or pecan, manufactured with square edges, not side-matched, but usually end-matched. It is used principally for factory floors where the square edges make replacement of strips easier.
Joist One of a series of parallel beams used to support floor or ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls.
Kiln (often pronounced "kill") A chamber having controlled air flow, temperature, and relative humidity for drying lumber, veneer, and other wood products.
Kiln-Dried Dried in a kiln with the use of artificial heat.
Knot The portion of a branch or limb that has been surrounded by subsequent growth of the stem. The shape of the knot as it appears on a cut surface depends on the angle of the cut relative to the long axis of the knot. In hardwood strip flooring, small and pin knots aren't more than one-half inch in diameter. A sound knot is a knot cut approximately parallel to its long axis so that the exposed section is elongated.
Manufacturing Defects Includes all defects or blemishes that are produced in manufacturing, such as chipped grain, torn grain, skips in dressing, hit-and-miss (a series of surfaced areas with skips between them), variation in machining, machine burn, and mismatching. Ask about #3 Grade or Tavern Grade Flooring from SYP Direct.
Mineral Spirits A solvent product used as a thinner and/or cleaner.
Mineral Streak Wood containing an accumulation of mineral matter introduced by sap flow, causing an unnatural color ranging from greenish brown to black.
Mixed Media A wood floor that is predominately of wood, but also incorporates other materials, such as slate, stone, ceramic, marble or metal.
Moisture Content the amount of moisture in wood expressed as a percentage of the weight of oven-dried wood. National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association hardwood flooring is manufactured at 6 to 9 percent moisture content, with a 5 percent allowance for pieces up to 12 percent moisture content. Five percent of the flooring may be outside of this range. PLEASE notice the absence of pine, or heart pine or reclaimed heart pine.
Nailing Shoe (or Nailing Plate) An attachment to a blind-nailing machine that broadens the impact area. Often required for fastening factory-finished flooring.
Nominal Size As applied to timber or lumber, the size by which it is known and sold in the market; often different from actual size. For example, a 1 x 6 is neither 1 nor 6.
Nosing A hardwood molding used to cover the outside corner of a step, milled to meet the hardwood floor in the horizontal plane, to meet the riser in the vertical plane. It is usually used on landings.
OSB Oriented Strand Board commonly used as an underlayment or subfloor material. Strands tend to be oriented with their length aligned with the panel length (typically). OSB is therefore stiffer and stronger when installed with the long axis across supports.
Over wood/Underwood A flooring condition in which there is a perceived misalignment of the flooring surface, with some wood pieces raised above adjacent pieces leaving a slightly uneven surface. Also, called lippage.
Photo-sensitive The property of some wood species which causes them to lighten or darken when exposed to light. See color change.
Pin-Worm Hole In hardwood flooring, a small round hole not more than 1/16-inch (1.5626MM) in diameter, made by a small wood-boring insect.
Plain Sawn The annual growth rings make an angle of less than 45° with the surface of the piece. This exposes the pores of the spring wood and dense summer wood of the annual growth ring in ring-porous woods to produce a pronounced grain pattern. Used by Southern Yellow Pine Direct
Prefinished Factory-finished flooring that only requires installation. Finished Flooring Types: those floors that are finished by hand in long lengths, we called that custom finished or hand crafted, those that are finished commercially in the United States and those that are RIMPORTED or re imported. Yes, these are our trees shipped to Asia and back to us. Most this is in the form of Engineered or Veneers and cheaply made prefinished floors in very tiny lengths.
Quartersawn the annual growth rings of wood form an angle of 45° to 90° with the surface of the piece.
Radiant Heat - Click for guidelines
Raised Grain A roughened or fuzzy condition of the face of the flooring in which the dense summer-wood is raised above the softer spring-wood but not torn or separated. This is what we want in our floors if we are brushing or scraping the face - so it can be removed.
Reducer Strip A teardrop-shaped molding accessory for hardwood flooring, normally used at doorways, but sometimes at fireplaces and as a room divider. It is grooved on one edge and tapered or feathered on the other edge.
Relative Humidity Ratio of the amount of water vapor present in the air to that which the air would hold at saturation at the same temperature. It is usually considered based on the weight of the vapor, but for accuracy should be considered based on vapor pressures.
Rift Sawn Lumber (primarily hardwoods) in which the annual rings make angles of 30° to 60° with the surface of the piece. Also, known as bastard sawn.
S4S (Surface-4-Sides) Flooring that isn't tongue-and-grooved. May also refer to square-edge strip flooring that is face-nailed when installed. SYP Direct offers S4S for pricing contact us. Cost plus prices for those ordering flooring.
Sapwood The wood near the outside of a tree. It is usually lighter in color than heartwood subfloor.
Sheathing The structural covering, usually sheets of plywood, placed over exterior studding, or rafters or subfloor of a structure.
Shiplap is a type of wooden board used commonly as exterior siding in the construction of residences, barns, sheds, and outbuildings. Slip-Tongue/Spline A small strip of wood or metal used to reverse or change direction installing standard tongue-and-groove strip flooring.
Softwoods General term used to describe lumber produced from needle and/or cone-bearing trees (conifers).
Solid Board Group 1 A designation of a certain species based on density, strength and stiffness.
Split Separations of wood fiber running parallel to the grain.
Square Edge Flooring that abuts without a broken plane.
Squares Parquet flooring units, usually composed of an equal number of slats.
Streaks See Mineral Streaks.
Strip Flooring Solid or engineered boards, less than 3 inches in width, to be installed in parallel rows, produced in various thicknesses and widths. The strips are side-matched and end-matched (tongue-and-grooved). They are for nail-down installation directly to wood or plywood subfloors, or over wood screeds on concrete slab construction. Some types can also be glued directly to a concrete sub floor.
Surface The outside or exterior boundary of any substance. One is said to surface the work when it is rubbed or sanded to a smooth, level plane.
Tongue-and-Groove In strip, plank and parquet flooring, a tongue is milled on one edge and a groove cut on the opposite edge. As the flooring is installed, the tongue of each strip or unit is engaged with the groove of the adjacent strip or unit. See End-Matched and Side-Matched.
Transition- The changeover from one flooring material to another; usually from one room to another such as kitchen to living room.
Trim The finish materials in a building at the floor of rooms, (baseboard, base shoe, quarter round for example).
Trowel Fill Method to fill an entire floor or large area.
Unfinished A product that must have stain and/or a finish applied after installation.
Vapor Impermeable Membrane A material or covering having a permanence rating of .15 perms or less when tested in accordance with the desiccant method, Procedure A of ASTM E-96. A vapor impermeable membrane limits the passage of moisture to near 0, or almost none. (Butchers Block for example)
Vapor Retarder A vapor-resistant material, membrane or covering such as foil, plastic sheeting or covering having a permanence rating of 1 perm or less, when tested in accordance with the desiccant method, Procedure A of ASTM E-96. Vapor retarders limit the amount of moisture vapor that passes through a material, or floor, wall, or ceiling assembly. The black "paper" used by roofers works great.
Warping Any distortion of a piece of flooring from its true plane that may occur in seasoning.