Alameda County Fremont Pleasanton Newark Livermore Campbell Dublin Castro Valley Belmont Los Altos Redwood City San Ramon Saratoga Hayward San Leandro Piedmont Los Gatos San Jose Santa Clara County
Hardwood glossary-What is hardwood
The following terminology can help you better understand some of the complex lingo used in todays hardwood flooring industry. If you feel we have left something out, just email your concerns to us and we'll be thankful for your contribution.
Abrasion Resistance- That property of a surface that resists being worn away by a rubbing or friction process.
Abrasion resistance isn’t necessarily related to hardness, as believed by some , but is more closely comparable to, or can be correlated with, toughness.
Acrylic Resin - A synthetic resin, white in color, very transparent, and resistant to discoloration, moisture, alcohol acids, alkalies and mineral oils.
Acrylic/ Wood - The generic name for wood plastic composites utilizing wood impregnated with acrylic monomers and polymerized within the wood cells by gamma irradiation.
Adhesion - The property that causes one material to stick to another. Burnishing makes this happen for polyurethane
Adsorption - a Type of adhesion that occurs at the surface of a solid or liquid in contact with another medium, thus allowing an increased number of molecules of the gas or liquid to ecome attached to the surface of the solid at the point of contact.
Air Dried - Dried by exposure to air in a yard or shed without artificial heat.
Alligatoring - The appearance of appoint, varnish, or lacquer film that is craked into large segments, resmbling the hide of an alligator.
Amber - A yellowish translucent resin formerly used in the manufacture of varnish but now very scarce and expensive. The term is also used to refer to the color of a resin or varnish.
Annual Growth Ring - The layer of wood growth, including spring and summerwood formed on a tree during a single growing season.
Apron - Wood flooring outside the border. Also called the frame or skirting.
Base Shoe - A molding designed to be used to cover expansion gaps. Usually found in kitchens, but can be attached to base molding as well. Similar to quarter round in profile.
Bastard Sawn - Lumber in which the annual rings make angles of 30 degrees to 60 degrees with the surface of the piece.
Beveled edge - The chamfered or beveled edge or strip flooring, plank, block, and parquet at approximately 45 degree angle.
Bleeding - When the color of a stain or other coating material works up into succeeding coats, imparting to them a certain amount of color, it is said t bleed. A non-bleeding color is one that is not soluble in materials used over it.
Blistering - The formation of bubbles or pimples on the surface of finished work. It is caused by exposure to excessive heat, grease or other volatile material under the finish, bu moisture in the wood or by the too frequent application of coats. Anything that causes a gas or vapor to form under the film may cause blistering.
Board foot - A unit of measurement of lumber represented by a board 1 foot long, 12 inches wide and 1 inch thick or its cubic equivalent.
Bond - The adhesion between two dissimilar materials.
Bow - The distortion of lumber in which there is a deviation, in a direction perpendicular to the flat face, from a straight line from end to end of the piece.
Brush marks - Marks of the brush that remain in the dried film of a finishing material. Bundle- A parcel of flooring material.
Burl - A swirl of twist of the grain of the wood which usually occurs near a knot, but does not contain a knot.
Burnishing - The last step in the sanding process in which the floor is lightly sanded with a 240 grit maroon pad used to knock off grain raise before final coating is applied.
Carcinogen- A product or material that can and will produce cancer in time. Wood, in dust form is a carcinogen.
Catalyst - A substance which accelerates a chemical reaction by taking part in the reaction but is formed again as a reaction as a reaction product. There fore only a small amount needs to be added.
Character marks - Naturally occurring marks in wood that give it a unique appearance.
Check - A lengthwise separation of the wood that usually extends across the rings of annual growth and commonly results from stress set up in wood during air drying or kiln-drying.
Chipboard - A paperboard used for many purposes that may or may not have specifications for strength, color, or other characteristics. It is normally make from paper stock with a relatively low density in the thickness of 0.006 inch and up.
Coat or Coating - A term used by flooring contractors describing the application of polyurethane, tung oil, etc.. to an unfinished floor.
Compression set - Caused when wood strips or parquet slats absorb excess moisture and expand so much that the cells along the edges of adjoining pieces in the floor are crushed.
Coniferous - see soft woods.
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.
Crowning - A “convex” or “crowned” condition or appearance of individual strips, with the center of the strip higher than the edges. (opposite of cupping)
Cupping - A “concave” or “dished” appearance of individual strips, with the edges raised above the center (opposite of crowning)
Cure - To change the properties of an adhesive by chemical reaction (which may be condensation, polymerization, or vulcanization) and thereby develop maximum strength. Generally accomplished by the action of heat or a catalyst, with or without pressure.
Custom floors- Wood floors that are made to order for a specific project Complete flexibility is allowed for design, species, grade, etc.
D.C.S. - Dust containment system. A vacuum devise that attaches to ALL of the sanding tools that a flooring contractor may use. These vacuums are powerful and make a job virtually dust free for easier cleanup and ultimately a better finished project.
Decay - The decomposition of wood by fungi. Advanced decay - The older stage of decay in which destruction is readily recognized by soft, pitted, or crumbly areas. Decided discoloration or bleaching of the rotted wood is often apparent. Incipient decay - the early stage of decay that has not proceeded far enough to soften or otherwise perceptibly impair the hardness of the wood. It is usually accompanied by a slight discoloration or bleaching of the wood.
Delamination - The separation of layers in a laminate or polyurethane application. The bond between the two materials basically failed and will give a peeling effect.
Deciduous - see hardwoods
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.
Dimensional stability - The ability to maintain the original intended dimensions when influenced by a foreign substance. Wood is hydroscopic, and is not dimensional stable with changes in moisture content below the fiber saturation point.
Distressed - A heavy artificial texture in which the floor has been scraped, scratched, or gouged to give it a time-worn antique look. (A common method of distressing is wire-brushing) Eased edge - The chamfered, or beveled edge, of strip flooring , plank, block, and parquet at approximately 45 degree angle.
End joint - The place where two pieces of flooring are joined together end to end.
Feature strip - A molding accessory for parquet floors utilized to separate squares into patterns larger than the individual parquet units. It is a available in widths from 5/16” to 2”, the same thickness as the parquet, and is available in various lengths. The strip is flat and may have grooves on both sides to match the tongues of adjacent plank or parquet. 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.
Flecks - The wide irregular conspicuous figure in Quarter-sawn oak flooring.
Goop - A slang term referring to trowel filling the entire floor with wood putty to fill in cracks and holes.
Grain: The direction, size arrangement, appearance, or quality of the fibers in sawn wood. Straight grain is used to describe lumber where the fibers and other longitudinal elements run parallel to the axis of the piece. Hardness: Generally defined as resistance to indentation using a modified Janka hardness test, measured by the load required to embed a 11.28 mm (0.444-in.) ball to one-half its diameter. Values presented are the average of radial and tangential penetrations.
Hardplate - A specialized, flat, firm drive-plate for a low speed buffer used to flatten a wood floor, especially parquet, missed species and specialty patterns.
Heartwood: The inner layers of wood in growing trees that have ceased to contain living cells. Heartwood is generally darker than sapwood, but the two are not always clearly differentiated
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.
Hygroscopic - A substance, like wood, that can absorb and retain moisture for lengths of time.
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 - 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 - That portion of a branch or limb which 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 know.
Laminated wood - An assembly made by bonding layers of veneer or lumber with an adhesive. May also refer to edge-glued lumber items such as treads, etc.
Lacquer - A thin-boiled, quick drying coating material that forms a hard film. Mineral Streaks - Wood containing an accumulation of mineral matter introduced by sap flow, causing an unnatural color ranging from greenish brown to black.
Mitered corner - Corner pattern in which two perpendicular boards are joined by cutting the ends of each at an angle.
Moisture content - The amount of moisture in wood expressed as a percentage of the weight of the oven dry wood.
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.
Parquet - A patterned floor, usually sold in squares
Patterned floor - A non-linear floor. Plain sawed - The annual growth rings make an angle of less than 45 degrees with the surface of the piece. This exposes the pores of the springwood and dense summerwood of the annual growth ring in ring porous woods to produce a pleasing grain pattern. pH value - The concentration of the hydrogen ion in a material. A pH of 7 is neutral. Low numbers are acidic and high numbers are alkaline in nature.
Plank - Solid boards, usually 3/4” thick and 3” to 8“ wide designed to be installed in parallel rows.
Plugs - Dowels that simulate the colonial American plugged, or pegged plank look.
Prefinished - A completely finished flooring that requires installation only.
Quarter sawed - The annual growth rings form an angle of 45 degrees - 90 degrees with the surface of the piece.
Raised grain - A roughened or fuzzy condition on the face of the flooring in which the dense summerwood in raised above the softer springwood, but not torn or separated.
Rays, wood - Strips of cells extending radically within a tree and varying in height from a few cells in some species to 4 inches or more in oak. Reduce - To lower the viscosity of a material or to thin it by the addition of solvent, thinner, varnish, oil, etc.
Reducer - A tapered piece of flooring accessory used at doorways and fireplaces.
Rift sawn - Lumber in which the annual rings make angles of 30 degrees to 60 degrees with the surface of the piece.
Sapwood - The wood near the outside of the tree. Usually lighter in color that heartwood.
Sealer - Any finishing material, that is applied with the primary purpose of stopping the absorption of succeeding coats.
Shrinkage - The contraction of wood fibers caused by drying below the fiber saturation point (usually around 25 to 27% M.C.) Values are expressed as a percentage of the dimension of the wood when green.
Slip tongue - A spline or small strip of wood or metal used to reverse or change direction in installing standard tongue and groove strip flooring.
Softwood - General term used to describe lumber produced from needle and or cone bearing trees (conifers)
Solvent - A liquid that can dissolve another substance.
Square edge - A flooring that is NOT tongue & grooved. Like top nail found in northern CA. older homes. Stain - To change the existing or natural color of wood to another color.
Strip flooring - Solid boards to be installed in parallel rows now produced in these thicknesses 1/2”, 3/4”,33/32” and these widths 1 1/2”, 2”, 2 1/4” and occasionally 3 1/4”. These strips are tongue and grooved and end matched. They are for nail down installation directly to wood or plywood sub-floors.
Tack, or Tacking - This is a step in the refinishing process in which the contractor applies either water or mineral spirits to a cloth or rag and then proceeds to wipe the floor to pick up any foreign matter before the final coat. Any matter will ruin the final appearance of the floor.
Trim - The finish materials in a building, such as moldings, baseboard, shoe-mold, cornice, and other moldings.
Unfinished - A product that must be sanded and have finish or stain applied on sight.
Vapor barrier - A material with a high resistance to vapor movement, such as foil, plastic film, or specially coated paper, that is used to control condensation or prevent migration of moisture.
V.O.C. - Volatile organic compounds- The more VOC that is in a product, the more it will hurt you.
Warping - any distortion of a piece of flooring from its true plane that may occur in seasoning.
Wire brushing - A method of imparting an artificial texture or distressed appearance to the surface of hardwood flooring.
Wood filler - see filler Yellowing - The tendency of a dried film to take on a yellowish cast with age.