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Glossary Of Flooring Terms You Need To Know | Onfloor

The Ultimate Glossary of Flooring Terms You Should Know

If you're planning to explore new options for your floors, there is no shortage of flooring terms used to describe everything from the material and tools to the finish and more.

Before you decide which type of flooring you want, it's crucial to have an understanding of what these terms mean.

Read on for a glossary featuring common flooring terms everyone from consumers to flooring installation contractors should know.



This term refers to a suspended floor that is positioned above ground level allowing for at least 18 inches of ventilated air space. An above-grade floor is usually installed over a basement or crawlspace.

Abrasion Resistance

The abrasion resistance is the level of toughness or resistance of a flooring material against damage from scuffs or friction. You can test the abrasion resistance using the coefficient of friction, or COF.

Abrasive Finish

This term refers to floors with a rough, non-reflective finish that has a slight texture.

Absorption Rate

The absorption rate is the amount of moisture that tile or wood flooring options will absorb moisture into the material.


Wood floors adjust, or acclimate to the surrounding environment depending on the level of moisture and humidity around them. The rate of acclimation refers to how well the material adjusts.


Acidity is a type of treatment applied to stone or concrete floors to create a distressed appearance.


How well floors absorb or echo noise from foot traffic determines its acoustics.

Acrylic Resin

This material is a synthetic resin that dries clear and protects floors from acids, oils, moisture, and discoloration.


Adhesion is what causes materials to bind together. For flooring, the adhesion depends on the seal, coating, proximity, and the way chemicals interact with one another.


The adhesive is the component that holds different materials together such as glue, mastic, cement, paste, or epoxy.


A mixture of hard materials used in concrete that adds texture and graining. Fine aggregate is usually less than 1/4" in diameter, while coarse aggregate like crushed gravel is up to 1.5" in diameter.

Aluminum Oxide

A popular finish that's strong and durable - often used to protect hardwood for proper floor maintenance.


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The finished, exposed board installed around a floor or on a wall.


Flooring located partially or completely below ground level.

Blind Nail

Installation term referring to wood nailing techniques that insert nails at a 45-degree angle.


A natural swirl or twist found in the grain of hardwood.




A common adhesive applied between the floor and appliances and around toilets and bathtubs. Caulk can be made of acrylic, latex, silicone, butyl, and urethane.


A form of tile made by mixing different clays, then pressing the mold at high temperatures. Ceramic can be glazed or unglazed.

Cross-Ply Construction

The process of stacking engineered hardwood planks in alternating directions to create moisture-resistant, stable flooring.


A type of warping in wood, where the boards in the center are higher than the sides.


Wood warping where the sideboards are warped higher than the centerboards.


The amount of time required for floor coating or sealant to completely dry. Different finishes will cure at varying rates.

Dimensional Stability

The ability of floors to retain dimensions over a lifetime, avoiding swelling, warping, and contracting due to fluctuations in humidity, temperature, and moisture. High dimensional stability means the flooring stays stable over its lifespan.

Drum Sander

A sanding tool used to smooth hardwood floors for finishing or restoration.



Edge Type

A type of edge used in hardwood flooring - beveled edges have "v" shaped grooves, eased edges are shallower, softer, and rounder than beveled edge types and micro-beveled is the shallowest edge - it's best at hiding imperfections in a subfloor.

Engineered Hardwood

Wood made with a thin layer of solid hardwood glued or laminated onto a core board made of plywood or fiberboard to make plank flooring. Engineered hardwood can be installed below-grade or over concrete subfloor due to its high level of dimensional stability.


A strong chemical and heat-resistant adhesive

Expansion Space

The amount of space remaining for expansion, such as swelling or contracting of hardwood flooring from exposure to moisture.



Face Nail

This wood nailing technique secures flooring using nails that are applied perpendicular to the surface.


A urethane or waxed-based coating to protect floors from stains, scuff marks, fading, and abrasion.


A floating floor is a type of floor installation involving several planks glued together that aren't directly attached to the subfloor.



Gloss Level

How much reflection comes from wood or tile finishes. Gloss level can be matte, satin, semi- or high-gloss.


The way a pattern or alignment of fibers appears in wood flooring.


An adhesive placed between tiles to fill in gaps.



A flooring pattern used to create a repeating "v" design.

Impact Resistance

Determines how well a floor resists damage from impacts like dropped objects or drags from large items.


A floor-laying technique used to create a pattern like mosaics or borders.


Made from natural rock, this flooring is soft and porous.


A natural stone tile made in various colors and veining patterns/designs.

MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)

A form that lists hazardous ingredients and safety precautions regarding the use of chemicals and/or equipment.

Natural Stain

Clear floor finish that retains the wood or tile's natural, organic beauty.

Natural Stone

Organic flooring materials like marble, slate, travertine, granite, or sandstone.




Flooring on the same level as the ground surrounding it.

Parquet Floor

A geometric pattern that gives the flooring a tiled aesthetic.

Penetrating Sealer

A solution that penetrates the floor's surface for finishing and staining.


A finish for wood floors that requires no waxing once applied.




Type of tile made of feldspar materials pressed at extremely high temperatures, porcelain is durable and resists moisture, scratches, and fluctuations in temperature.


The process of sanding a floor in order to finish it again to give flooring a new look and protect it from damage.




A natural green, blue, or gray-colored rock used to make slabs or tiles.

Square Foot

A unit of measurement equaling a square area of one foot on each side.


Topical or chemical applications used to color or alter the surface of the flooring.


Typically made of plywood or concrete, the subfloor supports the structure underneath the flooring.




A layer of material between the main floor and subfloor used as a barrier for sound or moisture. The subfloor also provides padding or insulation and is made of foam, felt, cork, or planting sheathing. 




A coating or sealant that protects floors against stains and moisture and allows for easy cleanup.

These flooring terms will help you understand more about your next project. To schedule a consultation or to learn more, please contact us today.

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