Glossary Of Timber Flooring Terms

If you can’t identify a flooring term as you search our website, look it up here.
Home / Glossary Of Timber Flooring Terms


Refers to the flooring’s adjustment to the environment it is in, in terms of moisture and humidity. It is important to let flooring acclimate before installing.

Beveled Edged

Refers to a type of edge available in hardwood flooring. Beveled edges have a “v” shaped groove that is commonly used in informal settings. This edge can also help hide uneven subflooring or differences in plank thickness.


A swirl or twist in the grain of hardwood.


A distressing technique to give wood boards a time-worn look.

A zigzag pattern that comes to a sharp point; imagine the letter “V” on repeat. For chevron floors the wood pieces are cut at an angle and fitted together to form a true point. This angle is what identifies chevron floors .

Color Variation

Some wood species have a natural variation in light and dark tones from board-to-board.


Warping where the center boards are higher than the sides.


Warping where the sides are higher than the center.


A distressing technique to give wood boards a time-worn, convincingly aged look.

Edge Detail

A term that describes the way hardwood and laminate board edges and ends are cut. Edges and ends are typically described as square, bevelled, and micro-beveled.


A term describing hardwood construction. Engineered hardwood boards are manufactured from multiple layers – or plies – of wood assembled in a cross-ply construction. The top layer reveals the wood species and colour when the planks are installed. Due to its construction, engineered hardwood is more dimensionally stable than solid hardwood and can be installed below grade and over a concrete subfloor.


Changes in the dimension of a wood floor due to swelling and contracting as a result of moisture.

Expansion Gap

Area of the perimeter in a space left to account for expansion.

Face Nail

Nailing technique that secures flooring by using nails perpendicular to the surface, rather than at a concealed angle (blind nailing).

Filled Face

Provides an extra smooth furniture quality “piano” finish.


The surface coating on pre-finished flooring.

Flat Sawn (also “plain-sawn”)

Wood cut in long planks where the rings run parallel to the board.


Installation method in which individual planks are glued and/or locked together, without direct attachment to the subfloor.

Floating Floor

A floor that does not need to be nailed or glued to the subfloor and can be installed over most existing floors, including concrete, ceramic, vinyl, wood, and even some indoor/outdoor carpet.

Floor Protectors

Screw-on attachments for the bottom of chair and table legs to distribute the weight of furniture evenly in order to reduce indentations. Abrasions can be prevented with unique, replaceable felt pads on the floor protectors.

Forest Stewardship Council or FSC

An independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.


The visible lines in wood that show the natural growth rings of the log.


A standard grading system for unfinished flooring that determines how many defects are acceptable in wood sold.


Also called hand-sculpted. Hardwood planks are individually scraped to create distinctive, one-of-a-kind floors.


A pattern consisting of columns of short parallel lines, with all the lines in one column sloping one way and all the lines in the next column sloping the other way so as to resemble the bones in a fish. For herringbone floors the wood is not cut at an angle, but in rectangles that are laid in a broken zigzag pattern.


The portion of a branch that has been surrounded by subsequent growth of the wood of the trunk or other portions of the tree. A knot appears on the sawed surface, but it’s merely a section of the entire knot, its shape depending on the direction of the cut.

Micro Bevel Edge

Similar to a bevel edge, but with a shallower “v”-shaped groove.

Moisture Content

The amount of moisture in real wood.


Trim or transition pieces that give an installed floor a finished look.

Nail Down

A flooring installation method that uses nails to attach flooring to a subfloor


Inlaid woodwork in geometric forms, sometimes of contrasting woods, used in flooring. A common example is individual pickets of wood flooring, adhered together in groups of six pickets – then four picketed squares are alternately adhered to form a tile pattern.


The change in wood color over time from light exposure and other natural elements.


Board width is 3 inches or greater.

Plain-Sawn (also “flat sawn”)

Standard way of cutting logs to make hardwood flooring.

Ply (Plies)

Another word for a layer of wood, typically used to describe engineered hardwood construction layers.


Hardwood floors that are stained with color and sealed with a protective finish by the manufacturer prior to installation.


Cutting method where logs are sliced perpendicular to the annual growth rings of the tree. This type of cutting creates a straight grain appearance.

Random Length

Flooring sold in packs with boards that have different lengths.

Random Width

Flooring sold in packs with boards that have different widths. Random width boards create a traditional or vintage look.

Reclaimed Wood

Wood salvaged from an old structure and refinished for another project, like furniture or floors.


The tree’s pipeline for moving water and minerals up the tree trunk to the leaves. Sapwood is new wood. As newer rings of sapwood are produced, its inner cells lose their vitality and turn into heartwood.

Secret Nailing

Forcing nails into the grooves of tongue-and-groove flooring planks at a 45-degree angle using an electric flooring hammer.

Site-Finished (vs. “prefinished”)

Hardwood floors that are stained with color and sealed with a protective finish at the installation site.

Solid Wood

Boards manufactured from ONE piece of wood, unlike engineered wood, which uses multiple plies to form the boards.


Type of tree, such as oak, cherry, or walnut. Different wood species have different levels of hardness that affect durability; graining, which affects the board’s look; and natural color, which can be kept natural or stained.

Square Edge

Floor board edges that are created to lay flush to the next board to decrease the appearance of lines between boards. Square edges give a room a more formal look.

Stair Nose Moulding

A finishing piece applied to the forward edge of stairs, step-downs, and landings, creating a rounded quality finish.

Structural Integrity

A term often used in a guarantee or warranty to assure the floor’s composition/construction will remain intact.


The structural layer intended to provide the home’s floor support, which may receive floor coverings directly if the surface is appropriate, or indirectly via an underlayment if the surface is not suitable.


A Chaunceys term describing a specific type of hardwood construction, also known as “Engineered”. Our Tectonic hardwood boards are manufactured from multiple layers – or plies – of wood assembled in a cross-ply construction. The top layer reveals the wood species and colour when the planks are installed. Due to its construction, engineered hardwood is more dimensionally stable than solid hardwood and can be installed below grade and over a concrete subfloor.


The term used to describe the surface look and feel of flooring. Textures can range from silky smooth to hand-scraped and distressed.


Moulding piece that finishes the space between two areas of timber flooring. For laminate, it also fills the gap at doorways.

Tongue and Groove

Refers to the profile construction of the board edges, which allows them to be pushed together and locked for a more stable construction.


A finishing piece applied to the area where the wood transitions to another flooring level or another flooring type.


Layer of material usually installed on or over a subfloor that provides a surface suitable to receive a new floor covering.


A flooring or furniture finish that uses oils that are cured slowly over time.

VOCs (volatile organic compounds)

VOC is an acronym for volatile organic compounds, which are gases that can trigger allergic reactions, asthma, and upper respiratory infections.


The width of the individual wood boards that make up the floor. “Strips” are narrow boards measuring less than 3 inches wide. “Planks” are wider boards, measuring 3 inches wide or more.

Wood Species

The primary species from which the wood floor is made, e.g., oak, hickory, maple, etc.

Wood Stain

A type of paint that is very “thin” or low in viscosity, and formulated so that the pigment penetrates the surface rather than remaining in a film on top of the surface. The stain is predominantly pigment or dye and solvent with little binder.