Hardwood Glossary of Terms

Above Grade

Refers to the location of a finished floor where the floor is not in contact with the ground and which provides at least 18 inches of well-ventilated space.



The wearing away and scuffing of the finished layer of floor, generally caused by friction from dirt and debris.


Acrylic Impregnation

Liquid acrylic (and stain) injected throughout the surface layer of wood to fortify the fibers for added durability.



A substance that bonds the floor to the subfloor.


Below Grade

Refers to the location of a finished floor that is in direct contact with the ground or with less than 18 inches of well-ventilated space.


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, eased, beveled and micro-beveled.



A term describing hardwood construction. Engineered hardwood boards are manufactured from multiple layers – or plies – of solid wood, assembled in a cross-ply construction. The top layer reveals the wood species and color visible when the boards are installed.



The surface coating on pre-finished flooring, which is usually either urethane or wax finish.



A floating installation method is where individual boards are glued only at edges and end joints, 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.


Gloss Level

Different sheens that describe levels of gloss on the floor such as high gloss, semi-gloss, low gloss and ultra-low gloss.


Grade Level

Grade refers to the construction level relative to the ground around it. Below grade is below ground level, on grade is at ground level, and above grade is above ground level.



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


HPL (High Pressure Laminate)

High pressure laminate is an extra-hard fusing process used to manufacture laminate flooring. The surface, inner layers and backing layer are fused in a multiple-step press operation, which creates the most durable laminate construction.


Interlocking (Interlocking Floating)

An installation method that connects engineered hardwood or laminate boards to each other without the need for glue on the edges or ends. The boards lock together via a tongue-and-groove system. Interlocking floors "float" over the subfloor.


Locking Installation System

Method of installing laminate flooring with a unique tongue-and-groove profile that allows for easy installation of boards by just locking edges into place. No glue is required, which allows for installation up to 50% faster than standard installation.


On Grade

Refers to the location of a finished floor with no part below ground, and with the floor and the ground in contact or separated by less than 18 inches of well-ventilated space.



Inlaid woodwork in geometric forms, sometimes of contrasting woods.  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.



Board width is 3" or greater.


Ply (Plies)

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



A type of clear tough finish used on hardwood to protect it from damage. Polyurethane finishes do not require waxing.



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


Reducer Strip

Molding that finishes the space between hardwood or laminate flooring and other flooring surfaces, like vinyl or carpet.



Hardwood floors that are stained with color and sealed with a protective finish at the installation site by the installer (opposite of prefinished).



Manufactured from a solid piece of wood.



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 indigenous color, which can be kept natural or stained.



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



Board width that is less than 3" wide.


Standard Engineered

The traditional construction for engineered hardwood boards and laminate products. These products require the pieces to be glued to each other prior to installing over the subfloor.


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.



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



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


Transition Strips

Installation accessory that bridges two floors of different heights to equalize the height differential. Transition strips are functional and decorative.



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



Factory finishes that are cured with ultra violet lights instead of heat.


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. All Armstrong floors have very low VOC levels.