Above grade, as opposed to below grade, refers to floors installed above ground level. Certain types of hardwood flooring cannot be installed below grade.
Acclimation is the process of hardwood flooring adjusting to the moisture and humidity of its environment.
A protective coating for many hardwoods including bamboo, aluminum oxide is often used to finish hardwood flooring because of its strength and hardness.
Antique flooring comes from recycled wood from older buildings, or, in other cases, the wood is distressed to give it an antique look.
Below grade refers to areas in the home, like the basement, that are below ground. Engineered hardwood flooring can be installed below grade, but solid hardwood cannot.
There are three types of edges available in hardwood flooring: beveled, eased, and square. A beveled edge is characterized by a deep, V-shaped groove at the intersection of each plank. This groove hides uneven plank height and other minor irregularities very well.
Because most types of wood flooring are too hard to be nailed together by hand, blind nailing forces nails into the grooves of tongue and groove flooring planks. Nails are put in at a 45 degree angle and made flush by using a pneumatic flooring hammer.
Buckling is excessive expansion that makes the wood flooring release from the subfloor, often caused by excessive moisture or inadequate installation.
Engineered hardwood flooring is made out of several plies laid in opposite directions and laminated together to form a single plank. The cross-ply nature of the construction creates a dimensionally stable floor that isn’t as affected by changes in moisture and temperature as traditional solid hardwood.
Crowning refers to a warping of the hardwood where the center of the pieces of flooring appears to be higher than the edges.
Cupping occurs across the width of the individual pieces of flooring. The edges are high, whereas the center is lower. This condition typically develops over time.
The cutting method typically refers to how the top layer of the engineered wood floors is harvested from the lumber. There are three methods: rotary-peeled, dry solid-sawn, and sliced.
Curing means to allow wood flooring to reach full hardness by completely drying. The time it takes for curing depends on the type of finish and the temperature and humidity of the environment.
Dimensional stability refers to the resistance of wood to moisture, temperature, or other environmental changes. Engineered hardwood is more dimensionally stable than solid wood, which is why it is a better choice for below ground spaces.
Distressed hardwood has an antique or worn look created intentionally either by hand or machine.
In order to smooth the surface of wood flooring before applying the finish, a drum sander is often used. However, drum sanders can leave chatter marks.
There are three types of edges available in hardwood flooring: beveled, eased, and square. Eased edge is a happy medium between beveled and square, as it is characterized by a slight beveled edge or shallow v-groove. The eased edges subtly hide any unevenness between plank heights.
Wood is one of the primary derivatives of the natural world. The manufacturing and maintenance of hardwood flooring creates a very small environmental footprint making it eco-friendly.
The emission classification of a hardwood rates the level of formaldehyde emissions generated from the wood product. An E1 rating shows that the product meets the formaldehyde emission limit (0.1ppm) set by law.
Unlike solid hardwood, engineered hardwood is made out of 3 or more separate plies bonded together with an adhesive. The top layer is made of a hardwood veneer, a thin slice of whatever wood species you choose. The inner layers are made of plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood. Due to the composition of engineered hardwood, it is more stable and resists moisture and temperature changes better than solid woods. It can be used in below grade flooring where other types cannot.
In the American market, a type of hardwood that is not indigenous to North America is considered an exotic species.
The level of humidity in the environment causes the hardwood to expand or contract.
Leaving a space at the perimeter of rooms and against fixed objects to allow for expansion when air moisture levels increase.
The finish is a coating over the top of the hardwood floors that can either be wax-based or urethane.
Flat sawn or plain sawn refers to the most common and inexpensive manner of cutting lumber – in long, straight planks with the annual rings running parallel to the plank.
Floating floor is a method of installation where the hardwood doesn’t have to be nailed down to the subfloor. Instead, the individual boards have tongue and groove edges that lock into place to each other.
French bleed refers to a manner of finishing that features a dark stain at the edge of each floor plank.
The gloss or luster level refers to how much light is reflected off the floors. The four levels from least reflection to most) are matte, satin, semi-gloss, and glossy. Higher gloss levels reflect more light, but also show more dirt, dust, and imperfections.
The different grades of hardwood flooring (Clear, Select, No. 1 Common, No. 2 Common) refer to the wood planks’ appearance, not the quality or durability of the wood. Clear grade is taken from the center of the tree and is considered the highest grade because of its uniformity and lack of any blemishes, marks, knots, etc. Number 1 Common Grade is a lower grade of wood where each plank may look different than the others due to variations in color, small knots, streaks, etc.
The grain of hardwood floors refers to the alignment of the fibers within the wood, creating the visible pattern on the top layer of the wood.
Designed to have the look of an older, naturally worn floor, hand-scraped hardwood is intentionally given scratches, gouges, scoops, etc. to create an antique look. No two hand-scraped hardwoods are the same if done by hand and not a machine.
Heartwood is the dead, inner wood of a tree which has a higher density than sapwood and often a darker color. Heartwood typically results in the highest grade of wood.
Hardwood that is installed in an alternating V-pattern as opposed to a traditional parallel installation.
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air.
A hygrometer is a device used to measure relative humidity.
In-floor Radiant Heating
An energy-efficient heating system installed below the flooring, radiant heating keeps homes at a comfortable temperature, starting with the floors, and is especially popular in cooler areas of the country.
There are several different methods of installing hardwood floors in your home including nail down, glue down, staple down, or interlocking (floating).
The Janka hardness test is a measurement of the force necessary to embed a .444-inch steel ball to half its diameter in wood. It is the industry standard for gauging the ability of various species to tolerate denting and normal wear, and is also a good indicator of how hard a particular wood is to saw or nail. The higher the number, the harder the wood.
Kiln dried refers to wood that has been dried artificially in a controlled environment versus letting the wood air dry. Kiln-dried wood is typically more stable and experiences less expansion or shrinkage due to humidity.
A knot is a darker colored spot on the wood that indicates the existence of a tree branch once joined to the trunk in that location.
Also called eased edge, a micro-beveled edge features a slight V-shaped groove that allows any uneven plank heights to be masked along with other minor irregularities.
Wood containing an accumulation of mineral matter introduced by sap flow, causing an unnatural color ranging from greenish brown to black.
A moisture barrier (also called a vapor barrier) is a protective layer installed beneath the hardwood floor to prevent excessive moisture from seeping into the hardwood. There are many types of vapor barriers including PVC, polyfilm, roofing felt, and more.
Moisture content is the amount of moisture within the wood. Hardwood floors will gain or lose moisture causing it to expand or contract to remain in equilibrium with the humidity levels in the environment. Hardwood flooring should always be acclimated before it is installed.
Nail down is the most common method of installation involving nailing or stapling the wood flooring directly to the wood subfloor. Both solid and engineered hardwood can be nailed down, but only onto a wooden subfloor as opposed to a concrete slab.
A natural stain provides a clear finish to the hardwood without giving it a certain color or hue. This finish allows the natural grain and look of the wood to be visible.
NWFA stands for the National Wood Flooring Association whose mission is to promote the usage of wood flooring in residential, educational, and commercial environments and provide members with the education and training necessary for success. Creek & Hollow Hardwood Flooring is a member of the NWFA.
On grade refers to the ground level of a home or building.
Parquet refers to flooring composed of wooden blocks arranged in a geometric pattern.
Wood with a high level of photo sensitivity will most likely undergo a slight or noticeable color change after being exposed to sunlight for long periods of time.
A pin knot refers to a knot in the wood with a diameter no larger than a half inch.
Plain sawn or flat sawn refers to the most common and inexpensive manner of cutting lumber – in long, straight planks with the annual rings running parallel to the plank.
A thin sheet of wood that is often bonded together with laminate or adhesive to form strips of engineered hardwood.
Wooden material constructed by pressing together thin sheets of wood called plies.
Quarter sawn is a method of cutting lumber into 4 quarters at a radial angle. The annual growth rings intersect the face of the board at a 60-90 degree angle and the wood feature a coveted straight grain pattern.
Random length refers to hardwood sold by the manufacturer with each piece being different in size between the shortest and longest. For instance, a product description may say 14″ – 48″ random length. This means the shortest pieces will be 14″ and the longest 48″ with the others being different sized in between.
Random width refers to hardwood sold by the manufacturer in three or more different widths. Mixed-width floors are reminiscent of 19th century America when wood floors were made with whatever boards were available, no matter the size. Random width boards are often used when a more rustic look is sought after.
Reclaimed or recycled wood has been salvaged from an old building or somewhere else to be refinished and used again.
Refinishing refers to the process of sanding the hardwood flooring and putting a new finish on it. You can do this many times to solid hardwood but only 1-2 times on engineered hardwood as long as it is at least 2mm thick.
Rift sawn is the most expensive and least common method for cutting lumber. The annual rings are typically between 30-60 degrees and the lumber is manufactured by cutting perpendicular to the rings which produces a linear grain pattern without any flecking.
Rotary-peel cutting entails cutting in a circular motion from the outside of the log into the center. It is let expensive than sliced-peel cut wood because it uses more of the log.
Sapwood is the younger, inner part of the tree nearer to the outside bark. It is often softer and colored lighter than heartwood.
Screen & Recoat
To screen and recoat, one uses a mesh screen to cause abrasion to the surface, then adds another coat of polyurethane. This practice is done to improve the appearance of the floor and to make the finish adhere better.
Site finished, or unfinished, hardwood is first installed and then finished on site as opposed to purchasing hardwood that is already prefinished.
Sliced-peel cutting entails cutting length-wise from one end of the log to the other end. It is more expensive than rotary-peel cutting because it uses less of the log.
Solid hardwood is a single piece of wood made from lumber as opposed to engineered hardwood which is constructed from several pieces of ply bonded together.
A sound knot in a piece of hardwood has been cut parallel to its long axis, making it appear elongated and exposed.
Species is a term that refers to the type of tree from which the hardwood was harvested. There are many different species of wood both exotic and native to North America.
There are three types of edges available in hardwood flooring: beveled, eased, and square. In square edge flooring, the edges are flush when they line up. This often creates a formal, more contemporary feel in the environment.
Stain refers to the coloring of the hardwood other than its natural color.
Strips are the most common type of flooring these days. They are characterized by a width of 2 ¼ inches making them smaller than planks.
The subfloor refers to whatever is beneath the top layer of flooring giving it support. This could be plywood, concrete, or something else.
Thickness in the hardwood flooring industry refers to how thick the pieces of hardwood are.
Tongue & Groove
The shape and construction of each panels’ side which allows the panels to be interlocked is called tongue and groove. This type of hardwood results in stable floor construction and protection from moisture.
Underlayment is a layer of material placed directly under the top flooring and just above the subfloor to act as a barrier from moisture and sound or provide insulation.
Unfinished, or site finished, hardwood is first installed and then finished on site as opposed to purchasing hardwood that is already prefinished.
Some types of finishes are cured with UV light instead of being cured with heat.
A vapor barrier (also called a moisture barrier) is a protective layer installed beneath the hardwood floor to prevent excessive moisture from seeping into the hardwood. There are many types of vapor barriers including PVC, polyfilm, roofing felt, and more.
Attached to the top of the bonded plies of an engineered plank is a veneer of real, solid hardwood. The thickness of a veneer dictates how many times it can be sanded and refinished. If the veneer is less than 2mm in thickness, it cannot be sanded at all.
Warping refers to hardwood flooring becoming misshapen such as cupping, crowning, or buckling.
Whitewashing is a technique that allows you to brighten your wood without hiding the grain pattern.
Wide Plank Flooring
Wide plank refers to boards that are wider than about 3″ (+/- one-fourth of an inch). Anything narrower than that falls into the “strip” category of wood flooring.
Wire brushing is a method of distressing hardwood that removes the soft areas from the top of the plank and exposes the wood’s grain.
Wood expands and contracts until it’s in equilibrium with the humidity in the environment.