Acclimating. Allowing wood to adjust to the humidity in your home. This is important because wood expands and contracts based on the amount of moisture in the air.

Ambering. A yellowish color change in a floor from certain finishes.

Base Shoe. A molding designed to be attached to baseboard molding to cover the edge of a floor.

Bleached/White Washed Floors. Floors lightened in color by the application of either a wood bleach, or a white stain, or both.

Borders. Simple or intricate designs which frame and customize a flooring installation.

Cupping. A concave or dished appearance of individual strips, with the edges raised above the center.

Distressing. A heavy, artificial texture in which the floor has been scraped, scratched, or gouged to give it an antique look.

Engineered Flooring. A wood flooring product that is made of layers of wood pressed together, with the grains running in different directions.

Filler. Material which fills cracks or nail holes in a floor. It is tinted the color of the floor. The bottom picture of the hand filling the wood.

Finish. Protective coating applied to a wood floor. (See “Types of Finishes”.)

Hardwood. A botanical group of trees that has broad leaves as opposed to needles. The wood of these trees is normally harder than needle bearing trees.

Heartwood. Slightly harder and darker wood at the center of a tree.

Job Finished. Floors that are sanded, stained and finished in your home. (Also see “Pre finished”.)

Mill. To cut wood into a desired shape, e.g., strip or plank flooring, etc.

Nosing. A hardwood molding used to cover the outside corner of a step.

Parquet. A wood tile composed of individual slats assembled together, forming a pattern.

Plank. Wood flooring boards 3” and wider designed to be installed in parallel rows. In random width plank, the boards vary in width from 3” to 8”.

Plain Sawn. The usual way of cutting a log. It gives a random mix of grain patterns.

Prefinished. Factory-finished flooring that requires only installation. (Also see “Job Finished”.)

Quartersawn. Wood which has a grain that runs parallel to the length of the board. (It is sometimes called “vertical grain”.) In oak the boards have ray-like markings running diagonally across them.

Reducer. A strip of wood used to join two floors of different heights.

Refinishing. Sanding about 1/32” – 1/16” off the surface of a wood floor and then applying new finish in order to revitalize the look of a floor. Color can be changed in this process.

Sapwood. Wood near the outside of a tree. It is usually lighter in color than heartwood.

Sealer. Any finishing material that seals the wood.

Screen and Coat. (Also referred to as “Recoat”.) A light scuff sanding of the existing urethane finish, followed by application of a coat (or coats) of urethane.

Solid Flooring. Made from boards which are single pieces of wood from top to bottom.

Staining. The act of changing the color of wood without disturbing the texture of markings, through the application of transparent pigmented liquids.

Strip Flooring. Solid or engineered boards, 1“- 2” wide, installed in parallel rows.

Subfloor. A foundation for a floor in a building. It can be concrete, plywood, or in older homes, pine planking.

Tongue and Groove. In strip, plank and parquet flooring, a tongue is cut on one edge and a groove cut on the opposite edge. As the flooring is installed, the tongue of each strip or unit is interlocked with the groove of the adjacent strip or unit.

Trim. The finish moldings, such as baseboards or base shoe.

Vapor Retarder. A material, such as foil, plastic film or specially coated paper, with a high resistance to vapor movement, used to control condensation or prevent migration of moisture.



Polyurethane finishes are most commonly used today because of their durability and easy care. They are all generally available in high-gloss, semi-gloss and satin.

An oil-based polyurethane finish imparts a slight honey colored tint to the wood. This finish ambers over time, which may not be desired on light woods. When applied, it usually takes 8-10 hours per coat to dry and has a strong odor.

A water base urethane is clear and looks very natural on wood. Some types are more durable than oil-based. It generally takes 3-4 hours per coat to dry. This finish has little odor when applied.

Wax is often used to create a soft, aged luster. Though you may renew the finish yourself, wax water spots easily, requires maintenance and is slippery. Wax is amber in color and has a low sheen. It has a mild odor when applied.

Tung oil is a penetrating finish which gives a soft hand rubbed look when applied in multiple coats, slightly ambering the wood. It requires drying overnight between coats and has a mild odor when applied. Tung oil is higher maintenance than urethane, requiring periodic buffing and reapplication.