Before you visit your local flooring retailer or meet with your installer, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with some commonly used flooring terms. Knowing the basic terminology will help you understand the salesperson or installer and, and you'll be in the position of an educated buyer who knows how to ask the right questions.
Backing: Bottom layer of the flooring.
Cleat: Barbed fastener used to secure hardwood flooring to the subfloor.
Delamination: The separation of layers in an engineered/laminate floor typically caused by a weakening of the glue bond.
Floating Installation: Installation method where flooring is not secured to the subfloor. Wood glue is applied to the tongue and groove of each plank to hold the floor together.
Gauge: Thickness of a flooring material.
Glue Down: Installation method where flooring is glued to the subfloor.
Grade: Level of the subfloor in relation to the surrounding ground.
Grain: Wood's growth patterns.
Joist: Parallel beams used to support a floor's weight.
Laminate: Multi-layer synthetic product that simulates the look of hardwood, tile, natural stone and other types of flooring.
Nail Down: Installation method where flooring is nailed to the subfloor.
Parquet: Wood floor made by combining small pieces of wood in different patterns.
Particle Board: Wood board manufactured from wood particles.
Plywood: Fabricated wood board made of multiple sheets of wood veneer bonded with glue.
Printed Sheet Vinyl Flooring: Material consisting of a pattern printed on a backing and covered with a protective layer of vinyl plastic.
Radiant Heated Subfloor: Heating coils, pipes or ducts are built into the subfloor to provide heat.
Rebond: Carpet padding made by bonding together different types of recycled foam.
Resilient Floor: Durable type of flooring that is stain and water resistant. Typical materials are vinyl, linoleum, rubber and cork.
Seam: The line where two pieces of flooring are joined.
Staple Down: Installation method where flooring is stapled to the subfloor.
Subfloor: Floor structure supporting decorative flooring.
Terrazzo: A type of mosaic flooring made by embedding small pieces of glass, marble or granite in cement and then polishing.
Underlayment: A layer of material between the subfloor and flooring material that is used to provide a smooth installation surface.