What flooring terms should I know?

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.
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 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.

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