When searching for a new floor, it’s easy to get caught up in the jargon used to describe wood flooring. Without a glossary, it can be difficult to visualise the various components and understand the differences between one species and another. This blog post aims to summarise some of the common terms to give you a better understanding.

hardwood terms

Above grade – a surface above ground level (minimum 18 inches).

Acclimation – wood floors are natural materials and need time to adjust (or acclimate) to the environment before they are installed.

Bevelled edge – a distinctive ‘v’ shaped groove commonly used in casual settings.

Burl – a swirl/twist in the grain of the wood.

Crowning – when the floor warps and the centre is higher than the sides.

Cupping – opposite to crowning where the centre sags and is lower than the sides.

Expansion gap – space left on the perimeter to allow for expansion.

Feature grade – these planks will be heavily infused with natural features like large gum veins (see below for description).

Finish – the coating added to a hardwood floor.

Grade – the grade is based on the appearance of the wood that has created the floor.

Grain – the lines in the wood that produce the pattern you can see in the plank.

Gum Vein – the distinctive streak of gum between growth rings.

Janka Hardness Rating – the wood strength determined by a scale that notes the level of force needed to drive a small steel ball into a plank of wood.

Knot – the cross section where the branch was connected to the trunk.

Photosensitivity – the probability that a floors colour will change when exposed to light.

Polyurethane – a common type of durable finish applied to the floor to help prevent wear and tear.

Refinish – if a hardwood is damaged or scratched, it can be sanded down and refinished multiple times to reduce the appearance of wear.

Rustic grade – these floors have character and charm due to their full features which are highly prominent in appearance.

Sapwood – newer wood found near the outside of the tree.

Select grade – the wood features in this grade will be relatively low and won’t overshadow the floor’s appearance.

Species – the type of tree used to produce the planks (e.g. Blackbutt and Blue Gum).

Standard grade –medium features are prevalent in these planks like gum veins and burls.

Texture – describes the look/feel of the floor and can range from smooth to distressed.

So there we have a short glossary of hardwood flooring terms. If there is anything else you’d like clarifying, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Floormania experts.