Dictionary of Hardwood Flooring Terms

If you’re in the market for some hardwood flooring, it’s always good to know the lingo. That way when you talk to a sales rep, you’re not always asking, “…and that means what?” Here are some of the more popular terms you’ll encounter as you do your due diligence:


Above Grade
The surface is above the level ground.


Below Grade
The surface is below the level ground.


Oak with light dark graining and small knots.


Expensive oak without visible knots or blemishes.


Cross-ply Construction
When wood plies are assembled in a criss-cross pattern. This makes the material more resistant to moisture.


One of the three common types of hardwood floor (also see Longstrip Plank and Solid). Could be up to 5 thin sheets of wood that are laminated together.


Floating Floor Installation
When installing, the planks are not fastened to the subfloor.


Janka Hardness Test
It measures the resistance of a type of wood to be able to withstand denting and wear. It’s a way to see how much force is required to embed an 11.28 mm (0.444 in) steel ball into the wood up to half the ball’s diameter.


Longstrip Plank
One of the three common types of hardwood floor (also see Engineered and Solid). Similar to the multiple layer approach used in Engineered floors. The materials are glued on top of a center core.


Applied with the purpose of covering expansion joints.


Number 1 Common
When oak has a few knots and a little dark grain.


Number 2 Common
When oak has more knots and a darker grain.


Ground level.


Rotary Cut
When the hardwood is cut, it shows a larger grain pattern.


When oak has a few knots and but not too much dark grain.


Sliced Cut
When the hardwood is cut, it shows a more uniform grain pattern.


One of the three common types of hardwood floor (the others are Engineered and Longstrip Plank). It’s a solid piece of wood with a groove and tongue. Very sensitive to moisture.


Square Edge
When the hardwood boards join together squarely. This makes for a smooth, uniform surface.


Stapled Down
Staples are used to secure the hardwood to the subfloor.


A hardwood floor where the boards are thinner or more narrow. You’ll find this type of flooring comes in cherry, pecan, red oak, white oak, hickory, maple and white ash.


Tongue and Groove
When two hardwood boards are put together; one plank has a groove, the other a tongue.


Same as “Moldings”


UV Cured
In the factory, the hardwood is cured by using ultra violet lights without heat.

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