If you are researching wood flooring you have have stumbled across some terms that leave you scratching your head. There are alot of wood flooring industry words that may not be part of your everyday language but are important to know to help you best understand what your contractor is talking about. This article will outline some of the technical jargon you may hear and help you to feel more confident in understanding wood flooring.
- Buckling- Buckling is when the wood begins to bulge upward. This happens when the flooring pulls away from a subfloor with a high moisture content. Buckling floors are not common and generally happen when there is a flood. If buckling is caught early there may be the option to spot repair and replace the wood.
- Burls- Burls are swirls or twists in the wood flooring that are common around a knot but do not contain a knot.
- Character marks- Character marks are elements that naturally occur in wood like flecks, flags or burls and are what gives wood its unique appearance.
- Cupping- Cupping is when the edges of the wood floor boards rise and are higher than the center of the board, creating a concave curve. The board curves like this when moisture becomes trapped between the floor and the subfloor. High humidity can cause cupping as well as water spills.
- Crowning- Crowning is similar to cupping but is when the sides of the board dry out and flatten but the middle of the board bulges. The convex curve it creates can be unsightly and need to be sanded to be repaired.
- Flags- Flags are heavy, dark streaks in the wood caused by minerals and generally shaped like a banner, hence the name “flags”.
- Flecks- Flecks are irregular wide marks that are common in quarter-sawn oak flooring.
- Hardness- Hardness is the wood’s ability to avoid indentation and abrasion. The hardness of the wood is measured by what amount of pressure is need to embed an 11.4 mm steel ball half of its diameter into the wood.
- Hardwood- Hardwood is a general term for wood floor but can also be used in reference to
Hardness has to do with the wood’s ability to resist indentation and abrasion. It’s measured by the load it takes to embed an 11.3 mm steel ball to half its diameter in the wood.
Hardwood often is used to describe any wood floor, but it refers to the woods that come from deciduous trees. When talking about specific tree types it does not represent actual hardness. Evergreen trees are generally referred to as softwoods but may actually be harder than some of “hardwood” species.
- Heartwood- Heartwood is the inner layers of a tree and does not contain living cells. Heartwood is typically harder than sapwood.
- Mineral Streaks- Mineral streaks are mineral matter accumulation from the flow of sap within the tree. These mineral streaks range in color from greenish brown to black.
- Moisture content- Moisture content is the weight of water in wood turned into a percentage after the wood is oven-dried.
- Mineral streaks are an accumulation of mineral matter from flow of sap. They appear as an unnatural color ranging from greenish brown to black.
- Pith Fleck- Pith flecks are discolor and irregular streaks of tissue that are caused by insect attacks while the tree is growing.
- Sapwood- Sapwood is the outer wood in a tree closest to the bark. This wood is lighter than the heartwood of a tree.
- Shrinkage- Shrinkage is what happens to wood after is installed and begins to dry out. The floorboards will contract due to the higher humidity levels dropping. When the humidity levels rise again the wood with reabsorb moisture and expand. Shrinkage is often seasonal and seasonal gaps are common. A humidifier can help to reduce or prevent gapping until the humidity levels rise again.