Researching to purchase new floors can be extremely overwhelming, especially if you’re not a flooring expert. Here’s a list of flooring terms you’ll see in the “biz,” and what they all exactly mean.


Flooring Specifications

Wear Layer – At the top of all wood and vinyl flooring products is the wear layer. It is the most important layer to consider when looking at flooring products, as it protects the veneer or print finish. The thicker the wear layer the better.

CARB Phase 2 Compliant – CARB stands for California Air Resources Board, which regulates the indoor air quality standards for all building materials. When a flooring product is CARB Phase 2 Compliant, they pass all regulatory standards for indoor air quality as set by CARB. Floors with high levels of formaldehyde emissions won’t be CARB Phase 2 Compliant, and is not recommended to be installed in any space.

FloorScore Certified – Flooring that is FloorScore Certified means that it passed indoor air quality standards. Flooring that is FloorScore Certified must go through an extensive testing procedure with the SCS Global Services organization. FloorScore regulations are compliant with emissions requirements set by CARB as well.

Hand Scraped – Flooring that has been texturized by hand to give it a more authentic look. No two planks will ever be the same. Learn more about hand scraped flooring here.

Distressed – Distressed flooring will undergo chemical and machine process to give the flooring a weathered look. These methods are to produce the appearance of age and wear, although the product is “new.”

Beveled Edge – There will be a slight slant on the surface where the plank edges meet.

Floating Floor – Flooring that is neither glued nor nailed down to underlayment nor subfloor. It “floats” freely above the underlayment without any adhesives.


Connection Type

Click Lock

Click-Lock – A connection type introduced in wood and vinyl flooring that is most commonly used when installing a floating floor.


Tongue and Groove – A connection type in wood planks in which boards are joined by means of interlocking ridges and grooves. The tongue side of a plank will connect with the groove type.


Flooring Accessories

Transitions – A piece that is installed between the transitions from one type of flooring to another to provide a finished installed look. Transitions are also installed on the edge of stair treads.

Underlayment – A layer that is installed between a subfloor and a finished floor that facilitates leveling and adhesion. Underlayment can be made of foam, rubber or felt depending on the finish floor type.


Flooring Types

engineered wood

Engineered Hardwood – Manufactured wood that is created by binding wood strands, particles and fibers using adhesive to create a wood plank. Engineered wood is still made out of real wood, but is more stable than solid hardwood. Here’s more on the differences between engineered hardwood versus solid hardwood.

solid hardwood

Solid Hardwood – Flooring that is made of one solid piece of wood.


LVT/LVP – Also known as Luxury Vinyl Tile or Luxury Vinyl Planks. Luxury vinyl is the newest innovation of vinyl flooring and will be of higher quality in both durability and looks.


Other Terms

Waste Factor – Additional flooring that can be purchased to cover cutting and fitting waste during installation. Typically manufacturers recommend purchasing an additional 5-10% in flooring to cover the few boards you may not want to use.

Finish Floor – The final top flooring material that is installed for aesthetic value. Solid hardwood, laminate, vinyl, engineered wood and carpet are all examples of finish floors. Finish floors will never be the subfloor, underlayment, plywood or foam.


Subfloor – The subfloor is a foundation for a floor in a building that will typically lay on top of floor joists. It is commonly made of plywood or concrete. Subflooring is not the same as underlayment.


Buckle – Weakened flooring as a result of excessive moisture


Cupping – Warping in the flooring where the sides are higher than the center

Acclimation – Refers to the flooring material’s adjustment to the environment it is in, specifically in terms of moisture and humidity. Check to see how many hours or days your flooring will need to be acclimated to its environment prior to installation.

Got a couple more that you were confused about? Let us know!