Angie's LIST Guide to
Glossary: Flooring

A collection of definitions and terms related to purchasing, installing and maintaining flooring from backing to wear layer.

Backing - Decorative layer

Backing: The bottom layer of a vinyl sheet is called the backing and is made of felt or fiberglass. This is the layer that sticks to the adhesive.

Berber: A type of carpet made from thick, tufted yarns that are woven into a loop pile.

Carpet backing: Yarns and fabrics that form the back side of carpet and help to preserve the appearance and longevity.

Carpet pile: The upper layer of fibers or pile that forms the surface. It is attached to the backing.

Cove: A type of trim used to give a finished appearance between the floor and the wall, or the wall and the ceiling.

Decorative layer: This is the layer that contains the decorative design of the vinyl. It is often printed on the vinyl with a rotogravure process. It is situated between the foam inner core and the wear layer.

Floating - Hardwood

Floating: A type of flooring installation where the materials, be they boards, planks or tiles, do not attach to the underlayment or the subfloor. Instead, they snap together or are glued just at the end joints and edges.

Foam inner core: The foam inner core is between the backing and the decorative layer. The thickness of this foam core will determine the resiliency or cushioned feel of the product.

Glaze: A clear substance that is applied to the surface of flooring to achieve a smooth, shiny look.

Grade level: Pertains to the construction level comparative to the ground surrounding it. On-grade is when it is at ground level, while below-grade is below ground level and above-grade is above ground level.

Grout: A paste or mortar used to fill gaps and crevices between tiles, as well as between walls and floors.

Hardness: The ability of wood flooring to withstand pressure that may result in visible denting, marks and wear.

Hardwood: The wood from a tree with broad leaves such as oak, maple, beech, walnut or ash, used to make flooring.

Laminate - Perimeter

Laminate: A type of hard surface flooring that is manufactured from a medium or high density fiber core. It varies in thickness and comes in many different finishes including ceramic tile, stone or wood.

Linoleum: A material used in flooring that is made up of natural materials like linseed oil, and powdered cork or wood flour. It may be bonded to a canvas or jute backing.

Mosaic: A pattern or picture that is created from small pieces of a hard substance such as glass, stone, marble or tile.

Mud: A soft, sticky substance that may be used in place of other types of flooring or as a subfloor. It may also act as a mortar or binding agent.

Parquet: Flooring made from wooden blocks which are arranged in a geometric pattern. The wood may be identical or contrasting.

Perimeter adhered: Only the outer edges of the vinyl sheet are glued to the subfloor in a perimeter-adhered installation.

Subfloor - Wear layer

Subfloor: The structural foundation for a floor that provides support. It is typically covered with a floor covering to create an even surface and a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Substrate: A material that provides a smooth surface beneath a floor covering like underlayment, concrete or an existing floor.

Terazzo: A hard, durable type of flooring that is produced from marble chips. They are set into mortar, then the surface is polished for a smooth effect.

Tongue and groove: A joint achieved by fitting the tongue on the edge of one board to the corresponding groove on another board.

Underlayment: A layer between the finished floor and the subfloor that facilitates the adhesion and leveling of the new floor, as well as gives extra support.

Veneer: A thin covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or some other material for decorative purposes.

Warping: When flooring becomes bent or distorted due to the adverse effects of dampness or heat.

Wear layer: The wear layer is the top surface of the vinyl sheet or tile that protects the decorative layer from damage. Wear layers are classified for traffic damage resistance. No-wax layers are the least protective and should only be used in low traffic areas.

Urethane wear layers are moisture proof, stain resistant and will resist scuffing and wear. More expensive, enhanced coatings use products such as aluminum oxide and are more resistant to wear.

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