Carpet and Flooring Glossary

By HomeAdvisor

Updated October 18, 2016

Wood flooring

Above Grade Flooring:
A floor that is raised above the ground, leaving at least 18 inches of well ventilated space.

Axminster Carpet:
A machine-woven carpet distinguished by having a large variety of colors and patterns. A Turkish style named for the first place it became internationally popular, in England. It has a fine soft pile.

Fabric or yarns that form the underside or back of a carpet.

Boards placed along the bottom of walls to conceal the place the floor and wall meet.

Base Shoe:
Molding used to hide irregularities or spaces along the bottom edges of baseboards.

Below Grade Flooring:
This is when a floor is either in direct contact with the ground or when it is within 18 inches.

Berber Carpet:
A style of carpet based on a North African traditional carpet. This style is distinguished by its off-white color and the tightly looped yarn that creates a patterns of thousands of small woven circles.

The strip sewn over carpet edges to keep it from unraveling.

The brightening in linoleum flooring when light hits it. When there is no light on it, most linoleum floors appear yellowish because of the linseed oil used when making it.

Board Foot:
A way to measure lumber. One board foot equals a board that is one foot long, one foot wide, and 1 inch thick (or its dimensional equivalent.)

Border Tiles:
A row of tiles along the perimeter of a room.

The curve of a board when the curve is perpendicular to the flat face.

The raised or engraved pattern in a carpet or rug.

Bullnose Trim:
Ceramic trim used along the wall to blend the floor into the wall.

A swirl of the wood’s grain near a knot (but not the knot.)

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Carpet Squares:
Easy to install tiles of carpet that are laid down next to each other or have self-adhesive to be glued next to each other.

Carpet Underlay:
Materials placed under a carpet (or attached to the bottom) that create more cushioning and longer wear. Also called lining, padding or cushion.

Ceramic Tile:
Tiles of varying shapes and sizes made from kilned clay and other organic materials.

Color Shade Variation:
The variation of color, texture, value and tone between individual tiles in a ceramic tile floor. Rated V1-V4, where V1-V3 refers to an increasing variation among one color, and V4 refers to an intended variation (multiple colors for design purposes.)

Corner Trim:
The trim used where two walls and the floor meet.

To drive a nail or screw below the surface.

A convex appearance of individual strips with the center of the strip higher than the edges. (Opposite of cupping.)

A concave appearance of strips, with the edges raised above the center. (Opposite of crowning.)

Cut and Loop Carpet:
A looped carpet with many levels and cut variations to create a sculpted pattern.

Flat woven rugs or carpets made from cotton or silk. Traditional to India, they have soft colorations and varied patterns.

Dimensional Stability:
The ability of flooring to keep its original dimensions throughout the lifespan of the product. High dimensional stability means the floor does not warp, shrink or expand very much.

An artificial texture where the floor has been scratched, scraped, or gouged to give it an antique look. Often done by wire brushing.

Drum Sander:
A floor sander the size of a lawn mower used on wood flooring.

Eased Edge:
The beveled edge of strip flooring where the bevel is done at approximately 45 degrees.

Edge Sander:
A hand-held power sander used to sand corners missed by the drum sander.

End Joint:
The place where two pieces of flooring join end to end.

A generic term for sheet materials.

Filler (or Fill) :
Wood putty used to patch holes or pores in wood.

The urethane or wax coating used on flooring.

Flat Finish:
A non-reflective finish.

Floating Floor:
A floor system that can be placed on top of an existing floor (and does not need to be nailed down.) Tiles or boards are glued together rather than directly to the sub floor or floor.

Floor Joists:
Framing planks underneath the sub floor, underlayment and flooring. They are supported by larger beams, girders or bearing walls.

Floor Tile:
Tile made to withstand the wear and tear of foot traffic and furniture abrasion.

Foam Underlayment:
A foam layer put under laminate flooring to even irregularities and to soften sound.

A carpet style where the yarn is tightly twisted to give it a nubby, rough appearance.

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Glazed Tile:
Ceramic tile with a liquid-glass finish. This also protects tile from stains and moisture.

Gloss Levels:
Refers to the various sheens, from the non-reflective to the highly reflective: Satin, Semi-Gloss and Gloss.

The growth pattern of a tree that is exposed in cut lumber. Grain creates different surface textures and patterns.

Any wood made from deciduous trees (as opposed to conifers or softwoods.) The term has nothing to do with the hardness of wood.

Hooked Rug:
A rug made by pulling yarns or fabric through a mesh backing.

Jointed Flooring:
A type of strip floor manufactured with square edges that are end matched. Used for high traffic floors where replacement of strips are often needed.

Kelim (also Kilim):
A woven, flat, often reversible rug.

The part of wood where a branch or limb grew.

A thin layer of plastic or wood glued to an inner core. Laminate backing refers to a coating fused to the back of a floor to keep it from warping.

A durable, washable, resilient floor covering made from a mixture of rosin, gums, heated linseed oil, powdered cork, and pigments.

Locking Installation System:
An easy installation system where tongue and groove flooring boards are locked together.

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Marble Floors / Tiles:
Flooring made from polished limestone.

Mosaic Tile:
Multi-colored ceramic tile that is smaller than six square inches. Often mounted on a backing for ease of installation.

Parquet Flooring:
Woodwork floors set in geometric forms for design purposes.

A structural material often used for sub flooring. It is made from wood fragments that are mechanically pressed into a sheet and bonded with resin.

Patching Compound:
A fill used to smooth or even the sub floor before installing a vinyl floor.

Paver Tile:
Tile that is larger than six square inches.

Pickled Floors:
The informal, casual look when you rub white paint into already stained or finished wood flooring.

The face of a carpet composed of cut ends of yarn.

Pilot Hole:
A pre-drilled hole that makes it easier to nail or screw into a piece of wood without splitting it.

The soft core near the center of a tree trunk or branch.

Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) Rating:
A rating system for wall and floor tile durability. Similar to the Wear Resistance Rating.

Boards that are three inches or wider.

A material made from sheets of wood glued or cemented together. Used as the underlayment for vinyl flooring. For strength, the grain alternates perpendicularly from piece to piece.

Polished Tile:
A ceramic tile that is sanded to achieve a smoother finish.

Polyethylene Film:
Plastic sheets used as a vapor barrier to protect against excessive moisture.

Porcelain Tile:
A fine-grained ceramic tile made from dry-pressed porcelain clay.

Prefinished Floor:
A finished flooring that requires installation only.

Pull Bar:
The tool used to tighten tongue and groove joints during the installation process.

Quarry Tile:
Ceramic tile, like the terra-cotta style squares, that are made using an extrusion process.

Quarter Round:
A small molding that has the profile of a quarter circle. Often used as a base shoe.

Rag Rug:
A colorful rug that is hand woven from cotton scraps.

A small piece of caret left from a roll, measuring less than nine feet long.

A heavy tool used to press vinyl sheeting or tiling into the adhesive to help remove any entrapped air.

Rubber Flooring:
Flooring made from synthetic rubber. It comes in studded, ribbed, or other raised patterns.

The lighter color wood near the outside of the tree.

A soft-sheen finish.

Saxony Carpet:
A dense, cut-pile carpet with well-defined individual tuft tips. Called “plushes” when it has a smooth finish.

Sculptured Carpet:
Any carpet pattern where varying pile lengths create a pattern.

Seam Sealer:
A liquid compound used to fuse vinyl flooring edges together.

Shag Carpet:
A deep-pile carpet popular in the 1970s. It has long-cut surface yarns.

Simulated Appliance Foot-Drag Test:
A test used to measure a vinyl floor’s resistance to tears, gouges and rips. In the test, an appliance-type foot is dragged across the surface with various weights.

Sisal Flooring:
Rugs or mats made from sisal, a natural plant material.

A rock used for flooring (often outside). It is embedded in cement or mortar to create a pattern floor.

Slip Tongue:
A small strip of wood or metal used to change direction when installing tongue and groove flooring.

Lumber produced from needle and/or cone bearing trees (Conifers). Has nothing to do with the hardness or softness of the wood.

Small pieces of wood used to temporarily create a space during installation.

Square Edge:
The simple flooring system where squared planks are nailed to a subfloor or underlayment.

Stain Retardant:
A chemical finish used to keep carpet or fabric surfaces clean. Can be applied at the factory or at home.

Standard Instillation System:
The installation process where you place continuous beads of glue on top of the tongue and on the bottom of the groove to adjoin flooring planks.

Boards that are smaller than three inches in width.

Strip Flooring:
The most popular wood flooring. It is made from narrow tongue and groove strips, glued together.

Sub Floor:
The structural layer that hold the flooring system. The floor can be laid directly on the sub floor (below grade) or can be elevated (above grade.)

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Tackless Installation:
The installation process where a carpet it stretched over a pad and tacked into strips of wood at the walls. Also called wall-to-wall installation.

A multi-colored floor made from stone or marble chips embedded in cement.

A narrow finishing piece placed directly on the floor to cover the transition from one floor to another (room to room or in a doorway.)

The molding between two areas of wood or flooring.

Tongue and Groove (T&G) :
This refers to flooring boards cut so that one side (the tongue) slides into the opposite side of another board (the groove). It allows little or no glue or fastening.

The finish in a building applied around openings or at the floor and ceiling of rooms (baseboard, shoe mold, etc.)

A tool used to put adhesive on the floor during installation.

Tufted Carpet:
The most common type of carpet. Tufted carpets are manufactured by sewing yarn into the backing in tufts, or clusters.

A layer placed on top of the sub floor to make the surface suitable for floor installation. Usually plywood, particleboard, or foam.

Wall Tile:
Ceramic tiles meant for indoor use. Not meant to withstand major impact or heat changes.

Water Absorption Rating:
Ceramic tiles are classified by their water absorption rates. Non-vitreous tiles have greater than 7% absorption. Semi-vitreous tiles have between 3% and 7% absorption.
Vitreous tiles have between 0.5% and 3% absorption. Impervious tiles have less than 0.5% absorption.

Wear Layer:
The layer of flooring that covers a pattern effect.

Wear Resistance Rating:
This measures the hardness of the glaze on a ceramic tile. PEI 1 and 2 are typically for residential use while PEI 3-5 are for commercial. As the number goes up, the resistance to wear does. PEI 5, then is for the heaviest commercial use.

Wire Brushing:
A way to create a distressed appearance to the surface of hardwood flooring.

Wood Flooring:
Most often made from hardwoods like maple, pecan, beech, birch or oak.

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