There are lots of laminate flooring terms. Many of these same terms are the same terms used for solid and engineered hardwood floors while others are different due to the difference in the construction of laminate floors.
Guide to Laminate Flooring Terms
Acclimation: The adaptation of the laminate floor to its installation environment.
Backer (Backing): In laminated flooring the bottom layer is called backer layer or balancing layer and is usually made from a resin-impregnated Kraft paper. The backer is designed to be the same weight as the wearlayer to provide balance and stability. If the backer is lighter or heavier than the wearlayer, the boards will cup or bow after installation and cannot be repaired.
Base Shoe: Similar to quarter round in profile, it is a molding designed for attaching to a base molding to cover the expansion space.
Bow: In lumber the distortion in which there is a deviation, in a direction perpendicular to the flat face as measured from a straight line from end to end.
Chipboard: Paperboard formulated for a variety of purposes and under a variety of specifications including two of the more common that may or may not be included are strength and color. It is usually fabricated from paper stock with a relatively low density in the thickness of 0.006 inch and up.
Core: In laminated flooring, the core provides for strength and impact resistance and can be made from high or medium-density fiberboard, particle (chipboard, or polyurethane foam. Particleboard and fiberboard are produced from compressed wood fibers mixed with bonding agents and is vulnerable to moisture.
Crook: The distortion that occurs within a board that has a deviation in a direction perpendicular to the edge, from a straight line from end to end of the piece.
Crosspull: A condition that occurs at an end-joint with the ends of flooring strips pulled in opposite directions.
Crowning: A “convex” or “crowned” condition or appearance where the center of individual strips becomes higher than the edges. (Opposite of cupping.)
Cupping: A “concave” or “dished” condition or appearance where the center of individual strips becomes lower than the edges. (Opposite of crowning.)
Cure: The change of adhesives properties by chemical reaction (which may be condensation, polymerization, or vulcanization) resulting in the development of maximum strength. Commonly accomplished by the action of heat or a catalyst, with or without pressure.
Decorative Layer: In laminate flooring, a decorative layer or print film is adhered on top of the core board giving the floor its hardwood or tile look. This decorative layer is a printed, high-resolution photo-reproduction of wood grain, natural stone or laminate tile pattern.
Delamination: The separation of layers in a laminate, through failure within the adhesive or at the bond between the adhesive and laminate.
Distressed: Creation of an antique or timeworn appearance by creating an artificial texture of a floor by techniques such as scraping, scratching and gouging.
Dry Wall: Interior covering material, such as hardboard, plywood or gypsum board that is applied in large sheets or panels.
End Joint: The joint created where two pieces of flooring are joined end to end.
End Molding/Carpet Reducer: Used as a transition from laminate floors to different flooring surfaces when the reducer does not allow enough height, such as on high-pile carpet or thick laminate tile.
Equilibrium Moisture Content: The moisture content at which a wood neither gains nor loses moisture when surrounded by air at a given relative humidity and temperature.
Expansion: In laminate expansion is growth resulting from an increase in moisture.
Fiberboard: A widely used generic term that is inclusive of sheet materials of widely varying densities manufactured of refined or partially refined wood or vegetable fibers. A variety of materials and bonding agents are added to increase strength, resistance to moisture, fire or decay and to improve other qualities.
Filler: 1. In woodworking, any substance that is used to fill the holes and irregularities in planed or sanded surfaces to decrease the porosity of the surface before applying a finish coat. 2. A wood putty, plastic wood or other material that is used to fill cracks, knot holes, worm holes, etc.
Fire Resistance: A materials ability to withstand fire or give protection from it.
Fire Retardant: A chemical or preparation of chemicals that is used to retard the spread of fire over the surface or to reduce flammability.
Flakeboard: A particle panel that is composed of flakes.
Flame Spread: The development of a flame away from its source of ignition such as across the surface of a liquid or a solid, or through the volume of a gaseous mixture.
Floating Floor: Floating floor is a term that describes a method of installing a floor rather than a specific type of flooring material. In this method, the individual planks or boards attach to each other. A padded underlayment sits between the subfloor and the laminate planks. The planks sit directly on the underlayment and are not anchored to the subfloor on the bottom but rather are anchored on the edges.
Glued Laminate Flooring: These are the original laminate floors that do require a special formulated glue to be applied to the tongue and grooved areas for each plank. Once the glue is dried the planks are almost impossible to pull apart. These floors are offered in both planks and squares.
Glueless Laminate Flooring: An installation method where the planks or squares simply interlock together.
High Pressure Laminate: Laminates molded and cured at pressures not lower than 1,000 lb per sq in. (70 kg per sq cm) and more commonly in the range of 1,200 to 2,000 lb per sq in. (84 to 140 kg per sq cm).
Hydroscopic: The ability of a substance to absorb and retain moisture or lose or throw off moisture. Wood as a hydroscopic material expands with the absorption of water and shrinks with the loss of moisture.
Joist: Parallel beam used in series to support floor or ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.
Laminate: A manufactured product that simulates the look of hardwood, laminate tile, natural stone and many other types of flooring.
Laminate Flooring: Laminate flooring is a hard surface floor covering consisting of a fiberboard core, printed paper pattern with a melamine wear layer and backing and usually with a tongue and groove construction for ease of installation.
Laminated Wood: An assembly that is made by bonding layers of materials with an adhesive. 2. Sometimes referred to edge-glued lumber items such as treads, etc.
Manufacturing Defects: Defects or blemishes that develop during manufacturing.
Melamine Resin: A resin used to help improve the moisture resistance and durability of the core board of laminate flooring.
Moldings: Trim pieces that cover the space that is allowed for the flooring to expand and move naturally on top of the subfloor. Also used as the transition to an adjacent floor. Moldings for laminate floors are usually slightly larger than their wood or laminate tile counterparts.
Moisture Content: The amount of moisture expressed as a percentage of the weight of the oven dry wood.
Nosing: A trim used to cover the outside corner of a step.
Oriented Strand Board: A particle panel composed of strand-type flakes with purposefully aligned directions which make a panel stronger, stiffer, and with improved dimensional properties in the alignment directions than a panel composed of random flake orientation.
Overlapping Stair Nosing: A nosing that is similar to a flush stair nosing except the nose overlaps the exposed edge of your floor. The overlapping stair nosing is secured to the sub floor and not to the laminate floor so the floor remains free to move.
Particleboard: A generic term for a material manufactured from wood particles or other cellulosic material and a binder.
Peaking Seams: Laminate plank edges that have risen at the joint.
Plank: A laminate floor panel that is typically 5 or 6 inches wide.
Plugs: Dowels that simulate the Colonial American plugged or pegged plank appearance.
Prefinished: A floor that is finished during the manufacturing process and requires installation only.
Pre-Glued Laminate : A laminate flooring that has the glue already applied to the tongue and grooves. A thin, plastic underlayment is needed to seal out moisture and prevent the glue from sticking to the substrate.
Quarter Round Trim: A trim that is installed where the laminate floor meets the wall or baseboard.
Reducer Strip: The transitional piece installers use to connect the laminate with another type of floor covering such as vinyl, thin laminate tile, or low-pile carpeting.
Relative Humidity: A ration of the amount of water vapor that is present in the air to that which the air would hold at saturation at the same temperature. While usually considered on the basis of the weight of the vapor, for accuracy it should be considered on the basis of vapor pressures.
Screens: The quality of the laminate partially has to do with the photography and the number of photographs per style, which is known as “screens”. The more screens a product has, the more variation it can offer. And the more “authentic” the laminate looks.
Seams: The junction where the panels connect together.
Square Nosing / Universal Edge: Used where the laminate flooring butts up to carpeting, or various vertical surfaces where the edge will be exposed, such as along a fireplace.
Stain: A discoloration that develops in or on a floor and is other than the natural color.
Stud: Structural unit used as supporting element in walls and partitions.
Surface-Finish: A finish material, which penetrates the pores of the wood, providing a finish that is in the wood rather than on the surface.
Step Down Stair Nose: A coordinating molding piece providing the proper transition for all the steps in a home.
Tile: A laminate panel in a geometric shape – square.
T-Molding: Commonly used in doorways to join two laminate floors in adjoining rooms. It’s also recommended when making transitions from a laminate floor to another floor that is approximately the same height.
Underlayment: A material used between the laminate flooring and the subfloor that acts as a sound and moisture barrier and also allows the floor to expand and contract with changes in the temperature. V-Joint: A plank flooring term that indicates that the edges are eased or beveled to simulate cracks in floors of early Colonial American homes.
Vapor Barrier: A material with a high resistance to vapor movement that is used to control condensation or prevent migration of moisture.
Waferboard: A particle panel product that is made of wafer-type flakes. It is usually produced to provide equal properties in all directions parallel to the plane of the panel.
Wearlayer: In laminated flooring the wearlayer usually consist of multiple layers of Kraft paper that has been impregnated with phenolic resins and pressed together under high heat and pressure. This is the HPL (high-pressure lamination) process, the first step of the CPL (continuous pressure lamination) process, the second being the attachment of the wearlayer and backer layer to the core. The bottom layer of Kraft paper is imprinted with a photograph that provides the floors pattern or design.