Above Grade Subfloor

This is above ground level. This is when your subfloor is installed above ground level. Most single story bungalows have their main floor above ground and basement below ground. You don't need to have a basement, a crawl space below your floor will constitute your subfloor above grade.

Acclimating Wood Floor

This is a stage that you perform before you lay your floorboards. The acclimation process will minimize shrinking and swelling with temperature and humidity changes. All hardwood flooring needs to acclimate to the conditions and temperature of your house before it can be installed. This means that your wood floors need to reach the same temperature and moisture level as the internal environment of your house. The acclimation process requires a minimum of 72 hours or 3 days from most wood floor manufacturers. However, we suggest a minimum of one week or several weeks if you want to achieve the best results possible.

Acrylic Impregnation

This is for engineered flooring. The top layer has an acrylic resin for added durability.

Acrylic Urethane

A wood finish meant for stained wood.


A glue bond between the floor and subfloor. This is often used instead of nails or in combination with nails. Parquet blocks are commonly glued down as well.

Aluminum Oxide

A finish that is often used on prefinished wood floors. An aluminum oxide finish is extremely scratch resistant. I have tested it by rubbing a fine steel wool pad. However, I have great reservation with aluminum oxide crystals in the film itself. They may be present in small amounts and might be quite safe, until one day (and that day will come) when this floor is so full of dents and scratches that it will have to be sanded and refinished. This is a normal routine for a strip floor. But the aluminum oxide dust that will be airborne during the sanding is a proven lung irritant and a possible carcinogen.

Asphaltum Stain

Sometimes spelled ashphaltum. It’s also called a bitumen or glisonite stain. It is basically a heavy petroleum product. It stains the wood like a dye, but is easy to use like a pigment stain. And like a pigment stain it is also colorfast. Watco-Timberex and Deft Oil are two such products. But beware that they have long dry times also. Because of the oil base, they will not be compatible with some finishes. This sort of stain can also be successfully and easily used on maple, birch and beech, but only in the lightest colors.

Aziridine Catalyst

A hardening agent in oil modified polyurethane. It is toxic.


Bare Wood

A wood that has no coating, varnish, finish or stain on it. It is unfinished wood. Wood Floors should never be left in a bare wood state as they are vulnerable to the elements.

Below Grade Subfloor

Refers to below ground level. This means that your subfloor in your basement is below the ground level.

Belt Sander

A belt sander is a powered sanding machine that rotates a looped ribbon of sandpaper around two drums. The sanding surface is therefore flat between the two drums. This flat spot is where it makes contact with the to be sanded surface. This type of sandpaper gets quite hot as there is a lot of friction between the non moving parts and the sand paper between the two rotating drums. This excess heat can gum up this type of sander very quick. This sand paper moves in only one direction, a bonus when sanding with the grain of the wood.

Beveled Edge

When the edges or corners of the wood are shaved slightly so that when two floorboards are put together, the wear surface where the two floorboards meet will be beveled inwards. All prefinished floors either have bevelled edges or V grooves. Beveled edges are incorporated so that the floorboards won't catch on your sock or chip on the edges of the floorboards when moving furniture. Prefinished floors are generally not sanded down so they take into account that most subfloors are not perfectly flat. When they are sanded, the groves will be sanded out, but the floor will be naturally flattened by the sanding process and thus the beveled edge will no longer be required.

Big Box Store

A very large, usually American chain of stores. These are large hardware and flooring stores open to the public. One of the largest in the home improvement industry boosts an orange feeling to their image. We refer to them as big box stores as opposed to their real names to not pin point any one name. After all, they are all the same in the end.

Buckling Floorboards

When your floorboards have either quickly warmed up or have excess moisture, they tend to push against each other. To release their tension, they move upward on their edges. This is when floorboards swell with moisture and rise several inches. Your floorboards pull away from the subfloor. This typically happens after your floorboards have been flooded. Sometimes, floorboards buckle if there are not enough nails or if the wrong type of nails has been used. It could also be the wrong type of subfloor. Luckily, buckling is a pretty rare occurrence.


Catalyzed Industrial Coating

This product is for either stained or natural wood. A catalyzed product has two components. When it is stirred, it will turn into a gel-like consistency.

Catalyzed Water-Based Finish

These are very strong, professional finishes. These finishes will outlast most other finishes by a long shot. However, a catalyzed water-based finish is very expensive and is typically used for gyms and commercial floor applications. A catalyzed water-based finish can be a two-component finish.

Cat's Paw Restorer

This tool is a metal bar that has a cat's paw on the end of it, which is designed for pulling out nails. Often the other side has a hammer. This tool is great for removing old floors. It will take out floorboards gently without damaging them.

Chatter Marks

Marks on hardwood floors that have been caused by large sanding machines. Chatter marks are caused when the floor sander jumps or stutters due to an inexperienced operator. Read our how to sand wood floor article to ensure you do not get chatter marks.

Chemical Stripping

This can sometimes be done as an alternative to sanding. It is typically done if the wood floors are too thin to sand down again. I recommend using Citristrip for this stage. Chemical stripping will remove stain and finish. However, if you have large gray spots, chemical stripping will not remove them. Sanding will be necessary to remove gray stains.

Clear Finish

Also referred to as a natural finish. There is no color or pigment in this finish. It gives the wood floor a bright, clean appearance. It is easy for the do-it-yourselfer to repair. However, it looks less elegant than a stained floor. Sometimes the color of a clear finished floor can clash with the dark woodwork in the house.

Cross-Linking Formula

When two or more molecules are joined. The molecules in a cross-linking finish form a flexible but impermeable bond on the wood.

Crowning Floorboards

The exact opposite of cupping floorboards. This is when your floorboards are convex. The middle of your floorboard is higher than the edges. The culprit for this usually is moisture. Crowning usually happens mostly in wider plank floors.

Cupping Floorboards

When your floorboards are concave. The edges of your floorboards are higher and the centre of the floorboards is lower. This usually happens because of water or liquid penetration into your wood floors. A common culprit for this is a sudden increase in humidity. If the boards expand and swell significantly, the edges of the boards will get damaged.


When certain products like various adhesives and finishes go through a process where they harden and bond. This stage must be achieved before continuing with a second coat or continuing with another process of a job.


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