Titanium Oxide

A floor finish that comes in a powder used on prefinished flooring. It is a safer alternative to aluminum oxide finishes. Titanium Oxide is also used in cosmetics to sunscreens. The powder on its own is only a skin irritant at worst.


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A tool used usually to apply plaster. It is commonly known as a drywall trowel. In the wood flooring business, a 12 inch drywall trowel is used to apply your first coat of oil-modified polyurethane. In order to prevent trowel marks, use 3 to 5% of odorless mineral spirits to thin out your finish.

Tongue and Groove

A tongue and groove panel is a floorboard with the typical thickness of 1/2" to 3/4". This type of flooring is similar to your standard plywood but with a it is cut so that it has a tongue and groove.

Tung Oil

It should not be used as a floor finish. Pure tung has a limited ability to cure or oxidize into a film that will protect the wood. Even though it is absorbed into the wood, it is not protecting it. When water spills, it will go right through tung oil.


Ultraviolet Light Cured

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Its official name is actually oil modified polyurethane, or OMP or OMU. (The "U" in OMU stands for urethane). It is mainly made up of oil (safflower or soy oil), some metallic dryers (cobalt and manganese) and lastly some polyurethane resin to give it hardness once it dries. In the trade, it is also referred to as Varathane. It dries very quickly. It is a clear finish for wood floors. It is a hardwood floor sealant. Out of all the finishes, urethane achieves the highest gloss. It also comes in satin finish. Oil-modified poly is very durable and resistant to water and various chemicals. The downside is that it requires 3 coats and the application takes the course of 3-5 days. Scuffing is necessary between coats. Any touchups are tricky.

Unfinished Flooring

Also known as a sand-on-site floor. This is the traditional style of wood floor that everybody used to have 100 years ago. Today there are all kinds of wood flooring options available. Unfinished floors require quite a bit of work. If you want to have a beautifully finished wood floor so that it has a smooth texture and a radiant glow, it will require great skill to sand it and even more skill for the staining process. Some flooring professionals are incapable of making a sand-on-site floor look good. This is not a job you want to do over again. Each sanding removes decades of life from the thickness of the floor. Also, it can become quite a headache (if you are repairing your floor contractor's mistakes). You also want to be exposed to the staining and finishing products as little as possible. See (Sand-On-Site Floor) in the Glossary for more information.

Urethane Adhesive

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V Grooves

The edge or corners of the wood are shaved slightly. When two floorboards are put together, the wear surface where they meet looks like a V. The deeper the V grooves, the more it will feel like tiles. The more shallow V grooves will look like a solid sand-on-site floor. The downside to shallow V grooves is that you have a greater chance of having edges chip away or socks get caught. All prefinished floors have either V grooves or beveled edges. Prefinished floors are generally not sanded down so they take into account that subfloors are generally not perfectly flat.


Varnish is made from various oils. It is its ability to harden into a film that makes it water resistant.


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The very top layer of laminated or engineered floor. It is the picture of wood incased in vinyl.


An acidic wood floor cleaner. It is a good rinsing agent but it doesn't clean effectively. Vinegar will not clean dirt or grease. If you are using bleach on your wood floors, vinegar is recommended to neutralize it.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

Organic chemical compounds that have very high vapor pressures under normal environmental conditions, so much so that they vaporize and enter the atmosphere. In other words, they release gases into the atmosphere. A wide range of carbon-based molecules such as aldehydes, ketones, and other light hydrocarbons are VOCs. VOCs are supposed to be regulated and a matter of law. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has laws and regulations regarding VOCs. Because there are many definitions for VOCs, they can often be contradictory. Often, manufacturers get away with using VOCs. Companies can always learn the loopholes and work around them. It is important to look at the products you are choosing for your wood floors and make sure that they have low amount of or no VOCs at all.


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