Expanded Glossary

Above Grade
This has nothing to do with wood grades. It refers to any floor that is installed above ground level.

Accent Strip
A strip of wood flooring that contrasts with the color or texture of the main part of the wood floor. It’s frequently used around the edges of a room or to highlight a certain area such as a fireplace.

Acclimation
Allowing flooring material to adapt to the temperature and humidity of an area by leaving it for a length of time before installation.

Air Dried
Wood that’s dried by air without special equipment. Usually, the process takes place outside in the open air. When dried, the moisture content is typically 15%.

Aluminum Oxide
A type of finish used on hardwood floors that is widely regarded as the most durable and scratch resistant.

At Grade
This has nothing to do with wood grades. It refers to any floor that is in direct contact with the ground or with fewer than 1.5 feet of well-ventilated space.

Average Length
Total length in linear feet within a bundle of flooring, divided by the number of pieces in the bundle. Typically, a higher grade has a longer average length while lower grades have a shorter average length.

Below Grade
This has nothing to do with wood grades. It refers to any floor that is installed below ground level. As a rule, below grade is not recommended for solid hardwood floors.

Board-foot
144 square inches of wood. Imagine a piece of wood 12” x 12” x 1”. Now imagine the same volume of wood, but thicker than 1 inch. The top and bottom surface area would be less than 12” x 12”, but the volume would be the same: a board-foot.

Border
An inlay of wood that is used to create a decorative perimeter around the main part of a floor. Typically, the border is a different species or color of wood.

Clearcutting
The removal of all the trees from an area of land at one time. No Expressive Woods products are created by using clearcuts.

Conifer
A cone-bearing tree with needles such as cedar, pine and Douglas-fir.

Deciduous Tree
A tree that loses its leaves or needles in fall/winter and that regenerates them in spring/summer. This type of tree also produces seeds that have a covering such as an apple or acorn seed.

Dimensional Stability
The ability of piece of wood to maintain its original dimensions after being sawn. This usually refers to the reaction of a wood species to changes in humidity and temperature. For flooring, the stability of a wood species is particularly important. A lower stability increases the chance of movement within the wood floor, such as shrinking and swelling.

Durability
The ability of wood to hold up to destructive forces. With exotic wood floors, this is largely a function of hardness.

Ecosystem
Short for ecological system. It’s the total collection of living organisms and their non-living environment in a given area.

Endangered Species
A species that is thought to be in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its geographic range.

Engineered Flooring
This is flooring made from several layers of wood/plywood glued together in a cross-grain pattern. We call engineered flooring structurally stabilized because the cross-grain pattern resists expansion and contraction caused by changes in temperature and moisture. The result is flooring that is much more stable than solid wood flooring, and frequently, just as beautiful.

Environment
An area’s prevailing conditions that reflect the combined influence of biology, climate, soil, and topography.

Evergreen Tree
A tree that retains its leaves or needles throughout the year.

Exotic Wood
Often called tropical wood. This is wood that is rare, hard to find, and difficult to extract from tropical forests. Most exotic woods are dense, heavy and hard. They often don’t achieve their final color until exposure to sunlight. All of our exotic woods come from Brazil or Peru.

Finish
This refers to the coating(s) applied to wood flooring either before or after installation. While most exotic woods are quite attractive and hard to begin with, a good finish can intensify the beauty and add years to the life of the floor.

Forest
A large community of plants that’s dominated by trees and other woody plants.

Grade
A system for classifying the number and amount of natural characteristics allowed in piece of wood. Usually, the fewer the blemishes, the better the grade.

Grades of Brazilian and Peruvian Woods
A system used to categorize specific characteristics of imported wood species from the tropical rainforests of the Amazon basin. This is NOT the same grade system used for American hardwoods such as Oak.

Green
Traditionally, green has referred to lumber that is freshly sawn. Today, green also means methods, process, policies and products that are environmentally sustainable.

Growth Rings
Also called annual rings. As a tree ages, it adds a layer of growth every year to its trunk and branches. This growth is marked by a ring. The rings start small at the tree’s center and move outward, growing larger every year. Since the rings run up and down the length of the tree, they’re viewed on the cross section of a log, stump or core sample.

Habitat
The local environment of an animal or plant that provides the organism’s requirements for food, water and sometimes shelter. Without the right habitat, the organism won’t be able to live and reproduce.

Hardness
The ability of a flooring material such as wood to hold up to damage from dents, marks and scratches. With both hardwoods and softwoods, hardness is often measured on the Janka Hardness Scale.

Hardwoods
Wood from deciduous trees that have broad leaves, that produce a fruit or nut containing seeds, and that lose their leaves in the winter. As rule, hardwoods have a much denser structure than softwoods from coniferous trees. This usually makes hardwoods much harder and more durable. But not necessarily. Some hardwoods such as Balsa wood are softer than many species of softwoods.

Heartwood
Wood found in the center of a tree. It’s older than the more exterior sapwood, and usually denser, darker and richer in color.

Interlocked Grain
The grain of a piece of wood that has multiple directions. This is frequently found in tropical woods.

Janka Scale
A wood’s hardness is determined by its resistance to denting. This is measured on the Janka Scale. The higher the Janka number, the more resistant a wood is to wear, denting and scratching. The hardness of domestic oak is 1290 lbe on the Janka Scale. Ipe, usually called Brazilian Walnut or Ironwood in the United States, is one of the hardest tropical woods. It’s rated at 3684 lbe.

Joist
A beam that runs parallel to other beams below a subfloor. A joist is used to support floors and ceilings.

Kiln
A hollow chamber that is used for drying wood in a controlled way. An operator can usually control airflow, temperature and humidity.

Kiln Dried
Wood for outside use that is dried inside with fans and/or artificial heat. When dried, the moisture content is typically 10-12%.

Knot
A natural characteristic of wood that is formed where a branch joins the trunk of a tree. Usually round, hard and darker in color than the tree’s sapwood, a knot is caused by dead branches that were not fully integrated into the tree before the tree was cut down. A tight knot will be fixed in place by growth or position in the wood. A loose knot may not stay in place.

Moisture Content
A measure of the amount of moisture in wood. It is calculated as a percentage of the weight of the wood when dry.

On-Grade
This describes a subfloor that is level with the surface level of the surrounding grownd.

Plain-sawn
Lumber that is sawn along the length of the tree so that the growth rings are parallel to the face of the boards.

Plank
Boards for flooring that are usually wider and longer than flooring strips. Planks are usually 3-8 inches wide. (Our planks are all at least 5 inches wide.)

Plywood
Boards constructed in cross-directional layers of wood. The result is a higher degree of dimensional stability.

Polyurethane
The most common type of coating for a wood finish. Available in water-based and oil-based formulas, it’s very durable and practically care free.

Prefinished
Flooring that is completely finished before being installed. It requires no sanding, staining or finishing after installation.

Quarter-sawn
A method of sawing wood, which results in the face of the wood (the surface) being at a 45-90 degree angle to the wood’s growth rings. Quarter-sawn boards do not shrink or expand with changes in climate as much as plain-sawn wood.

Sapwood
Wood that is toward the outside of the tree. It’s usually distinguishable from the inner heartwood by its dramatically lighter color.

Site Finished
Hardwood floors that are installed, sanded and finished at the installation site. This is usually done by professional installers.

Softwoods
Wood from coniferous trees such as cedar, pine or Douglas-fir. These trees bear cones and have needles or scale-like leaves that stay on the tree year around. Softwoods are usually less dense and less hard than hardwoods. But that isn’t always the case.

Solid Flooring
Wood for flooring that comes in single non-engineered strips or planks of varying widths and thicknesses.

Species
For our purposes, this means the type of tree that we make wood flooring from. Different hardwoods have different graining, coloring, and levels of hardness.

Stability—See Dimensional Stability

Staining
The application of a thin, transparent or semi-transparent product that alters a wood’s color and overall appearance, but does not significantly affect a wood’s texture or markings. A stain is a pigment or dye in a solvent that is formulated to penetrate the surface of the wood.

Strip
One of the smallest units of wood flooring. At 3 inches or less in width, a strip is narrower and usually shorter than a plank.

Subfloor
The base floor of a house or building. The floor is installed on top of the subfloor. Usually, the subfloor is made of wood or concrete.

Sustainable Forestry
Practices that ensure that the rate of forest growth is greater than the rate of forest harvest over a sustained period of time.

Swedish Finish
A wood coating that is usually applied by a professional on-site after a floor is installed. It contains an acid curing conversion varnish. When dry, the finish is highly stain and water resistant. A Swedish finish tends to give the wood a slightly warmer and deeper color-tone than many other finishes.

Texture
The look and feel of a wood’s surface. It can range from glass-smooth to rough and distressed.

Tongue & Groove
A method of combining pieces of wood where one side of a strip or plank has a groove cut out of its end, and the other side has a tongue extending out. When two pieces of wood are joined together, they form a single unit. All Expression Woods finished and unfinished woods come with four-sided, end matched construction.

Ultraviolet Light
Rays of light that are outside the spectrum of visible light at the violet end. This light causes many wood floors to become darker—or sometimes lighter—over time. For many exotic woods, this curing can take weeks or months.

Unfinished
Flooring that is sanded and finished onsite after installation.

Veneer
Thin slices of wood that are usually glued and pressed onto core panels of other wood products such as plywood, particleboard or fiberboard. The wood slices are typically thinner than 1/8 inch.

Watershed
The land and water within the confines of a drainage basin. The Amazon watershed is by far the largest in the world. It measures about 2,375,000 square miles, or about 40% of the South American continent.

Wetlands
Geographic areas that frequently receive large amounts of water and are characterized by plants that live in and require saturated or seasonally saturated soils.

Width
This refers to how wide individual wood flooring boards are. Planks come in widths from 3-8 inches. Strips come in widths of 3 inches or less.