Glossary of timber flooring terms

We understand we timber folks can talk a strange language at times and as much as we try to avoid using jargon, sometimes it just slips out. So for when we do, we'd like to offer some explanation. Here are some of the more common terms used in the timber industry that you're likely to hear while researching the right floor for you:

Across the grain - The direction opposite to the length of the fibres and other elements of the wood.

Acoubond - An installation system developed ans supplied by Sika Australia that combinese the use of direct stick adhesive bonding with acoustic matting that is used to reduce the transfer of foot fall noise to lower living areas. This product has been scientifically proven to meet the sound reduction standards (often requred by the building Strata Company) for timber floors installed in apartments in WA.

Adhesive - This generally refers to the glue used to bond the floor boards to your subfloor.

Back-sawn timber - Timber cut parallel to the growth rings of the log. Back sawn timber will feature less growth rings in the face of the timber, often with more sought after character, considered a more premium cut. All Lifewood boards are made from back sawn timber.

Basic sanding - A process of sanding timber floors resulting in a surface with an even plane free from irregularities in preparation for finish sanding.

Bevel - Also called an "arris", it is the technical term used to describe the small angled edge that can be found along the top edge of prefinished Lifewood boards. This is machined along the edge of the board to minimise the chance of splintering occurring. This bevel gives a prefinished Lifewood floor a distinctive shadow line between each board.

Billet - The short timber sections that comprise the centre layer of the Lifewood board.

Bird's eye - Figure on the surface of wood that has dark, rounded areas resumbling small eyes.

Blackbutt - An abbreviation of two species of Austalian hardwood timber - Eastern States Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) and Western Australian Blackbutt (Eucalyptus patens).

Board - When it comes to timber flooring this refers to each complete length of manufactured timber. Lifewood floors are 135mm in width, 1.8m/2.1m/2.4m in length and 15mm in thickness.

Borer - An insect that can attack some hardwoods.

Botanical name - The botanical names of timber species are scientific names conforming to an international code to identify a plant by a single name worldwide and its genetic family. This helps to distinquish from local common names which may vary from area to area.

Bow - A curvature in the length of a board causing the face of the board to raise in the centre. This is one of the timber faults that Lifewood technology has been able to overcome and is warranted as such.

Burl - A hard, round outgrowth on a tree highly prized by furniture makers, artists and sculptors for their more decorative timber character.

Brown Mallet - A common name for local timber WA Walnut (Eucalyptus astringens).

Builders Registration Board (BRB) - Australian government body that are entrusted with the responsibility to uphold the Australian building regulations in WA. They have jurisdiction over building matters including flooring and are the arbitrators of any disputes that occur between a supplier and customer.

Care package - This is the light maintenance kit that is sold to every Bamboozle customer for fixing up minor scratches and cleaning instructions. The kit includes felt for protecting the floor from moving furniture and a copic marker for erasing scratches.

Certification - Forest certification refers to the assessment of forest management by an independent third party auditor according to performance criteria for sustainable wood production.

Chain of custody - The process by which the source of a timber product is verified. This entails 'tracking' the timber from the forest through all the steps of the production process until it reaches the end user. The process is usually necessary before a timber product can be labelled as being produced from a sustainable source.

Check - A separation of fibres along the grain forming a fissure, but not extending through the piece from face to face. Checks commonly resulting from stresses built up during seasoning. They run radially, across the growth rings.

Cladding - The external covering or skin of walls of a building. Timber cladding includes natural or treated timber boards and plywood.

Close-grained wood - Wood with narrow, inconspicuous growth rings. The term is sometimes used to designate wood having small and closely spaced pores, but in this sense the term "fine textured" is more often used.

Coarse-grained wood - Wood with wide conspicuous growth rings in which there is considerable difference between earlywood and latewood. The term is sometimes used to designate wood with large pores, but in this sense the term "coarse textured" is more often used.

Cross cut - To cut across the grain.

Cross grain - An arrangement in which the fibres of a piece of timber deviate from a line parallel with the edges of the piece.

Crown cut - Crown Cut which is also known as Flat Cut is a method of slicing veneers with pronounced strips of grain featuring a central flare.

Cup - A concave curvature across the width of a floor board. This is another of the timber faults that Lifewood technology has been able to overcome and is warranted as such.

Cure - The process of polish becoming stronger as it dries. Most timber polishes will be dry enough to walk on within days, but will not reach their maximum strength for up to 4 weeks.

Decay - The decomposition of wood by fungi.

Decking - Timber used in surfacing parts of bridges and other structures subjected to vehicular or pedestrian traffic.

Degrade - In timber and other forest products, the result of any process that lowers the value of the wood.

Delamination - The separation of plies or laminations through failure of the bond, visible at an edge. This is a term covered in the Lifewood lifetime warranty.

Density - This usually refers to hardness of the timber and its susceptibility to indentations or dents.

Diamonding - The change of a square or rectangular section of timber to a diamond shape during drying.

Direct stick - A term used for the method of adhering floorboards to a sub floor, ie, boards glued direct to the concrete. This is known to be the more durable method of adhesion.

Discolouration - Change in the colour of wood caused by fungal or chemical stains, weathering, or heat treatment. You can expect all timbers to subtly change in colour with age, as is the nature of wood.

Distortion - A drying defect caused by parts of the timber shrinking at different rates. This may take the form of cupping, bowing, twisting, springing or diamonding.

Dressed timber - Timber finished to a smoother surface on one or more faces.

Dry rot - A generic term for the decay of timber by fungi that at an advanced stage leaves the wood light and friable. The term is actually a misnomer as all fungi needs considerable moisture to grow.

Drying - The process of removing moisture from timber to improve its serviceability in use.

Drying defect - A feature developing during drying which may decrease the value of a piece of timber.

Durability - This usually refers to hardness of the timber and its susceptibility to indentations or dents, which has a direct bearing on the longevity of the floor.

Earlywood - The less dense, larger celled, first formed part of a growth ring. Also called "springwood".

Eastern States Blackbutt - Common name for Eucalyptus pilularis.

Eco labelling - Eco labelling is a form of third party certification of a product that confirms that the product meets particular environmental criteria. Eco labels are designed to help consumers choose products that do less damage to the environment. Criteria for a product group are generally developed by the application of a life cycle assessment approach.

Ecological consequences - Ecology is defined as the study of the interrelations between living organisms and their environment, including both physical and biotic factors. Therefore ecological consequences refers to the changes the environmental effect may have on the relationships between living organisms and their environment.

Ecologically sustainable forest management - Defined in Australia as “integrating commercial and non-commercial values of forests so that the welfare of society (both material and non-material) is improved, whilst ensuring that the values of forests, both as a resource for commercial use and for conservation are not lost or degraded for current and future generations”. This definition has been provided by the Forestry Working Group on Ecologically Sustainable Development (1991) and adopted by the National Forest Policy Statement (1992).

Ecosystem - A natural system that functions as unit. It is assemblage of living organisms together with their non-living environment in a particular area. Healthy ecosystems are necessary for maintaining and regulating: atmospheric quality, climate, fresh water, marine productivity, soil formation, cycling of nutrients and waste disposal.

Environmental audits - Environmental audits are a useful management tool that may form part of an overall environmental management system. This process entails a systematic and objective evaluation of how the organisation is performing in relation to its policies, regulatory requirements, environmental management systems and practices.

Environmental impact assessments - Environmental impact assessments predict environmental impacts of a new development at the design stage. They may be required by Commonwealth, State or Local government legislation dependent upon the scope of the project.

Environmental impacts - The environment is defined as the physical and chemical surroundings of an object, the cultural, aesthetic and other factors which contribute to quality of life. Therefore environmental impacts refers to the effects on the surroundings, primarily physical things.

Environmental management systems - Environmental management systems are systems that ensure the organisation is working within the framework of ecologically sustainable development. These systems can be formal or informal.

Feature - Any irregularity or imperfection in a tree, log, board, or other wood product. Feature may result from knots and other growth conditions and abnormalities, insect or fungus attack, or during timber processing.

Fibre - Small diameter, thick walled cells in hardwoods. Fibres dominate the structural behaviour of hardwoods.

Fibreboard - A generic term including sheet materials of widely varying densities manufactured from refined or partially refined wood or vegetable fibres. Bonding agents and other materials may be added to increase strength or to improve other properties.

Figure - The pattern produced on the cut surface of wood by annual growth rings, rays, knots, deviations from regular grain such as interlocked and wavy grain, and irregular coloration.

Floor board - Boards dressed to standard thickness and generally finished with a tongue and groove, fixed to floor joists or a substrate to provide a floor.

Forest practices - Forest practices means the processes involved in establishing forests, or growing or harvesting timber.

Forest stewardship council - The Forest Stewardship Council is an international non-profit organisation founded in 1993 to support environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests.

Grade - The designation of the quality of a piece of timber or floorboard. Different grades include (listed here in order of highest premium to lowest): Select grade, standard & better grade, standard grade and feature grade.

Grain - 1. The general direction of the fibres or wood elements relative to the main axis of the piece. 2. The direction, size, arrangement, appearance, or quality of the fibres in wood or timber.

Green timber - Timber before it has been dried.

Growth rings - Rings of earlywood and latewood visible in a cross section of a trunk or branch showing the growth cycles of the tree.

Golden Mahogany - Common name for Eucalyptus muellerana. Also known as Yellow Stringybark.

Gum - A discharge produced by a tree when "wounded" or damaged by fire.

Gum vein - A ribbon of gum between growth rings. This gives a unique feature in the surface of a floorboard.

Hardness - Wood's resistance to impressions or dents.

Hardwood - A general term for timber.

Heartwood - The wood making up the centre part of the tree, beneath the sapwood.

Interlocked grain - Grain where the angle of the fibres periodically changes or reverses in sucessive layers.

Irregular grain - Grain where the fibres contort and twist around knots, butts, curls and so on. Also called wild grain.

Jarrah - Common name for Eucalyptus marginata.

Joist - One of a series of timber beams used to support the floor boards or ceiling of a building.

Knot - A growth within the timber that provides a unique feature within the surface of a floorboard.

Laminated timber - Timber products made from layers of wood that are glued together to achieve greater structural integrity.

Laminated veneer lumber (LVL) - A structural timber manufactuered from veneers laminated into a panel with the grain of all the veneers running in the same direction to each other.

Latewood - The denser wood formed during the later stages of growth of each annual ring.

Level - Perfectly horizontal.

Life cycle assessment - Life Cycle Assessment is a process to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with a product through all stages of its lifespan.

Life cycle energy - The total energy consumed by a building during its lifespan.

Lumber - A North American term for timber.

LVL - See laminated veneer lumber.

Marri - Common name for Eucalyptus calophylla.

MDF (medium density fibreboard) - A panel product manufactured from timber fibres bound with resin.

Mill - A site that is responsible for the cutting and manufacturing of timber products.

Moisture content - The weight of moisture containted in a piece of timber or timber product.

Movement - The extent of expansion and contraction which occures with dried wood as its moisture content responds to changes in the relative humidity.

Old growth forest - Forest that is ecologically mature and has been subject to neglibible unnatural disturbance such as logging, roading and clearing. Timber for Lifewood floors are only sourced from sustainable practises and are strong advocates keeping all old growth forests safe.

Open grained - Woods with large pores in the grain.

Organic building materials - These materials are those based on carbon compounds. They include sawn timber, reconstituted and engineered wood products and plastics.

Parquetry flooring - Flooring of small matching pieces of timber laid in geometric patterns.

Particle board - A pressed sheet material made from particles of timber and bonded with resin.

Plain-sawn timber - See back sawn timber.

Plantation - A managed placement of trees, either native or foreign to the area.

Regrowth forest - Native forest that has previously been harvested, containing a substantial proportion of trees that are in the younger growth phase and are actively growing.

Rose Jarrah - a variation of jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata

Rot - Decay which causes softening or weakening in timber and is often visable as discolouration.

Rough sawn - Surface condition of wood as it leaves the saw.

Sample board - An offcut of a floor board for the purpose of matching colours with the decor of your home.

Sapwood - Outer layers of wood. The younger part of the tree and usually paler in colour.

Sawed veneer - Veneer produced by sawing.

Sawn timber - Timber that been finished to size with a saw.

Seasoned timber - Timber that has been dried to a moisture content not exceeding 15%.

Seasoning - The process of drying timber to reduce the moisture content to a level appropriate to the conditions of the environment in which it is to be used.

Select-grade - The highest standard for timber products judged by its appearance. A select grade timber floor will showcase less features such as gum veins and knots.

Standard-grade - The medium standard for timber products judged by its appearance. A standard grade will show more features than a select-grade floor, but less than a feature-grade. Lifewood floors are sold as a minimum standard & better grade, but higher grade boards may be incorporated.

Softwood - A general term for timber derived from conifers. The name has no relation to the density of the timber.

Split - A defect that occurs causing wood fibres to separte and form cracks. Splits are cracks that extend through a piece. All Lifewood floors are guaranteed not to split.

Stain - A process of colouring timber to achieve variations to its natural colour.

Stringer - An inclined support enclosing the treads of a staircase.

Swelling - A process of expansion in wood resulting from an increase in the moisture content.

Termites - Whitish ant-like insect that feeds on wood.

Tread - The horizontal platform of a stair.

Veneer - A thin layer or sheet of wood.

Warp - A distortion in timber causing bowing, cupping and twisting.

WA Blackbutt - Common name for Eucalyptus patens.

WA Walnutt - Common name for Eucalyptus astringens.

Yellow Stringybark - Common name for Eucalyptus muellerana. Also known as Golden Mahogany.