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Common Hardwood Floor Terminology

December 12, 2018

If you’re thinking of installing hardwood flooring in your home, you may have stopped by a hardwood floor showroom or two to see the many different options. But, while you were there, did you notice people using a lot of words you weren’t familiar with? Were you unsure of how to talk to the sales team about what you were looking for? There are a lot of terms you should know to ensure you are making the right choices for your home. Here’s a handy guide to help you understand some of the most common ones:

Prefinished Flooring

If you order prefinished hardwood flooring, it means the planks will be stained to the appropriate color and sealed with a protective coating prior to coming to your home. Doing this before the installation reduces the time it takes to complete this project, so many customers prefer prefinished wood. However, as the planks come finished prior to installation, you will not be able to customize the color or finish of your floor. 

Reclaimed Wood

Some customers order reclaimed wood, which is hardwood that has been salvaged from old, run down buildings. This type of wood goes through a refinishing process prior to being installed in someone’s home. Even though it has been milled, it will still retain the original character and distress marks once installed. Reclaimed wood is preferred by customers who want a unique, imperfect look.

Strip Flooring

The term strip flooring refers to the width of each hardwood plank. Strip flooring is narrow, usually less than five inches wide, while wide plank flooring is wider than five inches. Strip flooring was once the most popular flooring choice, but current hardwood flooring trends have seen an increase in wider plank and reclaimed flooring.


Applying a finish is one of the last steps involved in the hardwood installation process. Finishes can be oil, polyurethane, water-based, acid - cured, or many other types to choose from. Your hardwood flooring expert can help you decide on the best option for your home. 


Now that you know what a finish is, what exactly is refinishing? If you no longer like the color of your floor’s stain, or if there is a lot of damage on the surface of your floors, you may need to have them refinished. This means a professional will come to your home and sand your floors to remove the current finish and stain. Once it has been sanded down, a new stain and finish can be applied to completely change the look.

Stain and Sheen

Many customers choose a colored stain to alter the look of the wood, but some still prefer to leave the floors their natural color. Leaving the floors their natural color allows you to see the natural grain running through the wood. Staining the floors can help complement other elements in the home, such as wall color, trim and cabinetry, and any beams or mantles. The sheen can also be adjusted when finishing your hardwood floors, ranging from gloss and semi-gloss to satin or even matte that don't have much shine at all. 

Are you ready to install hardwood floors in your home? Or, are you hoping to get more information on hardwood flooring before making a decision? Contact the team of design experts at Ward Hardwood who have a knack for helping clients choose the right flooring for their homes, and preserve it for years after installation. Call 303-674-6966 to set up a free consultation today.