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bamboo glossary

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Above Grade

Above ground level

Acoustical underlayment

A bamboo floor's underlayment acts as impact insulation to absorb and thereby reduce sounds. Materials like cork and rubber are often used as underlayments to reduce and absorb the waves of sound beneath hard surface floors like bamboo.

Aluminum Oxide

A finish commonly used on laminate, bamboo and hardwood flooring designed to minimize surface damage and scratching.

Base Shoe

A molding applied to the edge of a baseboard to cover the expansion gap and/or hide irregularity in the floor joint. It also protects the wall from cleaning tools.

Below Grade

Considered basement level, or the level below ground.


Refers to the process of caramelizing the natural sugars present in bamboo through steaming. This helps to darken the bamboo. The longer the bamboo is steamed, the darker the bamboo becomes. Carbonized bamboo colors range from light amber to dark brown.


A type of fastener used to reinforce the surface on which it's attached. Cleats are comparable in function to nails and are applied in a similar fashion. Rugs or mats with rubber backs are not recommended.

Click and Lock System

aka: glueless locking tongue and groove, locking tongue and groove

Floor technology that allows flooring planks to be locked, clicked, or snapped together without adhesives much like puzzle pieces. This differs from the traditional tongue and groove system.

Cross Ply

aka: cross-ply, cross layers, cross-layer

A construction technique of layers of plywood stacked in opposing directions to provide floor stability and strength.


aka: "cane," "pole" or "trunk"

Culm refers to the stalk or stem of bamboo that can be seen above the ground.


The result of artificially texturing hardwood or bamboo using various methods of scraping, scratching, wire brushing or gouging. It gives the finished floor a 'distressed' or aged look.

Do it Yourself (DIY)

aka: DIY, D-I-Y

Work done by homeowners without the use of a contractor.

End cap

aka: Threshold or baby threshold

A type of floor trim used to separate and transition between carpet, fireplaces, sliding doors, or any other outside door jambs.


A top veneer layer of bamboo is backed by another layer of wood, often pine, fiberboard, or plywood. Engineered bamboo floors are generally available as floating floors with tongue and groove edges for easy installation.


aka: exotic, exotics

Exotic hardwoods are defined in many ways. The most common classification is any hardwood grown outside North America, but you may also see exotics that are simply rare or endangered, or which yield relatively low quantities of usable wood.

Flat Grain

Bamboo floor planks are cut wider and laid in a way where the nodes, or knuckles, are more visible. Commonly referred to as horizontal grain.


aka: floating, float

An installation method used when a floor is placed on top of an underlayment but remains unattached to the subfloor. This is considered an easy and quick method of installation.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit group that promotes the responsible use of forests around the world. It has designated bamboo as a "non-timber forest product."


A chemical compound used in the flooring industry to produce a hard resin/glue that adheres to plywood, veneers, particleboard and other wood products. Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) and can induce allergy-like symptoms and illness when inhaled or upon contact.

Glued Down

aka: glued, glue, gluing

A method of floor installation where bamboo flooring is adhered to the concrete or wooden subfloor using glue adhesive.

Glueless Locking Tongue and Groove

aka: click system, locking tongue and groove

Floor technology that allows flooring planks to be locked, clicked, or snapped together without adhesives much like puzzle pieces. This differs from the traditional tongue and groove system.


aka: Hand-scraped, hand carved, handcarved, handsculpt, see distressed

A method used by artisans to create an "aged" look by creating character or depth on a wooden floor's surface; typically done by hand.

High Density Fiberboard

aka: hdf, high density fiberboard

Also known as hardboard. HDF is a tremendously dense wood fiberboard that can be used as the central layer of engineered bamboo flooring to provide stability. It is the typical core layer for laminate flooring.

Horizontal Grain

aka: flat grain

Horizontal-grain, or flat-grain, is a wider cut of bamboo flooring allowing visible characteristic nodes, or "knuckles".

Installation Methods

aka: Installation method, installation techniques, installation type

The methods used during the installation of a floor which include floating installation, glue down, staple, or nail down. Visit the installation section in each flooring category for more information.

Installation Rating

A ratings system used to help consumers determine whether an installation is a simple "Do It Yourself" project or is more suited for a professional. Ratings are submitted via consumer feedback and range from "Moderate" to "Difficult".

Janka Scale

aka: Janka Hardness Rating

A rating used to determine the hardness in pounds per inch (PSI) of different types of wood flooring. Floors that are higher in density receive higher ratings and are less likely to damage through normal use.


A section of the bamboo plant located in between the hollow areas of the stalk referred to as the knuckles. (Also see Node.)


The term lamination refers to the bonding of multiple layers of bamboo slats using adhesives under heavy amounts of pressure. This creates bamboo blanks that are milled into flooring and trim (molding) pieces.

LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

The LEED Green Building Rating System was created to provide environmentally sustainable construction standards to builders and developers. The rating system takes into account sustainable building sites, water usage efficiency, atmosphere and energy, resources and materials, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design process.

Low Emitting

aka: Low off gassing

Low emitting finishes have low overall levels of off-gassing, limiting the amount of dangerous gasses released into your home.

Mao Bamboo

aka: Moso bamboo

Mao is a type of bamboo predominantly grown in Southern China. Mao is one of the largest and strongest bamboo species and therefore the most used in the production of bamboo flooring.


aka: micro-beveled, microbeveled, micro bevel

Each bamboo flooring plank is cut slightly angled at the surface edges. Micro-bevel edges aid in the reduction of uneven plank heights while offering a more handcrafted appearance.


see Mao


aka: nail, nail down

A method of installation that utilizes an air powered flooring nail gun to attach a flooring plank to the subfloor below.


The look and color of bamboo that has not had any stain applied.

Neoprene Rubber

Rubber underlayment used beneath hard surface floors to significantly reduce the noise produced when walking on a floor


aka: knuckles

Refers to the joints of the bamboo stem located between hollow points along the culm pole. The node is made up of a stiff membrane spanning the culm where buds and branches can be found. These joints help reinforce the bamboo stalk.

On Grade

Ground level.


This happens when the edge of a piece of flooring is located somewhat higher than the piece attached to it. An unlevel subfloor is usually the cause.


Refers to any bamboo, laminate, or hardwood floor whose board width is around 4" or more.


aka: ply, plys

Thin veneer sheets of peeled or cut wood which adhere together in layers to make plywood.


aka: prefinished, pre-finish, prefinish, factory pre applied, factory applied

The usage of sealers or finish applied at the factory making floors ready for immediate installation and use.

Quarter Round

A piece of molding that is generally applied in the front of pre-existing baseboard covering the expansion gap needed for bamboo flooring. Differs from base shoe because quarter round is a quarter of a full circle and a base shoe is the quarter of an oval.

Radiant Heat

aka: radiant heating, in floor heating, in floor heat, in floor radiant heat, radiant heat system, radiant heat systems

Radiant heating is defined as a heating system that is built directly under or into the floor. The most common types of underground heating is hot water systems and electric systems.

Random Length Planks

Refers to more than one length of bamboo flooring in a store bought carton. Random length planks create a staggered look. These Types of flooring planks are more traditional in appearance than planks with the same length.

Rapidly Renewable

The name given to the process of a natural resource that renews itself very quickly. Renewable materials hold environmental appeal, such as the bamboo plant that re-grows from the same root, maturing in just about four to six years.


aka: clam shell reducer

A molding piece that is used when there is a transition between two flooring types of varying height. An example of this would be when bamboo flooring is reducing down to a concrete or vinyl floor.


aka: refinish, screen and coat

Refinishing is the application of a new clear coat finish to an existing floor. The process is intended to help refresh the life and appearance of a bamboo floor. Although it can be done as a do it yourself project, it is recommended the job be completed by a professional.


Term used when a fine top layer is removed from a bamboo floor, usually during the manufacturing process. This allows the bamboo flooring to be prepared for finishing. Sanding a bamboo floor again in the future may or may not be needed due to how much or how little wear and tear the floor has seen. If scratches, dents or other damages are evident, sanding and refinishing are likely necessary. See also Refinished or Screen and Coat.

Screen and Coat

aka: recoat, re-coat

A gentle scuff sanding of the existing floor finish (top layer), followed by an application of a new coat (or coats) of finish.

Solid Floors

A solid floor is defined as flooring made using one solid section of a single hardwood species. Bamboo flooring is often considered a solid floor to differ itself for the traditional engineered floor; however, solid bamboo is engineered because it is made from many layers of strips of bamboo.

Square Edge

Square edged bamboo planks meet up completely flush at the edges, leaving no grooves. The use of a square edge pre-finished floor generally calls for a more level subfloor than floors with a micro-beveled edge. The common problem with pre-finished square edge flooring is over wood.


aka: stains

Stains are a color treatment applied directly onto the surface of the bamboo flooring, usually while still in the factory.

Stair Riser

A stair riser closes the space between individual stair treads along the vertical face of a step on a flight of stairs.

Stair Tread

A stair tread is a horizontal piece of material used in a staircase where one's foot is placed.


This curved trim goes on the edge of each stair tread, allowing you to install bamboo flooring as stairs.


aka: staple, stapled down

An installation method typically known as "stapled down" that attaches a wooden subfloor to a wooden subfloor. Stapling is done with an air powered nail gun that can be found in many equipment rental stores. This installation method is similar to the nail down process.

Strand Woven

aka: Compressed, strand, stranded

A manufactured process of compressing long strips of bamboo together. Strand woven flooring is a durable and dense floor which is considered twice as hard as red oak and traditional bamboo flooring.


Strip refers to flooring with a board width of 3 ¾" or less.


Strips are referred to the amount of individual bamboo slats making up the entire width of a bamboo floor board.

Structural Placement

Structural placement is defined as the different grades of a building or individual home where a floor is able of to be installed. An example of this would be "below grade" which is the basement level, "on grade" is known as the first floor, and "above grade" is the second floor or higher.


aka: subfloors, sub floor, sub floors

A subfloor is described as the base floor of a given structure. Typically subfloors are made up of concrete or wood products such as plywood, OSB board, etc. Bamboo floors are then installed over the subfloor.


Sustainability is a process that allows a resource to be used no more than it can be replaced in a reasonable period of time. Bamboo plants are sustainable as they regenerate in a relatively short period for future harvests.


A trim piece used in doorways and places where bamboo flooring transitions to another floor of the same height. A good example of this is in doorways where bamboo flooring is being installed in two adjoining rooms.


aka: Baby threshold

The sill of a doorway

US Green Building Council (USGBC)

A coalition of building-industry leaders working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible and profitable, as well as being healthy places to live and work. USGBC's purpose is to improve the quality of life by transforming the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated with regard to environmental and social responsibility, healthfulness and prosperity.

UV Cured

aka: Ultra violet

The factory process of baking finish onto bamboo flooring with ultra violet light. Each coat of applied finish must go through UV lamps immediately after it has been applied.

Vertical Grain

This type of bamboo flooring lacks the visible nodes of horizontal grain bamboo flooring, creating a more uniform look.


aka: VOC’s

Volatile Organic Compound: An organic chemical compound commonly found in adhesives, paint, caulk, cleaning supplies, carpet, and woodthey can be toxic.


Wallbase refers to a type of trim that is affixed to a wall covering the floor expansion gap. This gap is usually " or greater. Wallbase can be used with quarter round or base shoe to cover gaps that are even larger.

Wear Layer

aka: wear layer, wearlayer

The top layer of engineered flooring that is exposed to the most damage, such as foot traffic.