Quarter Sawn

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Radiant Floor

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Random Orbital Sander

A sander that is designed for unfinished wood floors. The smaller handheld sander is great for softwoods like pine. The larger random orbit sander is best for hardwood floors like oak. The small handheld ones will do a poor job on hardwoods. Some of these random orbital floor sanders will leave various machine and chatter marks on your wood floors. Make sure to do some research on the brand of random orbital sander before you go ahead and get one. For more information, read my review on the Orbital Floor Sander in the Product Reviews section of the web site.

Refinished Floor

When a hardwood floor has been sanded down and finished again. This is done to hardwood floors every 5-10 years, depending on the level of wear and the desired look you want to achieve. If it is a cottage, you may not need to refinish your hardwood floors very often because they are only use seasonally.

Relative Humidity (RH)

The mixture of water and air in your indoor environment. It is the percentage of water vapor that has saturated the air in your environment. A relative humidity swing is when moisture levels either drop or increase. These swings are related to seasonal changes. Your house should range between 40-60% relative humidity all year long.

Roller Marks

A type of machine marks that occur on hardwood floors. Roller marks are typically caused by drum sanders. This could happen because the person who is doing the sanding is unskilled or perhaps because the machine has a design flaw.

Rotary Cut

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Sand-On-Site Floor

Also referred to as an unfinished floor, a finished on-site floor or a Swedish finish floor. These floors have no finish or coating on them. They need to be finished and nailed down. They are the "rawest" form of flooring. They are obviously the most versatile because you can finish them as you wish. For example, you can mix different species of wood in one floor to create an interesting effect. These floors are typically 3/4" thick. See (Unfinished Flooring) in the Glossary for more information.


A paper that is designed for sanding. It can come in a variety of formats like sheets, on a belt or in a disk. Certain kinds of sandpapers are designed for special applications. Sandpaper comes in different levels of coarseness. It can be super-fine or extremely coarse. Sandpaper has a number associated with its coarseness. For example, 100 grit is a fine sandpaper that is used for the final polishing stage of your hardwood floors. This is done once you have finished the coarser sanding stages of your floors.


Light Sanding with Screen Paper.

Scuff Sanding

A light sanding of the finish not of the wood. After you are done scuff sanding, it is recommended that you do a good cleaning to remove all the fine dust that the scuffing has created.

Select Grade

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Shellac-Based Sealer

It is amongst the most natural but least water-resistant film finishes. Shellac-based sealer is a great film finish for pine because it is a soft, porous wood. It can either be brushed or rolled onto a well sanded wood floor. Shellac is made from the excretions of the Lac bug in India and is handpicked. It is simply dissolved in alcohol. This is the most natural, least toxic film finish available. In Europe, it's been used on furniture for 300-400 years. Shellac has to cure for about a week or two. Then you can give it a final buffing and apply a liquid floor paste wax.

Shrinking Wood Floor

This happens when the temperature changes. When it gets colder, wood floors shrink. When it gets warmer, wood floors swell. Wood floors will change especially if they have not been acclimated prior to being laid.

Site Finished Floor

Also referred to as an unfinished floor, a finished on-site floor or a Swedish finish floor. This style of hardwood flooring has no finish or coating on it. It needs to be finished and nailed down. This is the "rawest" form of flooring. It is obviously the most versatile because you can finish these floors as you wish. For example, you can mix different species of wood in one floor to make an interesting effect. These hardwood floors are typically 3/4" thick.

Sliced Cut

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This is either a liquid or gas that dissolves a solid, a liquid or a gas. The result is a solution. In hardwood flooring, the solution will always result in a liquid. Materials like paste wax are solvent-based. Odorless mineral spirits is a common solvent used in the wood flooring industry.

Splitting Floorboards

When floorboards crack generally along the length. Floorboards typically split when the humidity drops in the winter and the atmosphere becomes dry relatively quickly.


This refers to a type of tree. These trees are typically coniferous. They are primarily from the pine and fir tree families. These trees are mostly found in North America, Scandinavia and the Baltic. The cellular structure of softwood trees is much simpler than that of hardwood trees. These trees have needles rather than leaves. Softwood trees are more than three quarters of the world's production of lumber. To learn more, read (The Doc's Total Wood Species Guide) in the How To's section of the web site.

Solvent-Based Urethane

A polyurethane solution. The solvent has turned it into a solution.

Square Edge

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Stained Finish

A finish that has pigment or color in it. Typically, a stained finish is used to make floors darker. The darker your floors, the less they will show scuff marks and dirt. In contrast, the lighter your floors, the more they will show scuff marks and dirt. Dye and pigment stains enhance the grain of the wood. The downside to using a stained finish is that it requires great skill to repair damaged sections. Also, it demands great skill to prepare, stain, and finish wood with consistent and even results. There are different types of stained finishes. Some species of wood do not take stained finishes well. To learn more about how different wood species take stains, please read (The Doc's Total Wood Species Guide) found in the Product Reviews section of the web site.

Stapled Down Floor

A floor style that requires staples. I do not recommend staple down floors because staples cause floorboards to crack. They also do not hold as well as nails.

Strip Floor

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Swedish Acid Cured Finish

This is extremely toxic stuff. If you are going to work with this stuff, wear a very good respiratory mask. Swedish acid cured finish will off gas for 30 days after it has been applied. It really is not advisable to work with this stuff. Oil modified polyurethane is a much better choice. To learn more, read (Custom Staining Without The Blotchy Effect) found in the How To's section of the web site.


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