Armstrong Flooring Glossary
Browser out of Date
You are currently using a version of Internet Explorer (IE) that is older than version 10, so this site will not work properly. You can update your IE browser here.
The site is also compatible with the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
Download one of the browsers below: Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, IE11, Safari
Find a Store

Armstrong Flooring Glossary

Read the definitions of terms used on the Armstrong website and by your local flooring retailer.

View this Floor

Glossary Terms


Above Grade
See Suspended Substrate.

Acrylic Impregnation
The generic name for wood-plastic composites using wood impregnated with acrylic monomers and polymerized within the wood cells by heat, pressure or radiation.

A substance that bonds the finished floor product to the substrate.

An innovative vinyl tile floor designed for homeowners who want the beauty, the durability and the feel of ceramic tile. Alterna is able to be installed with or without grout.

A felt compostion backing that allows installation of vinyl sheet flooring of all grade levels. The floor is bonded to the subfloor either by spreading adhesive under the entire floor, or by using adhesive only around the perimeter and at the seams (Armafelt Options).

Armafelt Options
An Armstrong installation system for residential vinyl flooring with the Armafelt backing. Armafelt Options provides the option of installing some residential Armafelt backed floors with adhesive under the entire area of the floor (full spread) or just around the perimeter (perimeter bond). Due to the floors' accommodating properties which allow for installation over wood, concrete and existing resilient substrates, less adhesive is needed for the installation of some Armafelt backed floors and therefore installers save time on installation.

ArmaLock® Installation System
The strongest laminate locking system in the industry, with a locking strength of 670 pounds per linear foot; guaranteed not to unlock at the seams for 20 to 30 years.

Armstrong Certified Installers
Floor covering professionals who have been specially trained and certified to install any Armstrong floor product. These installers must pass a rigorous hands-on and written exam; receive ongoing product information and support from Armstrong; have access to a network of additional experts located in your area; and stand behind their work, as Armstrong stands behind them.


Base-Shoe Combo
A finishing molding piece used along the outer most edges of the floor where it meets the wall.

Below Grade
Below ground level; partially or completely below the surrounding ground level and in direct contact with the ground or with fill which is in direct contact with the ground.

Beveled Edge
An angular edge and/or end treatment used on flooring.

Also referred to as “drying room yellowing," "drying room film" or "stove yellowing," this is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the manufacturing process of all linoleum. As linoleum cures in the drying room, a yellowish cast may develop on the surface due to the oxidation of the linseed oil. This is not a product defect. Any change in the product's appearance because of this yellow cast is temporary and disappears after exposure to either natural or artificial light. The time required for the yellow cast to disappear ranges from a few hours to several weeks depending on the type and intensity of the light source. Typically, the yellow cast disappears more quickly with exposure to natural light. The application of floor finishes will not interfere with the dissipation of the yellow cast. On areas of linoleum not exposed to light, elimination of the yellow cast will not occur.

Board Width
The width of the individual wood boards that make up the floor. “Strips” are narrow boards measuring less than 3 inches wide. “Planks” are wider boards measuring more than 3 inches wide. "Wide plank flooring” refers to wood boards that are more than 5 inches wide.


Cement Based Patching Compound;
Compound used to fill or smooth subfloor irregularities in preparation for installing a new vinyl floor.

A patented wear surface that is engineered for easy cleaning and maintenance. No waxing, polishing or buffing is needed, just vacuuming or sweeping with an occasional wash. Resists household stains like mustard, shoe polish, lipstick and foot traffic stains.

CleanSweep® Plus
The stain resistance of CleanSweep, plus added protection against scratching and scuffing.

Color Change
Visual changes in the color of the wood species caused by exposure to light, deprivation of light and air, oxidation or other chemical reaction.

Color Wash
A flooring surface appearance. Paint thinned out with glaze is used to create a subtle wash of color over the hardwood floor.

Soft and thick floor backing for superior underfoot comfort.


Armstrong’s patent-pending finish, applied to Vivero luxury flooring’s Better and Best floors, that’s made with real diamonds.

Dimensional Stability
The ability of flooring to retain its original dimensions during the service life of the product.

Distressed Visual
A design term that describes a heavy texture in which the floor has been scraped, scratched, or gouged to give it a time-worn antique look. See distressed hardwood floors.

DIY (Do it Yourself)
DIY is an acronym for “do it yourself”,” referring to projects that can be installed without a professional. DIY levels are typically described as easy to difficult, requiring varying ranges of tools and experience.

DPL (Direct Pressure Laminate)
Direct pressure laminate is the most typical fusing method used to manufacture residential laminate flooring. The surface, inner layers and backing layer are fused in a single press operation.

Often used to describe the way Armstrong’s floors are known to withstand wear and tear, allowing them to look like new for a long period of time.

The protective urethane and urethane with aluminum oxide surface coating used on Bruce hardwood floors. Use Bruce Hardwood & Laminate Cleaner to clean hardwood floorswith this coating.


Edge Detail
A term that describes the way hardwood and laminate board edges and ends are cut. Edges and ends are typically described as square, eased, microbeveled and beveled.

Embossed in Register
A manufacturing process that intensifies the depth, texture and realistic look of the floor by aligning the embossing with the printed design. This technique is used on Armstrong laminate and vinyl floor products.

A term describing hardwood construction. Engineered hardwood flooring boards are manufactured from multiple layers, or plies, of solid wood assembled in a cross-ply construction. The top layer is the species and color you see when the boards are installed.

A preliminary cost figure prepared by contractors or other to give a job owner and/or architect a rough idea of the cost of a completed building. Armstrong provides flooring cost estimates for many of its products.


The loss of color due to exposure to light, heat or other destructive agents.

This term is used with Luxe Plank luxury vinyl and indicates the type of installation technology used with this flooring. Floors with FasTak have repositionable, pressure-sensitive adhesive applied to the planks. During installation, the adhesive is removed, and the planks or tiles are pressed into place over the subfloor.

An encapsulated glass rotovinyl (printed) flooring designed to be installed using Glass-Tac tape or Armstrong S-288 or S-289 adhesive.

The surface coating on pre-finished flooring. Usually either urethane or wax finish.

Floating Hardwood  
Installation method in which individual boards are placed together only at edges and end joints, without direct attachment to the subfloor.

Floor Care
Important in order to keep your floor looking as beautiful as it was the day it was installed. To learn about caring for your floor, select your floor type to find specific care products and tips.

Floor Protectors
Screw-on attachments for the bottom of wooden chairs and table legs to distribute the weight of furniture evenly to reduce indentations in resilient floors. Abrasions can be prevented with unique, replaceable felt pads on the floor protectors.

FloorScore™ Certification  
FloorScore is a registered trademark of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute. Products with FloorScore certification are guaranteed to meet or exceed low emission standards, will not adversely affect indoor air quality, and have passed a third party certification process.

Foam Underlayment
Foam layer installed under floating laminate, hardwood, or Luxe flooring for sound reduction and smoothing of minor subfloor irregularities.

Full Bathroom
A bathroom with sink, toilet and bathing facilities including one or more of the following: shower, bathtub, Jacuzzi /whirlpool, spa, sauna.

Full-Spread Adhesive
An installation system for linoleum, felt-backed vinyl sheet products, fiberglass vinyl sheet products, and luxury vinyl tile in which adhesive is spread across the entire substrate before it is placed down for installation.


G3™ Wear Layer
This durable wear layer protects against wear, stains and fading. It offers the best resistance to scratches, indentations, dents and dings for your home.

Gloss Level
Different sheens or levels of Gloss- Satin, Semi-Gloss or Gloss.

Grade Level
Grade refers to the construction level relative to the ground around it. Below-grade is below ground level, on-grade is at ground level, and above-grade is above ground level.


Half Bathroom
A bathroom with a sink and toilet.

Also called hand sculpted. Hardwood planks are individually hand-scraped to create distinctive, one-of-a-kind floors. See hand-scraped hardwood floors.

The property of the wood species or dried film of finishing material that causes it to withstand denting or being marked when pressure is exerted on its surface by an outside object or force.

Hardwood Construction
Relates to either solid or engineered hardwood. To learn more, see engineered and solid hardwood flooring products.

A deluxe urethane finish on Armstrong Hardwood that promises long-lasting hardwood beauty and durability.

Heat Welding
A process for sealing seams for commercial linoleum floors and some commercial vinyl sheet floors. Heat welding requires skilled professionals who use specialized tools. (See “Weld Rods.”)

Hi-Definition Print Technology™
Print technology used to create extremely realistic patterns. Colors are vibrant and natural with intensified depth and realism. The embossing technology infuses the look with depth and texture.

High-Density Fiberboard
Board utilized in the core of Armstrong laminate designed to resist moisture, resist indentations, and provide dimensional stability.

High-Performance Wear Layer
Wear layer utilized on the surface of Armstrong laminate flooring. It is made from multiple layers of resin saturated paper fused together with a high-fidelity printed design layer and hard mineral particles to resist wear, stains, and surface burns.

Armstrong laminate’s superior performance structure that resists surface spills or moisture wicking from the subfloor. Its locking fit provides superior dimensional stability.

A trait of new Vivero luxury flooring, which repels spills and stains and makes the floors in this line easy to clean.


Installation Level
Refers to grade levels of the installation site.

Interlocking (Interlocking floating)
An installation method that connects engineered hardwood or laminate boards to each other without the need for glue on the edges or ends. The boards lock together via a tongue-and-groove system. Interlocking floors “float” over the subfloor (see “Floating Floors.”)

The new patented installation system from Armstrong used with Vivero™ luxury flooring. This system, which is produced under license from Välinge Innovation, is the first locking system of its kind in luxury flooring.




The portion of a branch or limb that has been surrounded by subsequent growth of the wood of the trunk or other portions of the tree. A knot appears on the sawed surface but is merely a section of the entire knot, its shape depending upon the direction of the cut.


Laminate Backing
A thermo-fused backing that provides additional strength and protection and ensures the floor stays flat, even when exposed to bottom-up moisture, which is particularly common with installations over concrete.

Laminate Floating Floor
A floor that does not need to be nailed or glued to the subfloor and can be installed over most existing floors, including concrete, ceramic tile, vinyl, wood and even some indoor/outdoor carpet, except high pile carpet.

Laminate Flooring
Hard-surface flooring utilizing a fiberboard core and Melamine wear layer that is available in available in wood, ceramic tile and stone visuals.

Laminate Flooring Glue
Adhesive used to bond the tongue and groove edges of laminate flooring.

Laminate Image Layer
The look of your laminate floor that replicates the look of wood, stone, ceramic or slate.

Laminate Surface
A clear wear layer for super protection, even against the harsh punishment of sunlight, stains and burns.

A floor surfacing material composed of oxidized linseed oil, mixed with cork or wood flour, mineral filler and pigments and bonded to a jute backing.

The fastest and easiest type of installation system for both hardwood and laminate flooring products. The system locks planks together without the use of glue, nails, or staples. *Not available with all products.

Loose Lay (and Modified Loose Lay)
An installation method for all vinyl sheet floors (minus felt back) where adhesive is not necessary or tape should be used in strategic spots such as under appliances.

Luxe Plank
A realistic wood-look vinyl plank that is easy to install and comes in attractive plank widths and lengths.

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)
A type of flexible, vinyl floor tile and/or plank that has beautiful printed designs protected by a durable urethane wear layer. LVT products are easy to install, but they do require full-spread adhesive and the proper sized trowel for installation.


Magnum HDF™ Core
All Bruce Laminate floors have a Magnum HDF Core with thermofused backing that forms a moisture barrier. There’s no need to worry about spills soaking in or moisture wicking up from the subfloor. The Magnum HDF Core also eliminates the need to acclimate planks in the home environment so you can buy it and install it the same day.

MasterWorks™ Technology
Combines advanced digital reproduction techniques with superior craftsmanship to create amazingly authentic-looking designs like exotic hardwood, stone, slate and ceramic tile MasterWorks™ Technology is available in many vinyl sheet and laminate product lines.

MasterWorks Technology® with VTx™
A variable texture technology that delivers a range of realistic textures and gloss with an incredibly natural feel. Available only on Armstrong brand vinyl sheet floors.

Mildew protection
Characteristic of Armstrong vinyl floor backing that protects against color or pattern discoloration caused by mildew, mold or alkali.

Micro-edge Detailing
A hardwood edge type cut to show subtle distinction between planks. Available with many different hardwood flooring brands and varieties.


A manufacturer applied permanent coating bonded to the surface of Armstrong linoleum flooring. The high performance layer protects the floor design, provides superior stain, scratch and scuff resistance. Linoleum with NATURCote™ II is easy to maintain with sweeping and occasional mopping.

NextGen™ Technology (Armstrong Hardwood)
A technology for locking engineered hardwood flooring in order to eliminate glue, nails and staples. This results in a tighter fit between hardwood boards and an overall more stable floor with higher tolerance to moisture and climate changes.


Pertaining to the location of a finished floor with no portion below ground, and with the floor and the ground in contact or separated by less than 18 inches of well-ventilated space.

OSB (Oriented Strand Board)
An acronym for Oriented Strand Board, OSB is an engineered hardwood. The name comes from its production through strands of wood being layered in specific directions.


Inlaid woodwork in geometric forms, sometimes of contrasting woods, used in flooring. A common example is individual pickets of wood flooring, adhered together in groups of six pickets - then four picketed squares are alternately adhered to form a tile pattern.

Peel ‘n Stick
A term used for self adhesive tile that does not require adhesive for installation. Tiles have a peel-off backing that, once removed, uncovers adhesive on the tile’s underside. These tiles are easy to stick to the floor, but once placed, can be difficult to remove.

Perimeter Spread Adhesive
An installation system for felt-backed vinyl sheet floors in which adhesive is spread around the perimeter, or outside edge, of the underside of the floor before it is placed down for installation.

A hardwood floor finish that contains a high level of aluminum oxide for superior resistance to surface wear-through.

Board widths that are 3" in width or greater.

Ply (Plies)
Another word for a layer of wood, typically used to described engineered hardwood construction layers.

A structural material consisting of sheets of wood glued or cemented together and used as underlayment for vinyl flooring. Armstrong recommends the use of APA Underlayment Grade plywood with the installation of Armstrong resilient floors.

A type of finish used on hardwood to protect it from damage. Polyurethane finishes do not require waxing.

Hardwood floors that are stained with color and sealed with a protective finish by the manufacturer prior to installation.

Printed construction
A printing process that provides accurate reproductions of a wide variety of patterns and designs in intricate detail. Also known as the "rotogravure" process.

Pull Bar
Tool used to tighten up tongue and groove joints used during the installation of laminate flooring.


Quarter-Round Molding
Detail piece that finishes the space where wood or laminate flooring meets the wall.

Quiet Comfort Premium
A premium underlayment option for Armstrong laminate that provides sound absorbing insulation. Also available in standard Quiet Comfort.


Reducer Strip
Molding that finishes the space between wood or laminate flooring and other flooring surfaces, like vinyl or carpet.

Sanding a previously finished floor to bare wood and applying new finish.

Typically refers to sheet or tile vinyl flooring. Resilient is a firm type of floor but “gives” a little when it is walked on. Resilient is also resistant to stains.

Heavy tool used after installing vinyl sheet or vinyl tile to press the flooring into the adhesive and to help to remove any entrapped air.


An option for viewing flooring in your own home before making a final decision. When you begin the process of finding the style that’s right for you, we suggest that you order samples from your local retailer.

Seam Sealer
Liquid compound that fuses the seamed edges of vinyl flooring together.

Site Finished
Hardwood floors that are stained with color and sealed with a protective finish at the installation site by the installer.

Manufactured from a solid piece of wood.

Small pieces of wood used in the initial step in the installation of laminate to maintain a 1/4" expansion zone.

The type of tree, such as oak, cherry or walnut. Different wood species have different levels of hardness that affect durability; graining, which affects the look of the board; and indigenous color, which can be kept natural or stained.

The detailed selections of the architect, covering all of the material and labor methods to be used in erecting a building. Usually prescribe types of material, sources, and often lists method of application or installation.

Stair Nosing
A finishing piece applied to the forward edge of stairs, step-downs and landings, creating a rounded quality finish.

Step Nose
A trim and molding option for laminate flooring. This is used as a connection where laminate flooring meets a step down or landing.

Any strong, straight piece of metal that can be used for cutting straight lines for installing vinyl sheet and tile.

Board widths that are less then 3" in width.

Structural Integrity
A term often used in a guarantee or warranty to assure the floor’s composition/construction will remain intact.

The structural layer intended to provide the home's floor support, which may receive floor coverings directly if the surface is appropriate, or indirectly via an underlayment if its surface is not suitable.

A smooth surface used beneath floor covering – such as concrete, underlayment, or existing resilient flooring.

Suspended Substrate
Pertaining to the above-grade location of a finished floor where the floor is not in contact with the ground and which provides at least 18 inches of well-ventilated space.

A sample or collection of samples of various things that you should consider bringing to your local retailer when choosing the perfect floor for your home. This may include fabrics, wallpaper and paint chips that will be part of your décor.


Molding piece that finishes the space between two areas of wood or laminate flooring. For laminate, it also fills the gap at doorways.

Tapping Block
Block of wood used directly against the edge of laminate boards during installation.

The term used to describe the surface look and feel of flooring. Textures can range from silky smooth to hand-scraped and distressed.

A finishing piece applied to the floor transition area where the wood or laminate transitions to another flooring level or another flooring type.

Tongue and Groove
The edge effect used on laminate boards to enable mechanical fastening of one board to the adjacent board(s).

ToughGuard® Flooring
Armstrong's toughest vinyl floor. Armstrong ToughGuard floors are designed for long life and extraordinary durability. They are guaranteed not to rip, tear, gouge or indent from normal household use for the life of the warranty.

Transition Strips
Installation accessory that bridges two floors of different heights to equalize the height differential. Transition strips are functional and decorative.

Tool used to place the correct amount of adhesive on the substrate prior to installing glue down flooring.


Ultraviolet Light
Ultraviolet (UV) light is part of the light spectrum. UV light wavelengths cannot be seen by the human eye.

Layer of material usually installed on or over a subfloor that provides a surface suitable to receive a new floor covering.

A protective finish that maintains a like-new appearance without waxing buffing or polishing.

Utility Knife
Tool containing a blade and used to cut vinyl sheet and vinyl tile during installation.


An Armstrong exclusive installation aid for sealing concrete that has excess moisture, prior to installing the floor.

Vinyl Sheet Flooring
Resilient flooring, available in roll form, providing an installation with few seams.

Vinyl No-Wax
A surface that protects the color and pattern of the floor, but needs floor polish to maintain a high gloss.

Vinyl Tile
Resilient flooring available in flat pieces usually measuring 12" x 12" which can be installed as individual units.

An easy-to-clean surface that protects the floor from stains, fading or wear; and resists scuffs in normal household use. Available only on Armstrong brand laminate and vinyl sheet flooring.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
VOC is an acronym for volatile organic compounds, which are gases that can trigger allergic reactions, asthma and upper respiratory infections. All Armstrong floors have very low VOC levels (see “Floor Score.”)


Any distortion of a piece of flooring from its true plane.

Wear Layer
The portion of a floor covering that contains or protects the pattern effect.

Weld Rods  
Thin, round rods melted with a specialized tool to seal seams on commercial sheet floors. Vinyl floors use vinyl rods; linoleum floors use linoleum rods; both in color-coordinated shades that blend with or accent seams. (See heat welding.”)

Wide Plank  
Board widths that are 5” or greater.

Wood Species
The primary species from which the wood floor is made. Armstrong offers a variety of species, which can be found on the Hardwood Flooring Products page.

Wood Stain
A type of paint that is very "thin," or low in viscosity, and formulated so that the pigment penetrates the surface rather than remaining in a film on top of the surface. Stain is predominantly pigment or dye and solvent with little binder.