first time flooring buying

Wood Flooring Beginner Guide: Buying Your Floor

first time flooring buying

So you have decided to include wood flooring for your home remodel or new construction. If you are the average new home owner, you are learning as you go. Each task comes with a whole new set of terms that can seem overwhelming.

Buying a natural wood floor includes decisions such as choosing the right type of wood for your application. Then, deciding what type of installation your project requires. Here is a beginner guide on some of the important terms and key words to know when you want to take on a wood flooring project.

Flooring 101

calculating square footage

Measure every wall in the area to allow you to get an accurate number.

1. Square footage (sq ft)- this is a very important piece of information that you will need. This will determine how much flooring you will need to purchase. To calculate the area of a room in square feet, measure the length and width of the room in feet, then multiply these figures together to give an area in ft². For example, a room measuring 12 ft x 15 ft would be described as having an area of 180 ft².

If you are doing the whole downstairs of a house, you would need to do this for every room and add that total together.


2. Waste Percentage- After you give your sq ft needs to the flooring supplier or flooring installer, they will calculate a waste percentage. The standard industry percentage is 10% but can be as high as 15% depending on the direction the boards will be installed. Herring bone and diagonal installation have require a higher waste percentage.

Now you may be wondering why this is necessary since you did such an awesome job calculating your square footage. This waste is for the cuts that will need to be made as the flooring is being installed to go around corners or any awkward spots in the room.

3. Solid Flooring- Just as it sounds, solid flooring means it is one complete piece of wood per flooring board. Traditionally, solid wood flooring comes 3/4 inches thick.

4. Engineered Flooring- This type of flooring is a layer of wood adhered to a plywood backing. Engineered flooring can have a bad rap because some manufacturers will try to give you a very thin layer of wood. A good quality engineered floor will give you a 4 millimeter wear surface. A wear surface of this thickness allows the customer to refinish the floor. Engineered flooring usually comes in a total thickness of 5/8 inches.

5. Subfloor- The subfloor is the foundation for a flooring. A subfloor can be plywood, particle board, or concrete slabs.

6. Nail Down Installation- Nailing or stapling down wood floor is the most common and preferred install method. Many wood floor professionals choose this method if a wood subfloor in form of plywood exists in the house.

7. Glue Down Installation- The glue down installation method involves the use of an adhesive to adhere flooring to its base. This method of installation is common used for engineered wood flooring and certain solid flooring that is manufactured specifically for this type of installation. Professionals use this type of installation when the subfloor is a concrete slab. This type of installation can also be used for adding a wood accent wall to a room. 

8. Board Foot A unit of volume measurement of lumber represented by a board 1 foot long, 12 inches wide, and 1 inch thick or its cubic equivalent. This measurement is generally used for rough lumber or unmilled timbers. In practice, the board foot calculation for a piece of lumber is figured by multiplying the thickness in inches by the width in inches by the length in feet and then divide by 12.

9. End Matching In strip and some plank flooring, the ends of individual pieces have a tongue milled on one end and a groove milled on the opposite end, so that when the individual strips or planks are butted together, the tongue of one piece engages the groove of the next piece. This creates a seamless transition from one board to the next. 

10Hardwood Generally, one of the botanical groups of deciduous trees that have broad leaves in contrast to the conifers or softwoods. The term has no reference to the actual hardness of the wood.

11. Heartwood The dense inner core of a tree trunk or stem that no longer conducts sap. In most wood this is the most stable and durable part of the tree a forms the skeletal support. In Antique Heart Pine and Heart Cypress the heartwood is naturally rot and insect resistant.

12. Square Edge A flooring that is NOT milled with a tongue & groove. Square edged flooring is face nailed when installed over a wooden sub floor, or glued when applied to concrete sub floor.




  • Thanks for writing this awesome article. I’m a long time
    reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment.

    January 30, 2018

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