Bookmark and Share

It's not uncommon for homeowners to become overwhelmed by laminate flooring specific terminology during the process of searching for a new laminate floor. Here, we offer a brief description of some terms used most often when discussing laminate flooring. Many of these are linked to more in-depth articles regarding that specific laminate flooring term. 

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S    T    U    V    W    X    Y    Z 

Above Grade

any level of the home located above the soil line.

AC Rating

(abrasion class) represents the durability level of a laminate floor.

Attached Underlayment

some laminate planks feature an underlayment already attached to the underside of the board, so you don't need to roll a separate underlayment out during a floating laminate installation.

Balancing Layer

the bottom layer of a laminate floor plank that supports the core and decorative top.

Below Grade

a level of the home located below the soil line (basements).

Beveled Edge

the slightly sloped edges and ends of a laminate plank. Beveled edges and ends are typically only found in 1-strip laminate products.

Click Lock

created for easy floating installation (especially for Do-It-Yourself installations). The edges and ends of the laminate flooring planks have special curved tongue and grooves which, when fitted together, create a strong hold and a tight seam. 

Commercial Laminate

a super-durable type of laminate specifically created for use in high traffic commercial settings.


supports the design layer (the top part that you see when the laminate is installed). Laminate cores are typically made of compressed wood fibers and are generally classified as HDF (High Density Fiberboard).

Design Layer

the photographic image of the particular image chose seen from the top view of a laminate floor once installed.

DPL (Direct Pressure Laminate)

laminate pressed together using 300 to 500 pounds per square inch (PSI). Standard laminate type in the industry.

Embossed in Register

a type of finishing process for laminate flooring, where the texture felt on the surface of the laminate plank coordinates with the image design for a very realistic laminate experience.

End Cap

a transition piece usually used with doorways leading to the outside or sliding glass doors, end caps provide a finished look.

Expansion Gap

the space left between the laminate flooring and fixed objects in the room during installation (walls, cabinets, kitchen islands, etc.). The expansion gap makes sure there is enough room for slight movement during expansion and contraction. This gap can be covered after installation is complete with a quarter round or wall base.

Expansion Joint

with floating laminate flooring, there is a limit to how far you can span the floor boards across a larger room before you need to create an expansion gap --- which is then covered with a matching t-molding. The maximum span of floating laminate flooring differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. It can range from 20' to 40' or greater. Check with your specific manufacturer for their requirements.

Floating Installation

when a laminate floor is not attached to the subfloor; but, rather, planks are attached to each other and as a whole are held down by gravity and the weight of the flooring. Floating floors require the use of an underlayment.

HPL (High Pressure Laminate)

laminate pressed together using 1300 or more pounds per square inch (PSI). Most commercial grade laminate flooring is HPL.

Kraft Paper

used in the creation of laminate flooring, kraft paper is usually inserted between layers of laminate flooring to add stability and sound absorption.

Lock & Fold

another name for click locking edges and ends.


a resin used to make laminate flooring extra durable and to protect against moisture.

Multi-Purpose Molding

a transition piece (sometimes comes with a cutting tool) which can be shaped into more than one transition style, depending on how you need to use it.

On Grade

the ground floor of the home.

Overlap Reducer

a transition piece to be used in conjunction with a floating laminate floor. The overlap reducer will overlap the laminate flooring and gradually slope down to meet the front edge of vinyl, tile or carpet. The part that overlaps the laminate covers up the necessary expansion gap. The overlap reducer should be attached to the subfloor and never to the actual laminate flooring.

Overlap Stairnose

for use with a floating laminate floor, the overlap stairnose acts as the finished rounded part of a step. The overlap stairnose will overlap the laminate floor, covering the necessary expansion gap. The overlap stairnose should be attached to the subfloor and never to the actual laminate flooring.

Quarter Round

sometimes used in conjunction with a wall base, sometimes used alone. A quarter round is used to cover up the necessary expansion gap around the wall of the room. Attached to the wall, not to the laminate flooring.

Radiant Heat System

a heating system located within the subfloor which heats a room from the surface of the floor up.

Relative Humidity

the moisture content in the atmosphere of the room where the laminate is going to be installed.

Square Edge

a perfect 90 degree cornered edge and end of a laminate plank. When square edge laminate planks are installed together, it creates a perfectly smooth surface, with no bevels. Square edges and ends are common in laminate flooring, especially in 2-strip and 3-strip designs.


a laminate floor can be either 1-strip, 2-strip or 3-strip. Similar to the design of longstrip hardwood flooring, the specific number of strips is shown on just one laminate plank. This design makes a laminate floor install very quick.


the level on which the new laminate flooring with be attached or floated over. There are several different types of subfloors. Most laminate flooring can go over other floor types too, such as vinyl and ceramic tile (cannot be installed over carpeting). Check with the manufacturer of your laminate flooring for specific subfloor requirements.


a piece shaped like a T to smoothly transition from one hard surface to another that is of equal height.


a hard or soft barrier between the subfloor and the new laminate flooring. Necessary for laminate floating installations.

Vapor Barrier (Moisture Barrier)

a plastic sheet, usually 4 to 6 mil thick, layered directly over a concrete slab to retard any moisture coming up through the subfloor. Many underlayments already have a vapor barrier attached, so you don't need to use a separate one. Vapor barriers are absolutely necessary for floating installations over concrete and below grade.

Waste Factor

the amount of extra laminate flooring that should be ordered to make up for square footage lost to cutting. Typically, a 5% waste factor is recommended.

Please Tell Us What You Think Of Our Article
Laminate Flooring Glossary
Please do the addition below. This is used to make sure a real human is filling in the review.

Page Reviews

Web Page: Laminate Flooring Glossary
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars - 4 reviews

Date: April 26, 2019
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Again thank you for this info - much needed right now to help in the decision between hardwood, laminate, or a combo.
Date: April 18, 2018
Page Rating: (3.0/5)
Pictures would have been nice. You should have also included names of the tools used in installation and other materials such is glues or liquid nails etc.. Thank you
Date: January 28, 2017
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
This is a great source put together for those of us who know very little about this process. I have been so overwhelmed with the terminology and figuring out the differences in quality of laminates. Thank you for putting this together!!!
Date: August 23, 2016
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Very informative

Click Here To See All Reviews