Whether you want to work with our team or perform flooring maintenance on your own, it’s important that the right method is performed at the right intervals. There’s no shortage of flooring terms used to describe everything from the material to the tools to the finish to the cleaning methods and products. Before you embark on your cleaning journey, it’s crucial to have an understanding of what these terms mean. Read on for a glossary of common commercial floor cleaning terms everyone from consumers to flooring installation contractors should know.

Abrasion: Any method of removing film or stains for a floor’s finish; wearing, grinding, or rubbing away by friction.

Abrasive: Used to describe the consistency of a cleaning product or tool that’s gritty or thick in order to maximize intensity; a product that works by abrasion.

Backing: A layer of carpeting located underneath the visible layer which is used to secure the carpet in place; this is the part of the flooring which determines what adhesive will be used for installation over various substrates.

Buildup: The wax, dirt and debris that piles up after many layers of finishes are added on top of each other without deep scrubbing the old layers away first; these build-ups are frequently found along baseboards and corners.

Ceramic Tile: A certain type of tile that’s created by mixing colorants and clays and baking them; clay tile with an impervious, usually glossy, layer on the surface.

Concentrate: A cleaning product that’s undiluted, thus very strong; a material that can be made into a solution by adding water or other substances.

Damp Mopping: Utilizing a cloth or mop that has detergent on it but has been wrung out; performed daily, this procedure helps to control grit and can reduce time and money spent on more intensive maintenance procedures.

Dirt Retention: The amount of dirt and debris that remains after a cleaning; it’s desirable to have low dirt retention.

Dry Rot: When a carpet has so much mold and mildew on it that it begins to break down; disintegration of carpet backing caused by mildew.

Fading: The discoloration that occurs when flooring has consistent exposure to sunlight or cleaning products; the loss of color due to exposure to light, heat or other destructive products.

Film: A thin coating over a substance; one coat of floor finish may have small holes in its so it takes more than one coat to provide a “continuous film” or one through which liquids can’t penetrate.

Finish: Can describe the texture of a material which is caused by different coatings and films; a urethane or waxed-based coating to protect floors from stains, scuff marks, fading and abrasion.

Gloss: The visual perception of a floor, describing the shininess, clarity and hue; initial or buffed brightness or luster of a floor.

Grout: The material that bonds tiles together with each other and the floor underneath; an adhesive placed between tiles to fill in gaps.

Homogeneous: A term used to describe materials that will stay the same throughout time and wear; describes a substance which is the same throughout in its properties and composition.

Linoleum: A type of flooring that was introduced in the 1800s and is soft and porous, making it vulnerable to cleaners and time; made of linseed oil, gums, cork or wood dust and pigments.

Marble: A luxurious type of flooring that’s porous so must be cleaned with non-acidic chemicals and wiped clean; limestone flooring known for its elegant appearance created by polishing its very hard surface.

Mildew: Fungus that can grow and cause bad odors and the deterioration of fabrics; fungus growth that can occur on carpet fibers, causing odor and fiber degeneration.

Pitting: What happens to concrete and other floors when small dents become larger due to heavy traffic; cleaning concrete and terrazzo floors with crystalline cleaners will cause the fine pores in them to become larger causing them to become more noticeable pits.

Polish: To make a floor more smooth and shiny; a temporary coating that enhances the appearance and protects the substrate to which it’s applied.

Polyurethane: A material used to create a hard gloss over flooring; a finish for wood floors that requires no waxing once applied.

Residue: The substance left behind when a cleaner isn’t properly removed; any material left in carpet pile after cleaning or vacuuming.

Sheen: A term to describe the amount of shine a flooring surface has; the degree of luster of the dried film of a finishing material.

Streaking: Lines on a floor’s finishing caused by improper application or cleaning products; uneven spots, usually in a row, in a floor finish caused by improper application.

Stripping: The act of removing old layers of finishing using a strong, and usually very alkaline, detergent and scrubbing procedures in order to prevent buildup; done to small segments of the floor at a time, with each segment being thoroughly rinsed before moving to the next segment.

Urethane: One of the main ingredients used in a sealant used for wood and concrete; a synthetic chemical structure formed by one of three specific chemical reactions.

Varnish: A type of protective finishing, typically for wood flooring; a finish that contains either natural or synthetic oils that are refined by boiling and cooking with the addition of dryers and is slow to cure, but can be accelerated by the addition of heat.

Viscosity: The thickness of a substance, which can be used to determine how it will be poured and applied; a property of fluids, either liquid or gaseous, that can briefly be described as causing resistance to flow.

Wax: A substance used to polish and protect film that can be made naturally or synthetically; a temporary protective coating similar to polish but softer in composition that must be buffed to achieve maximum gloss.

Wear: The effects of traffic on a floor, shown through cracks, distortion and discoloration; a diminishing from the accumulation of abrasion, gouging, scratching and scuffing of the thickness of the flooring.