AskDefine | Define flooring

Dictionary Definition



1 the inside lower horizontal surface (as of a room or hallway); "they needed rugs to cover the bare floors" [syn: floor]
2 building material used in laying floors

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A floor.
  2. A material used to make floors.




  1. Present participle of to floor.

Extensive Definition

In architecture, a floor is generally the lower horizontal surface of a room, and/or the supporting structure underneath it.
A floor typically consists of a support structure called a sub-floor on top of which is laid a floor covering to provide a walking surface.
The work of installing a floor covering is called flooring. This term is also used to refer to any permanent floor covering and in particular to wood flooring.
The various levels in a building are also called floors. See storey for this use.

Support structure

The supporting structure underneath flooring is called a sub-floor. Sometimes, as for earthen floors, there is no separate structure. The subfloor may also provide services like underfloor heating or ducts for air conditioning.
A ground-level floor can be an earthen floor made of soil, or be solid ground floors made of concrete slab. Floors above may be built on beams or joists or use structures like hollow core slabs.

Ground floor construction

Ground-level slab floors are prepared for pouring by grading the base material so that it is flat, and then spreading a layer of sand and gravel. A grid of rebar is usually added to reinforce the concrete, especially if it will be used structurally, i.e. to support part of the building.

Upper floor construction

Floors in woodframe homes are usually constructed with joists that are centered no more than 16 inches or 40 centimeters apart, according to most building codes. Heavy floors, such as those made of stone, are more closely-spaced. If the span between load-bearing walls is too long for joists to safely support, then a heavy crossbeam (thick or laminated wood, or a metal I-beam or H-beam) may have to be used. A 'subfloor' of plywood or waferboard is then laid over the joists.

Special floor constructions

Where a special floor structure like a floating floor is laid upon another floor then both may be referred to as sub-floors.
Special floor structures are used for a number of purposes:


Utilities are also run through the floor, by drilling small holes to go crosswise. Where the floor is over the basement or crawlspace, they may instead be run under the joists, making the installation less expensive. Ducts for air conditioning (central heating and cooling) are large and cannot cross joists or beams, thus they are typically at or near the plenum, or come directly from underneath (or from an attic). The floor of one level typically also holds the ceiling of the level below (if any).
Pipes for plumbing and sewerage, as well as for underfloor heating, may also be laid directly in slab floors, which is also sometimes the case for some other utilities. Maintenance of these systems can be very expensive however, requiring the opening of concrete or other fixed structures. Electrically heated floors are also available, and both kinds of systems can also be used in wood floors as well.
Other services provided by subfloors include:

Floor covering

Floor covering is a term to generically describe any finish material applied over a floor structure to provide a walking surface. Flooring is the general term for a permanent covering of a floor, or for the work of installing such a floor covering. Both terms are used interchangeably but floor covering refers more to loose-laid materials.
Materials almost always classified as floor covering include carpet, area rugs, and resilient flooring such as linoleum or vinyl flooring. Materials commonly called flooring include wood flooring, ceramic tile, stone, terrazzo, and various seamless chemical floor coatings.
The choice of material for floor covering is affected by factors such as cost, endurance, noise insulation, comfort and cleaning effort. Some types of flooring must not be installed below grade (lower than ground level), and laminate or hardwood should be avoided where there may be moisture or condensation.
The sub-floor may be finished in a way that makes it usable without any extra work, see:


Carpet is a floor covering woven or felted from natural or man-made fibers. Fitted carpet is attached to the floor structure, extends wall-to-wall, and cannot be moved from place to place. An underlay can extend carpet life and improve comfort.


Laminate is a floor covering that appears similar to hardwood but is made with a plywood or medium density fiberboard ("MDF") core with a plastic laminate top layer. Laminate may be more durable than hardwood, but cannot be refinished like hardwood. Laminate flooring is available in many different patterns which can resemble different woods or even ceramic tile. It usually locks or taps together.

Area rugs

Rugs are also woven or felted from fibers, but are smaller than the room in which they are located, have a finished edge, and usually lie over another finished floor such as wood flooring. Rugs may either be temporarily attached to the flooring below by adhesive tape or other methods to prevent creep, or may be loose-laid.

Resilient flooring

Resilient flooring includes many different manufactured products including linoleum, sheet vinyl, vinyl composition tile, cork (sheet or tile), and others.

Wood flooring

Many different species of wood are fabricated into wood flooring in two primary forms: plank and parquet. Bamboo flooring is also available. While bamboo is technically not a wood, bamboo flooring is installed and functions much like wood flooring. Reclaimed lumber has a unique appearance and is green.

Ceramic tile

Ceramic tile includes a wide variety of clay products fired into thin units which are set in beds of mortar or mastic with the joints between tiles grouted. Varieties include quarry tile, porcelain tile, terra cotta tile, and others.


Many different natural stones are cut into a variety of sizes, shapes, and thicknesses for use as flooring. Stone flooring is usually set in mortar and grouted similar to ceramic tile.


Terrazzo consists of marble or other stone aggregate set in mortar and ground and polished to a smooth surface.

Seamless chemical flooring

Many different seamless flooring materials are available. These are usually latex, polyester, or epoxy compounds which are applied in liquid form to provide a completely seamless floor covering. These are usually found in wet areas such as laboratories or food processing plants.

Other floorings

Flooring tools

Special tools used for flooring include:

Issues with floors

Wood floors, particularly older ones, will tend to 'squeak' in certain places. This is caused by the wood rubbing against other wood, usually at a joint of the subfloor. Firmly securing the pieces to each other with screws or nails will remove this problem.
Floor vibration is a particularly annoying problem with floors. Wood floors tend to pass sound, particularly heavy footsteps and low bass frequencies. Floating floors can reduce or eliminate this problem. Concrete floors are usually so solid they do not have this problem, but are also much more expensive to construct, and much heavier, resulting in further requirements regarding the structure of the building.
The flooring may need protection sometimes e.g. a gym floor used for a graduation ceremony. A Gym floor cover can be used to reduce the need to satisfy incompatible requirements.

Floor Cleaning

Floor cleaning is a major occupation throughout the world. The principal reasons for floor cleaning are:
  • To prevent injuries due to tripping or slipping. Injuries due to slips and trips on level floors are a major cause of accidental injury or death. Bad practice in floor cleaning is itself a major cause of accidents.
  • To beautify the floor
  • To remove stains, dirt, litter and obstructions
  • To remove allergens, in particular dust
  • To prevent wear to the surface e.g. by using a floor wax or protective sealant.
  • To make the environment sanitary e.g. in kitchens
  • To maintain an optimum traction e.g. for dance floors
The treatment needed for different types of floors is very different. For safety it is most important to ensure the floor is not left even slightly wet after cleaning or mopping up.
Sawdust is used on some floors to absorb any liquids that fall rather than trying to prevent them being spilt. The sawdust is swept up and replaced each day. This was common in the past in pubs and is still used in some butchers and fishmongers.
It used to be common to use tea leaves to collect dirt from carpets and remove odours. Nowadays it is sill quite common to use diatomaceous earth, or in fact any cat litter type material, to remove infestations from floors.
Good well-maintained entrance matting can dramatically reduce the need for cleaning. For public and office buildings about 80 to 90% of the dirt is tracked in from outside. Installing a total of 15 feet of matting consisting of both indoor and outdoor sections will remove about 80% of this. Thus about two-thirds of the dirt can be removed at the entrance. BS 7953 'Entrance flooring systems. Selection, installation and maintenance' has standards relating to barrier matting.


flooring in Czech: Podlaha
flooring in German: Fußboden
flooring in Spanish: Piso
flooring in Esperanto: Planko
flooring in Persian: کفپوش
flooring in French: Plancher
flooring in Italian: Pavimento
flooring in Hebrew: רצפה
flooring in Dutch: Vloer
flooring in Japanese: 床
flooring in Polish: Podłoga
flooring in Portuguese: Pavimento
flooring in Simple English: Floor
flooring in Swedish: Golv

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adobe, ashlar, base, basement, basis, bearing wall, bed, bedding, bedrock, brick, bricks and mortar, carpet, carpeting, cement, clinker, concrete, cover, covering materials, deck, doormat, drop cloth, duckboards, earth, ferroconcrete, firebrick, flag, flagstone, floor, floor covering, floorboards, fond, footing, foundation, fundament, fundamental, ground, ground cloth, ground-sheet, grounds, groundwork, hardpan, lath and plaster, masonry, mat, mortar, parquet, pave, pavement, paving, paving material, plasters, prestressed concrete, principle, radical, riprap, rock bottom, roofage, roofing, rudiment, rug, seat, siding, sill, solid ground, solid rock, stereobate, stone, stylobate, substratum, substruction, substructure, surfacing, terra firma, tile, tiling, underbuilding, undercarriage, undergirding, underpinning, understruction, understructure, walling, welcome mat
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