Floor sanding Terminology

Floor Sanding Terminology Explained

Home » Blog » Terminology
Unless you are in the timber floor sanding and polishing industry, there are some terms commonly used which may seem a little strange.
Below are a few which may give you a heads-up before next talking with your flooring contractor.

Punch off a Floor

This means to punch the nails down below the surface of the timber. It stops the nails damaging the sandpaper. Most importantly, it also allows your flooring contractor to use colour matched filler to hide the nails.

Chatter Marks

Chatter marks are a fine corrugation left in the surface of a timber floor after sanding. They are more noticeable in reflected light. It is not a desirable look. Generally, they occur from using an inferior sanding machine. The old style ‘drum sander’ will leave chatter marks due to their design. The sandpaper wraps around the drum. Unfortunately there is a depression where the ends join. This causes vibration. Vibration can also cause chatter marks when using a quality belt sander. Often it is because the flooring contractor has not balanced or set up the machine in the correct manner.


Ghosting is a term given to specific ‘milky-white’ marks. They appear on a minimal number of floors over time. They often are in the shape of a footprint. However other patterns or smudge type marks in various shapes are also common. Sometimes it will take years for them to appear suddenly. The issue seems to be more prevalent where direct sunlight contacts with the coating. For example, just inside doorways. The Australian Timber Flooring Association has done extensive research on the matter. Despite that, they are still not clear exactly why it occurs.

See the A.T.F.A. documentation on Ghosting.


Rejection refers to the ‘rejection of a coating’ during application or soon after. It is where the coating does not want to take or adhere to a specific spot or area of a floor. The cause can sometimes be from a spillage or cleaning products previously used on the floor. Incompatible cleaning fluids will seep down between the floorboards. Because of this, the new coating may ‘roll away’ from the edges of the boards. A flooring contractor can add anti-rejection fluid to the coating. This can reduce or prevent this issue.


Cupping relates to the shape of the floorboards on the surface before sanding. Floorboards which are ‘cupped’ will have a concave shape to them. It is the result of excessive moisture soaking into the boards. On the positive side, a flooring contractor can sand the floorboards on an angle to fix the issue. This, of course is best done after resolving the moisture problem.

Edge Bonding

When floorboards are coated, they can bond (glue together) at the side-edges. This is because the coating may bridge across the gap if it is a tight join. Edge bonding can be an issue with some floors, especially new ones.

Re-sand Flooring

Re-sanding a timber floor means to strip it back to raw timber. Re-sanding will strip off an existing coating and remove surface damage such as deep scratches and dents.

Polishing a Floor

When it comes to timber floors, polishing simply means to apply a coating on the surface. It is often mistaken for applying an enhancing product, (like a wax) and using a rotary motion to “polish up” a finish, like car paint.

Re-coat Flooring

This is the application of one new topcoat. Often called a ‘maintenance’ coat which can renew an existing polished floor. Re-coating can remove minor scuffing and scratches as well as renew and uniform a worn finish.

Uprights and Stringers

These are components of staircases. The treads are what you walk on. The stringers are vertical and run up both sides of the staircase. The uprights are the vertical boards your toes point towards when walking on the treads.


This relates to the full drying and hardening process after the final coat is applied. The final coat generally takes 12 to 14 hours to dry. This time frame may be extended in the colder months. The curing process will then begin. Generally, you can walk on it the following day. After 48 hours, the coating is hard enough to return your furniture. The coating, however, will take a further 60 to 90 days to fully cure and harden.