The anatomy of surfaces

SEP 20, 2016 | By Tasneem Merchant
Can’t recall the right expression when talking to a contractor? Do not worry – help is at hand. This list of useful terms will sort you out when liasing with your contractor.
AgglomeratedAlso known as engineered stone, it is a composite made of the crushed material bound by an adhesive
AlligatoringScaly patterns appearing on paint when it fails to adhere to the glossy coat underneath. It usually occurs when an oily primer is used for water based dye
AntimicrobialA chemical treatment that bids adieu to common bacteria, fungi and yeast
Bed jointHorizontal gap between two tiles filled using sealant or mortar to prevent water seepage
Bird’s eyesWooden fibres contoured in an elliptical or circular manner, seen on laminates, resembling the eyes of a bird
BlendingPurposely mixing veneers to prevent laying large portions of the same shade and contrasting it with a dissimilar colour
Brushed finishTreating the surface with a coarse or wiry broom for a pattern resembling  wavy lines. Can be used on metal, stone, cement and concrete
ButteringThick pasty mixture of pure cement and water applied to the back of a tile before setting it in place for a firmer grip
CrateringBowl like depressions that form on freshly varnished walls when dirt, fibre moisture or other substances get trapped in the coating
CrazingAn early indication of wear and tear. Tiny spider web like cracks that develop on any surface due to shrinkage of the top layer
Distressed visualGive your space a vintage vibe with an effect where the surface is either scraped or gouged to resemble an ol’ timey antique look
EfflorescenceLayer of white salt like deposit that forms on stones due to alkalis leaching from the cement mix below
EngineeredProduced by stacking three to five layers of hardwood and fusing them under heat and pressure, this type of flooring is less affected by humidity
FillA make-up equivalent, it is putty used to patch pores in wood
FriezeMade by tightly twisting fibres together, this kind of carpet has a comfortable, shaggy look in a uniform colour
Gloss levelsAn optical term, it describes the ability of a surface to reflect light. Be warned: The higher the sheen level, the more visible the wear and tear
GrainSeen in cut lumber, it’s the growth pattern of a tree evident in different surface textures and patterns
GroutSeal the deal with this construction material used to fill the gaps between tiles resulting in a smooth, even look
Kill pointJoint where the last strip of wallpaper meets the first when pasting over partitions
Lap marksUgly streaks left behind when a finish is not applied evenly or the climatic conditions are less than ideal. It’s no surprise you are running around in circles
MonocotturaCeramic tiles made using the “single fire” technique. The clay is shaped and heated in a roller kiln in one step giving it a hard glaze
Natural stainFor those who have nothing to hide, this clear finish allows the natural colours and actual grain to show
ParquetryRefers to inlaid woodwork in geometric forms for a decorative reason. Symmetrical and angular, find them in shapes like squares, rectangles and oval
PatinaChange in the hue and texture of copper, steel, etc due to exposure to natural elements such as wind and water
Peel ‘n’ stickSelf-adhesive tiles that do not require external glue for installation. Once placed, these can be extremely difficult to remove, so think twice or even thrice, if you have to
Pilot holePre-drilled for convenience, this makes it easier to nail a screw into a piece of timber without splitting it apart
RabbetGrooves cut into one side of a tile so another one fits.  This allows pieces to be fixed without the use of a binding material, much like a giant jigsaw puzzle
Random matchWallpapers with motifs that don’t need to fall precisely in line with each other
Reducer stripFound often at the threshold, a transitional piece or strip is used to connect one type of flooring to another
RiverwashGranite treated with a high flame to make its natural gradient more visible. It results in rough texture, low sheen and increased percolation
TerrazzoMulticoloured floor made of marble or stone chips embedded in a cement binder, usually poured on site. Available as pre manufactured tiles too
TranslucenceA property of some natural stones which when finely cut, allow light to pass through with a soft, diffused glow
TumbledProcess of washing tiles with acid and putting them through a machine for a worn and used appearance
A thin layer of cushioning material like sponge, foam or felt laid beneath to even irregularities and provide insulation against sound and moisture
UV curedIs the use of ultra violet light to bond the molecular structure of the finish. The exposure improves stain resistance and makes it easier to clean as well
WorstedFirmly twisted smooth yarn made of long strands of wool and used to make rugs…it’s not as bad as it sounds
Local Lingo
KaleenA carpet
SangamarmarTranslates to marble
PharsahSimply, floor
DahlizRefers to the threshold
Cheeni mittiMeans porcelain
FarshTranslates to floor
SatahSimply, surface
Also read: The anatomy of a nursery