Glossary of Furniture terms:
We've compiled a list of common industry terms and words you might see on our site. This helpful guide to furniture lingo will give you some insider knowledge and help you make an informed purchase.
Antiquing: A method of aging the appearance of a hide that is usually done by hand for making a strong type of leather.
Apron - Rail around the table found under the tabletop.
Bating: Process usually preformed at the same time as deliming, used to impart softness, stretch, and flexibility to the leather.
Birch - Durable close-grained hardwood.
Bleaching - A technique to lighten the overall color of a wood.
Breathability: How the leather adjusts to the temperature and wicks away moisture. A characteristic of full grain leather.
Buffet - A console table comprising drawers or shelves
Buffing - The treatment of leather using sand paper to create appearances such as nubuck, or to eliminate unsightly imperfections and correct the grain. The effect is a more consistent, albeit synthetic, finish.
Burl - Decorative wood veneer made out of overgrown knots or outgrowth.
ByCast Leather - Also called coated leather, ByCast is produced from split leather by melting glue onto the surface and then rolling on a film of colored polyurethane.
Cabriole - A leg shape of Queen Anne and Chippendale tables that bends outward on top, and tapers as it goes downward into an ornamental foot.
Cane - Straight wooden stick that is often used in occasional table designs with spilt rattan.
Casting - A process in which metal is melted to be molded in a specific shape.
Casual Style - These tables are usually displayed in a comfortable, warm, relaxing, homey part of the house. Overall, they have simple design, textured elements, soft details, and restful horizontal lines.
Chenille - Extremely soft and bunchy fabric.
Coffee table - A coffee table is a low table that sits in front of a sofa. Usually wide in shape, this table is used to serve drinks. Magazines or books are often displayed on top.
Cocktail Table - Cocktail and coffee tables are often considered interchangeable. Cocktail tables are often curvier and smaller in size than coffee tables.
Colonial - Style generated by the colonial interaction between Europe and their colonies.
Console table - Also called a 'sofa table', this is a long, thin and tall table often located on the side of a sofa or against a wall. This table is used for storage and display of decorative items.
Contemporary style - This is not quite "traditional," not quite "casual." This style tends to have straight, clean lines and edges, open curvature, and very little carvings or decorative touches.
Corrected Grain - When the surface of the hide is sanded or buffed to minimize flaws, then pigmented and embossed with a new grain. A type of leather.
Country - These tables are casual and unpretentious. They will combine simplicity and traditional designs. Almost exclusively light and warm colored woods, this can be thought of having "rustic class".
Dinette - French word for casual dining pieces.
Distressing - An aged wood finish created by scratches, dents and wear.
Dovetail - A decorative, durable joint formed by tight interlocking wedges.
Dowel - A type of joint where round wooden pegs are inserted into into wood parts for added strength.
Drop Leaf - A table top that has leaves that can raised or lowered down as needed.
Embossing - Decorative designs molded or carved on the occasional table
End tables - Usually bought in pairs, they accent the style of the coffee table or other furniture. Usually placed at the end of the sofa, it is a very important piece of a living room set.
Enhanced Grain -The process of creating a uniform grain pattern by altering the natural texture of leather.
Finger Joint - also called "box combing", this is a technique to join two specifically cut pieces. Each piece has fingers' matching the other one to perfectly fit into each other.
Full Top Grain - Premium leather that has been aniline-dyed but otherwise unaltered. The natural markings that remain provide the unique appeal of leather.
Glaze - A finish process of a thin smooth shiny coating to highlight grain characteristics of wood.
Global/Exotic style - This style is inspired by the materials and design of tropical or far-away places. These pieces are typically non-western and non-traditional in design.
Grain - The pattern of the fibers in wood that create the oval or curvy patterns found in wood furniture.
Hand - A term used in the leather industry to describe the softness or fullness of upholstery leather.
Hand-Antiqued - The application by hand of a darker color over a lighter color in order to create a unique aged effect.
Hardwood - Durable wood of trees that replace their leaves every year.
Hutch - A component with doors or shelves that is placed on top of a base piece of furniture, such as a desk or buffet.
Inlay - Decorative technique that consists of implanting wood, metal, stones, leather, or other materials into a piece of furniture or veneer.
Kiln-dried Hardwood - Specially treated hardwood to reduce the moisture found in the lumber, thereby ensuring that the frame will not crack, split or warp.
Knot - Knot shapes are carved on wood to bring extra ornament and style, or can be a natural darker area in the grain of the wood.
Laminate - Thin layers of material formed together to create a solid piece to craft into furniture or tabletops.
Leather Match - An alternative to 100% leather, combines top-grain leather seating with skillfully matched vinyl on the sides and back of the furniture.
Mahogany - Durable tropical wood with handsome grain in a reddish color.
Machine - Antiqued: The application by machine of a darker color over a lighter color in order to create a dramatic and creative appeal.
Maple - A hard, heavy, and light-colored natural grain wood.
Marquet - Beautiful pattern displayed by inlays of a material (contrast wood, metal, or ivory) into the veneer of wood.
Matte - In contrast to shiny or glossy looks, matte finish displays rough and warm surfaces.
MDF - Medium density fiber board - a man-made material used as a durable alternative to wood.
Microfiber - A very popular leather alternative consisting of ultra-fine manufactured fibers that are easier to clean and maintain than genuine leather or suede. It is finer than cotton and even silk, and offers superior hand and softness.
Mission/Shaker style - Design philosophy developed in early American furniture-making. A very simple design featuring stripes of wood, mission and shaker furniture and is built on concepts of order, utility and durability.
Modern Style - Clean lines, art, industrial elements and bold color characterize these tables. This style is known for its underlying simplicity of line, shape, form, and attention to practical functions.
Molding - Decorative shape protruding inward or outward from the surface of tables. It results from the use of mold to shape intricate design.
Mortise and Tenon - Simple joinery where the mortise is a cavity into a piece of wood receiving a tenon to create a solid stable angle of a table.
Natural finish - This finish utilizes the original, light color of the wood as a finish.
Nesting tables - Usually a set of 3 tables that can be stored together under one another.
Novelty style - This style table concerns original pieces that make a statement or adhere to an overall theme.
Nubuck -Top grain aniline leather that has had the upper layer removed via buffing or sanding, to create a nap effect. Due to the lack of a protective top layer, nubuck is prone to stains and requires more care than other leathers.
Oak wood - Durable wood of any of numerous deciduous or evergreen trees or shrubs of the genus Quercus, bearing acorns as fruit.
Occasional table - Category gathering any small tables, but generally concerning coffee tables, end tables and sofa tables.
Ottoman - A armless low upholstered seat that can also serve as a table.
Overlay - Decorative layer on surface of a table.
Paint finish - This implies the use of a decorative color to finish a table. Paints can range from simple monochrome to very complex multi color paintings.
Pine - A soft, durable wood that is light in color with a straight, medium coarse grain; ideal for distressed and rustic, decorative finishes.
Plating - With leather it is a smooth, glossy finish created by pressing stainless steel plates into the hide with varying degrees of heat and pressure.
Plywood - Layers of wood attached to each other using a cross grain method. This type of material provides flexibility combined with strength.
Polyurethane - A clear plastic overlay.
Protected Aniline - Aniline dyed leather which has been pigmented to ensure color consistency and stain resistance.
Pure Aniline - Leather which receives its color from aniline dyes with no topical applications, such that natural signatures of leather are visible.
Queen Anne - Very famous 18th century style characteristically known for simple designs and soft shapes.
Sheraton - Straight line style.
Sideboard - A long Buffet table used to hold serving dishes or platters during a meal.
Sofa table - A sofa table is very similar to a console table. It is designed to stand against a sofa. They are perfect to display flowers, decorative items and lamps.
Softwoods - Lower density wood than hardwoods. Usually used for more decorative purposes or economic alternatives.
Stain - Finish applied with a chemical that provide color and highlight wood grains.
Staining - The step in the finishing process that applies color to a piece of furniture, while allowing the grain to show through.
Tapered Leg - A leg that narrows down towards the bottom.
Tapestry - Decorative fabric that features pictures or intricate designs, often similar to large wall hangings made for castles.
Teak - Durable tropical hardwood
Tempered glass - Made to last because it is stronger than regular glass. tempered glass, when broken, is shattered into many small manageable fragments as opposed to large shards.
Top Grain - In leather it is when a hide is split into layers, the surface layer is referred to as top grain. Top grain is the most durable part of a hide split due to the strength of the fibers.
Traditional Style - Based on historic design models, this style is characteristically ornate, ordered and bold. Straight lines are often contrasted with curved details, brass, iron, and hand painted wood.
Tri-Tone Leather - Tri-Tone leather is a carefully crafted cover which blends 3 colors to create this high end look.
Varnish - A finish that is meant to protect the wood and provide some darker finish
Velvet - Soft fabric made of silk, rayon or nylon having a smooth, dense pile and plain underside.
Veneer - Thin leaf of wood applied onto panel or frame of solid wood. It displays richly grained effects inexpensively. Common veneers are rosewood, maple and mahogany.
Victorian - Traditional style of furniture that is also referred to as: Gothic, Victorian Rococo, or Victorian Renaissance.
Walnut - European hardwood with dark brown color.
Wax - Finish adding protection and finish to enhance the natural appearance of wood.