Glossary + Materials

The wide world of furniture can be confusing.

We've created a handy Furniture Terminology Glossary to help!

ABS - A common thermoplastic used to make light, rigid molded products.


Acrylic - Often referred to as plexiglass, it can be used in lieu of bent glass to form coffee tables, end tables and dining tables. Compared to glass, clear acrylic is less tinted, lighter weight, very hard to break and when broken, the resulting pieces are not necessarily sharp. Although acrylic scratches more easily than glass, the scratches are typically easier to remove. Acrylic has also become popular recently as dining chair and bar stool seats.


Aniline – A process by which an animal hide is colored, typically in a drum, so the dye penetrates the material rather than simply being a surface top coat.


ANSI/BIFMA Standards - The Business + Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) sponsors the development and maintenance of the standards covering comfort, safety, sustainability, and durability of workplace furniture. BIFMA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Learn More


Bed Sizes - Many of our beds are available in some or all of the following standard US sizes: Twin 39"w 75"d, Full (Double) 54"w 75"d, Queen 60"w 80"d, King 76"w 80"d, California King 72"w 84"d. Other International sizes may also be found elsewhere on the market.


Bent Glass - A sheet of clear or colored glass that is shaped into a side table, coffee table, desk or dining table. Compared to acrylic, clear glass has a slight, often green tint, is heavier, is more resistant to scratches and if broken, the pieces can be sharp to the touch.


Bi-Cast Leather - Also spelled as Bycast Leather. A type of leather consisting of a polyurethane top coat that has been applied to the surface of a split hide to give it a very uniform texture and color. It generally results in a stiffer feel than natural leather and gives the look of leather for a much lower cost. The touch surface is polyurethane and not an animal hide, so Collectic Home does not consider it “Genuine Leather” even though it does utilize a true leather layer.


Bonded Leather - A type of furniture covering with a polyurethane top coat over a fabric backing, but with some leather shavings either applied to the back or mixed into the structural layer. Because it does not utilize an animal hide in the traditional sense, Collectic Home does not consider it “Genuine Leather”. Bonded Leather is a much more affordable way to achieve the look of leather, but it will not have the same wear characteristics as a true leather hide.


Cane - Also called Cane Webbing. Made from the outer bark of the rattan tree and is often used as an accent on dining chair or bench backrests and seats.


Color Temperature - Refers to the appearance of a light source measured on the Kelvin Scale. A warmer light has a lower temperature, such as 3000K - 4000K, and cooler light has a higher temperature of around 5000K - 6000K.


Corrected Leather – A type of leather, generally utilizing a top grain hide, where the surface has been processed, such as sanded smooth, to minimize the appearance of flaws. It is generally then pigmented and embossed with a grain pattern. It is not as soft as lesser-processed leathers, but it is more uniform, more durable and often lower priced.


CRI - Used in lighting, the Color Rendering Index measures the ability of a light source to reproduce colors of other objects compared to natural sunlight, which has a CRI of 100.


Eco Leather - (also called Vegan Leather) A term for faux leather, or leatherette - an artificial leather created from ecologically responsible methods.


Embossed – When referring to leather, embossing is a process used to alter the surface of a hide by etching a grain pattern to resemble a top grain leather.


Enamel - A paint that dries to a very hard, glossy finish.


Espresso - Dark brown color, also known as wenge. 


Frosted Glass - Produced by acid etching or sand blasting a clear sheet of glass. The effect renders the glass translucent by scattering the light that passes through. Because glass is inherently green, the forced translucence generally enhances that color in the panel.


Foam Mattress Types - There are many classifications and descriptions for the foam utilized in mattresses. Here are ones we prefer to use:
• Comfort Foam - Any foam that's layered near the top of a mattress
• Fast-response Foam - A springier alternative to Memory Foam without the body-conforming feel
• Gel Memory Foam - Memory Foam infused with gel beads that can absorb body heat for a fresher sleep experience
• Latex Foam - A durable, high-quality foam that provides a springy, weightless feel
Layered Foam - Typically, the softer more uniform Talalay latex would be employed in the upper layers of a mattress, while the denser, more durable Dunlop latex is used as a base or transition layer
Memory Foam - A type of comfort foam that's typically a denser, higher-quality material that conforms to the body for a slow-response, sink-in feeling
Open-cell Foam - Actually, all mattress foams are Open-cell (Closed-cell is packing material foam); some marketers use the term to suggest their product is cooler and more breathable
Transition or Base Foam - Foam designed for function rather than comfort; it's used as the base of a mattress or above or below coils as a transition layer

Full Grain Leather – The most natural type of leather where the hair has been removed, but little or no other correction has been undertaken. Natural characteristics such as scratches, insect bite marks and stretch marks are visible and are not considered defects.


GREENGUARD Certification - Ensures that a product has met some of the world's most rigorous and comprehensive standards for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into indoor air. Learn More


Hide – The skin from cattle, buffalo and other animals used as a surface material in leather furniture and rugs.


Lacquer - A clear or colored varnish that produces a hard, durable finish.


Leather – A general term used to describe a furniture covering made from an animal hide that has been tanned (dyed).


Leatherette - A form of artificial leather, usually made by covering fabric with a soft PVC layer with an artificial grain. Although leatherette is not as porous as leather, it requires little maintenance and is highly resistant to fading and cracking.


Leather Match – A term used to describe an upholstered piece of furniture where a portion, usually the back or sides, is covered with a man-made material that attempts to match the look of leather so as to greatly lower the overall cost. The seating and touch surfaces are then covered with genuine leather for the look, feel and durability of real leather.


LeatherSoft - Leather with polyurethane for added softness and durability.


LED - The abbreviation for Light Emitting Diode. LED is a solid-state lighting which uses a semiconductor as a source of light. LED bulbs are used in lamps LED for their increased efficiency and longer life.


Limed Oak - 16th century process, also known as cerused oak, involving filling the grains and pores of the wood with a white lead derivative. The modern process uses non-toxic wax to create the same effect, which whitens and rusticates the oak for a richer finish.


Lumens - Refers to the amount of light produced by a light bulb with more lumens equalling more light output.


Masonite - Boards, sometimes used on platform bed support systems, made from wood chips which are disintegrated with high-pressure steam and then pressed and heated to form a smooth product with a burnished finish. No adhesive is used to bond the fibers and the product has a high tensile strength and density which allows for easy bending.


MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) - An engineered wood product formed by applying high temperature and pressure to a combination of wood fibers, wax and resin. MDF is generally 3-4 times stronger than particleboard and is an excellent core for wood veneer products. Furthermore, MDF has no natural grain and, therefore, no tendency to split, is uniform in size and strength and is the most cost effective material used in furniture manufacturing worldwide. This balance of strength and cost in MDF is the main reason that approximately 90% of all furniture manufactured today consists, at least in part, of MDF. 


Melamine - A durable, plasticized laminate commonly used over an MDF core in kitchen and bathroom countertops, as well as furniture.


Microfiber - A synthetic fabric specifically designed for softness and durability, typically made from polyester fibers. Microfiber is designed to repel liquids and resist staining, which makes it second only to leather in terms of overall durability of upholstered fabrics.


Nubuck - A fabric covering most often utilizing leather that has been aniline dyed and buffed to create a soft, suede-like feel.


Polyurethane (PU) - A manmade plastic-like material often applied to the surface of a fabric to create a leather look with high durability and reduced cost.


Polywood - Made from HDPE - short for “high-density polyethylene” — a durable plastic widely used to make milk jugs, laundry detergent containers, bottle caps, etc. HDPE, by nature, is an extremely durable plastic that is weather resistant and easy to clean — perfect for outdoor furniture. In addition to HDPE, POLYWOOD lumber includes UV-inhibited pigment systems to help maintain colors throughout the material, not just on the surface. 


Powder Coat - A finishing process typically used for metals, including furniture, automobile and motorcycle parts. Although the finish is similar in appearance to standard liquid paint, power coating is generally applied electrostatically as a dry powder, allowing a thicker, more even finish (without running like a liquid paint). Power coat finishes are known for their durability, in particular.


PPM (Polyurethane-Polyester Microfiber) - A new upholstery material that has many advanced features including breathability, super durability, easy cleaning and maintenance. It is suitable for all climates and with its high durability, it emulates the finest leathers. PPMs 1.5 mm thickness gives reliable strength that also resists tearing, sagging, crocking and shrinking. PPM is recommended for high traffic commercial environments.


Protected Leather - A type of leather that has been processed to increase durability, but results in a less-natural look. Also called Corrected Leather, but may include hides that are not Top Grain.


PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) - One of the most widely used plastics in the world in everything from clothing and piping to furniture.


Rattan - A naturally renewable, vine-like species of palm tree that is flexible, durable and lightweight.


Regenerated Leather - Made in a process similar to that of paper, Regenerated Leather has a completely smooth surface, is durable, easy to clean and is less expensive than genuine leather. Production includes compressing fibers of leather waste with other materials such as latex, synthetic compounds or natural gums. It is also sometimes called Bonded Leather.


Silk-Screened Glass - A modern alternative to frosted glass, silk-screening glass is printed with a color on one side. Depending on the applied color, silk-screening minimizes the inherent green color of glass by preventing light from passing completely through the panel.


Split Grain Leather - Also called Split Leather. Created from the middle or bottom layer of the hide just below the top grain after it has been split. Split grain leather has an additional layer applied to the surface which is embossed with a leather grain. Split grain leather is known for its balance between durability and value. Since split grain leather is more abundant than top grain it can be produced more cost effectively. Additionally, the manufacturing process minimizes many of the natural imperfections in the hide itself, while sustaining the natural strength of the fabric. They are often used on the backs & sides of sofas where there is less stress to reduce the overall cost of a piece of furniture.


Suede – A type of leather utilizing the lower layer of a split hide where a velvet-like nap effect can be felt on the surface.


Tempered Glass - a type of safety glass with increased strength compared with normal glass. Tempering creates balanced internal stresses which cause the glass, when broken, to crumble into small granular chunks instead of splintering into jagged shards. The granular chunks are less likely to cause injury. In addition to its obvious safety advantages, consumers should be aware that tempered glass is unusually sensitive to edge damage (scratches, nicks, etc.) that may occur during shipping, handling, installation and/or routine use or maintenance. Breakage may occur immediately from such damage, or in the weeks or months that follow. Exposure to rapid changes in temperature or concentrated temperature zones (heat from candles, cold from iced drinks, etc.) can also cause breakage. In addition to the use and handling types of breakage, tempered glass is also known to break due to a specific type of imperfection or “inclusion” that occurs within the glass during its manufacture. When this condition exists, glass breakage sometimes appears to occur without any obvious cause. This is often referred to as “spontaneous” breakage and can be quite dramatic.


Top Grain Leather - A type of leather using the top, outermost layer of the hide. They may be either full grain (natural) or embossed grain (corrected), but generally less processing results in a softer character. The top grain is also stronger and more flexible. 


Vegan Leather - (also called Eco Leather) A term for faux leather, or leatherette - an artificial leather created from ecologically responsible methods.


Veneer - Thin layers of wood that are applied onto a core panel such as MDF. Generally, the finest logs are sent to veneer producers in order to make the most efficient use of rare and beautiful wood grains. Rather than producing solid lumber, veneer manufacturers can produce up to 45 times more usable veneer. In addition to preserving natural resources, veneer enables furniture manufacturers to design pieces otherwise impossible with solid woods that are much more susceptible to changes in humidity. Wood veneers will change in color and tone over time when exposed to sunlight.


Vinyl - A manmade, plastic-like material designed to resemble leather that is similar to polyurethane (PU). It is often lower priced than PU, but not as versatile or as durable.


Wattage - The amount of energy used to produce light. The higher the wattage, the more electricity is used.


Wenge - A large tree of Central and West Africa valued for its hard dark wood, often used in furniture and flooring. Now used commonly, as with espresso, to describe very dark brown coloring in furniture.

Wicker - A style of weave using natural materials like cane, rattan, or bamboo, or synthetic materials like resin and vinyl. Wicker has been used for thousands of years, but it was popularized during the Arts and Crafts movement beginning in the early 1900s.