Glossary of Terms

This glossary can help you to have a better understanding of the renovation process and meaning of the common terms used during this process.

Glossary of Terms

This glossary can help you to have a better understanding of the renovation process and meaning of the common terms used during this process.


Accents: A contrast, outline or highlight for added detail and emphasis.
Accent Lighting: Lighting designed to enhance architectural amenities or display areas.
Accessories: Anything that you add to your kitchen cabinets to enhance their functionality. This includes decorative hardware, storage solutions, and other useful cabinet enhancements.
Ambient Lighting: Basic, overall room illumination.
Antique Glazed Finishes: To create the look of freshly restored heirloom kitchen cabinetry, the wood is first over-sanded and distressed with random impression marks. A base stain is then applied, followed by a carefully hand-wiped glaze to create soft highlights in the corners and recesses. For an additional accent of color, a highlight glaze is hand-applied to the recesses in the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
Appliance Garage: Common name for a roll-up or single door unit placed under a kitchen wall cabinet. Sometimes called ‘tambours.’
Appliqué (on lay): An intricately carved decorative design element installed on the surface of a kitchen cabinet.


Backsplash: Wall protection at the back edge of the kitchen countertop; designed to seal the counter and protect the wall from spills and damage; can be integral to the counter or applied directly to the wall.

Base Cabinet: These are kitchen cabinets that are installed on the floor or ground, as opposed to wall cabinets which are installed at eye-level.
Batten: A strip of thin, narrow lumber used to cover or reinforce the joint between two pieces of lumber.
Bead (Beaded): A small double groove routed out around the perimeter of a cabinet frame or door giving the appearance of an added rounded, narrow molding.
Bead Board: Paneling that incorporates beaded, routed detail and conveys relaxed, casual styling. Beaded styling adds texture and kitchen design and remodeling to flat panel wood coverings, and is noticeably accentuated by glaze finishes.
Beaded Inset: A kitchen cabinet design style in which the door closes within the frame and has a double groove routed around its perimeter.
Beam Spread: The area brightened by the light a fixture casts in a room.
Bevel: The slant of a surface, as on a beveled edge door or countertop.
Bottom-Mount Unit: Freezer below the fresh-food compartment.
Built-In Unit: Refrigerator sized to fit flush with the countertops. Also called counter-depth refrigerator.
Bullnose Tile: Also called cap tile, shaped to define an edge of a surface, such as a countertop.
Burl: A knot in wood that gives the wood fibers a beautiful peacock-tail pattern.
Butt Doors: A kitchen cabinet design style were two doors with adjacent edges nearly meet, and between which there is no exposed frame or mullion.
Butt Joint: Joint formed by butting the ends of two pieces of wood together. Usually attached by glue or staples or both. 


Canter Racks: Wine storage with a permanent incline to keep corks moist.
Casual: A kitchen design and cabinetry style elements that convey an informal, relaxed, comfortable lifestyle. Formality is less important than comfort.
Ceiling-Mount Fixture: Overhead kitchen lighting that provides general illumination.
Ceramic Tile: Made from refined clay, usually mixed with additives and water and hardened in a kiln. Can be glazed or unglazed.Color Palette: An arrangement or grouping of colors and materials that reflects a particular range of color selections used in kitchen & bath design, remodeling, and interior design.
Color Trends: Prevailing interior design tendency of popular colors; direction of color movement.
Complementary Colors: Opposite colors on the wheel that complement each other. For example – red and green, blue and orange, and violet
Concealed Hinge: A hinge that is attached to the cabinet door and the inside end of a cabinet, making it invisible from the exterior of the kitchen cabinet.
Continuous Pull: The door handle is an integral part of the kitchen cabinet door style and design which runs the full width of the door. The handle is not a separate piece of decorative hardware.
Conversion Varnish: An element of a finishing process, and as intermediate and/or topcoats used in the manufacturing of many kitchen cabinets. This sprayed-on chemical is bonded to the wood when heated in special ovens.
Corbel: A decorative bracket that can sometimes be used as a practical support piece for mantels, shelves and more.
Cope and Stick Joinery: Cope and stick joinery is a wood construction technique that features a 90-degree connection as opposed to a miter cut joinery of 45 degrees.
Crown or Crown Molding: In general, this is any molding that is applied to the top of any kitchen, bath or other wall cabinetry.
Cup Hinge: Used to hinge full-overlay kitchen cabinet doors. The hinge is set into a round recessed area routed into the back of the cabinet door. The hinge is also attached to the door frame. 


Dados: Grooves on the sides and frames of cabinets in which walls and bottoms of bases are glued and fastened.
Dental Molding: Trim molding with a tooth-like pattern used in kitchen & bath design, remodeling or home improvement project.
Diagonal Cabinet: A kitchen cabinet used to span across a corner. Sometimes called a Wall Angle cabinet, Lazy Susan cabinet or Corner Wall cabinet.
Distressing: Factory-applied techniques that give kitchen cabinets a furniture-aged look. Random wormholes, compression marks and corner over-sanding are distressing elements used to convey gently aged fine furniture.
Dovetail joint: A joint formed by interlocking a series of pins, extending from one end of a board, with the tails cut into another board, then gluing the joint. No mechanical fasteners are needed.
Downlight: Recessed or attached to the ceiling, a spotlight that casts light downward.
Drawer Front: The face of the drawer that coordinates with the door style.
Drawer Slides/Guides: The metal tracks mounted to kitchen drawers and the inside of kitchen cabinets for suspending drawers and enabling them to open and close. Slides can be bottom or side-mounted.
Drop-in/Self Rimming Sink: Kitchen sink with a raised rim or lip that rests on the countertop; lip helps support the sink within the kitchen countertop cutout. Also called ‘top-mount’ kitchen sink.


Edge Treatment: Special shaping or materials applied to the front edge of a countertop, usually to provide a rounded contour or to hide the exposed edge of the substrate.
Engineered Wood: Wood fibers and/or particles that have been bonded with synthetic resins under heat and pressure are formed into panels or boards. Engineered wood is more dimensionally stable and easier to machine than solid wood or plywood, making it the choice of many kitchen cabinet manufacturers for kitchen cabinet boxes.
End Grain: The surface of wood exposed after cutting across the fibers. In general, cuts made across the grain will expose the end of the grain. This end grain will generally absorb finish more than the rest of the wood, sometimes resulting in a slightly darker color and sometimes making the top coat look slightly duller.
End Panel: The wood panel on the outside of a base cabinet.
Exposed Hinge: A hinge is attached to the kitchen cabinet door and the front frame of the kitchen cabinet, making it visible from the exterior. 


Face-Frame: The front structure of a kitchen cabinet made of stiles and rails; it surrounds the kitchen door panels or kitchen cabinet drawers.
Farm Sink: Single, large rectangular bowl with exposed apron front; popular for cottage style kitchen designs and remodels.
Filler piece: A piece precisely fitted to fill gaps between cabinets in order to ensure the cabinetry precisely fits the room.
Finish: A varied color or transparent coating applied to wood. Rich grain patterns may be obscured by an opaque finish. For that reason, Holiday uses transparent stains that enhance the natural beauty of grain patterns.
Flat Panel: A recessed center panel to a kitchen cabinet door or drawer design conveying Transitional, Shaker, or Arts and Crafts styling.
Floating Floor: Tongue-and-groove laminated or engineered-wood sections connected to each other but not fixed to the floor beneath.
Flush: On the same plane and/or level with the surrounding surface.
Flute: A groove routed into a wood part. Flutes may have a functional purpose, as with fluted dowels, into which glue is disbursed, or a decorative purpose as in fluted fillers.
Fluted Columns: Grooves or routings adorned in wood on columns or panels to add detail or accent finishes such as glazes.
Framed Cabinet: Kitchen cabinets with an applied front face-frame around the kitchen cabinet opening to which the cabinet door is attached. Cabinet doors may lie directly on the face-frame itself or are mounted flush or inset into the frame.
Frameless Cabinet (European Style): Kitchen cabinets that have no front face-frame. The omission of the face-frame provides the necessity and inherent characteristic of the full-overlay door which is attached directly to the side of the cabinet rather than the frame.
Fretwork: Ornamental carving or fancywork.
Frieze: Decorative running design or cutout (fretwork) running along the top of a kitchen cabinet.
Full Overlay: From a purist point of view a typical frameless kitchen cabinet door style covers just about the entire size of the kitchen cabinet box or carcass (give or take 1/16th of an inch). With the growing popularity of frameless cabinetry, framed manufacturers are now using this term to describe their kitchen cabinet doors that cover more of the face frame than in the past, showing less reveal or gap (distance between doors/drawers), giving a more frameless streamline appearance.


Galley: A kitchen layout characterized by two parallel runs of cabinetry on opposing walls.
Glaze Finish: A base stain is applied to the wood, followed by a hand-wiped glaze in the corners and recesses, adding richness. A highlight glaze is then hand-applied to the recesses in the kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts for an accent that further enhances the color depth in cabinet door and drawer profiles.
Grain: The general direction of the fibers in wood that gives wood its unique pattern and artistry. Depending on the species of tree and the unique growing conditions, a tree can produce wood with grains that are straight, spiral, interlocking, wavy, or even curly. The perception of the wood color is largely determined by the way in which light plays off each grain. *How the wood is cut relative to the grain also affects how the wood finishes. Sawing and planing can be done across the grain, with the grain, or against the grain – each having a different effect on how the wood accepts stain.
Granite: A quartz-based stone used often in kitchen design with a tough, glossy appearance; granite is harder than marble.
Green: Environmentally friendly kitchen design and remodeling using green and sustainable materials and processes.
Grout: The material used to fill and seal the joints between ceramic tiles. 


Hanging Rail: A brace across the back of a kitchen cabinet that is dadoed into each end panel. Screws are driven through the kitchen cabinet back and into the hanging rail to install the kitchen cabinet to the wall. Base cabinet braces are sometimes referred to as ‘installation rail.’
Hardwood: Wood from broad-leaved, mostly deciduous trees.
Heartwood: The mature wood that forms the spine of the tree; usually darker than sapwood.
Honed Finish: A satin rather than high-gloss finish achieved by removing the highly polished surface.
HPL: High-pressure laminate is a durable composite material in which the finish and back layers are bonded by glue under extreme heat and pressure.
Hutch: A free-standing furniture unit created with cabinetry to display, serve or store. Also known as a buffet server or china cabinet. 


I-Beam: A horizontal support member joining a cabinet front frame, end panel, and cabinet back of a base cabinet.
Impervious Tile: Tile least likely to absorb water.
Inset Door/Drawer: Kitchen cabinet design door style where fronts are recessed to fit flush with the kitchen cabinet’s face frame.
Island: An independent segment of cabinetry that doesn’t touch any walls and is typically centrally located within the kitchen design or floor plan.


Knife Hinge: One of the many hinge types of kitchen cabinets, the knife hinge is inserted into a slot routed into the side of a door. The hinge is attached to both the door frame and the door with screws, which properly align the door on the frame. Some knife hinges are visible from the front of the kitchen cabinets; others are not.
Knot: A naturally occurring hole in lumber created where a branch extended from a tree.


Laminate: A piece made from bonding together layers of wood, plastic, or other material.
Latex paint: A paint that provides a surface that is easily and quickly cleaned.
Layout: A plan showing where kitchen cabinets, appliances, and fixtures will be located. 


Marble: A semi-hard and durable limestone characterized by varied patterns and colors of veins.
Matte Finishes: Finishes with an intentionally lower level of shine or luster.
MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard): An engineered wood offering an extremely tight and smooth surface. Exceptionally stable, MDF is favored for laminating with thermofoils and melamine.
Medullary Ray: A pattern of light that runs across the grain, causing “ray-fleck” or “splash figures.”
Melamine: A low-pressure laminate thermo-fused to a smooth substrate.
Millwork: Machined woodwork.
Mineral Streak: Discoloration in lumber caused by chemical oxidation of minerals naturally occurring in the wood. Mineral streaks will be more prominent in lighter woods, such as maple. Darker stains can mask mineral streaks.
Miter: Two angles cut and joined forming a continuous profile. Also called mitre.
Medullary Ray: A pattern of light that runs across the grain, causing “ray-fleck” or “splash figures.”
Mitred joints: A joint formed by beveling two pieces of wood at 45 degrees in order to make a 90-degree joint.
Morning Bars: Mini-kitchenettes designed into a master dressing or bath suite. Includes cabinetry, storage and countertop for morning coffee or a late-night snack.


Natural: A topcoat that is applied to the wood without the application of a color stain, resulting in well-defined grain patterns and characteristics.
NKBA: National Kitchen and Bath Association


Oil-based paint: Usually chosen by professionals, these paints provide a smooth and durable surface.
Overlay: The degree or amount a door overlays the frame or front edge of a kitchen cabinet.


Painted Finish: Typically several coats of heavily pigmented stain that saturate the wood for rich, beautiful color. These finishes may sometimes be Semi-opaque: meaning some of the natural beauty of the wood grain may be visible.
Peninsula: A typically short section of kitchen cabinetry designed and joined perpendicularly to one end of an L-shape or U-shape kitchen design configuration.
Pitchpocket: An opening in the wood fiber that has held the resinous material, pitch.”
Plywood: Thinly cut layers of wood veneer cross-laminated with adhesive between layers.
Pot-Fill Faucet: Wall spigot that delivers cold water only, mounted near the range or cooktop so cooks needn’t carry heavy, water-filled pots from the sink. 


Rail: The horizontal members of a kitchen cabinet’s front frame or door.
Range: A combination cooktop and oven.
Reveal: The area of the face-frame not covered by the cabinet door.


Sapwood: The new wood of the tree that helps carry sap and stores food for tree growth.
Scribe: Careful fitting, in exact conformity, of an edge to the adjacent panel or wall.
Shaker Style: Simple and uncluttered kitchen design style reflective of a historic section of Eastern American descent called Shakers. Kitchen cabinetry door styles and designs are simple and have a recessed panel.
Sapwood: The new wood of the tree that helps carry sap and stores food for tree growth.
Silicone: Silicone should not be used on cabinetry, because they build up over time and make it difficult to repair or repaint cabinetry.
Soffit: In kitchen design terms of the past, a soffit was a dropped ceiling that was used to add dimension or architectural detail. Today, more people want to remove their kitchen soffit to take their cabinetry to the ceiling.
Soft Close Hinge: Hinges that allow the cabinet to close slowly and softly.  Eliminates the “slam” of the cabinet door.
Stain: An alternative to paint which is used to cover and color a surface, stain is often used to enhance the natural beauty inherent in each type of wood.
Stile: The vertical members of a kitchen cabinet’s front frame or door.
Stone Tile: Marble, granite, limestone, and slate are some examples. Dimensioned (or gauged) stone is cut to uniform size. Hand-split (or cleft) varies in size.
Strip Flooring: Boards less than 3 inches wide. 


Tambour Door: A kitchen cabinet door that opens vertically, by running in a rack-mounted on each side of the door frame. The flexible fabric back is surfaced with narrow slits of wood veneer or laminate, allowing the door to roll within the upper back of the cabinet when in the open position.
Task Lighting: Fixture that brightens a specific area or surface for work and tasks.
Tenon: A projection at the end of a piece of wood. When inserted into a mortise (carved or dadoed area), forms a ‘mortis and tenon’ joint. Usually joined with glue.
Thermofoil: Flexible, 100 percent solid-colored vinyl. With adhesive on its underside, it is applied to smooth, engineered wood or MDF which has been formed into a door, drawer or molding design. It has solid, semi-transparent coloration and is easy to clean and maintain. Although limited to certain kitchen cabinet door styles thermofoil cabinets can provide a painted kitchen look without the painted kitchen price.
Toe-kick: The indentation at the bottom of a floor-based kitchen cabinet. Also known as toe space.
Tongue and Groove: A projection along the edge of a board inserted into a corresponding groove and fixed with glue and/or a metal pin. Other terms for this type of joint include Dado, Mortise and Tenon.
Traditional: Relating to or based on inherited, established or customary kitchen design. Design elements are consistent with historic American classic style.
Transitional: Clean, uncluttered, open kitchen design and remodeling style that utilizes a warm, more contemporary approach. Often a passage between two design concepts.
Translucent: Material that transmits and diffuses light so that objects beyond cannot be seen clearly (i.e., frosted glass cabinetry doors).
Trim Panels: A method to cover kitchen appliance fronts to help them blend with surrounding  kitchen cabinets, design and remodeling or present a different finish. 


Under Cabinet Lighting: A compact strip or track of kitchen task lighting that installs under a wall cabinet to provide useable light for a kitchen countertop.
Undermount Sink: Rimless kitchen sink, recessed below tile, stone, or solid surfacing countertops.
Unfinished: Kitchen cabinetry, molding and accessories are sometimes available unfinished. Because unfinished kitchen cabinets lack the protection of a finish coat and are more susceptible to damage from variations in temperature and humidity, warranties are usually void for this option. Some manufacturers may offer a primed cabinet finish option. 


Veneer: A thinly sliced layer of wood applied to a substrate.
Vintage Finish: Kitchen cabinetry finish that creates the look of heirloom cabinetry that’s been well-used and loved. Typically the wood is first distressed and over-sanded. Several coats of heavily pigmented stain are then applied followed by another round of over-sanding on the corners and edges of kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts.


Wainscot: Lower portion of an interior wall that contrasts with the wall surface above it. A wall composed of two different surfaces, one above another. Classic wainscot is vertically beaded paneling on the lower portion of a wall, capped by a decorative molding or ‘chair rail.’
Wall Cabinet: Kitchen cabinets are installed at, or above, eye-level. Sometimes called an ‘upper cabinet.’
Waxes for wood furniture: Waxes should not be used on cabinetry because they typically leave behind a residues that builds up over time and can attract dirt, grime and smoke.
Wood furniture polish: Polishes made for wood cabinetry are better than waxes or silicones. Polishes have mild detergents that clean surfaces, emulsifiers that make it last and leave behind mineral oils that serve as a barrier to dirt and moisture.
Wood moisture: Wood is composed of fibers that, when the tree was alive, “breathe” the surrounding air, either absorbing or giving off moisture. Wood cabinets will continue to swell as they absorb moisture and shrink as they give off moisture. For this reason, it is important that interior relative humidity and temperature be maintained in order to prevent expansion and shrinkage that make for ill-fitting doors or panels.
Work Triangle: The triangle formed by drawing lines from the kitchen sink to the refrigerator to the cooktop and back to the sink.

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