Master material selection and specification terms in interior decor. Create stunning spaces with expert knowledge.
As a professional in the interior decor industry, understanding and mastering material selection and specification terms is paramount to creating stunning and functional spaces. In this article, we delve into essential material selection and specification terms used in interior decor, categorizing them for easy reference.
From wall finishes and ceiling materials to cabinet hardware and outdoor lighting, these terms encompass a wide array of crucial elements that shape the design and ambiance of any interior space. Emphasizing the significance of these terms will empower you with the knowledge needed to make informed and inspired decisions when curating your next design project.
- Bamboo: A fast-growing and renewable material known for its durability and versatility in various interior applications.
- Cork: A natural and eco-friendly material with excellent acoustic properties, often used for flooring and wall coverings.
- Recycled Glass: Glass sourced from recycled materials, commonly used for countertops and decorative elements.
- Reclaimed Wood: Wood salvaged from old structures or furniture, repurposed to add a rustic and sustainable touch to interiors.
- Eco-Friendly Paints: Low-VOC or VOC-free paints that reduce harmful emissions and promote healthier indoor air quality.
- Chenille: A plush and soft fabric with a velvety texture, ideal for upholstery and throw pillows.
- Jacquard: A complex woven fabric with intricate patterns, commonly used for curtains and upholstery.
- Linen: A breathable and durable natural fabric, suitable for curtains, bedding, and upholstery.
- Microfiber: A synthetic fabric known for its stain resistance and easy maintenance, often used for furniture upholstery.
- Sunbrella: A high-performance and fade-resistant fabric designed for outdoor furniture and cushions.
- Hardwood: A classic and timeless flooring material known for its elegance and durability.
- Laminate: An affordable and versatile flooring option that mimics the appearance of hardwood or tile.
- Terrazzo: A composite material made of chips of marble, quartz, and glass, creating a unique and durable flooring surface.
- Cork Tiles: Renewable and comfortable underfoot, cork tiles are a sustainable flooring choice.
- Porcelain Tile: A dense and water-resistant material ideal for high-traffic areas and bathrooms.
- Wallpaper: Decorative paper or vinyl applied to walls, available in a wide range of patterns and textures.
- Wainscoting: Wooden panels installed on the lower half of walls, adding a touch of sophistication and protection.
- Stone Veneer: Thin slices of natural stone applied to walls, providing a luxurious and rustic look.
- Grasscloth: A textured wall covering made from woven natural fibers, adding warmth and dimension to interiors.
- Shiplap: Horizontal wooden boards installed on walls, creating a farmhouse-inspired and textured finish.
- Murano Glass: Hand-blown glass from the island of Murano, known for its artistic and colorful lighting fixtures.
- Brass: A popular metal choice for light fixtures, adding a touch of elegance and warmth to the space.
- Acrylic: A lightweight and durable material often used for modern and sleek lighting designs.
- Fabric Shades: Soft and diffused lighting options, available in various colors and patterns.
- Crystal: Known for its sparkling and luxurious appearance, crystal is used in chandeliers and wall sconces.
- Mortise and Tenon: A traditional joint used in furniture construction for strength and durability.
- Dovetail: An interlocking woodworking joint used in drawers, ensuring structural integrity.
- Kiln-Dried Wood: Wood dried in a kiln to reduce moisture content, preventing warping and cracking.
- Plywood: A strong and stable material made from layers of wood veneer, used in furniture frames and shelves.
- Miter Joint: An angled joint used in furniture corners for a seamless appearance.
- Granite: A natural stone prized for its durability and unique veining patterns, ideal for high-end kitchens.
- Quartz: An engineered stone made of crushed quartz and resin, offering a wide range of colors and low maintenance.
- Butcher Block: Wooden countertops made from strips of hardwood, adding warmth and charm to kitchens.
- Stainless Steel: A hygienic and durable option, often used in commercial and contemporary kitchens.
- Concrete: A customizable material that can be cast in various shapes and colors, suitable for modern interiors.
- Knobs: Small and decorative handles used on cabinets and drawers, available in various materials and designs.
- Pulls: Longer handles or bars used for cabinets and drawers, offering a convenient grip.
- Hinges: Mechanisms that allow doors and cabinets to pivot, available in concealed or exposed styles.
- Escutcheons: Decorative plates surrounding keyholes or doorknobs, adding a touch of elegance to doors.
- Backplates: Plates installed behind knobs or pulls, protecting the surface and enhancing the visual appeal.
- Roman Shades: Fabric shades that fold into neat pleats when raised, providing a clean and elegant look.
- Sheer Curtains: Lightweight and translucent curtains that filter light and provide privacy.
- Valances: Decorative fabric panels installed at the top of windows, adding a touch of sophistication.
- Roller Blinds: Simple and functional window coverings that roll up and down for light control.
- Cafe Curtains: Short curtains that cover the lower half of windows, allowing privacy while maintaining natural light.
- Flame Retardant: Fabrics treated with chemicals to reduce the risk of catching fire, commonly used in public spaces.
- Water-Repellent: Textiles treated to resist water absorption, suitable for outdoor use or kitchens.
- Stain-Resistant: Fabrics with protective finishes that make cleaning spills easier, ideal for households with kids and pets.
- Anti-Microbial: Textiles treated to inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold, promoting a hygienic environment.
- UV-Resistant: Fabrics designed to withstand fading and deterioration caused by sunlight exposure, suitable for outdoor use.
- Venetian Plaster: A decorative and polished wall finish, adding a sense of luxury and texture to interiors.
- Faux Finish: Simulated textures and patterns applied to walls, such as marble or wood, offering a cost-effective alternative.
- Stucco: A rough and textured wall finish, commonly used in Mediterranean and Spanish-style interiors.
- Wallpaper Mural: Large-scale wallpapers with scenic or artistic designs, creating a striking focal point on walls.
- Board and Batten: Vertical boards and battens installed on walls, creating a charming and rustic look.
- Gypsum: A versatile and fire-resistant material commonly used for standard drywall ceilings.
- Coffered Ceiling: A sunken panel ceiling design with decorative beams, adding architectural interest.
- Tin Tiles: Embossed metal tiles used for creating vintage-style ceilings with an elegant and reflective surface.
- Wood Planks: Wooden boards installed on ceilings, offering warmth and character to the space.
- Acoustic Panels: Sound-absorbing panels used to improve room acoustics while maintaining an aesthetic appeal.
Window Frame Materials
- Aluminum: Lightweight and corrosion-resistant, commonly used for modern and slim window frames.
- Wood: A classic and natural choice, offering versatility in design and suitable for traditional and rustic interiors.
- PVC: A cost-effective and low-maintenance material used for durable and weather-resistant window frames.
- Fiberglass: A durable and energy-efficient material that can mimic the appearance of wood or other finishes.
- Steel: Strong and durable, steel window frames are often used in industrial and contemporary designs.
- Nylon: A popular synthetic carpet fiber known for its durability and resilience against stains.
- Wool: A luxurious and natural carpet material, offering warmth and excellent sound absorption.
- Berber: A loop-pile carpet with a textured appearance, ideal for high-traffic areas due to its durability.
- Sisal: A natural fiber carpet, sourced from agave plants, adding a touch of organic charm to interiors.
- Cut-and-Loop: A carpet style combining cut and looped fibers, creating patterned designs and varied textures.
- Porcelain: A common material for bathroom fixtures like sinks and toilets, offering durability and easy maintenance.
- Subway Tile: Rectangular and glazed ceramic tiles, commonly used for bathroom walls and showers.
- Teak Wood: Water-resistant wood often used for shower floors and bathroom furniture.
- Terracotta: Clay-based tiles, suitable for bathroom floors and walls, providing a warm and rustic look.
- Quartzite: A natural stone with a unique texture, used for bathroom countertops and backsplashes.
Green Building Materials
- Hempcrete: A mixture of hemp and lime, offering excellent insulation and sustainable properties.
- Rammed Earth: A technique using compacted soil for walls, providing natural thermal mass and energy efficiency.
- VOC-Free Adhesives: Adhesives used for installation without harmful volatile organic compounds.
- Straw Bales: Insulating blocks made from straw, commonly used for eco-friendly and energy-efficient walls.
- Cork Flooring: Renewable and soft underfoot, cork is an eco-friendly alternative for flooring.
- MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard): An engineered wood product used for cabinet doors and panels, offering a smooth finish.
- Thermofoil: A plastic material applied to MDF cabinet surfaces, creating a seamless and easy-to-clean look.
- Veneer: Thin slices of wood used to cover cabinet surfaces, offering natural beauty and various grain patterns.
- Solid Wood: Cabinets constructed entirely from natural wood, providing durability and a timeless appeal.
- High-Gloss Laminate: Laminated surfaces with a glossy finish, adding a modern and reflective touch to cabinets.
Trim and Molding
- Crown Molding: Decorative molding installed at the junction of walls and ceilings, adding a touch of elegance.
- Baseboard: Molding applied along the bottom of walls to protect the base and enhance visual appeal.
- Chair Rail: A horizontal molding installed on walls, serving as a protective barrier and a design element.
- Casing: Molding surrounding doors and windows, providing a finished look and concealing gaps.
- Picture Rail: A molding installed on walls at picture height, allowing easy hanging and rearranging of artwork.
- Fireproof Glass: Glass with enhanced resistance to heat and flames, commonly used in fire-rated doors and windows.
- Fire-Resistant Fabrics: Textiles treated with fire-retardant chemicals to slow the spread of flames.
- Cement Board: A fire-resistant material used for wall and floor substrates in high-risk areas like kitchens and fireplaces.
- Fireproof Sealants: Intumescent materials that expand when exposed to heat, sealing gaps to prevent fire spread.
- Fire-Resistant Insulation: Insulating materials designed to inhibit the spread of fire and provide added protection.
- Fiber Cement: A composite material made from cement, sand, and cellulose fibers, offering durability and versatility.
- Metal Panels: Steel or aluminum panels used for a modern and industrial exterior appearance.
- Stone Cladding: Natural stone panels applied to the exterior walls, providing a timeless and elegant look.
- Vinyl Siding: Low-maintenance and cost-effective siding material available in various colors and styles.
- Stucco: A textured and weather-resistant cladding option, popular in Mediterranean and Spanish-style homes.
- Wood Stain: A protective coating that enhances the natural beauty of wood while providing weather resistance.
- Exterior Paint: Paint formulated for outdoor use, available in a wide range of colors and finishes.
- Weathering Steel: Steel designed to develop a stable rust-like appearance over time, requiring minimal maintenance.
- Exterior Plaster: A durable and weather-resistant plaster finish for exterior walls, providing texture and color.
- Stone Sealant: A protective sealer applied to natural stone surfaces, preventing water damage and staining.
- Satin Nickel: A brushed and low-gloss finish, offering a modern and subtle look for hardware.
- Oil-Rubbed Bronze: A darkened and antique finish that complements traditional and rustic styles.
- Polished Chrome: A shiny and contemporary finish that adds a sleek and polished appearance to hardware.
- Antique Brass: A warm and aged finish that adds vintage charm and sophistication to hardware.
- Matte Black: A trendy and versatile finish that creates a bold and modern statement on hardware.
- Acoustic Panels: Sound-absorbing panels used to reduce echo and improve sound quality in interiors.
- Mass-Loaded Vinyl: A dense and flexible material used to block sound transmission through walls and ceilings.
- Green Glue: A damping compound applied between layers of drywall to reduce sound transfer.
- Soundproof Curtains: Heavy and thick curtains designed to block external noise and improve privacy.
- Acoustic Underlayment: A specialized material used beneath flooring to reduce impact noise and vibrations.
- Finger Joint: A joinery technique where interlocking fingers are cut into two boards and glued together.
- Lap Joint: A joint where one piece overlaps another, commonly used in construction and woodworking.
- Dado Joint: A groove cut into one piece of wood to fit another piece, often used in cabinetry.
- Butt Joint: A simple joint where the end of one piece is butted against the face or edge of another.
- Mitered Joint: A joint formed by cutting two pieces at an angle and fitting them together to form a corner.
Exterior Wood Finishes
- Exterior Stain: A translucent finish that enhances the natural grain of wood while protecting it from UV rays and moisture.
- Exterior Varnish: A clear and glossy finish used to protect wood from water damage and enhance its appearance.
- Exterior Oil: Penetrating oil that nourishes and protects wood, suitable for decks and outdoor furniture.
- Exterior Paint: Opaque paint designed to provide solid color coverage and protect wood from the elements.
- Exterior Wood Sealant: A protective sealant that forms a barrier against water and prevents wood from cracking and splitting.
- Frosted Glass: Glass treated to create a translucent appearance, offering privacy while allowing light to pass through.
- Laminated Glass: Two or more layers of glass with a layer of PVB (polyvinyl butyral) interlayer, providing enhanced safety and security.
- Tinted Glass: Glass with added color pigments to reduce glare and control the amount of sunlight entering the space.
- Low-E Glass: Glass with a special coating to reflect heat while allowing natural light to pass through, improving energy efficiency.
- Textured Glass: Glass with various patterns and textures, offering both privacy and a decorative element.
- Matte Finish: A non-reflective and velvety finish that hides surface imperfections, suitable for walls and ceilings.
- Satin Finish: A smooth and slightly shiny finish, offering durability and ease of cleaning.
- Eggshell Finish: A low-sheen and easy-to-clean finish, suitable for walls in high-traffic areas.
- Semi-Gloss Finish: A shiny and reflective finish that enhances light and works well for trim and woodwork.
- High-Gloss Finish: An ultra-reflective and durable finish used to create a dramatic and glamorous effect on furniture and cabinetry.
Home Automation Systems
- Smart Lighting: Lighting systems controlled remotely or automatically through smart devices or voice commands.
- Smart Thermostat: Programmable thermostats that learn and adjust temperature preferences, increasing energy efficiency.
- Home Security System: Integrated security systems with cameras, sensors, and alarms, offering peace of mind and safety.
- Voice Assistants: Devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant that control smart home devices through voice commands.
- Smart Locks: Electronic locks that can be controlled remotely, offering convenience and improved home security.
- Subway Tile: Rectangular and glazed ceramic tiles, commonly used for kitchen and bathroom backsplashes.
- Glass Tile: Reflective and colorful tiles, adding a modern and sleek touch to backsplash designs.
- Stainless Steel: Durable and easy-to-clean material, providing a contemporary and industrial look.
- Porcelain Mosaic: Small porcelain tiles arranged in patterns, adding visual interest and texture to backsplashes.
- Marble Slab: Luxurious and natural, marble slabs create elegant and timeless backsplash designs.
- Soft-Close Hinges: Hinges with built-in dampers that slow the closing motion of cabinet doors, preventing slamming.
- Pull-Out Shelves: Shelves mounted on runners that slide out for easy access to items stored in deep cabinets.
- Lazy Susan: A rotating shelf system used in corner cabinets, allowing easy access to items in tight spaces.
- Push-to-Open Mechanism: Hardware that allows doors and drawers to open with a gentle push, creating a handle-free look.
- Drawer Organizers: Dividers and trays that keep utensils and small items organized in kitchen drawers.
- Rain Showerhead: A large showerhead that mimics the feel of raindrops, providing a luxurious shower experience.
- Freestanding Bathtub: A stand-alone bathtub, often with a contemporary design, serving as a focal point in the bathroom.
- Wall-Mounted Faucet: Faucets installed directly on the wall, creating a sleek and minimalist look.
- Pedestal Sink: A sink supported by a freestanding pedestal, offering a classic and space-saving option for small bathrooms.
- Waterfall Faucet: A faucet with a cascading water flow, adding a unique and artistic touch to bathroom sinks.
Home Theater Materials
- Acoustic Panels: Sound-absorbing panels used to enhance audio quality and reduce echoes in home theaters.
- Projector Screen: A specialized screen designed for optimal projection of movies and multimedia content.
- Soundproof Doors: Doors with acoustic insulation to minimize sound transfer between rooms.
- Seating Platforms: Elevated platforms with seating, creating a stadium-style arrangement for better viewing angles.
- Surround Sound Speakers: Speakers strategically placed around the room to create an immersive audio experience.
- Peel and Stick Wallpaper: Self-adhesive wallpaper that is easy to apply and remove without damaging the wall.
- Grasscloth Wallpaper: Textured wallpaper made from natural fibers like grass, providing an organic and rustic look.
- Mural Wallpaper: Large-scale wallpapers with artistic or scenic designs, creating a striking focal point on walls.
- Vinyl Wallpaper: Durable and water-resistant wallpaper suitable for high-traffic areas and bathrooms.
- Textured Wallpaper: Wallpaper with raised patterns or textures, adding dimension and depth to walls.
Outdoor Furniture Materials
- All-Weather Wicker: Synthetic wicker designed to withstand outdoor elements and resist fading.
- Aluminum: Lightweight and rust-resistant, making it a popular choice for outdoor furniture frames.
- Teak Wood: Weather-resistant and durable wood, often used for outdoor dining sets and loungers.
- Sunbrella Fabric: Fade-resistant and water-repellent fabric used for outdoor cushions and upholstery.
- Powder-Coated Steel: Steel coated with a protective powder, preventing corrosion and extending outdoor furniture life.
- Cabinet Knobs: Small and decorative handles for cabinets and drawers, available in various styles and finishes.
- Cabinet Pulls: Longer handles used for cabinets and drawers, offering a convenient grip for easy opening.
- Cabinet Hinges: Mechanisms that allow cabinet doors to swing open and closed, available in various styles.
- Cabinet Latches: Devices that secure cabinet doors and keep them closed when not in use.
- Cabinet Catches: Magnetic or roller catches that keep cabinet doors closed without the need for a handle.
- Wire-Brushed Finish: A technique that enhances the texture of hardwood flooring by removing soft grain and leaving the hard grain exposed.
- Hand-Scraped Finish: A distressed look achieved by manually scraping the surface of hardwood flooring, creating an aged appearance.
- Matte Finish: A low-gloss and non-reflective finish, ideal for a natural and rustic appearance on various flooring materials.
- High-Gloss Finish: A glossy and reflective finish, providing a sleek and polished appearance on tile and hardwood floors.
- Satin Finish: A smooth and slightly shiny finish, offering durability and ease of cleaning on various flooring options.
Rugs and Carpets
- Oriental Rug: A handmade rug originating from Asia, featuring intricate patterns and rich colors.
- Berber Carpet: A loop-pile carpet with a dense and textured appearance, offering durability and a casual style.
- Shag Rug: A deep-pile rug with long, fluffy fibers, adding a cozy and retro touch to interiors.
- Sisal Rug: A natural fiber rug made from agave plants, providing a rustic and eco-friendly option.
- Area Rug: A rug used to define a specific area in a room, adding warmth and visual interest to the space.
- Oak: A durable and versatile wood species with prominent grain patterns, ideal for cabinetry and flooring.
- Maple: A dense and hard wood known for its light color and smooth finish, suitable for modern interiors.
- Cherry: A rich and reddish-brown wood that darkens beautifully over time, often used in high-end furniture.
- Walnut: A dark and luxurious wood with a distinctive grain, adding sophistication to furniture and cabinetry.
- Pine: A softwood with a light color, often used for rustic and country-style furniture and accents.
- Stainless Steel: A durable and corrosion-resistant metal commonly used for cabinet hardware and fixtures.
- Brass: A traditional and warm metal option, often used for door handles and decorative hardware.
- Zinc: An affordable and lightweight metal used for a wide range of hardware and fasteners.
- Aluminum: A lightweight and corrosion-resistant metal commonly used for modern hardware designs.
- Iron: A strong and classic material, suitable for rustic and industrial-style hardware.
Garden and Landscape Materials
- Gravel: A versatile and low-maintenance material used for pathways and garden bed borders.
- Mulch: Organic material like wood chips or straw, used to retain moisture and suppress weed growth in garden beds.
- Pavers: Concrete or natural stone tiles used for creating patios, walkways, and outdoor seating areas.
- River Rocks: Smooth and rounded stones used for decorative purposes and erosion control in gardens.
- Landscape Timbers: Treated wood used for creating raised garden beds and garden edging.
Home Flooring Types
- Laminate Flooring: An affordable and durable flooring option that mimics the appearance of hardwood or tile.
- Vinyl Flooring: A resilient and water-resistant flooring material available in various styles and patterns.
- Engineered Wood Flooring: Real wood veneer layered on top of plywood or high-density fiberboard for stability and versatility.
- Cork Flooring: Renewable and soft underfoot, cork is an eco-friendly and comfortable flooring choice.
- Linoleum Flooring: A natural and biodegradable flooring option made from linseed oil and other renewable materials.
- Coffered Ceiling: A sunken panel ceiling design with decorative beams, adding elegance and depth to the space.
- Exposed Beams: Structural beams left visible in the ceiling, providing a rustic and industrial look.
- Textured Ceiling: A finish applied to the ceiling to create patterns or texture, hiding imperfections and adding interest.
- Beadboard Ceiling: Wooden panels with beaded grooves installed on the ceiling, creating a cottage-inspired look.
- Popcorn Ceiling: A textured finish with a pebbly appearance, commonly used in mid-century homes.
- Granite: A popular natural stone known for its durability and unique veining patterns, ideal for countertops.
- Marble: A luxurious and elegant stone, often used for countertops, flooring, and decorative accents.
- Travertine: A sedimentary stone with a porous surface, providing a rustic and textured appearance.
- Slate: A durable and natural stone with earthy tones, suitable for flooring, countertops, and wall cladding.
- Limestone: A soft and porous stone that adds warmth and charm to interior and exterior spaces.
Armed with this knowledge, you, as an industry expert, can confidently navigate the complexities of material selection, ensuring every element harmoniously contributes to the overall vision. Remember, mastering these terms is not merely a skill but an art, enabling you to transform spaces into captivating and truly exceptional interiors. So, embrace the language of material selection and specification, and let it be your guide on the path to interior design excellence.
Shilpa Ahuja is a designer and editor of Decorisk Magazine. She has worked in hotel interiors at The Park Hotels, India, and has completed several home interior design projects as a freelancer.
She completed her Masters in Design Studies (MDesS) degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She also has a Bachelor degree in Architecture (B.Arch) from Chandigarh College of Architecture. Her work has been published in Indian Design & Interior magazine and exhibited at Harvard University and at Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh.
Shilpa is also the Editor-in-Chief of Shilpa Ahuja Digital Media, which includes ShilpaAhuja.com, one of India’s most-read digital fashion magazines. Originally from Chandigarh, she is currently based in Chennai, and can be reached at [email protected].