Frequently Used Furniture terms


Adjustable Glides – Support devices for leveling or stabilizing units. Alternately referred to as “glides”, “levelers”, or “height adjusters”.

ANSI – American National Standards Institute. An accredited BIFMA standards developer that coordinates development and use of voluntary testing standards to support safe, healthy and sustainable work environments.

Asynchronous Control – Allows the backrest and seat to move simultaneously but independently for the user to maximize his/her comfort.

Base Cap – A solid wood cap that fits over a prong of the metal understructure base.

BIFMA – Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association. A non-profit organization that provides an effective forum for office and institutional furniture manufacturers to collaborate on appropriate industry issues.

Box Drawer – A drawer that is generally 6″ in height. Derives its name from the card boxes in which bankers kept account information.

CARB – California Air Resource Board. An environmental state-funded group that works to attain and maintain healthy air quality, protect the public from exposure to toxic air contaminants, and provide innovative approaches for complying with air pollution rules and regulations. Established Regulation 93120 which sets acceptable emission levels for products used in the state of California.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – One of the gasses in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is released into our atmosphere when carbon-containing fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal are burned. As a result of the world-wide consumption of such fossil fuels, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased over the past century. CO2 is the most common Greenhouse Gas.

Carbon Offset Credits – A credit from another organization’s project that results in less carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere than would otherwise occur. Carbon offsets are bought and sold through a number of brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms. For example, wind energy companies often sell carbon offsets. The wind energy company benefits because the carbon offsets it sells make such projects more economically viable. The buyers of the offsets benefit because they can claim that their purchase resulted in new non-polluting energy, which they can use to mitigate their own greenhouse gas emissions. The buyers may also save money as it may be less expensive for them to purchase offsets than to eliminate their own emissions. Other examples of carbon offsets are solar energy, the protection and restoration of land, and the reduction of methane emission in livestock operations.

Casters – Wheels or rollers which are fitted to a chair base to provide mobility.

Catalyzed Lacquer – A chemical reaction induced by material unchanged chemically at the end of the reaction.

Center Drawer – Commonly referred to as the “pencil drawer”. This drawer is mounted beneath the worksurface, centered between the pedestals. Center drawers are sold both standard with desks or in some cases, must be purchased separately.

Certified Wood – A credible guarantee that wood based products originate from an environmentally responsible source; assures the public that certain wood and paper products come from responsibly managed forests. USGBC LEED recognizes the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified Wood label.

Chain of Custody (COC) – A certificate with a unique number that provides a system for tracking wood through each stage, from the forest to the product’s point of sale. It assures the public that the product was produced from a well-managed forest. A part of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

Chassis – The body of a desk. Refers to those elements that are below the worksurface. Includes end panels, pedestals and modesty panels.

Chemicals of Concern – Chemicals that are potentially harmful to the environment or individuals. These can be present in end products, manufacturing processes, maintenance procedures, etc. Various organizations publish lists of these chemicals such as the EPA, World Health Organization, etc.

COL – Customer’s Own Leather.

COM – Customer’s Own Material.

Cradle-to-Cradle – A term used in life cycle assessment to describe a material or product that is recycled into a new product at the end of its defined life. Manufacturers can obtain Cradle-to-Cradle certification for their products from McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry.

Credenza – A unit with pedestals, generally 18″ to 24″ deep, used in combination with a desk for additional storage. Storage credenzas have center storage areas. Kneespace credenzas have kneespace areas for greater accessibility.

Design for Environment (DfE) – A term describing techniques used to design products with consideration for their environmental impact. DfE seeks to discover product innovations that will meet cost and performance objectives while reducing pollution and waste throughout the life cycle.

Design for Disassembly – The design and engineering of a product so that it can be dismantled for easier maintenance, repair, recovery and reuse of components or materials.

Directional Fabric – A fabric with a pattern that must be carefully matched to be aesthetically pleasing.

Double Pedestal Desk – A worksurface with pedestals at both ends of the unit.

Drawer Configuration – The pattern or layout of drawers within a pedestal. Often seen as box/box/file or file/file.

Emission – The release of any gas, particle or vapor into the environment.

End Panels – Slab end vertical panels that help support the worksurface, located at each end of a desk.

Environmental Management System (EMS) – A systematic approach to dealing with the environmental aspects of an organization. It is a ‘tool’ that enables an organization of any size or type to control the impact of its activities, products or services on the natural environment. See ISO 14001.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – The U.S. federal government organization that sets and enforces environmental regulations nationwide.

Ergonomics – Refers to one’s relation to and interaction with the working environment. In seating, this term more specifically relates to offering the seated individual proper support and the adjustments that will allow for comfort during a variety of tasks.

Executive Chair – A high back chair designed for the person who spends much time seated at a desk. Usually sets upon a 5-prong base which is fitted with casters.

Expanded Vinyl – A thick vinyl which employs a woven fabric backing and is impregnated with color. It complies with most fire codes.

File Drawer – A drawer that is generally 12″ to 13″ inches in height. This drawer is deep enough to support hanging file folders.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – A non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC certification is available to landowners or companies that sell timber or forest products, to establish that they have practiced forestry consistent with Forest Stewardship Council standards.

Formaldehyde – Industrial chemical used to make other chemicals, building materials, and household products. It is one of the large families of chemical compounds called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It can be used in adhesive for pressed wood products, preservatives in some paints and coatings, certain insulation materials, etc. It is a colorless, strong-smelling gas.

Full-to-Floor Pedestals – When pedestals extend to the floor below the worksurface.

Furniture Emission Standard (FES) – Voluntary testing and conformance standards developed by ANSI/BIFMA to measure the emission levels of furniture. Known as ANSI/BIFMA X7.1 Low-Emitting Furniture and Seating. Utilization of FES is recognized in LEED-CI under the Environmental Quality credit for low emitting furniture.

Ganging – The method of joining individual elements into one unit.

Graining – The process of printing a natural woodgrain pattern onto another surface that may or may not be wood product. National Office Furniture does not use this process on any product.

Green Energy – Sources of energy considered to be environmentally friendly and non-polluting.

Greenguard – A certification and labeling program for interior products that addresses indoor air quality.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) – Gases in the atmosphere which reduce the loss of heat into space (especially carbon dioxide). This gas buildup contributes to global temperatures through the Greenhouse Effect.

Grommet – A plastic or metal covering for an opening primarily in casegood tops for routing wires and cords away from the worksurface.

Guest Chair – Often referred to as Guest Conference or Side Chair, is a chair used by those who visit an office for the purpose of a meeting or conference. Design possibilities include a fixed base with glides, four-leg model, sled base, or cantilever base.

High Pressure Laminate (HPL) – Produced by taking several layers of phenolic resin impregnated kraft paper, overlaid with either a woodgrain or solid color paper and a plastic cap sheet, sandwiched together and pressed in a heat-up and cool-down cycle at approximately 300 degrees F and 1,200 psi. and is then adhered to core board.

Hub Liner – A self-lubricating nylon liner which prevents excessive side-to-side wobble in the chair, thereby protecting the spindle from wearing against the base hub.

Indoor Air Quality – A term used to describe the characteristics of the indoor climate of the building with special concern for the impact on occupant health.

Indoor Advantage – An air quality certification from SCS Global Services (SCS) that ensures products meet the accepted criteria for VOC emissions established by ANSI/BIFMA X7.1 Low-Emitting Furniture and Seating. Certification conforms to USGBC LEED-CI for EQ4.5.

Indoor Advantage Gold – An air quality certification from SCS Global Services (SCS) that conforms to the same standards as Indoor Advantage, as well as additional conformance to USGBC LEED-CI for EQ4.1, EQ4.2, EQ4.4, Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), California 01350 Special Environmental Requirements and the California Department of General Service (DGS) Indoor Air Quality Specifications for Open Panel Office Furniture.

ISO 14001 – The standard within the ISO 14000 series that specifies the requirements of an environmental management system. It was developed by the International Standards Organization, a non-governmental organization that is chartered to develop voluntary technical standards that aim to make the development, manufacture and supply of goods safer, cleaner and more efficient.

Knee Tilt Mechanism – A control mechanism that allows a chair to move vertically from the front portion of the seat.

L Unit – Consists of a single pedestal desk with one storage pedestal and a connecting “return”, also with one storage pedestal. An L unit is designated “right” or “left” depending on the placement of the return.

LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. A voluntary nationwide green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED is a nationally accepted benchmark for design, construction and operation of green buildings. There are four levels of LEED certification for new buildings-Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Certification is based on a point system with points awarded for performance in categories of water, energy, materials, indoor environment, innovation in materials and sustainable sites.

level® – A third-party certification that ensures products meet the requirements of the multi-faceted BIFMA e3 Sustainability Standard. level® can be designated as 1, 2 or 3, with 3 being the most stringent.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – The comprehensive examination of a product’s environmental and economic effects and potential impacts throughout its lifetime including raw material extraction, transportation, manufacturing, use, and disposal.

Lumbar – The vertebrae section between the thoracic vertabrae and sacrum. The “small” of your back.

Management Chair – A midback chair designed for the person who spends much time seated at a desk. Usually sets upon a 5-prong base fitted with casters.

Mechanism – The part of a chair that connects the seat assembly to the base. The mechanism allows adjustments such as tilt, swivel seat height, etc., to provide the user with optimum comfort and productivity.

Mid-Pivot – A control in which the pivot point is located towards the front of the seat, allowing minimal rise of the front seat edge.

Non-Directional Fabric – A fabric which will appear smooth, with no visible pattern.

Non-Expanding Vinyl – A thin vinyl where the color is on the surface only. Althought fairly durable, it does not meet the same flammability codes as expanded vinyl.

Overhang – Produced by recessing the modesty panel; when the worksurface overhangs the modesty panel. Overhangs vary from 6″ to 11″. Allows the visitor to position a chair close to the desk.

Pedestals – Storage components which consist of drawers in various configurations.

Pneumatic Lift – A lever located beneath the seat that utilizes a gas cylinder to quickly raise or lower the seat height.

Post Consumer Recycled Content – Material that has been recovered after its use as a consumer product and is used to make another product. Examples include tennis shoes used to make playground surfaces or aluminum soda cans recovered to make more.

Posture Control – Allows the backrest to tilt independently of the seat, allowing for adjustments in back pitch.

Pre-Consumer Recycled Content – Left-over or scrap material generated by a manufacturing process that is collected and reused to make new products. An example is fabric scraps from an upholstering process that are used to make automotive insulation.

Rapidly Renewable Materials – Materials that can be harvested within 10 years. Cork, bamboo and whiteboard are examples.

Recyclability – The ability of a product or material to be recovered from, or otherwise diverted from, the solid waste stream for the purpose of recycling.

Recycled Product – A product made in whole or part from material recovered from the waste stream.

Renewable Energy – Energy derived from sources that do not become depleted such as the sun, wind, ocean, biomass, and heat from the earth’s interior.

SCS Global Services (SCS) – A third-party provider of certification, auditing and testing services, and standards, founded in 1984. SCS offers the Indoor Advantage, Indoor Advantage Gold and Sustainable Choice certification programs.

Seat Suspension – A system that supports the upper part of the seat assembly.

Sheen Level – The degree of luster of the finishing materials, usually topcoats.

SILVERGUARD® – A natural, environmentally friendly, bacteria-fighting defense to inhibit odor and stain causing bacteria, plus the SILVERGUARD® technology is EPA registered and FDA approved. SILVERGUARD® stays fresh and lasts long due to the proprietary manufacturing process which promotes a controlled release of antimicrobial properties. It continues to provide its bacteria-fighting protection after repetitive cleanings. The elemental protection of silver in SILVERGUARD® is an antimicrobial agent. It is safe and efficient in diminishing odors, promoting freshness, and extending the life cycle of a product by attacking bacteria and other destructive organisms.

Suspension – The system that is used to support the drawer and facilitate its movement in and out of the pedestal. General capabilities are 3/4 suspensions and full suspensions.

Sustainability – “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainability Standard (SS) – An open, consensus-based method to evaluate the sustainable attributes of furniture. Developed by BIFMA. SS covers multiple aspects including raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, product usage, reuse/recycle, and product disposal.

Sustainable Packaging – Pack that maximizes the use of recycled material, and is healthy and safe for individuals throughout its life cycle.

Swivel Tilt – A mechanism that allows the chair to rotate or swivel side-to-side as well as tilt back.

Synchronous Control – Allows the back and seat to move in a synchronized 2 to 1 ratio motion.

Task Chair – A chair designed to support individuals who perform task-intensive functions such as data input or technical writing. Usually sets upon a 5-prong base which is fitted with casters.

Thermally Fused Laminate (TFL) – Produced by a single melamine resin impregnated sheet thermofused directly to the core board at approximately 320 degrees F and 350 psi. During the process, the resins liquify and flow, thermofusing the woodgrain sheet to the core (there is no glue line) and because the resins are fully impregnated into the overlay sheet, they produce a hard, durable laminate face.

Tilt Tension Control – Regulates how easily the chair will tilt. It is adjusted to user’s body weight.

UV Finish – The use of ultra-violet light to cure a finish. Characteristics of UV finish include excellent durability and reduced emissions.

USGBC – U.S. Green Building Council. A non-profit organization consisting of professionals from the building industry devoted to promoting buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. USGBC developed the LEED certification guidelines.

Veneer – Thin sheet of wood sliced or sawn from a log, bolt or flitch. Veneer may be referred to as a ply when assembled into a panel.

VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds. Materials that are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. Consistently found higher indoors, VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.

Worksurface – The top of the desk.

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