Acoustical tile — Fiberboard, fiberglass, or similar material used to absorb sound rather than reflect it. Often used as a ceiling material.
Air exchanger — An HVAC unit designed to exhaust stale air and draw in fresh air. In cold climates, the units often capture latent heat in the air and redirect it to the heating system.
Acrylic paint — A water-based paint made with synthetic resins.
Ampere — The unit used to measure the rate of flow of electrical current.
Alcove — Recessed niche or space connected to the side of a larger space or room.
Alloy — A substance produced by the combination of two or more metals, or a nonmetal fused with a metal.
Ampere — The unit used to measure the rate of flow of electrical current.
Alcove — Recessed niche or space connected to the side of a larger space or room.
Anchor bolt — A threaded rod cast or shot into concrete (or masonry) and used for anchoring — e.g., securing a sill plate to the foundation.
Anodize — Use an electrolytic process and a combination of chemicals to place a protective oxide film on metal.
Architect — A professional who designs and draws up instruments such as construction drawings for buildings and other structures in the built environment.
Areaway — An open area below grade that allows light and ventilation toward a basement door or window.
Ashlar — Stone that is cut in rectangular shapes and fitted together.
Ash pit — A recessed pit below a fireplace hearth that is used to collect ashes.
Atrium —An open space or court within a building.
Awning —A covering made of canvas, metal, or another material. The term is also used to describe a window that is hinged at the top and swings outward.
Attic — A space between the ceiling and roof of a building.
Baffle — A device used to block the flow of sound, light, or wind.
Baluster — A row of posts that supports a rail, such as a handrail used on a stairway.
Banister — Another term for a handrail.
Baseboard — A finish and protective board (or other material) covering where a wall and floor meet.
Basement — Lowest story of a building, generally entirely or partially below ground.
Base plate —A steel plate used at the bottom of a column to spread vertical loads out and anchor the column to the floor.
Batt — A blanket of insulating material (such as fiberglass) manufactured in specific widths to be installed between framing members.
Batten — Narrow strip of material (usually wood) that conceals the spacing between larger boards — such as in board and batten siding.
Batter — A wall that slopes away from perpendicular and is seen mostly in concrete or masonry construction.
Bay window — A window element projecting from a building, which generally has three sides.
Beam —A horizontal structural member that supports loads.
Beam ceiling — A ceiling treatment that exposes ceiling beams to view.
Bearing wall — A wall that supports vertical loads.
Bib — A faucet with threads for the attachment of a water hose. Also called a hose bib.
Blocking — Wood framing pieces used to reinforce, secure, or provide backing for other members or materials.
Board and batten — Siding technique using narrow strips of wood (battens) placed in a pattern over wooden siding. The original intent of the battens was to hide the cracks between the vertical boards.
Bookmatch — A wood veneer pattern produced by alternating sheets (flitches) similar to the leaves of a book.
Brick veneer — A facing of brick installed in front of a frame, concrete, or concrete block wall.
BTU —An abbreviation for "British Thermal Unit," which is the standard measurement for heat loss and gain.
Building inspector — An official whose job is to inspect remodeling or new building construction for safety and compliance with the various building codes.
Built-up beam —A roofing type composed of several smaller beams, all secured together.
Built-up roof — Roofing type composed of layers of felt and asphalt, commonly top-coated with gravel.
C.O.M. — Customer's own material. The customer purchases upholstery from another party rather than the furniture manufacturer.
CAD — Computer-aided design
CADD — Computer-aided design and drafting. However, this term is not used as much as the former designation.
Cant strip — A triangular strip of material used to support or eliminate sharp turns in roofing materials or flashings.
Cantilever — A projected structure that is supported only at one end.
Carriage — The supporting linear frame that holds the treads and risers in a stair.
Casement — A window that is hinged on the vertical side.
Casing — The frame around a window or door.
Caulking — A waterproof material used to seal small spaces between adjoining surfaces.
Cavity wall —A hollow wall made up by two layers of masonry walls constructed a few inches apart.
Cement — An adhesive masonry material.
Circuit breaker — A device that opens or closes an electrical circuit. It opens (breaks) a circuit automatically if an unusually high level of current passes through it.
Chamfer — Easing or angling of the edge of two adjoining planes, often at a 45-degree angle.
Channel — A standardized structural steel shape, which resembles a U.
Chase — A space within a building for routing pipes, ducts, wiring, or other utilities.
Checking — Cracks or splits in a board caused by drying or seasonal changes.
Chimney — A flue used to exhaust gases and smoke from a building. See also Flue.
Chord — The bottom, top, or diagonal member of a truss.
Cinder block — A concrete masonry unit made of cinders and cement.
Cleanout — Removable cover or insert in a sewer waste line for cleaning or inspection of the line.
Clerestory — High windows placed in an interior or exterior wall, used mostly for admitting light to a space.
Collar beam —A horizontal member used to connect opposing rafters in roof framing.
Column — A perpendicular load-carrying member.
Concrete — A mixture of cement, gravel, sand, and water that hardens to a strong solid state.
Concrete block — A precast hollow or solid masonry unit of concrete. See also Cinder block.
Concrete masonry unit (CMU) —A concrete block made of hardened concrete, with or without hollow core cells.
Conduit — An outer channel (primarily of metal) used to contain electrical wiring for protection and safety.
Control joint — A groove troweled or cut in concrete slabs that permits the regulation of cracks.
Corbel — The projecting of masonry construction by placing courses cantilevered beyond the lower ones.
Cornerbead —A metal molding used in plaster or drywall construction to protect and finish corners.
Cornice — The projecting element of a roof or wall.
Course — A continuous row of masonry laid with the same uniform height.
Court — A partial or full open space within a building.
Cripple — A vertical structural member in a door or window that is less than full-height.
Curtain wall —The exterior portion of a building that does not support loads.
Damper — The adjustable plate in a chimney or air duct that regulates the draft or air flow.
Duct — A rectangular- or circular-shaped material (metal, fiberboard, etc.) that is used to transfer air from one space to another.
Diffuser — A device that scatters (diffuses) air, light, or sound into a space.
Dormer — A housing projecting from a sloping roof that accommodates a window.
Double-hung — A window that has bottom and top sashes, either of which can be slid up and down.
Drip — A groove or projecting edge incorporated below a surface to carry water or cause it to drip away from a vertical surface below.
Dimension line — A line that shows the distance (in measured increments) between two points. It consists of a line and arrowheads, dots, or slash marks to mark the exact point of reference.
Drywall — Construction using premade gypsum board panels (versus lath and plaster, which is a wet system).
Eave — The section of a roof that projects over a wall below.
Edge band —Thin veneer of material (such as wood) applied to the edge of a panel, such as plywood.
Efflorescence — Powdery deposit on the surface face of masonry. It is a result of water leaching to the surface and transporting chemical salts from within the structure.
EIFS — Exterior insulation and finish system. Coating system of reinforced stucco applied to the surface of an insulated plastic foam board.
Elevation — A drawing of the front, side, or rear of an object.
Escutcheon — A cover plate on door hardware; or cover for the gap around piping where it enters a surface.
Fascia — A vertical band (wood or other material) secured to the cornice or roof overhang.
Fenestration — The placement of windows on a wall surface.
Finished lumber — Wood that has been dressed (milled or sanded) to be used for constructing cabinetwork and other building trim.
Firebrick — A brick that is hard and withstands great heat. It is used to line fireplaces, furnaces, etc.
Fire door — A door that resists fire and prevents it from spreading between spaces. Fire doors are rated as 20-minute, one-hour, two-hour, etc.
Fire resistant — Capable of slowing the spread of or providing a barrier to fire.
Firestopping — Fire-resistant material installed to close the opening through or around the edge of a floor, to prevent the spread of fire between levels.
Firewall — A wall assembly that prevents fire from spreading between adjacent spaces. Firewalls are rated as one-hour, two-hour, three-hour, and four-hour.
Fixed window — A sealed, nonopening window or glass section.
Fixture — An item of plumbing or electric equipment. The term is also used to denote other specialty items such as medical, laboratory, and display elements (as used in retailing and commercial facilities).
Flagstone — A flat stone used for flooring, steps, walls, and walks.
Flange — The horizontal top and bottom sections of a steel beam.
Flashing — The sheet metalwork used to make a construction assembly weathertight.
Flitch beam —A structural beam utilizing a steel plate sandwiched and bolted between two wood members.
Float — To use a trowel (or tool called a float) to spread cement, stucco, plaster, gypsum joint compound, or other workable materials.
Floor joist — A horizontal structural member that supports and distributes floor loads.
Floor plan — A view from above in a building where an imaginary horizontal cut has been made about four feet above the floor plane.
Flue — A vertical shaft that exhausts smoke from a wood or gas fireplace; also, the piping used to exhaust gases from water heaters and furnaces.
Footing —An enlarged base that supports a wall, pier, or column and distributes the weights of a structure onto the ground.
Framing —The wood or steel construction of a building's framework.
French door — Pair of glazed doors hinged at the door frame jambs, and swinging to meet in the center of the opening.
Frieze — A decorative board of cornice trim fastened to a structure.
Frost line — The depth at which frost penetrates the ground during the winter season.
Furred — Lined with a separate surface material, as on a wall, ceiling, or other assembly.
Furring — Narrow strips of wood or metal secured to a wall or ceiling for the purpose of providing a new ground (surface) to attach other finish materials.
Galvanized —Treated with zinc and lead to prevent rusting.
Gauge — Measure designating the diameter of a wire or thickness of a sheet of material, such as metal.
GFIC — Ground fault interrupter circuit. An electrical device in a circuit that quickly disconnects when current is leaked to the ground — often used in moist spaces.
Glass block — Masonry unit made of glass, with a hollow center.
Glazing — Installing glass in windows or doors.
Glue-laminated beams — Structural beams composed of layers of wood glued together under pressure. Abbreviated as glulam.
Grain — Direction of longitudinal axes of wood grain fibers found in wood members.
Grout — A pastelike mixture of cement, sand, and water used for laying and filing joints in masonry construction.
Gusset plate — A metal plate used to connect various portions (chords) of a truss.
Gypsum — Material made of hydrated sulfate of calcium, used to make sheets of wallboard.
Hardboard — A sheet material made by compressing and gluing fine fibers of wood.
Hearth — Noncombustible horizontal surface immediately outside of a fireplace opening.
Heartwood — Center region of cells in a tree trunk.
Heat pump — Mechanical unit that can heat or cool buildings using refrigeration cycles of air or liquid mediums.
Hollow-core door — Door made with face veneers separated by an inner core of gridded spacers, with solid material around the four edges.
Hose bib — An exterior mounted water faucet. It is frost-proofed in cold climates.
Insulation —Various materials used primarily for the reduction of heat gain or loss through floors, walls, and ceilings of buildings.
Jalousie — Horizontal windows composed of a number of long, hinged glass panels that are operated in unison.
Jamb — The vertical side of a door or window.
Joist — Structural members of wood, steel, or concrete used to support floors, ceilings, and roofs.
Kiln-dried — Refers primarily to lumber that has been dried in a kiln to reduce its moisture content.
Knee brace — Short diagonal brace joining a beam and column.
Lag screw — Large structural wood screw turned with a wrench. Has hexagonal or square head.
Landing — Platform at the beginning or end of a stair, or between runs.
Lath — A base material (often metal) that serves as a base for plaster or stucco.
Lattice — Open framework of wood or other material arranged in a grid-like pattern.
Lavatory — A washbasin in a bathroom. The term sink is often reserved for kitchens, laundry rooms and other spaces.
Lintel — The horizontal structural member that spans openings and supports loads from above, such as at a doorway or above a window.
Live Load — The nonstatic weights of people, snow, furniture, and equipment on a floor, roof, or structural member.
Lockset — Hardware assembly for a door, which includes a deadbolt and latch.
Louver — An assembly used to admit or exhaust air, such as a gable vent or other device.
LVL — Laminated veneer lumber. Thin wood veneers glued together to make a larger structural member.
Mantel — Decorative trim piece or member around a fireplace opening.
Masonry — Materials of brick, stone, concrete block, and burned clay (such as ceramic tile).
Masonry veneer — A layer of masonry units such as brick, stone, or tile facing a frame or masonry wall.
MDF — Medium-density fiberboard.
Metal lath — Expanded metal mesh used as base for applying stucco or plaster.
Millwork — Wood building products used for finish work, such as cabinetry, moldings, and other trim.
Moisture barrier — Sheathing made of various materials that retards transfer of water vapor through walls, floors, and ceilings in buildings.
Mullion — Vertical divider placed between doors or windows.
Muntin — Thin divider trim that separates panes of glass in a window assembly.
Newel — Post that serves as termination for guardrails and handrails.
Nonbearing wall — Wall that has no load-bearing capacity to support other elements other than its own weight.
Nominal — Refers to common size terminology for standard items, rather than their actual size, such as a 2x4 stud, which is actually 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches.
Nosing — Portion of the stair tread that projects beyond the riser below. Also used to describe projection of front edge of a counter-top.
Ogee — S-shaped curve mostly found in trim and roof gutters.
Oriented strand board (OSB) — Construction panel composed of adhesives and shreds /flakes of wood fiber oriented in specific directions.
Parapet — The portion of a building's exterior wall that extends above the roofline.
Pier — A concrete or masonry footing used to support a load from above, such as a column.
Pilaster — Vertical columnlike element in a wall that provides support or stiffening.
Pitch — The incline of a roof or other plane expressed as a ratio of the span to the height.
Plaster — Cementitious material made of portland cement or gypsum. Applied in paste form to a substrate of lath or masonry, and hardens to a finishable surface.
Plate — A horizontal bottom or top member in wall framing.
Plenum — Space used primarily for HVAC ducting. Usually found between ceiling of a space and floor above, or an elevated area constructed for HVAC purposes.
Rafter — Structural member that supports the roof assembly and its finished roofing material.
Raze — Demolish existing construction.
Reinforced concrete — Concrete that has steel reinforcing added to increase its ability to handle various loading forces.
Register — Grille installed at the termination of a mechanical duct for supplying, returning, or exhausting air flow, usually in a directional manner.
Riser — The vertical part of a stair step.
Rough opening —The initial framing size of an opening used to accept a door, widow, or other assembly.
Rowlock — In masonry construction, a brick laid on its long edge, with the end exposed in the wall face.
Run —The horizontal distance of a stair.
R-value — Numerical measurement of a material's resistance to the flow of heat.
Sash —The frame that holds window glass in place.
Scribe —The process of fitting materials such as woodwork or counter backsplashes to irregular faces of a wall or floor surface.
Sealer — Coating that closes the porous surface of a material such as concrete.
Shim — Tapered piece of wood or other material used between two parts for filing voids and to aid in leveling.
Sill — The lowest part or bottom of a window or door. Also can refer to rough wood member that rests on a foundation wall.
Soffit — The horizontal exposed part of a building overhang, such as a roof or balcony.
Soldier — In masonry, a brick (or other masonry unit) laid on its end, with the narrow face to the outside or finished wall face.
Specifications — Written documents that accompany drawings and contain specific information that cannot be conveyed by the drawings alone. They address the materials and the workmanship needed to construct various parts of a building.
Spline — Thin material inserted in grooves cut in two joining pieces of material. Used to hold or align the mating materials.
Split jamb — Preassembled door frame that is made in two halves, installed and locked from opposite sides of an opening.
Sprinkler head —A wall or ceiling device that sprays water in a predetermined coverage pattern, primarily for extinguishing fire.
Stile — The vertical piece in a door panel.
Stringer — The sloped member of a stairway that supports the treads and risers.
Strip flooring — Finished wood flooring manufactured in narrow widths of tongue-and-groove boards.
Stucco — Mixture of portland cement base and sand, which is applied to the exterior of a building. A similar coat applied to the interior of a building is called plaster.
Stud — Vertical wood or steel framing member that is primarily used to build walls.
Sub floor — The under floor sheathing that provides the proper surface for the finished flooring.
Tempered glass — Heat-treated glass that resists breakage.
Terrazzo — Durable flooring made of small stone or other materials embedded in a strong cement-bonding agent and ground smooth.
Thermostat — Electrical or mechanical device that controls the HVAC system by maintaining a preset temperature or providing an override setting.
Threshold — Strip of material used under doors to cover the joint between the finished floor and sill.
Thru —Architectural slang and abbreviation for the word through.
Timber — Wood that is larger in cross-section than 4 x 6 in. (102 x 152 mm).
Top plate — The horizontal framing member on top of a stud wall.
Transom — Small window located directly above a door.
Tread — The horizontal plane of a stairway that one steps on.
Truss — A structural assembly of wood or steel used to span great distances with the minimum amount of material.
Type X gypsum board — A specialized type of gypsum board used for greater fire resistance.
Vapor barrier — Material, generally a sheeting, that prevents water vapor migration into unwanted areas of a building.
Varnish — A tough transparent coating made of a combination of resinous substances with alcohol or oil. Applied with a brush or sprayer.
Veneer — Thin sheets of wood or other material used in surface applications to other materials.
Vent — The vertical pipe in a plumbing system that exhausts sewer gas and provides pressure equalization.
Vestibule — The entry or open area dedicated to the entrance of a building.
Waferboard — Sheathing material or panel made by pressing and gluing flat flakes of wood.
Wainscot — Lower section of a wall finish, usually a different material than the upper section.
Water closet — Common name for a toilet that contains a bowl of water.
Water resistant gypsum board — Panel of gypsum board that is manufactured to resist dampness. Often used in bathrooms as a subsurface for ceramic tile.
Weep hole — A small aperture in masonry construction that allows the drainage of water to the exterior of the building.
Weld — To fuse together two pieces of metal using intense heat from an electrode or rod.
Welded-wire fabric (WWF) wires — A grid for concrete slab reinforcing, made of various diameters and strengths welded together.
Winder — The triangular tread found on a stairway.
Wood molding —Wood assemblies curved or angled in various convex or concave shapes used for trim.
Wrought iron — Soft, malleable iron that can be forged into different shapes.
Dyed yarn — Yarn that is colorized before knitting or weaving into a fabric.
Zero-clearance fireplace — A metal prefabricated fireplace designed to be placed directly against wood framing, without causing combustion of the wood.
Was this article helpful?