Construction and Building Glossary
Many professions use terminology that can be understood by other people. However, these professions also use jargon that is used only within that industry. One of these professions is the construction industry. Workers in the construction and building field have lingo that is understood by members of the profession as well as related fields.
To help take the mystery out of the terminology used in the building industry, we have compiled a list of commonly used terms within the industry:
Airway – Amount of space in between roof insulation and the roof boards to allow air to move freely.
Backfill – The soil that is used to replace the ground that has been dug up and removed around and against the foundation of a basement.
Base or baseboard – A board positioned on a wall around the room above the floor which is used to finish the space between floor and wall.
Beam – A structural item that is used to support a load.
Bearing wall – Is the wall that supports any vertical load as well as the weight of the wall.
Bolster – A short horizontal wood or metal beam placed on a column to support and reduce the span of beams or girders.
Brace – An inclined portion of framing wood applied to the wall or the floor to reinforce the structure, mostly on a temporary basis.
Casing- Molding consisting of different widths and thicknesses that are used to trim door and window openings.
Column – A perpendicular supporting beam usually comprised of a base, shaft, and capital.
Construction dry-wall – A type of construction where the interior wall finish is applied in the form of sheet materials or wood paneling.
Corner boards – Used as trim for the outside corners of a home or other frame construction against which the ends are finished.
Cornice – Overhang of a pitched roof, usually consisting of a facie board, a soffit and appropriate moldings.
Counterflashing – A flashing usually used on chimneys to cover shingle flashing and to stop moisture from entering the opening.
Crawl space – A shallow space of a home without a basement usually enclosed by the foundation wall.
Deck paint – Enamel paint with a high degree of resistance to normal wear, designed for use on such surfaces as decks and porch floors.
Doorjamb – The surrounding case into which a door opens and closes. It consists of two upright pieces, called jambs.
Dormer – An opening in a roof which forms a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings.
Drywall -Material, such as gypsum board or plywood, which is used inside and applied in sheets or panels to the wall.
Eaves – The margin or lower portion of a roof hanging over the wall.
Fire-resistive – Applies to materials for construction that are not combustible in the temperature ranges of normal fires and will withstand fires without serious harm of their usefulness.
Flashing – Sheet metal or material used in roof construction or wall construction to protect a structure from water damage.
Flat paint – An interior paint that contains a high amount of pigments which dries to a flat or dull finish.
Footing – A masonrysection in a rectangular shape that is wider than the bottom of the foundation or supporting wall.
Foundation – Supporting portion of a structure under the first floor including footings.
Gable – The portion of the roof above the eaves of a double-sloped roof.
Gloss paint – A paint that contains a relatively low proportion of pigment and dries to a shine or luster.
Girder – The mail piece of wood or steel that is used to support concentrated loads at points along the length.
Grout – Mortar created that will flow into the joints and cavities of masonry work and fill it solid.
I-beam – A steel beam with a cross section that looks like the letter I which are used for long spans when wall and roof loads are forced on an opening such as a door.
Jamb – The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other similar opening.
Joint -The space between adjacent surfaces that are joined and held together by nails, glue, cement, mortar, or other methods.
Landing – An area located between flights of stairs.
Lumber – The product of a sawmill that is unchanged after being sawed or resawed by the mill.
Masonry – Stone, brick, concrete, block, or other similar building materials or a combination, bonded as one with mortar to form a wall.
Molding -A wood strip having a surface that is used mainly for decorative purposes.
Natural finish – A transparent finish which maintains the original color or grain of the wood.
Nonbearing wall – A wall that is supporting no load other than its normal weight.
Partition – A wall that divides areas within any story of a building.
Pier – A column of masonry usually used to support other structural items.
Plywood -A piece of wood made of three or more layers of veneer connected with adhesive.
Primer – The first coat of paint that consists of two or more coats.
Quarter round – A small molding that has the cross section that is the size of a quarter circle.
Rafter – One of a series of structural portions of a roof that is designed to support roof loads.
Reinforcing – Steel rods or metal that is placed in concrete slabs or beams to increase their strength.
Rise – The vertical height of a step or flight of stairs.
Run – The width of a step or the horizontal distance covered by a flight of stairs.
Scratch coat – The first coat of plaster, which is scratched which helps to form the bond on the second coat.
Sealer – A finishing material that is typically applied directly over uncoated wood to seal the surface.
Sheathing – The structural covering used over studs or rafters of a structure.
Shingles – Roof covering of asphalt, wood, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths and widths.
Shutter - Usually lightweight frames in the form of doors located at each side of a window.
Siding - The finish covering of the outside wall of a frame building.
Soffit – Usually the underside of an overhanging cornice.
Span -The distance between structural supports such as walls, columns, beams and trusses.
Stucco - Most commonly refers to an outside plaster made using cement as its base.
Subfloor – Boards or plywood placed on joists over which a finish floor is to be laid.
Tail beam – A relatively short beam supported in a wall on one end and by a header at the other.
Trim – The finish materials in a building, such as moldings applied around openings or at the floor and ceiling of rooms.
Undercoat – A coating applied preceding the finishing coats of a paint job. It may be the first of several coats of paint to be applied.
Varnish -A thickened oil and resin suitable for spreading on surfaces to form continuous coatings.
Vent -A pipe or duct which allows flow of air as an inlet or outlet.
Weatherstrip – Narrow sections of thin metal or a material to prevent infiltration of air and moisture around windows and doors.