GLOSSARY OF CONSTRUCTION TERMS (A - M)
ABSTRACT OF TITLE:
A summary of all deeds, wills, and legal actions to show ownership.
Joining the ends of construction members.
The science of sound. In housing, acoustical materials used to keep
down noise within a room or to prevent it from passing through walls.
Construction using sun-dried units of adobe soil for walls; usually
found in southwestern United States.
A structural system utilizing members which when fastened together
resemble the letter A.
Gravel (course) or sand (fine) used in concrete mixes.
An apparatus that can heat, cool, clean, and circulate air.
Lumber that is left in the open to dry rather than being dried by a
A pipe, usually made of sheet metal, that conducts air to rooms from
a central source.
A U-shaped pipe filled with water and located beneath plumbing fixtures
to form a seal against the passage of gases and odors.
A recessed space connected at the side of a larger room.
A change in, or addition to, an existing building.
An installment payment of a loan, usually monthly for a home loan.
The unit used in the measure of the rate of flow of electricity.
A threaded rod inserted in masonry construction for anchoring the sill plate
to the foundation.
A structural piece of rolled steel shaped to form a 90-degree angle.
Inside window trim placed under the stool and against the wall.
A series of arches supported by a row of columns.
A curved structure that will support itself by mutual pressure and the
weight above its curved opening.
A wall surrounding an areaway.
A recessed area below grade around the foundation to allow light and
ventilation into a basement window or doorway.
A facing of squared stones.
The area below the hearth of a fireplace which collects the ashes.
Bituminous sandstones used for paving streets and waterproofing flat
Composition roof shingles made from asphalt-impregnated felt covered
with mineral granules.
T-profiled molding usually used between meeting doors or casement windows.
An open court within a building.
The space between the roof and the ceiling.
An out-swinging window hinged at the top.
Line around which something rotates or is symmetrically arranged.
Earth used to fill in areas around foundation walls.
The part of the hearth inside the fireplace.
A partial blocking against a flow of wind or sound.
A deck projecting from the wall of a building above the ground.
The building-frame construction in which each of the studs is one piece
from the foundation to the roof of a two-story house.
A series of balusters or post connected by a rail, generally used
adjacent to stairs.
Finish board covering the projecting and sloping portion (end rafter) of
a gable roof.
The finish or a room at the junction of the walls and floors.
Finish board covering the interior wall where the wall and floor meet.
The lowest part of masonry construction.
A located line for reference control purposes.
The lowest story of a building, partially or entirely below ground.
A plate, usually of steel, upon which a column rests.
A molding used next to the floor in interior baseboards.
A type of fiberglass insulation designed to be installed between framing members.
Narrow strip of wood nailed over the vertical joints of boards to form
A masonry or concrete wall which slopes backward from the perpendicular.
Horizontal boards at exact elevations nailed to posts just outside the corners
of a proposed building. Strings are stretched across the boards to locate the outline
of the foundation for workers.
A projection formed by three windows that are joined at obtuse angels.
A horizontal structural member that carries a load.
A ceiling in which the ceiling beams are exposed to view.
Metal plate that provides support for a structural member.
BEARING WALL OR PARTITION:
A wall supporting any vertical load other than its own weight.
Mark on some permanent object fixed to the ground from which land
measurements and elevations are taken.
A measure of the forces that break a beam by bending.
A frame consisting of two supporting columns and a girder or
truss used in vertical position in framing a structure.
Shingles or other siding board thicker on one edge than the other.
The thick edge overlaps the thin edge of the next board.
BILL OF MATERIAL:
A parts list of material accompanying a structural drawing.
Insulation in rolled-sheet form, often backed by treated paper that
forms a vapor barrier.
Method of nailing which will conceal nails, usually used on strip flooring
and wood paneling.
Small wood framing members that fill in the open space between the floor
and ceiling joists to add stiffness to the floors and ceiling.
An architectural type drawing used by workers to build from. The original
drawing is transferred to a sensitized paper that turns blue with white lines
when printed. Also, prints of blue lines on white paper.
System of lumber measurement. The unit is 1 bd. ft, which is 1 ft square by
approximately 1 in. thick.
Continuous, reinforced concrete block course around the top of masonry walls.
A curved projection formed by five or more windows that are joined at
Any stiffening member of a framework.
Frame construction with posts and braces used for stiffening.
A roofed walkway with open sides. It connects the house and garage.
Cross bracing or solid blocking between joist to stiffen floor framing.
Frame for a door, usually made of metal, into which the finished door fits.
A collection of legal requirements for buildings designed to protect
the safety, health, and general welfare of people who work and live them.
Setback restrictions on property, established by zoning ordinances, beyond
which a building must be placed.
A heavy, waterproof paper used over sheathing and subfloors to prevent
passage of air and water.
A permit issued by a municipal government authorizing the construction
of a building or structure.
Roofing for low-slope roofs composed of several layers of felt and hot
asphalt or coal tar, usually covered with small aggregate.
Type of hinge allowing edge of door to butt into the jamb; a joint which
fastens members end to end.
A roof with two sides sloping down toward the interior of the house.
Vertical masonry or concrete support, usually larger at the base, which
projects from a wall.
Abbreviation for british thermal unit; a standard unit for measuring
heat gain or loss.
Armored electric cable wrapped in plastic and protected by a flexible
A projection over windows and doors to protect them from the weather.
A projecting beam or structural member anchored at only one end.
Angular shaped member used to eliminate a sharp, right angle, often used
on flat roofs.
An automobile shelter not fully enclosed.
The horizontal part of the stringers of a stair that supports the treads.
A hinged window that opens out, usually made of metal.
Trim around window and door openings.
An underground structure for drainage into which the water from a roof or
floor will drain. It is connected with a sewer drain or sump pump.
Soft, elastic material used to seal small openings around doors, windows, etc.
Double masonry wall having an air space between the wyths.
Roofing and siding shingles made from western red cedar.
A masonry adhesive material purchased in the form of pulverized powder.
A single source of heat that is distributed by pipes or ducts.
A pit or cistern to hold sewage.
A string that is heavily chalked, held tight, then plucked to make a
straight guideline against boards or other surfaces.
Beveled edge formed by removing the sharp corner of a material.
Vertical space within a building for ducts, pipes, or wires.
Splits or cracks in a board, ordinarily caused by seasoning.
A valve that permits passage through a pipe in only one direction.
A vertical flue for passing smoke and gases outside a building.
A group of flues in the same chimney.
Top or bottom member of a truss.
A building block made of cement and cinder.
Closed wiring or conductor through which an electric current can pass.
A safety device used to open and close an electrical circuit.
A tank or other reservoir to store rainwater run off.
A board, thicker on one side than the other, used to overlap an adjacent
A clear space to allow passage.
An outside wall of a room or building that rises above an adjoining roof
and contains windows.
To bend over the protruding end of a nail.
A small connecting angle used for fastening various members of
Horizontal member tying opposing rafters below the roof ridge.
Vertical supporting member.
A single wall that serves two dwelling units.
A force that tends to make a member fail because of crushing.
A mixture of cement, sand, gravel, and water.
Precast hollow or solid blocks of concrete.
To legally declare unfit for use.
The formation of frost or drops of water on inside walls when warm vapor
inside a room meets a cold wall or window.
In architecture, a drain pipe leading from the roof; in electricity,
anything that permits the passage of an electric current.
A pipe used to lead water from the roof to the sewer.
A channel built to convey water or other fluids; a drain or sewer. In
electrical work, a channel that carries wires for protection and for safety.
A mortgage loan to be used to pay for labor and materials going into the
house. Money is usually advanced to the builder as construction progresses and
is repaid when the house is completed and sold.
A beam that has no intermediate supports.
The manager of a construction project.
Continuous, vertical joint in masonry walls to control cracking.
A heat-transfer surface that uses convection currents to transfer heat.
Metal cap or masonry top course of a wall.
Projection of masonry from the face of a wall; a stepped coursing
bracket to support weight above.
A metal molding built into plaster corners to prevent the accidental
breaking off of the plaster.
Molded projection of the roof overhang at the top of a wall.
A flashing used under the regular flashing.
A continuous row of stone or brick of uniform height.
An open space surrounded partly or entirely by a building.
Concave molding usually used on horizontal inside corners.
Shallow space below the floor of a building built above ground,
generally surrounded with a foundation wall.
Small gable-like roof structure used to divert water and debris
from intersection of sloping roof and chimney; also called a saddle.
Structural member that is cut less than full length, such as a
studding piece above a window or door.
Boards nailed diagonally across studs or other boards to make framework rigid.
Bracing between floor joist to add stiffness to the floors.
Lines drawn closely together at an angle to show a section cut.
Molding used above eye level; usually the upper trim on interior walls.
Building material rejected as below standard grade.
A passage for water below ground level.
A small structure built on top of a roof to provide ventilation.
A very low wall.
To allow concrete to dry slowly by keeping it moist to allow maximum strength.
An exterior wall that provides no structural support.
Recessed joint on the face of a board to receive the end of a perpendicular
A layer of waterproof material.
A movable plate that regulates the draft of a stove, fireplace, or furnace.
A reference point of starting elevations used in mapping and surveying.
Construction intended to prevent the passage of sound.
All the weight in a structure made up of unmovable materials.
The disintegration of wood through the action of fungi.
To reduce the moisture content in the air.
The number of people living in a calculated area of land such as s square
mile or square kilometer.
One of a series of small projecting rectangular blocks forming a molding
under an overhang, most common in Colonial-style homes.
Information added to a drawing to provide specific instruction with a
drawing, dimensions, notes, or specifications.
A line with arrowheads at each end to show the distance between two points.
Framing lumber that is nominal thickness.
A hemispherical roof form.
Projecting strip around the inside of door frame against which the door closes.
Top-floor projection of a room built out from a sloping roof to allow light and
A pane made of two pieces of glass with air space between and sealed to
Two or more timbers joined for strength.
A window having top and bottom sashes each capable of movement up and
Pipe for carrying rainwater from the roof to the ground or storm drainage
system; also called a leader.
A pipe for carrying waste water.
Lumber machined and smoothed at the mill. Usually 1/2 inch less than nominal
Projecting construction or groove below an exterior member to throw off
A term applied to many types of decay, especially and advanced stage
when the wood can be easily crushed to a dry powder.
Interior wall covering other than plaster, usually referred to as "gypsum
board" or "wallboard."
A pit located in porous ground and lined with rock that allows water to
seep through the pit. Used for the disposal of rain water of the effluent from
a septic tank.
Sheet metal conductors for warm and cold air distribution.
Electrical wall outlet having two plug receptacles.
The right to use land owned by another, such as a utility company's
Lower portion of the roof that overhangs the exterior walls.
Whitish powder that forms on the surface of bricks or stone walls due to
evaporation of moisture containing slots.
The liquid discharge from a septic tank after bacterial treatment.
The limit to which a material can be bent or pulled out of shape and
still return to its former shape and dimensions.
An L-shaped pipe fitting.
The drawings of the front, sides, or rear face of a building.
Extension or wing of a building at right angles to the main section.
To add decoration.
The right of the local government to condemn for public use.
Paint with a considerable amount of varnish. It produces a hard, glossy
In architecture, the entablature is that part of a structure which is
immediately above the column; also the distinguishing feature of the Greek styles.
There are five distinct orders of entablature - Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian
and Composite. The entablature is composed of three parts - the architrave, a stone
or marble slab, the prototype of which was the square timber beam of the primitive
structure; the frieze or middle member, subdivided into its minor parts; and the
cornice, which, with its mouldings and ornaments, is the superior projection of the structure.
The study of human space and movement needs.
The hardware on a door to accommodate the knob and keyhole.
Cavity or pit produced by digging the earth in preparation for construction.
Flexible joint used to prevent cracking or breaking due to thermal expansion
Work done on parts of a structure at the factory before delivery to the
Face or front elevation of a building.
Brick of better quality used on the face of a wall.
A surface finish material used to cover another surface.
Outside horizontal face of member on the edge of a roof or cornice.
A weakening of structural members.
FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION (FHA):
A government agency that insures loans made by regular lending
Papers, sometimes tar-impregnated, used on roofs and sidewalls to give
protection against dampness and leaks.
Arrangement and sizing of doors and windows in a building.
A building board made with fibrous material used as an insulating board.
A loose insulating material poured from bags or blown by machines into
Dressed wood used for building trim and cabinet work.
A brick that is especially hard and heat-resistant. Used in fireplaces.
A grade of clay that can withstand large quantity of heat. Used for
Angular cut at the ends of joists framing into a masonry wall.
A door that will resist fire.
A partition designed to restrict the spread of fire.
Tight closure material or blocking to prevent the spread of flame or hot
gases within framing.
A splice strengthened by metal pieces on the sides.
A piece of electric or plumbing equipment that is part of the structure.
Cut stone, slate, or marble used on floors.
Flat stone used for floors, terraces, steps, and walks.
Sheet-metal work used in roof or wall construction to prevent water from
seeping into the building.
A roof with minimum pitch for drainage.
Built-up beam formed by a steel plate sandwiched between two wood members
and bolted together for additional strength.
Spreading plaster, stucco, or cement on walls or floors with use of a tool
called a float.
The top view of a building at a specified floor level. A floor plan
includes all vertical details at or above windowsill levels.
An electrical outlet flush with the floor.
The opening in a chimney through which smoke passes.
Terra-cotta pipe used for the inner lining of chimneys.
A continuous surface without an angle.
Poured concrete base upon which foundation walls, columns, or chimneys
rest; usually has steel reinforcing bars.
A wooden or steel form used to hold concrete to the desired shape and
size until it hardens.
The outline of a home's foundation; this means the home's outermost
points and is used for site planning.
Wood skeleton of a building constructed one level on top of another.
Trim member below the cornice that is fastened against the wall.
Depth of frost penetration in the ground; bottom of footings should
always be below this line.
Thin strips fastened to walls or ceilings for leveling and for attaching
finish surface material.
A strip of soft metal inserted in an electric circuit and designed to
melt and open the circuit should the current exceed a predetermined value.
The vertical triangular end of a building or part of a building, from
the eaves to the ridge.
A lead and zinc bath treatment to prevent rusting.
A roof with 2 slopes on each side, the lower slope steeper than the upper.
A horizontal beam supporting the floor joists.
Installation of glass in windows and doors.
(1) Finished surface of ground around a building. (2) Refers to classification
of the quality of lumber or plywood.
Inclination of a road, piping, or the ground, expressed in percent.
Strip of metal with a vertical lip used to retain the gravel around a
Lumber that still contains moisture or sap.
GROUND-FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTER (GFCI):
An electrical device that breaks an electric circuit when an excessive
leakage current is detected. Intended to eliminate shock hazards to people.
Wood strips fastened to walls before plastering which serve as edges for the
plaster and nailing base for wood trim.
Thin cement mortar used for leveling and filling masonry cavities.
Plywood or metal plate used to strengthen joints of a truss.
Metal or wood trough for carrying rainwater to downspouts.
Gypsum sheets covered with paper which are fastened to walls and
ceilings with nails or screws.
Exterior wall construction having wood frame members exposed and
the spaces between filled with stucco or masonry.
Metal strap used to support the ends of joists or piping.
A compacted layer of soils.
The upper frame on a door or window.
In framing, the continuous joist placed across the ends of floor
joists, the double joists at each end of floor or ceiling openings attached
to the trimmers, and the structural member above window or door openings. In
masonry, exposed ends of masonry units laid horizontally.
Vertical clearance in a passageway or above a stairway, measured from the
edge of the nosing.
That part of the foor directly in front of the fireplace, and the floor
inside the fireplace on which the fire is built. It is made of fire-resistant
Central portion of a tree, which is stronger and more decay-resistant than
the surrounding sapwood.
A plate at the ends of truss.
Diagonal rafter that extends from the plate to the ridge to form the hip.
A roof with sloping ends and sloping sides that meet at a ridge.
Water faucet made for the threaded attachment of a hose; also called a
Horizontal sewer piping within a building that receives wastes from the
Watertight soil pipe extending from the exterior of the foundation wall
to the sewer main.
A mechanical device that controls the amount of water vapor to be added
to the atmosphere.
An instrument used for r measuring and controlling moisture in the air.
A steel beam with an I-shaped cross section.
Lamp in which a filament gives off light.
Artificial light that is reflected from a surface before reaching source.
Any board suitable for insulating purposes, usually manufactured board
made from vegetable fibers, such as fiberboard.
Materials for obstructing the passage of sound, heat, or cold from one
surface to another.
General term for all the finish molding, casing, baseboard, etc., applied
within the building by finish carpenters.
Rafter shorter than a common rafter; especially used in hip-roof framing.
A type of window consisting of a number of long, thin, hinged panels.
Vertical members of a finished door or window opening.
General woodworking term used for better-quality wood-joint construction.
Structural member which directly supports floors or ceilings and is supported
by bearing walls, beams, or girders.
A wedge-shaped detail at the crown of an arch.
A heating chamber for drying lumber.
Lumber that has been properly dried and cured (to 15 percent moisture content)
resulting in a higher grade lumber than air dried.
In a roof truss, the central upright piece.
A corner brace, fastened at an angle from wall stud to rafter, stiffening
a wood or steel frame to prevent angular movement.
Low wall in upper story resulting from 1 1/2 story construction.
KNOB AND TUBE:
Electric wiring through walls where insulated wires are supported with
porcelain knobs and tubes when passing through wood construction members.
Unassembled; refers to construction units requiring assembly after being
delivered to the job.
A steel column used as a support for girders and beams.
Beam made of superimposed layers of similar materiel (usually wood) by uniting
them with glue under pressure.
A verandah or porch.
A platform in a flight of stairs.
Joint produced by lapping and joining two similar members.
Metal or gypsum sheeting used under plaster, stucco, and ceramic tile.
Grillwork made by crossing small wooden strips.
A washbasin or room equipped with a washbasin.
A system of trenches that carries wastes from sewers. It is constructed
in sandy soils or in earth filled with stones. or gravel.
Vertical pipe or downspout that carries rainwater to the ground or storm sewer.
A shed whose rafters lean against another building or other part of the same
Strip of lumber fastened to the lower part of a beam or girder on which notched
joist are attached.
One-foot measurement along a straight line.
Horizontal support over a window or door opening.
Live load; the total of all moving and variable loads that may be placed
upon a building. Dead load; the weight of all permanent, stationary
construction included in a building.
Wall designed to support the weight imposed upon it from above.
A roofed open gallery, often on an upper level.
Short, wooden framing member used to support an overhanging portion of a roof.
It extends from the wall to support the soffit.
Line forming the legal boundary of a piece of property; also called property line.
Opening or slatted grillwork that allows ventilation while providing protection
from rain, sight, or light.
A roof with two slopes on each side, with the lower slope being nearly
vertical and the upper nearly horizontal.
A shelf over a fireplace.
General term for brickwork, stonework, concrete blockwork, or similar materials.
Flexible adhesive for adhering building materials.
Finish free of gloss or highlights.
The horizontal rail of a double hung sash that fit together when the
window is closed.
A single piece of material used in a structure.
A strip of metal used to fasten construction members together.
METAL WALL TIES:
Strips of corrugated metal used to tie a brick veneer wall to framework.
Finish carpentry work or that woodwork done in a mill and delivered to
the site; relates to interior trim.
An insulating material made into a fibrous form from mineral slag.
Joint made with ends or edges of two pieces cut at 45-degree angles and
Construction in which the size of the building and the building materials
are based on a common unit of measure.
Standardized unit of measure (e.g., 4", 12", or 4'-0", etc.) to unify
A material such as specially treated paper that retards the passage of
vapor or moisture into walls and prevents condensation within the walls.
Term used for concrete work poured and cast in one piece without joints.
A boundary marker set by surveyors to locate property lines.
A mixture of cement, sand, and water, used as a bonding agent by the
mason for binding bricks and stones.
Small colored tile, glass, stone, or similar material arranged to
produce a decorative surface.
A small room or entranceway where muddy overshoes and wt garments
can be removed before entering other rooms.
Structural support member between a series of windows.
Small bar separating the glass lights in a window sash.
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