House Construction and Repair Terms


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Acoustical Tile

Special tile for walls and ceilings made of mineral, wood, vegetable fibers, cork, or metal. Its purpose is to control sound volume, while providing cover.

Air Duct

Pipes that carry warm air and cold air to rooms and back to furnace or air conditioning system.


The rate of flow of electricity through electric wires.


A paved area, such as the juncture of a driveway with the street or with a garage entrance.




The gravel or earth replaced in the space around a building wall after foundations are in place.


Upright supports of a balustrade rail.


A row of balusters topped by a rail, edging a balcony or a staircase.


A board along the floor against walls and partitions to hid gaps.


Insulation in the form of a blanket, rather than loose filling.


Small thin strips covering joints between wider boards on exterior building surfaces.


One of the principal horizontal wood or steel members of a building.

Bearing Wall

A wall that supports a floor or roof of a building.

Bib or Bibcock

A water faucet to which a hose may be attached, also called a hose bib or sill cock.


Seeping of resin or gum from lumber. This term is also used in referring to the process of drawing air from water pipes.


A piece of wood or other material used to form a triangle and stiffen some part of a structure.

Braced Framing

Construction technique using posts and cross-bracing for greater rigidity.

Brick Veneer

Brick used as the outer surface of a framed wall.


Small wood or metal pieces placed diagonally between floor joists.

Building Paper

Heavy paper used in walls or roofs to dampproof.

Built-Up Roof

A roofing material applied in sealed, waterproof layers, where there is only a slight slope to the roof.

Butt Joint

Joining point of two pieces of wood or molding.

Bx Cable

Electricity cable wrapped in rubber with a flexible steel outer covering.




A projecting beam or joist, not supported at one end, used to support an extension of a structure.


The member which supports the steps or treads of a stair.


A window sash that opens on hinges at the vertical edge.


Door and window framing.

Cavity Wall

A hollow wall formed by firmly linked masonry walls, providing an insulating air space between.

Chimney Cap

Concrete capping around the top of chimney bricks and around the floors to protect the masonry from the elements.

Chair Rail

Wooden molding on a wall around a room at the level of a chair back.

Chamfered Edge

Molding with pared-off corners.


A groove in a masonry wall or through a floor to accommodate pipes or ducts.

Chimney Breast

The horizontal projection-usually inside a building-of a chimney from the wall in which it is built.

Circuit Breaker

A safety device which opens (breaks) an electric circuit automatically when it becomes overloaded.


A tank to catch and store rain water.


A long thin board, thicker on one edge, overlapped and nailed on for exterior siding.

Collar Beam

A horizontal beam fastened above the lower ends of rafters to add rigidity.


Tile or brick used to cap or cover the top of a masonry wall.


A horizontal projection from a wall, forming a ledge or supporting a structure above it.

Corner Bead

A strip of wood or metal for protecting the external corners of plastered walls.


Horizontal projection at the top of a wall or under the overhanging part of the roof.


A horizontal row of bricks, cinder blocks or other masonry materials.

Cove Lighting

Concealed light sources behind a cornice or horizontal recess which direct the light upon a reflecting ceiling.

Crawl Space

A shallow, unfinished space beneath the first floor of a house which has no basement, used for visual inspection and access to pipes and ducts. Also, a shallow space in the attic, immediately under the roof.


Cut-off framing members above and below windows.



Door Buck

The rough frame of a door.


The projecting frame of a recess in a sloping roof.

Double Glazing

An insulating window pane formed of two thicknesses of glass with a sealed air space between them.

Double Hung Windows

Windows with an upperand lower sash, each supported by cords and weights.

Downspout Leader

Downspout A spout or pipe to carry rain water down from a roof or gutters.


A pipe for conducting rainwater from the roof to a cistern or to the ground by way of a downspout.

Downspout Strap

A piece of metal which secures the downspout to the eaves or wall of a building.


The projecting part of a cornice which sheds rain water.

Dry Wall

A wall surface of plasterboard or material other than plaster.




The extension of roof beyond house walls.


White powder that forms on the surface of brick.


Treated sewage from a septic tank or sewage treatment plant.




A flat horizontal member of a cornice placed in a vertical position.

Fill-Type Insulation

Loose insulating material which is applied by hand or blown into wall spaces mechanically.


Noncorrosive metal used around angles or junctions in roofs and exterior walls to prevent leaks.

Floor Joists

Framing pieces which rest on outer foundation walls and interior beams or girders.


A passageway in a chimney for conveying smoke, gases or fumes to the outside air.


Concrete base on which a foundation sits.


Lower parts of walls on which the structure is built. Foundation walls of masonry or concrete are mainly below ground level.


The rough lumber of a house-joists, studs, rafters, and beams.


Thin wood, or metal applied to a wall to level the surface for lathing, boarding, or plastering, to create an insulating air space, and to damp proof the wall.


A short plug in an electric panel box which opens (breaks) an electrical circuit when it becomes overloaded.




The triangular part of a wall under the inverted "v" of the roof line.

Gambrel Roof

A roof with two pitches, designed to provide more space on upper floors. The roof is steeper on its lower slope and flatter toward the ridge.


A main member in a framed floor supporting the joists which carry the flooring boards. It carries the weight of a floor or partition.


Fitting glass into windows or doors.

Grade Line

The point at which the ground rests against the foundation wall.

Green Lumber

Lumber which has been inadequately dried and which tends to warp or "bleed" resin.


Pieces of wood embedded in plaster of walls to which skirtings are attached. Also wood pieces used to stop the plaster work around doors and windows.


A brace or bracket used to strengthen a structure.


A channel at the eaves for conveying away rain water.




The close-grained wood from broad-leaved trees such as oak or maple.


Double wood pieces supporting joists in a floor or double wood members placed on edge over windows and doors to transfer the roof and floor weight to the studs.


The end of a rafter that rests on the wall plate.

Hip Roof

A roof that slants upward on three or four sides.


The external angle formed by the juncture of two slopes of a roof.




Windows with movable, horizontal glass slats angled to admit-ventilation and keep out rain. This term is also used for outside shutters of wood constructed in this way.


An upright surface that lines an opening for a door or window.


A small rectangular sectional member arranged parallel from wall to wall in a building, or resting on beams or girders. They support a floor or the laths or furring strips of a ceiling.




Artificial drying of lumber, superior to most lumber that is air dried.


The middle post of a truss. Large, heavy screws, used where great strength is required, as in heavy framing or when attaching ironwork to wood.