Home Remodeling Terminology

Hagstrom Builders

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air-dried lumber
Lumber that has been piled in yards or sheds for any length of time. For the United States as a whole, the minimum moisture content of thoroughly air-dried lumber is 12 to 15 percent and the average is somewhat higher. In the South, air-dried lumber may be no lower than 19 percent.
A space between roof insulation and roof boards for movement of air.
Coarse checking pattern characterized by a slipping of the new paint coating over the old coating to the extent that the old coating can be seen through the fissures.
anchor bolts
Bolts to secure a wooden sill plate to concrete or masonry floor or wall.
The flat member of the inside trim of a window placed against the wall immediately beneath the stool.
An open subsurface space adjacent to a building used to admit light or air or as a means of access to a basement.
An inert, nontoxic gas used in insulating glass units to reduce heat transfer.
Most native asphalt is a residue from evaporated petroleum. It is insoluble in water but soluble in gasoline and melts when heated. Used widely in building for waterproofing roof coverings of many types, exterior wall coverings, flooring tile, and the like.
A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging doors, against which the other door strikes.
attic ventilators
In houses, screened openings provided to ventilate an attic space. They are located in the soffit area as inlet ventilators and in the gable end or along the ridge as outlet ventilators. They can also consist of power-driven fans used as an exhaust system. (See also Louver.)


A simple molding sometimes used around the outer edge of plain rectangular casing as a decorative feature.
The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around and against a basement foundation.
The distance from the middle of the handle or knob to the edge of the door – 2-3/8″ backset installed in a 2 1/2 ” hole is the most common size.
balloon framing
A system of framing a building in which all vertical structural elements of the bearing walls and partitions consist of single pieces extending from the top of the foundation sill plate to the roof plate and to which all floor joists are fastened.
Usually small vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and the stair treads or a bottom rail.
A railing made up of balusters, top rail, and sometimes bottom rail, used on the edge of stairs, balconies, and porches.
barge board
A decorative board covering the projecting rafter (fly rafter) of the gable end. At the cornice, this member is a facia board.
base or baseboard
A board placed against the wall around a room next to the floor to finish properly between floor and plaster.
base molding
Molding used to trim the upper edge of interior baseboard.
base shoe
Molding used next to the floor on interior baseboard. Sometimes called a carpet strip.
Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative vertical members over plywood or wide boards.
batter board
One of a pair of horizontal boards nailed to posts set at the corners of an excavation, used to indicate the desired level, also as a fastening for stretched strings to indicate outlines of foundation walls.
bay window
Any window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square or polygonal in plan.
A structural member transversely supporting a load.
bearing partition
A partition that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
bearing wall
A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
bed molding
A molding in an angle, as between the overhanging cornice, or eaves, of a building and the side walls.
bevel siding
Wood siding that is tapered on one edge to overlap the non-tapered edge of the next course of siding. Also called clapboard siding.
Nailing in such a way that the nail heads are not visible on the face of the work-usually at the tongue of matched boards.
blind stop
A rectangular molding, usually 3/4 by 1-3/4 inches or more in width, used in the assembly of a window frame. Serves as a stop for storm and screen or combination windows and to resist air infiltration.
blue stain
A bluish or grayish discoloration of the sapwood caused by the growth of certain mold-like fungi on the surface and in the interior of a piece, made possible by the same conditions that favor the growth of other fungi.
board lumber
Yard lumber less than 2 inches thick and 2 or more inches wide.
bodied linseed oil
Linseed oil that has been thickened in viscosity by suitable processing with heat or chemicals. Bodied oils are obtainable in a great range in viscosity from a little greater than that of raw oil to just short of a jellied condition.
boiled linseed oil
Linseed oil in which enough lead, manganese, or cobalt salts have been incorporated to make the oil harden more rapidly when spread in thin coatings.
A short horizontal timber or steel beam on top of a column to support and decrease the span of beams or girders.
boston ridge
A method of applying asphalt or wood shingles at the ridge or at the hips of a roof as a finish.
An inclined piece of framing lumber applied to wall or floor to stiffen the structure. Often used on walls as temporary bracing until framing has been completed.
brick veneer
A facing of brick laid against and fastened to sheathing of a frame wall or tile wall construction.
Small wood or metal members that are inserted in a diagonal position between the floor joists at mid span to act both as tension and compression members for the purpose of bracing the joists and spreading the action of loads.
Often used in reference to rough frame opening members. Door bucks used in reference to metal door frame.
building paper
A general term for papers, felts, and similar sheet materials used in buildings without reference to their properties or uses.
built-up roof
A roofing composed of three to five layers of asphalt felt laminated with coal tar, pitch, or asphalt. The top is finished with crushed slag or gravel. Generally used on flat or low-pitched roofs.
butt joint
The junction where the ends of two timbers or other members meet in a square-cut joint.


cant strip
A triangular-shaped piece of lumber used at the junction of a flat deck and a wall to prevent cracking of the roofing, which is applied over it.
The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, molding, and the like.
carriage bolt
A bolt with a rounded head and a small square section under the head to prevent spinning during assembly. Used to hold structural members together, the rounded head gives a finished look to the bolt. Bolts should be checked annually and tightened if necessary.
casement frames or sash
Frames of wood or metal enclosing part or all of the sash, which may be opened by means of hinges affixed to the vertical edges.
Molding of various widths and thicknesses used to trim door and window openings at the jambs.
Fissures that appear with age in many exterior paint coatings, at first superficial, but which in time may penetrate entirely through the coating.
Meeting rails sufficiently thicker than a window to fill the opening between the top and bottom sash made by the parting stop in the frame of double-hung windows. They are usually beveled.
Functional and aesthetic exterior facade of the home constructed from wood, stone, concrete, brick, steel, or vinyl.
collar beam
Nominal 1- or 2-inch thick members connecting opposite roof rafters. They serve to stiffen the roof structure.
In architecture: A perpendicular supporting member, circular or rectangular in section, usually consisting of a base, shaft, and capital. In engineering: A vertical structural compression member, which supports loads acting in the direction of its longitudinal axis.
combination doors or windows
Combination doors or windows used over regular openings. They provide winter insulation and summer protection and often have self-storing or removable glass and screen inserts. This eliminates the need for handling a different unit each season.
concrete plain
Concrete either without reinforcement, or reinforced only for shrinkage or temperature changes.
In a building: Beads or drops of water (and frequently frost in extremely cold weather) that accumulate on the inside of the exterior covering of a building when warm, moisture-laden air from the interior reaches a point where the temperature no longer permits the air to sustain the moisture it holds. Use of louvers or attic ventilators will reduce moisture condensation in attics. A vapor barrier under the gypsum lath or dry wall on exposed walls will reduce condensation in them.
conduit (electrical)
A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed.
coped joint
See Scribing.
corbel out
To build out one or more courses of brick or stone from the face of a wall, to form a support for timbers.
corner bead
A strip of formed sheet metal, sometimes combined with a strip of metal lath, placed on corners before plastering to reinforce them. Also, a strip of wood finish three-quarters-round or angular placed over a plastered corner for protection.
corner boards
Used as trim for the external corners of a house or other frame structure against which the ends of the siding are finished.
corner braces
Diagonal braces at the corners of frame structure to stiffen and strengthen wall.
cut-in brace
Nominal 2-inch thick members, usually 2 by 4’s cut in between each stud diagonally.
Metal-mesh lath cut into strips and bent to a right angle. Used in interior corners of walls and ceilings on lath to prevent cracks in plastering.
Overhang of pitched roof at the cave line, usually consisting of facia board, a soffit for a closed cornice, and appropriate moldings.
cornice return
That portion of the cornice that returns on the gable end of a house.
A flashing usually used on chimneys at the roof line to cover shingle flashing and to prevent moisture entry.
cove molding
A molding with a concave face used as trim or to finish interior corners.
crawl space
A shallow space below the living quarters of a basementless house, normally enclosed by the foundation wall.
A small drainage-diverting roof structure of single or double slope placed at the junction of larger surfaces that meet at an angle, such as above a chimney.
Diagonal bracing between adjacent floor joists, placed near the center of the joist span to prevent joists from twisting.
crown molding
A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle is to be covered.


A rectangular groove across the width of a board or plank. In interior, decoration, a special type of wall treatment.
A deadbolt is a locking mechanism that mounts much like a door knob. Most exterior doors are locked with a door knob, and also a deadbolt. The deadbolt bore hole is directly above the door knob hole. When a lever is turned, a solid steel cylinder is inserted deep into the door jamb to securely lock the door. Deadbolts are available as single or double cylinders.
Disintegration of wood or other substance through the action of fungi.
deck paint
An enamel with a high degree of resistance to mechanical wear, designed for use on such surfaces as porch floors.
The mass of substance in a unit volume. When expressed in the metric system, it is numerically equal to the specific gravity of the same substance.
Temperature at which a vapor begins to deposit as a liquid. Applies especially to water in the atmosphere.
dimension lumber
Yard lumber from 2 inches to, but not including 5 inches thick and 2 or more inches wide. Includes joists, rafters, studs, plank, and small timbers.
direct nailing
To nail perpendicular to the initial surface or to the junction of the pieces joined. Also, termed face nailing.
Dolly Varden siding
Beveled wood siding that is rabbeted on the bottom edge.
The surrounding case into which and out of which a door closes and opens. It consists of two upright pieces, called side jambs, and a horizontal head jamb.
An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings.
A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying rainwater from roof gutters.
drainage plane
Water repellent products such as housewrap or building paper, carefully installed behind the wall cladding, that drain potentially damaging water safely back to the exterior. A proper drainage plane uses thoughtful design and installation of products such as house wrap, building paper, pan flashing and kick–out flashing, shingle fashion, to prevent deterioration of the exterior wall system.
dressed and matched
Boards or planks machined in such a manner that there is a groove on one edge and a corresponding tongue on the other. Also referred to as tongue and groove.
dressed size lumber
The dimension of lumber after shrinking from green dimension and after machining to size or pattern.
drier paint
Usually oil-soluble soaps of such metals as lead, manganese, or cobalt, which, in small proportions, hasten the oxidation and hardening (drying) of the drying oils in paints.
(a) A member of a cornice or other horizontal exterior-finish course that has a projection beyond the other parts for throwing off water. (b) A groove in the underside of a sill or drip cap to cause water to drop off on the outer edge instead of drawing back and running down the face of the building.
drip cap
A molding placed on the exterior topside of a door or window frame to cause water to drip beyond the outside of the frame.
drop siding
Usually 3/4-inch thick and 6 and 8 inches wide with tongued-and-grooved or shiplap edges. Often used as siding without sheathing in secondary buildings.
Interior covering material, such as gypsum board or plywood, which is applied in large sheets or panels.
In a house, usually round or rectangular metal pipes for distributing warm air from the heating plant to rooms, or air from a conditioning device or as cold air returns. Ducts are also made of asbestos and composition materials.


eased edge
The chamfered, or beveled edge, of strip flooring, plank, block, and parquet at approximately 45 degree angle.
The margin or lower part of a roof projecting over the wall.
edge grain
Edge-grain lumber has been sawed parallel to the pith of the log and approximately at right angles to the growth rings; i.e., the rings form an angle 45-degrees or more with the surface of the piece.
(a) A means of exiting the home. An egress window is required in every bedroom and basement. Normally a 4′ X 4′ window is the minimum size required. (b) Access from a land parcel to a public road or other means of exit. Right to exit and enter through land owned by another.
expansion joint
A bituminous fiber strip used to separate blocks or units of concrete to prevent cracking due to expansion as a result of temperature changes. Also used on concrete slabs.


FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC sets high standards that ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way. Landowners and companies that sell timber or forest products seek certification as a way to verify to consumers that they have practiced forestry consistent with FSC standards. Independent, certification organizations are accredited by FSC to carry out assessments of forest management to determine if standards have been met. These certifiers also verify that companies claiming to sell FSC certified products have tracked their supply back to FSC certified sources.
facia or fascia
A flat board, band, or face used sometimes by itself but usually in combination with moldings, often located at the outer face of the cornice.
In the absence of a specific ruling by the authority having jurisdiction, applies to materials for construction not combustible in the temperatures of ordinary fires and that will withstand such fires without serious impairment of their usefulness for at least 1 hour.
fire-retardant chemical
A chemical or preparation of chemicals used to reduce flammability or to retard spread of flame.
fire stop
A solid, tight closure of a concealed space, placed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through such a space. In a frame wall, this will usually consist of 2 by 4 cross blocking between studs.
In construction, a firewall consists of a windowless, fireproof wall (or a wall of substantially heavier construction than other walls in a building) built to prevent fire from spreading beyond one section of a building. Such firewalls form the built-up equivalent of firebreaks in a landscape.
A wood or plywood piece used to fasten the ends of two members together at a butt joint with nails or bolts. Sometimes used at the junction of opposite rafters near the ridgeline.
flagstone (flagging or flags)
Flat stones, from 1 to 4 inches thick, used for rustic walks, steps, floors, and the like.
Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water seepage.
flat grain
Flat-grain lumber has been sawed parallel to the pith of the log and approximately tangent to the growth rings, i.e., the rings form and angle of less than 45-degrees with the surface of the piece.
flat paint
An interior paint that contains a high proportion of pigment and dries to a flat or lusterless finish.
The space or passage in a chimney through which smoke, gas, or fumes ascend. Each passage is called a flue, which together with any others and the surrounding masonry makes up the chimney.
flue lining
Fire clay or terra-cotta pipe, round or square, usually made in all ordinary flue sizes an din 2-foot lengths, used for the inner lining of chimneys with the brick or masonry work around the outside. Flue lining in chimneys runs from about a foot below the flue connection to the top of the chimney.
fly rafters
End rafters of the gable overhang supported by roof sheathing and lookouts.
A masonry section, usually concrete, in a rectangular form wider than the bottom of the foundation wall or pier it supports.
The supporting portion of structure below the first-floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.
frame construction
A type of construction in which the structural parts are wood or depend upon a wood frame for support. In codes, if masonry veneer is applied to the exterior walls, the classification of this type of construction is usually unchanged.
In house construction, a horizontal member connecting the top of the siding with the soffit of the cornice.
The depth of frost penetration in soil. This depth varies in different parts of the country. Footings should be placed below this depth to prevent movement.
Microscopic plants that live in damp wood and cause mold, stain, and decay.
A chemical that is poisonous to fungi.
Strips of wood or metal applied to a wall or other surface to even it and normally to serve as a fastening base for finish material.


In house construction, the portion of the roof above the eave line of a double-sloped roof.
gable end
An end wall having a gable.
gloss enamel
A finishing material made of varnish and sufficient pigments to provide opacity and color, but little or not pigment of low opacity. Such enamel forms a hard coating with maximum smoothness of surface and a high degree of gloss.
gloss (paint or enamel)
A paint or enamel that contains a relatively low proportion of pigment and dries to a sheen or luster.
A large or principal beam of wood or steel used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.
girder truss
A truss member designed to carry other trusses and/or concentrated load openings.
The direction, size, arrangement, appearance, or quality of the fibers in wood.
Guides used around openings and at the floor line to strike off the plaster. They can consist of narrow strips of wood or of wide sub jambs at interior doorways. They provide a level of plaster line for installation of casing and other trim.
Mortar made of such consistency (by adding water) that it will just flow into the joints and cavities of the masonry work and fill them solid.
A flat wood, plywood, or similar type of member used to provide a connection at intersection of wood members. Most commonly used at joints of wood trusses. They are fastened by nails, screws, bolts, or adhesives.
gutter or eave trough
A shallow channel or conduit of metal or wood set below and along the eaves of a house to catch and carry off rainwater from the roof.
gypsum plaster
Gypsum formulated to be used with the addition of sand and water for base-coat plaster.


(a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood lintel.
The inner or outer floor of a fireplace usually made of brick, tile, or stone.
The wood extending from the pith to the sapwood, the cells of which no longer participate in the life process of the tree.
hex bolt
A bolt with a six sided head.
The external angle formed by the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof.
hip rafter
A rafter that forms the intersection of an external roof angle.
hip roof
A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building.
A device designed to increase the humidity within a room or a house by means of the discharge of water vapor. They may consist of individual room-size units or larger units attached to the heating plant to condition the entire house.


A steel beam with a cross section resembling the letter I. It is used for long spans as basement beams or over wide wall openings, such as double garage door, over wide wall openings, such as double garage door, when wall and roof loads are imposed on the opening.
A new system utilized in the Federal Housing Administration recommended criteria for impact sound insulation.
INR (Impact Noise Rating)
A single figure rating which provides an estimate of the impact sound-insulating performance of a floor-ceiling assembly.
interior finish
Material used to cover the interior framed areas, or materials of walls and ceilings.


jack rafter
A rafter that spans the distance from the wall plate to a hip, or from a valley to a ridge.
The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening.
The space between the adjacent surfaces of two member or components joined and held together by nails, glue, cement, mortar, or other means.
joint cement
A powder that is usually mixed with water and used for joint treatment in gypsum-wallboard finish. Often called “spackle.”
One of a series of parallel beams, usually 2 inches in thickness, used to support floor and ceiling loads, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.


Keene’s cement
A white finish plaster that produces an extremely durable wall. Because of its density, it excels for use in bathrooms and kitchens and is also used extensively for the finish coat in auditoriums, public buildings, and other places where walls may be subjected to unusually hard wear or abuse.
The area removed from a board by a saw, determined by the thickness of the blade plus the amount of set to the teeth. The wider the kerf, the harder the saw is to push while cutting.
kick–out flashing
The first in a series of step flashings installed at the roof termination of a continuing wall plane. Typically this is a larger step flashing bent to divert water from getting behind the wall cladding below.
kiln-dried lumber
Lumber that has been kiln dried often to a moisture content of 6 to 12 percent. Common varieties of softwood lumber, such as framing lumber are dried to a somewhat higher moisture content.
In lumber, the portion of a branch or limb of a tree that appears on the edge or face of the piece.
kraft paper
Heavy, moisture resistant, brownish building paper, reinforced with bonded fibers for structural strength, which has a variety of uses. Wider paper is used under the finish exterior siding, either stucco or framing. The narrower rolls are often called paper flashing and used around the rough openings of doors and windows, overlapped from the top on down to shed moisture. Alternate use is in the installation of plastic laminate. For this use, contact cement is used to coat the base with the kraft paper laid on top of it. The kraft paper is slipped out once the contact cement is dry, leaving the base and the laminate to make contact and bond together.


A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs.
lap siding
Wedge-shaped boards used as horizontal siding in a lapped pattern. This siding varies in butt thickness from 1/2 to 3/4 inch and in widths of up to 12 inches. Normally used over some type of sheathing.
A building material of wood, metal, gypsum, or insulating board that is fastened to the frame of a building to act as a plaster base.
A framework of crossed wood or metal strips.
See Downspout.
ledger strip
A strip of lumber nailed along the bottom of the side of a girder on which joists rest.
let-in brace
Nominal 1-inch thick boards applied into notched studs diagonally.
Space in a window sash for a single pane of glass. Also a pane of glass.
A horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.
A short wood bracket or cantilever to support an overhang portion of a roof or the like, usually concealed from view.
An opening with a series of horizontal slats so arranged as to permit ventilation but to exclude rain, sunlight, or vision. See also, Attic ventilators.
low-emittance (low-e) glass coating
Microscopically thin, virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide layers deposited on a window or skylight glazing surface primarily to reduce the U-factor by suppressing radiative heat flow. A typical type of low-e coating is transparent to the solar spectrum (visible light and short-wave infrared radiation) and reflective of long-wave infrared radiation.
Lumber is the product of the sawmill and planning mill not further manufactured other than by sawing, resawing, and passing lengthwise through a standard planning machine, crosscutting to length, and matching.


Medium density fiberboard. Made from compressed particles of wood and used in the construction of furniture and cabinetry.
The shelf above a fireplace. Also used in referring to the decorative trim around a fireplace opening.
Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete-block, gypsum-block, or other similar building units or materials or a combination of the same, bonded together with mortar to form a wall, pier, buttress, or similar mass.
A pasty material used as a cement (as for setting tile) or a protective coating (as for thermal insulation or waterproofing).
metal lath
Sheets of metal that are slit and drawn out to form openings. Used as a plaster base for walls and ceilings and as reinforcing over other forms of plaster base.
matched lumber
Lumber that is dressed and shaped on one edge in a grooved pattern and on the other in a tongued pattern.
Generally all building materials made of finished wood and manufactured in millwork plants and planning mills are included under the term “millwork.” It includes such items as inside and outside doors, window and door frames, blinds, porch work, mantels, panel work, stairways, moldings, and interior trim. It normally does not include flooring, ceiling.
miter joint
The joint of two pieces at an angle that bisects the joining angle. For example, the miter joint at the side and head casing at a door opening is made at 45-degree angle.
moisture content of wood
Weight of water contained in the wood, usually expressed as a percentage of the weight of the oven dry wood.
Molding, moulding
A wood strip having a curved or projecting surface used for decorative purposes.
A slot cut into a board, plank, or timber, usually edgewise, to receive tenon of another board, plank, or timber to form a joint.
A vertical bar or divider in the frame between windows, doors, or other openings.
A small member which divides the glass or openings of sash or doors.


natural finish
A transparent finish, which does not seriously alter the original color or grain of the natural wood. Natural finishes are usually provided by sealers, oils, varnishes, water-repellent preservatives, and other similar materials.
A post to which the end of a stair railing or balustrade is fastened. Also, any post to which a railing or balustrade is fastened.
nonbearing wall
A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.
nominal size
The size designation for most lumber, plywood and other panel products, used for convenience. In lumber, the nominal size usually is greater than the actual dimension; thus, a kiln dried 2 x 4 ordinarily is surfaced to 1.5 to 3.5 inches. In panel products, the size is generally stated in square feet for the surface dimension in increments of 1/8 inch for thickness.
The projecting edge of a molding or drip. Usually applied to the projecting molding on the edge of a stair tread.
A crosswise rabbet at the end of a board.


O.C., on center
The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, joists, and the like in a building from the center of one member to the center of the next.
O.G., or ogee
A molding with a profile in the form of a letter S, with the outline of a reversed curve.
An extension of a rafter beyond the wall line. Usually a smaller member nailed to a larger rafter to form a cornice or roof overhang.


A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to provide decorative and protective coatings.
pan flashing
A water repellent product or assembly of products that form a pan below windows or doors that divert any unintended penetration of water safely to the exterior of the drainage plane.
In house construction, a thin flat piece of wood, plywood, or similar material, framed by stiles and rails as in a door or fitted into grooves of thicker material with molded edges for decorative wall treatment.
parting stop or strip
A small wood piece used in the side and head jambs of double-hung windows to separate upper and lower sash.
A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building.
As applied to nails, it originally indicated the price per hundred. The term now serves as a measure of nail length and is abbreviated by the letter d.
A measure of water vapor movement through a material (grains per square food per hour per inch of mercury difference in vapor pressure).
A column of masonry, usually rectangular in horizontal cross section, used to support other structural members.
A powdered solid in suitable degree of subdivision for use in paint or enamel.
The incline slope of a roof or the ratio of the total rise to the total width of a house, i.e., an 8-foot rise and 24-foot width is a one-third-pitch roof. Roof slope is expressed in the inches of rise per foot of run.
pitch pocket
An opening parallel to the annual rings of growth, that usually contains, or has contained, either solid or liquid pitch.
The small, soft core at the original center of a tree around which wood formation takes place.
plaster grounds
Strips of wood used as guides or strike-off edges around window and door openings and at base of walls.
plate, sill plate
A horizontal member anchored to a masonry wall; Sole plate: bottom horizontal member of a frame wall; Top plate: top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.
platform framing
A system of framing a building in which floor joists of each story rest on the top plates of the story below or on the foundation sill for the first story, and the bearing walls and partitions rest on the sub floor of each story.
To cut a lengthwise groove in a board or plank.
Exactly perpendicular; vertical.
A term to denote the number of thicknesses or layers of roofing felt, veneer in plywood, or layers in built-up materials, in any finished piece of such material.
A piece of wood made of three or more layers of veneer joined with glue, and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles. Almost always an odd number of plies are used to provide balanced construction.
Wood cells of comparatively large diameter that have open ends and are set one above the other to form continuous tubes. The openings of the vessels on the surface of a piece of wood are referred to as pores.
Any substance that, for a reasonable length of time, will prevent the action of wood-destroying fungi, borers of various kinds, and similar destructive agents when the wood has been properly coated or impregnated with it.
The first coat of paint in a paint job that consists of two or more coats; also the paint used for such a first coat.
A piece of wood which sits on the principal rafters, and has been positioned horizontally to support common rafters on a roof; horizontal timbers that connect rafter trusses; longitudinal roof timbers carried by roof trusses which give support to the common rafters.
A type of cement usually made of whiting and boiled linseed oil, beaten or kneaded to the consistency of dough, and used in sealing glass in sash, filling small holes and crevices in wood, and for similar purposes.


quarter round
A small molding that has the cross section of a quarter circle.
quartersawn grain
See edge grain.


r value
A measure of insulation, it’s the thermal resistance to heat flow across a sample material of a unit area and known thickness caused by a temperature difference across it. This is often used to give a comparative value of the effect of different insulating materials. For example, typical new home’s walls are usually insulated with 6″ of batt insulation with an R value of R-19, and a ceiling insulation of R-28.
A rectangular longitudinal groove cut in the corner edge of a board or plank.
radiant heating
A method of heating, usually consisting of a forced hot water system with pipes placed in the floor, wall, or ceiling; or with electrically heated panels.
One of a series of structural members of a roof designed to support roof loads. The rafters of a flat roof are sometimes called roof joists.
Cross members of panel doors or of a sash. Also the upper and lower members of a balustrade or staircase extending from one vertical support, such as a post, to another.
Trim members that run parallel to the roof slope and form the finish between the wall and a gable roof extension.
raw linseed oil
The crude product processed from flaxseed and usually without much subsequent treatment.
reflective insulation
Sheet material with one or both surfaces of comparatively low heat emissivity, such as aluminum foil. When used in building construction the surfaces face air spaces, reducing the radiation across the air space.
Steel rods or metal fabric placed in concrete slabs, beams, or columns to increase their strength.
relative humidity
The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, expressed as a percentage of the maximum quantity that could be present at a given temperature. (The actual amount of water vapor that can be held in space increases with temperature.)
resorcinol glue
A glue that is high in both wet and dry strength and resistant to high temperatures. It is used for gluing lumber or assembly joints that must withstand severe service conditions.
ribbon (girt)
Normally a 1- by 4-inch board let into the studs horizontally to support ceiling or second-floor joists.
The horizontal line at the junction of the top edges of two sloping surfaces.
ridge board
The board placed on edge at the ridge of the roof into which the upper ends of the rafters are fastened.
rigid insulation board
A structural building board made of coarse wood or cane fiber in 1/2- and 25/32-inch thicknesses. It can be obtained in various size sheets, in various densities, and with several treatments.
In stairs, the vertical height of a step or a flight of stairs.
Each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the treads of stairways.
roll roofing
Roofing material, composed of fiber and saturated with asphalt that is supplied in 36-inch wide rolls with 108 square feet of material. Weights are generally 45 to 90 pounds per roll.
roof sheathing
The boards or sheet material fastened to the roof rafters on which the shingle or other roof covering is laid.
rubber-emulsion paint
Paint, the vehicle of which consists of rubber or synthetic rubber dispersed in fine droplets in water.
In stairs, the net width of a step or the horizontal distance covered by a flight of stairs.


Two sloping surfaces meeting in a horizontal ridge, used between the back side of a chimney, or other vertical surface, and a sloping roof.
sand float finish
Lime mixed with sand, resulting in a textured finish.
The outer zone of wood, next to the bark. In the living tree it contains some living cells (the heartwood contains none), as well as dead and dying cells. In most species, it is lighter colored than the heartwood. In all species, it is lacking in decay resistance.
A single light frame containing one or more lights of glass.
sash balance
A device, usually operated by a spring or tensioned weather-stripping designed to counterbalance a double-hung window sash.
saturated felt
A felt that is impregnated with tar or asphalt.
coat The first coat of plaster, which is scratched to form a bond for the second coat.
A small strip of wood, usually the thickness of the plaster, coat, used as a guide for plastering.
Fitting woodwork to an irregular surface. In moldings, cutting the end of one piece to fit the molded face of the other at an interior angle to replace a miter joint.
A finishing material, either clear or pigmented, that is usually applied directly over uncoated wood for the purpose of sealing the surface.
Removing moisture from green wood in order to improve its serviceability.
semi-gloss paint or enamel
A paint or enamel made with a slight insufficiency of nonvolatile vehicle so that its coating, when dry, has some luster but is not very glossy.
A thick hand-split shingle, resawed to form two shakes, usually edge-grained.
The structural covering, usually wood boards or plywood, used over studs or rafters of a structure. Structural building board is normally used only as wall sheathing.
sheathing paper
A building material, generally paper or felt, used in wall and roof construction as a protection against the passage of air and sometimes moisture.
sheet metal work
All components of a house employing sheet metal, such as flashing, gutters, and downspouts.
A transparent coating made by dissolving lac, a resinous secretion of the lac bug (a scale insect that thrives in tropical countries, especially India), in alcohol.
Roof covering of asphalt, asbestos, wood, tile, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thicknesses.
shingle siding
Various kinds of shingles, such as wood shingles or shakes and nonwood shingles that are used over sheathing for exterior sidewall covering of a structure.
shingle stain
A form of oil paint, very thin in consistency, intended for coloring wood with rough surfaces, such as shingles, without forming a coating of significant thickness or gloss.
Lumber that is edge-dressed to make a close rabbeted or lapped joint.
Usually lightweight louvered or flush wood or nonwood frames in the form of doors located at each side of a window. Some are made to close over the window for protection; others are fastened to the wall as a decorative device.
The finish covering of the outside wall of a frame building, whither made of horizontal weatherboards, vertical boards with battens, shingles, or other materials.
The lowest member of the frame of a structure, resting on the foundation and supporting the floor joists or the uprights of the wall. The member forming the lower side of an opening, as a doorsill, windowsill, etc.
Usually a wood member embedded in concrete, as in a floor, that serves to support and to fasten subfloor or flooring.
Usually the underside of an overhanging cornice.
soil cover (ground cover)
A light covering of plastic film, roll roofing, or similar material used over the soil in crawl spaces of buildings to minimize moisture permeation of the area.
soil stack
A general term for the vertical main of a system of soil, waste, or vent piping.
solid bridging
A solid member placed between adjacent floor joists near the center of the span to prevent joists from twisting.
The distance between structural supports such as walls, columns, piers, beams, girders, and trusses.
splash block
A small masonry block laid with the top close to the ground surface to receive roof drainage from downspouts and to carry it away from the building.
A unit of measure-100 square feet-usually applied to roofing material. Sidewall coverings are sometimes packed to cover 100 square feet and are sold on that basis.
stair carriage
Supporting member for stair treads. Usually a 2-inch plank notched to receive the treads, sometimes called a “rough horse.”
step flashing
Galvanized steel or aluminum metal bent at 90 degrees woven between each row of shingles installed when a roof slope meets a vertical wall.
STC (Sound Transmission Class)
A measure of sound stopping short of ordinary noise.
The upright or vertical outside pieces of a sash, door, window, or screen.
A flat molding fitted over the windowsill between jambs and contacting the bottom rail of the lower sash.
storm sash or storm window
An extra window usually placed on the outside of an existing one as additional protection against cold weather.
That part of a building between any floor and the floor or roof next above.
strip flooring
Wood flooring consisting of narrow, matched strips.
A timber or other support for cross member in floors or ceilings. In stairs, the support on which the stair treads rest, also stringboard.
Most commonly refers to an outside plaster made with Portland cements as its base.
One of a series of slender wood or metal vertical structural members placed as supporting elements in walls and partitions. (Plural: studs or studding.)
Boards or plywood laid on joists over which a finish floor is to be laid.
suspended ceiling
A ceiling system supported by hanging it from the overhead structural framing.


tail beam
A relatively short beam or joist supported in a wall on one end and by a header at the other.
Insects that superficially resemble ants in size, general appearance, and habit of living in colonies; hence, they are frequently called “white ants.” Subterranean termites establish themselves in buildings not by being carried in with lumber, but by entering from ground nests after the building has been constructed. If unmolested, they eat out the woodwork, leaving a shell of sound wood to conceal their activities, and damage may proceed so far as to cause collapse of parts of a structure before discovery. There are about 56 species of termites known in the United States; but the two major ones, classified by the manner in which they attack wood, are ground-inhabiting or subterranean termites (the most common) and dry-wood termites, which are found almost exclusively along the extreme southern border and Gulf of Mexico in the United States.
termite shield
A shield, usually of non–corrodible metal, placed in or on a foundation wall or other mass of masonry or around pipes to prevent passage of termites.
Sheet iron or steel coated with an alloy of lead and tin.
thermal insulation
Any material high in resistance to heat transmission that, when placed in the walls, ceiling, or floors of a structure, will reduce the rate of heat flow.
A strip of wood or metal with beveled edges used over the finish floor and the sill of exterior doors.
Yard lumber 5 or more inches in least dimension. Includes beams, stringers, posts, caps, sills, girders, and purlins.
To drive a nail at a slant with the initial surface in order to permit it to penetrate into a second member.
tongued and grooved
See dressed and matched.
The horizontal board in a stairway on which the foot is placed.
The finish materials in a building, such as moldings, applied around openings (window trim, door trim) or at the floor and ceiling of rooms (baseboards, cornice, and other moldings).
A beam or joist to which a header is nailed in framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening.
A frame or jointed structure designed to act as a beam of long span, while each member is usually subjected to longitudinal stress only, either tension or compression.
A volatile oil used as a thinner in paints and as a solvent in varnishes. Chemically, it is a mixture of terpenes.


A coating applied prior to the finishing or topcoats of a paint job. It may be the first of two or the second of three coats. In some usage of the word it may become synonymous with priming coat.
under layment
A material placed under finish coverings, such as flooring, or shingles, to provide a smooth, even surface for applying the finish.


The internal angle formed by the junction of two sloping sides of a roof.
valley rafter
A rafter that forms the intersection of an internal roof angle. The valley rafter is normally made of double 2-inch thick members.
vapor barrier
Material used to retard the movement of water vapor into walls and prevent condensation in them. Usually considered as having a perm value of less than 1.0. Can be applied separately over the warm side of exposed walls or as a part of batt or blanket insulation.
A thickened preparation of drying oil or drying oil and resin suitable for spreading on surfaces to form continuous, transparent coatings, or for mixing with pigments to make enamels.
The liquid portion of a finishing material; it consists of a binder (nonvolatile) and volatile thinners.
Thin sheets of wood made by rotary cutting or slicing of a log.
A pipe or duct that allows flow of air as an inlet or outlet.
A mineral closely related to mica, with the faculty of expanding on heating to form lightweight material with insulation quality. Used as bulk insulation and also as aggregate in insulating and acoustical plaster and in insulating concrete floors.
volatile thinner
A liquid that evaporates readily and is used to thin or reduce the consistency of finishes without altering the relative volumes of pigments and nonvolatile vehicles.


A type of old style wood paneling that doesn’t cover the entire height of the wall. It can be individual tongue and groove boards or raised panels. It is trimmed out at the foot with baseboard and the top with chair rail or cap molding. It is usually 36″ or 48″ high but in some historic installations was 6 or 8 feet high.
Bark, or lack of wood from any cause, on edge or corner of a piece of wood.
water intrusion
A breach in the outer shell of the home allowing for water to intrude without the ability of a drying force to prevent deterioration. Drying capabilities must exceed the rate of saturating—or decay is inevitable.
water-repellent preservative
A liquid designed to penetrate into wood and impart water repellency and a moderate preservative protection. It is used for millwork, such as sash and frames, and is usually applied by dipping.
Narrow or jamb-width sections of thin metal or other material to prevent infiltration of air and moisture around windows and doors. Compression weather stripping prevents air infiltration, provides tension, and acts as a counter balance.
wood rays
Strips of cells extending radially within a tree and varying in height from a few cells in some species to 4 inches or more in oak. The rays serve primarily to store food and to transport it horizontally in the tree.



yard lumber
Lumber of those grades, sizes, and patterns, which are generally intended for ordinary construction, such as framework and rough coverage of houses.