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Construction Home Improvement Glossary

Glossary Index
Click on the first letter then scroll for the word you seek

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

A

ABS - A type of black plastic pipe commonly used for waste water lines.

Actual Dimension (Lumber) - The exact measurement of lumber after it has been cut, dried and milled.

Aerator - The diverter/screen unit that is screwed onto the end of a faucet to control splashing and to restrict water flow.

Adaptor (Plumbing) - A fitting that connects two pipes of different sizes.

Air Chamber - A vertical, air filled pipe that prevents water hammer by absorbing pressure when water is shut off at a faucet or valve.

Aggregate - Crushed rock used as a top layer in some flat-roof applications.

Algae - Microorganisms that may grow to colonies in damp environments, including certain rooftops. They can discolor shingles. Often described as "fungus."

Allowable Span - The distance between two supporting points for load bearing lumber such as joist, rafters or a girder.

Allowance(s) - A sum of money set aside in the construction contract for items which have not been selected and specified in the construction contract. Best kept to a minimum number and used for items who's choice will not impact earlier stages of the construction. For example, selection of tile as flooring may require an alternative framing or underlayment material.

Ampacity - Refers to the how much current a wire can safely carry. For example, a 12 gauge electrical copper wire can safely carry up to 20 amps

Amperage or AMPS - A unit of electrical current or volume Most homes have an electrical service 'entrance' package of 125 or 200 amps. Some older homes have 60 or 100 amp 'entrances'. Amperage is based on the number of electron that pass a certain point each second. See Voltage

Anchor Bolts - (1)'L' shaped bolts which are set in the concrete foundation and used to attach the framing of the house to the foundation.
  (2) Bolts that are attached to a secured source and used to tied in a less secured item.

Angle Iron - Structural steel bent at a 90 degree angle used to fasten or reinforce framing joints.

APA Plywood (APA) - Plywood that has been rated by the American Plywood Association. For example,  number one APA rated exterior plywood, contains no voids between laminate layers.

Architect - One who has completed a course of study in building and design, served an internship and passed a test and is licensed by the state as an architect.

Asbestos - (1) A common form of magnesium silicate which was used in various construction products due to it's stability and resistance to fire. Asbestos exposure by inhaling loose asbestos fibers is associated with various forms of lung disease.
(2) The name given to certain inorganic minerals when they occur in fibrous form. Though fire-resistant, its extremely fine fibers are easily inhaled, and exposure to them over a period of years has been linked to cancers of the lung or lung-cavity lining and to asbestosis, a severe lung impairment.

Asphalt - A bituminous material employed in roofing materials because of its waterproofing ability.

Asphalt Plastic Cement - An asphalt-based cement used to bond roofing materials. Also known as flashing cement or mastic.

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B


Backfill - Soil or gravel used to fill in against a wall or foundation.

Backflow - A reverse flow of water or other liquids into the water supply pipes, caused by negative pressure in the pipes

Ballcock - A toilet tank water supply valve which is controlled by a float ball.

Baluster - One of a series of supporting elements for a handrail.

Base sheet - Bottom layer of built-up roofing.

Batter Boards - Temporary structures that hold strings used to locate and square the corners of a building

Beam - A horizontal framing member designed to carry a load from a set of joists or a roof and spanning an open space. Usually 6" x 6" or 4" x 10" or larger.

Bird's-Mouth Cut - A cutout in a rafter where it crosses the top plate of the wall providing a bearing surface for nailing. Also called a  heel cut

Bitumen - Term commonly applied to various mixtures of naturally occurring solid or liquid hydrocarbons, excluding coal. These substances are described as bituminous. Asphalt is a bitumen.

Blue Print(s) - A type of copying method often used for architectural drawings. Usually used to describe the drawing of a structure which is prepared by an architect or designer for the purpose of design and planning, estimating, securing permits and actual construction.

Board and Batten - A method of siding in which the joints between vertically placed boards or plywood are covered by narrow strips of wood.

Board Foot - The volume of a piece of wood measuring 12 inches square and in inch thick. A piece of lumber 1/2" thick and 6 inches wide and 24 inches long is equal to one board foot.

Bonding Strip (Electrical) - A thin strip of metal inside armored or BX cable. This strip is meant to back up the primary ground

Box Cornice - A cornice completely closed with trim work.

Branch Circuit (Electrical) - Wiring that runs from a service panel or sub-panel to outlets. Branch circuits are protected by fuses or breakers at the panel.

Bridging - Wood blocks installed in an X fashion between floor joist to stabilize and position the joist.

Built-up Beam (or Girder) - Beam (or girder) created by sistering or "scabbing" two or more pieces of lumber together.

Built-up Roof - A type of commercial, or "flat" roof finish, produced by applying alternate layers of roofing felt and hot asphalt or pitch. The top layer is given a hot flood coat of the bitumen; granules of rock, gravel, slag, or ceramic particles may be embedded while the flood coat is still hot. The roofing system may incorporate rigid insulation.

Butt Joint - Lumber pieces joined at the ends.

Bundle - A package of shingles. There are 3, 4 or 5 bundles per square.

Butt edge - The lower edge of the shingle tabs.

BX Cable (Electrical) - (AKA Armored Cable) Metallic sheathed cable containing A/C electrical wiring. Typically used when wiring would otherwise be exposed.

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C


Cantilever - Any part of a structure that projects beyond its main support and is balanced on it.

Cap Flashing - The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.

Cap Sheet - A top layer in built-up roofing.

Casement Window - A window with hinges on one of the vertical sides and swings open like a normal door.

Cast-Iron Pipe (Plumbing) - Drain and vent lines.  Most older Drain-Waste-Venting systems are made of cast-iron pipes-now increasingly supplanted by ABS and PVC. Pipes were originally joined with molten lead, but most plumbers now join them with no-hub couplers.

Cat's Paw - A variation of a pry bar used to pry up deep set (counter sunk) nails.

Catch Basin - A drain for a low or wet spot, with pipe exiting the side and a pit at the bottom to collect sediment.

Caulking - (1) Carpentry: A flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces - e.g. between pieces of siding or the corners in tub walls.
(2) Roofing: To fill a joint with mastic or asphalt plastic cement to prevent leaks.

Cells (Masonry) - The hollow spaces in concrete blocks.

Chalk Line - A line made on the roof by snapping a taut string or cord dusted with chalk. Used for alignment purposes.

Change Order - A written document which modifies the plans and specifications and/or the price of the construction Contract.

Circuit - A network of wiring that typically commence at a panel box, feeds electricity to  outlets and ultimately returns to the panel box.

Circuit Breaker - A device which looks like a switch and is usually located inside the electrical panel or circuit breaker box. It is designed to shut of the power to portions or all of the house and to limit the amount of power flowing through a circuit (measured in amperes).

  • '110' volt household circuits require a fuse or circuit breaker with a rating of 15 or a maximum of 20 amps. '220' volt circuits may be designed for higher amperage loads (e.g. a hot water heater may be designed for a 30 amp load and would therefore need a 30 amp fuse or breaker). Also see GFI.

Class "A" Fire Resistance - The highest fire-resistance rating for roofing per ASTM E-108. Indicates that roofing is able to withstand severe exposure to fire originating from sources outside the building.

Class "B" Fire Resistance - Fire-resistance rating that indicates roofing material is able to withstand moderate exposure to fire originating from sources outside the building.

Class "C" Fire Resistance - Fire-resistance rating that indicates roofing material is able to withstand light exposure to fire originating from sources outside the building.

Cleanout (Plumbing) - A drain fitting, usually a wye or a tee, with a removable plug to permit inspection and access for an auger or snake.

Cleat - A small piece of lumber attached to another piece of lumber to strengthen or support it.

Closed Cut Valley - A method of valley treatment in which shingles from one side of the valley extend across the valley, while shingles from the other side are trimmed 2 inches from the valley centerline. The valley flashing is not exposed.

 

Closet Auger - A plumbing tool used for clearing obstructions from toilet traps to the mouth of the waste pipe.
The closet auger has a large head sized for toilet traps. The rubber sleeve at the end of the long handle protects the toilet from marring.

Closet Bend - A curved drain pipe that is located beneath the base of the toilet and attached to a closet flange. A slotted closet flange, or floor flange, holds the bend to the subfloor.

Closet Bolts  - Bolts whose head is fitted to a closet flange and that protrudes up through a toilet base. A nut is tightened around it on the toilet base. Two (or four) bolts serve one toilet.

Closet Flange - A floor flange that's held to the floor with screws or anchors where a toilet mounts directly above it attached with closet bolts and the closet bend attaches below it.

Coal Tar - A viscous liquid mixture of hydrocarbon compounds, derived, along with coke, from the destructive distillation of coal.

Coating - A layer of viscous asphalt applied to the base material into which granules or other surfacing is embedded.

Code - Rules set forth by various government and private sector bodies to determine minimum trade practices.

Cold Process Adhesive - Mastic prepared with SBS modifiers to adhere laps, flashing and joints of built-up or low-slope roofing without hot-mopping or torching equipment.

Cold-Method and Lap Cement - Special multipurpose adhesive for low-sloped, cold-applied roof construction. Bonds 19" selvedge, mineral surface and cap sheets to the underlayment. Doubles as an adhesive on 2" selvedge lap of mineral-, granule- or smooth-surfaced roofing. Available in both summer and winter grades.

Collar - Preformed flange placed over a vent pipe to seal the roofing above the vent pipe opening. Also called a vent sleeve.

Collar Tie - A horizontal board attached perpendicular to rafters.

Common Rafter - Rafter that extends from the top plate to the ridge. Generally set 12, 16, or 24 inches apart.

Compression Fitting - Used to join or connect pipes and conduit by causing a ring to compress against the connecting tube when tightening with a wrench.

Concealed Nail Method - Application of roll roofing in which all nails are driven into the underlying course of roofing and covered by a cemented, overlapping course. Nails are not exposed to the weather.

Concrete - A common construction material often used for foundations, ground level floors, and sidewalks. Most concrete is made out of Portland cement, sand, and gravel or aggregate. It is commonly reinforced with steel rods (rebar) or wire screening (mesh).

Concrete Block - A hollow concrete 'brick' often 8" x 8" x 16" in size. Often used in low rise commercial and some residential construction. The original design and use is attributed to the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Concrete Board or WonderboardTM - A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass usually used as a tile backing material.

Concrete Grout  - A mixture of 3/8-inch pea gravel, sand, cement and water that you pour into the cells of concrete-block walls to reinforce them.

Condensation - The change of water from vapor to liquid when warm, moisture-laden air comes in contact with a cold surface.

Conductor (Electrical) - Anything that conducts or carries electricity.

Conduit (Electrical) - Tubing used to protect wiring.

Construction Adhesive - Thick-bodied adhesive, suited to a wide range of repair and construction tasks. Packaged in convenient cartridges for caulking guns.

Continuity Tester - An electrical tool used to identify and diagnose a circuit as either open or closed.

Contractor - A company licensed to perform certain types of construction activities. In most states, the generals contractor's license and some specialty contractor's licenses don't require of compliance with bonding, workmen's compensation and similar regulations. Some of the specialty contractor licenses involve extensive training, testing and/or insurance requirements. There are various types of contractors:

  • General contractor - responsible for the execution, supervision and overall coordination of a project and may also perform some of the individual construction tasks. Most general contractors are not licensed to perform all specialty trades and must hire specialty contractors for such tasks, e.g. electrical, plumbing.
  • Remodeling contractor - a general contractor who specializes in remodeling work.
  • Specialty contractor - licensed to perform a specialty task e.g. electrical, side sewer, asbestos abatement.
  • Sub contractor - a general or specialty contractor who works for another general contractor.

Construction Contract - A legal document which specifies the what-when-where-how-how much and by whom in a construction project. A good construction contract will include:

  1. The contractors registration number.
  2. A statement of work quality such as 'Standard Practices of the Trades' or 'according to Manufacturers Specifications'.
  3. A set of Blue Prints or Plans
  4. A set of Specifications
  5. Any Allowances.
  6. A construction timetable including starting and completion dates.
  7. A Fixed Price for the work , or a Time and Materials formula.
  8. A Payment Schedule.
  9. A written Warrantee
  10. A clause which outlines how any disputes will be resolved.

Coping Joint - The intersection of a roof slope and an exterior vertical wall.

Copper Pipe - Used to carry water to fixtures and appliances. Use Type M for most residential work. Type L is required if the pipe is buried.

Counter Flashing - See Cap Flashing

Course - A row of shingles or roll roofing running the length of the roof.

Convection - Air naturally circulated by differences in temperature. Colder, denser air falls and displaces the lighter, warm air.

Cost Plus Contract - See Time and Materials Contract

Covenants - Restrictions on how you can use or modify your property, intended to preserve the character of the community.

Coverage - Amount of weather protection provided by the roofing material. Depends on number of layers of material between the exposed surface of the roofing and the deck; i.e. single coverage, double coverage, etc.

Crawlspace - The interior area between the 1st floor subfloor and the ground surrounded by a poured or block foundation. Most crawlspaces should be at least 18 inches high.

Cricket - A saddle-shaped, peaked construction connecting a sloping roof plane with a chimney. Designed to encourage water drainage away from the chimney joint.

Cripple Stud - Short stud used as support in wall openings that replaces a normal 93 inch or 96 inch stud.

Cripple Walls - In a wood-frame house, the section of wall under the house between the concrete foundation and the floor joists. Also called crawl space walls.

Crosscutting - Cutting across the wood grain; to crosscut a board is to cut across its width.

Curb (Roofing) - The short elevation of an exterior wall above the deck of a commercial flat roof.

Curb Roof - A roof with an upper and lower set of rafters on each side, the under set being less inclined to the horizon than the upper; a mansard roof.

Curing (Masonry) - A chemical reaction in cement-based materials. The longer these materials stay damp, the stronger they get. Curing is not the same as drying, which implies evaporation.

Curing (Paint) - The process of paint bonding to a surface. Curing and drying are not the same.

Curtain Drain - a ditch sometimes filled with gravel and a drain tile which diverts storm and drain water away from a structure.

Cutout (Roofing) - The open portions of a strip shingle between the tabs.

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D


Deck - The surface, installed over the supporting framing members, to which the roofing is applied.

De-humidistat - A control mechanism used to operate a mechanical ventilation system based upon the relative humidity in the home.

Designer - One who designs houses, interiors, landscaping or other objects. When used it the context of residential construction it usually suggests that a designer is not a licensed architect. Most jurisdictions don't require an architectural license for most single family construction.

Diverter Valve - A device that changes the direction of water flow from one faucet to another.

Dormer - A box like projection from the sloping plane of a roof that frames a window.

Double Hung Window - A window with two vertically sliding sashes. This is a very common older window design, was usually made out of wood and tends to require frequent repairs.

Double Coverage - Application of asphalt roofing so that the lapped portion is at least 2 inches wider than the exposed portion, resulting in two layers of roofing material over the deck.

Downspout - A pipe for draining water from roof gutters. Also called a leader.

Drip Edge - A non-corrosive, non-staining material used along the eaves and rakes to allow water runoff to drip clear of underlying construction.

Dry Rot - See Fungal Wood Rot

Drywall or Gypsum Wallboard (GWB) or Sheet rock or Plasterboard - A wall finish consisting of a manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2" thick and 4' x 8' or 4' x 12' in size. The panels are nailed or screwed onto the framing and the joints are taped and covered with a 'joint compound'. 'Green board' type drywall has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard.

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E


Easement - A formal contract which allows a party to use another party's property for a specific purpose. e.g. A sewer easement might allow one party to run a sewer line through a neighbors property.

Eaves -  The horizontal overhang of the non-sloping edge of a roof beyond a vertical wall.

Eaves Flashing - Additional layer of roofing material applied at the eaves to help prevent damage from water backup.

Edging strips - Boards nailed along eaves and rakes to provide secure edges for reroofing with asphalt shingle after cutting back existing wood shingles.

Electrical entrance package - The entry point of the electrical power including: (1) the 'strike' or location where the overhead electrical lines connect to the house, (2) The meter which measures how much power is used and (3) The 'panel', 'circuit breaker box 'or 'fuse box' where the power can be shut off and overload devices such a fuses or circuit breakers and located.

Estimate - The anticipated cost of materials, labor, and associated cost for a proposed construction, repair, or remodeling project.

Estimating - The process of calculating the cost of a project. This can be a formal and exact process or a quick and imprecise process.

Expansion Joint - A joint that allows for expansion and contraction during temperature changes.

Exposed Aggregate - A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture of the top layer of the aggregate - usually gravel. Often used in driveways, patios and other exterior surfaces.

Exposed Nail Method - Application of roll roofing in which all nails are driven into the cemented, overlapping course of roofing. Nails are exposed to the weather.

Exposure - The portion of the roofing exposed to the weather after installation.

Exposure I Grade Plywood - Type of plywood approved by the American Plywood Association for exterior use.

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F


Fascia - a vertical wood member, such as a cedar 1" x 6", which is nailed to the ends of the rafters and is often the backing of the gutter. Also known as the wood trim attached to the end of the rafters.

Feathering Strips - Tapered wood filler strips placed along the butt edges of old wood shingles to create a level surface when re-roofing over existing wood shingle roofs. Also called "horsefeathers."

Felt - Fibrous material saturated with asphalt and used as an underlayment or sheathing paper.

Fibered Aluminum Roof Coating - High-performance metallic reflective barrier for prepared roofing, metal surfaces and exterior masonry. Reflects sun's harmful rays, reduces energy costs in summer and winter while prolonging surface life.

Fibered Roof and Foundation Coating - Combined application for this special medium-viscosity-grade fibered material. Use as a roof or foundation coating.

Fibered Roof Coating - Optimal protection for low-sloped roofs. This thick, high-quality coating seals fine cracks and openings. Renews and rejuvenates old composition roofing and prolongs roof life. Also performs well on metal or concrete surfaces.

Fiberglass Mat - An asphalt roofing base material manufactured from glass fibers.

Fixed Price Contract - A contract with a set price for the work. See Time and Materials Contract.

Flapper Valve (Plumbing) - A valve that replaces a tank stopper in a toilet. Creates a seal between the tank and the bowl.

Flashing - (1) Sheet metal or roll roofing pieces fitted to the joint of any roof intersection, penetration or projection (chimneys, copings, dormers, valleys, vent pipes, etc.) in order to prevent water leakage.
(2) The building component used to connect portions of a roof, deck, or siding material to another surface such as a chimney, wall, or vent pipe. Often made out of various metals, rubber or tar and is mostly intended to prevent water entry.

Flashing Cement - See Asphalt Plastic Cement.

Flux - A material applied to the surface of copper pipes and fittings to assist in the cleaning and bonding process.

Foundation Coating - High-quality below-grade moisture protection. Used for below-grade exterior concrete and masonry wall damp-proofing to seal out moisture and prevent corrosion.

Footing - A widened below ground base of a foundation wall or a concrete poured, below ground, base used to support foundations or piers.

Forced Air Heating - A common form of heating with natural gas, propane, oil or electricity as a fuel. Air is heated in the furnace and distributed through a set of metal plastic ducts to various areas of the house.

Framing - The structural wood and/or metal elements of most homes. The floor and ceiling framing is called the joist work. Wall framing is usually made out of 2" x 4" or 2" x 6" studs. See - rafters, posts, and beams.

Free-tab Shingles - Shingles that do not contain factory-applied strips or spots of self-sealing adhesive. See also self-sealing shingles.

Fungal Wood Rot - A common wood destroying organism which develops when wood containing material is exposed to moisture and poor air circulation for a long (6 month +) period of time. Often and incorrectly referred to as dry rot.

Fuse - A device often found in older homes designed to prevent overloads in electrical lines - see 'circuit breakers'.

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G


Gable - A sidewall that comes to a point at its intersection with the ridge of two sloping roof planes set at the same length and angle.

Gable Roof - A type of roof with sloping planes of the same pitch on each side of the ridge. Has a gable at each end.

Gasket (Plumbing) - A device used to seal joints against leaks.

GFI or GFCI or Ground Fault Current Interrupter - An electrical device used to prevent injury from contact with electrical appliances. Required in new homes in: bathrooms, kitchen, garage, out of doors and in other locations where one might be in contact with a grounded surface and an electrical appliance. Most GFIs are located in the receptacle itself and can be identified by the presence of a 'test' and a 'reset' button.

Girdle - A large principal beam or steel, reinforced concrete, wood, or combination of these, used to support other structural members at isolated points along its length.

Glass-Base - Roll roofing product built on a fiberglass base sheet constructed with a heavyweight TAMKO fiberglass mat, coated with weathering-grade asphalt. Used as a base sheet in select TAMKO modified asphalt and fiberglass roofing systems and as an alternate for TAMKO Type 43 Coated Base Sheet in any TAMKO specification. Hot-asphalt applied or mechanically fastened.

Glass-Seal - 3-tab self-sealing fiberglass shingles with a traditional square-tab design. A thick layer of weathering-grade asphalt gives them extra waterproofing protection. They are U.L. Class A fire rated and backed by a 20-year limited warranty. Algae-resistant granules optional.

Granules - Crushed rock coated with ceramic material, applied to the exposed surface of asphalt roofing products to add color and reduce ultraviolet degradation. Copper compounds added to these help make them algae resistant.

Grout - 1) An hydrous mortar whose consistency allows it to be placed or pumped into small joints or cavities, as between pieces of ceramic clay, slate, or tile.
2) Various mortar mixes used in foundation work to fell voids in soils, usually injected through drilled holes.

Gutter - The trough that channels water from the eaves to the downspouts.

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H


Hip Roof - A type of roof formed by sloping roof planes on all four sides, with no gables.

Hip Shingles - Shingles used to cover the inclined external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.

Heat Pump - A device which uses compression and decompression of gas to heat and/or cool a house.

Hurricane Ties - Metal fasteners used to secure rafters in structures subject to hurricane winds.

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I


Interlocking Shingles - Individual shingles that mechanically fasten to each other to provide wind resistance.

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J


Jack Stud - A partial stud nailed next to full studs to support the header at door (and some window) openings.

Jamb - An exposed upright member on each side of a window frame, door frame or door lining.

Joint Compound - Plumbing: A material applied to threaded connections to help prevent leaks
Carpentry: A wet gypsum material applied to sheetrock joints

Joists - A structural framing member, such as a 2" x 10" piece of lumber, which is usually spaced every 16" to 24" apart. Floor joist supports the sub-floor and flooring. Ceiling joist holds the ceiling sheetrock or wallboard.  The joist runs perpendicular to beams. 

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L


Labor Hour - A standard in which one person's labor is performed in one hour.

Laminated Shingles - Shingles that have added dimensionality because of extra layers or tabs, giving a shakelike appearance. May also be called "architectural shingles" or "three-dimensional shingles."

Lap - To cover the surface of one shingle or roll with another.

Lap Cement - An asphalt-based cement used to adhere overlapping plies of roll roofing.

Lath and Plaster - The most common wall finish prior to the introduction of drywall. Thin wood strips (lath) were nailed onto the framing as a base for the sand/lime plaster.

Ledger - The wood or metal members attached to a beam, studding, or wall used to support joist or rafter ends.

Level - Term use to describe any horizontal surface whereby all sides are at the same elavation.

Level (Carpenter's Level) - A tool used to check for level.

Lintel - A horizontal supporting member, installed above an opening such as a door or window, that serves to carry the weight of the wall above it.

Load Bearing Wall - A wall which is supporting its own weight and some other structural elements of the house such as the roof and ceiling structures.

Low-slope Application - Method of installing asphalt shingles on roof slopes between 2 and 4 inches per foot.

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M


Main Vent (or Stack) - Principal vent ot which branch vents may be connected. (see stack)

Mansard Roof - A roof with two sloping planes of different pitch on each of its four sides. The lower plane is steeper than the upper, and may be almost vertical. See also gambrel roof.

Manufactured Wood - A wood product such as a truss, beam, Glue LamTM or joist which is manufactured out of smaller wood pieces and glued or mechanically fastened to form a larger piece. Often used to create a stronger member which may use less wood. See also Oriented Strand Board.

Manufacturers Specifications - The written installation and/or maintenance instructions which are developed by the manufacturer of a product and which may have to be followed in order to maintain the product warrantee.

Masonry Primer - An asphalt-based primer used to prepare masonry surfaces for bonding with other asphalt products.

Mastic - See Asphalt Plastic Cement.

Mineral Stabilizers - Finely ground limestone, slate, traprock or other inert materials added to asphalt coatings for durability and increased resistance to fire and weathering.

Mineral-surfaced Roofing - Asphalt shingles and roll roofing that are covered with granules.

Mobile Home Aluminum Roof Coating - Durable one-coat application prolongs the life of mobile home roofs while reflecting sun's rays and providing a decorative surface. Reduces energy costs.

Modified Bitumen Roof - A roof covering that is typically composed of a factory-fabricated composite sheet consisting of a copolymer-modified bitumen, often reinforced with polyester and/or fiberglass, and installed in one or more plies. The membrane is commonly surfaced with field-applied coatings, factory-applied granules or metal foil. The roofing system may incorporate rigid insulation. Also see Torch Down Roof

Mudsill - A wood foundation member, usually a pressure treated 2 x 4 or 2 x 6, bolted to the foundation and on which other farming members can be attached.

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N


Nesting - A method of reroofing with new asphalt shingles over old shingles in which the top edge of the new shingles is butted against the bottom edge of the existing shingle tab.

No-cutout Shingles - Shingles consisting of a single, solid tab with no cutouts.

Nonfibered Aluminum Roof Coating - Thin but efficient reflective barrier to reflect sun's harmful rays and prolong surface life. Also works on metal surfaces.

Nonfibered Roof Coating - Easily applied, this thin coating will give low-sloped roofs, as well as metal and masonry surfaces, added protection. Steel or wooden fences and underground pipe may also be treated.

Nonfibered Roof and Foundation Coating - Dual purposed, this thin-viscosity material doubles as a nonfibered roof or foundation coating.

Nonveneer Panel - Any wood-based panel that does not contain veneer and carries an APA span rating, such as wafer board or oriented strand board.

Normal Slope Application - Method of installing asphalt shingles on roof slopes between 4 inches and 21 inches per foot.

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O


Open Valley - Method of valley construction in which shingles on both sides of the valley are trimmed along a chalk line snapped on each side of the valley. Shingles do not extend across the valley. Valley flashing is exposed.

Organic Felt - An asphalt roofing base material manufactured from cellulose fibers.

Oriented Strand Board or OSB or Chip Board or Wafer Board - A manufactured wood panel made out of 1"- 2" wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood in the exterior wall and roof sheathing.

Overhang - The portion of the roof structure that extends beyond the exterior walls of a building.

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P


Pallets - Wooden platforms used for storing and shipping bundles of shingles.

Parapet - A wall placed at the edge of a roof, especially a flat roof, to prevent people from falling off.

Payment Schedule - A pre agreed upon schedule of payments to a contractor usually based upon the amount of work completed. Such a schedule may include a deposit prior to the start of work. Payments are often scheduled for the beginning of the month and allow the contractor to subcontractors and suppliers by the 10th of the month. There may also be a temporary 'holdout' at the end of the contract for any small items which have not been completed.

Permit - A governmental authorization to perform a building process as in:

  • Zoning\Use permit - authorization to use a property for a specific use e.g. a factory, a single family residence etc.
  • Grading permit - authorization to change the contour of the land.
  • Septic permit - a health dept. authorization to build or modify a septic system.
  • Building permit - authorization to build or modify a structure.
  • Electrical permit - a separate permit required for most electrical work.
  • Plumbing permit - a separate permit required for new plumbing and larger modifications of existing plumbing systems.

Pier Block - A concrete block used to support foundation members such as posts, beams, girders and joist.

Pitch - The degree of roof incline expressed as the ratio of the rise, in feet, to the span, in feet. See also slope. Also, a thick, oily substance commonly obtained from tar, used to seal out water at joints and seams. Pitch is produced from distilling coal tar, wood tar, or petroleum.

Pitch Pan or Pitch Pocket - A container, usually formed of sheet metal, around supporting connections with roof-mounted machinery. Filling the container with pitch, or better yet, plastic roof cement, helps seal out water even when vibration is present.

Plans - See Blue Prints

Plastic Roof Cement - Ultimate protection for those tough jobs is found in this specially formulated heavy-bodied material. Used as a waterproofing medium in new construction and as a general-purpose exterior repair and maintenance material. Stops roof and other leaks fast. Available in both summer and winter grades.

Ply - The number of layers of roofing; i.e. one-ply, two-ply.

Ply Sheet - A layer in built-up roofing.

Post - A vertical framing member usually designed to carry a beam. Often a 4" x 4", a 6" x 6", or a metal pipe with a flat plate on top and bottom (see diagram).

Pressure Relief Valve - A device mounted on a hot water heater or boiler which is designed to release any high steam pressure in the tank and thus prevent tank explosions.

PVC (Polyvinyl Choride) or CPVC -  A type of white plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines.

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Q


Quick-setting cement - An asphalt-based cement used to adhere tabs of strip shingles to the course below. Also used to adhere roll roofing laps applied by the concealed nail method.

Quote or Quotation - A price provide by a contractor, sub-contractor, or vendor to funish materials, labor and/or both. Quotes differ from estimates in that an estimate is a best guess of the cost involved.

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R


Rafter - (1) The framing member which directly supports the roof sheathing. A rafter usually follows the angle of the roof, and may be a part of a roof truss.
(2) The supporting framing member immediately beneath the deck, sloping from the ridge to the wall plate.

Rafter Tail -  The portion of a rafter that extends past the building to form the eaves

Rake Edge - The overhang of an inclined roof plane beyond the vertical wall below it.

Random-tab Shingles - Shingles on which tabs vary in size and exposure.

Rebar - When concrete cracks it will separate or become uneven, rebar is a rod of steel placed into the concrete, usually in square feet one or two.

Resilient Flooring - A durable floor cover that has the ability to resume its original shape.

Release Tape - A plastic or paper strip that is applied to the back of self-sealing shingles. This strip prevents the shingles from sticking together in the bundles, and need not be removed for application.

Relative Humidity - The amount of moisture in a volume of air as a percentage of the maximum amount of moisture which can be held in that air at a certain temperature - cold air can't hold as much moisture as warmer air.

Ridge - The intersection of two roof planes, or the angle formed by them.

Ridgeboards - Horizontal support at the ridge of a roof to which opposing rafters are attached.

Ridge Cut - The end cut on a rafter that fits to the ridgeboard.

Ridge Shingles - Shingles used to cover the horizontal external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.

Rise - The vertical distance from the eaves line to the ridge.

Rise and Run - The angle of inclination or slope of a member or structure, expressed as the ration of the vertical rise to the horizontal run.

Riser - A vertical member between two stair treads.

Roll Roofing - Asphalt roofing products manufactured in roll form.

Roof Deck - See Deck

Roofing Membrane - The layer or layers of waterproofing products that cover the roof deck.

Roofing Tape - An asphalt-saturated tape used with asphalt cements for flashing and patching asphalt roofing.

Rough Flooring - Materials used to form an unfinished floor. Floor sheathing.

Rough Opening (R.O.) - Any framed, but unfinished opening.

Run - The horizontal distance from the eaves to a point directly under the ridge. One half the span.

R Value - A measure of insulation's resistance to heat flow. The higher the R Value the more effective the insulation.  For example, typical new home's walls are usually insulated with 6" of bat insulation with an R value of R-19, and a ceiling insulation of R-28.

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S


Sash - The frame that holds the glass in a window, often the movable part of the window. see.. double hung windows, and casement windows.

Saturant - Asphalt used to impregnate a felt-base material.

Saturated Felt - An underlayment, or water-resistant layer, put down beneath shingles and made of felt impregnated with asphalt.

SBS-Modified - Asphalt that has been combined with SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene) polymers to increase its elasticity.

Scupper - (1 ) An opening for drainage in a wall, curb or parapet.
(2) The drain in a downspout or flat roof, usually connected to the downspout.

Self-sealing Shingles - Shingles containing factory-applied strips or spots of self-sealing adhesive.

Selvage (Selvedge) - The portion of roll roofing overlapped by the succeeding course to obtain double coverage.

Setback Thermostat - A thermostat with a clock which can be programmed to various temperatures at different times of the day/week. Usually used as the heating or cooling system thermostat.

Shading - Slight differences in shingle color that may occur as a result of normal manufacturing operations.

Shake - A wood, usually cedar, roofing product which is produced by splitting a block of the wood along the grain line. Modern shakes are sometimes machine sawn on one side. See Shingle.

Sheathing - (1) Exterior-grade boards used as roof deck material.
(2) Panels that lie between the studs and the siding of a structure.

Shed roof - A roof containing only one sloping plane. Has no hips, ridges, valleys or gables. Also called a flat roof.

Shim - A tapered piece of wood used to level and secure a structure.

Shingle - A machine sawn wood, usually cedar, roofing and siding product. See Shake.

Single Coverage - Asphalt roofing that provides one layer of roofing material over the deck.

Single Ply Roof - See Torch Down Roof

Skip Sheathing - The normal base for shake, shingle and some tile roofs. 1" x 4" or similar sized boards are nailed at 90š to the rafters leaving a space of about 4" between each row and allowing for better ventilation.

Slab on Grade - A type of foundation with a concrete floor which is placed directly on the soil. The edge of the slab is usually thicker and acts as the footing for the walls. Common in California and 1940s and 50s concrete block home.

Slope - The incline angle of a roof surface, given as a ratio of the rise (in inches) to the run (in feet). See also pitch.

Smooth-surfaced Roofing - Roll roofing that is covered with ground talc or mica instead of granules.

Soffit - (1) The finished underside of the eaves.
(2)  A small ceiling like space, often out of doors, such as the underside of a roof overhang.

Soil Stack - A vent pipe that penetrates the roof.

Span - The horizontal distance from eaves to eaves.

Specialty Eaves Flashing Membrane - A self-adhering waterproofing shingle underlayment designed to protect against water infiltration due to ice damage or wind-driven rain.

Specifications or Specs - A narrative list of materials, methods, model numbers, colors, allowances, and other details which supplement the information contained in the blue prints.

Splash Block - A pad which is placed under the lower end of a downspout and diverts the water from the downspout away from the house. Usually made out of concrete or fiberglass.

Square - A unit of roof measure covering 100 square feet.

Square Foot - Coverage measured by multiplying width by length. An area 5 foot long and 7 foot wide is equal to 35 square foot.

Square-tab Shingles - Shingles on which tabs are all the same size and exposure.

Standard Practices of the Trade(s) - One of the more common basic and minimum construction standards. This is another way of saying that the work should be done in the way it is normally done by the average professional in the field.

Starter Strip - Asphalt roofing applied at the eaves that provides protection by filling in the spaces under the cutouts and joints of the first course of shingles.

Steep-slope Application - Method of installing asphalt shingles on roof slopes greater than 21 inches per foot.

Step Flashing - Flashing application method used where a vertical surface meets a sloping roof plane.

Strip Shingles - Asphalt shingles that are approximately three times as long as they are wide.

Stud - Vertical member of a frame wall usually placed between a bottom plate and a top plate, spaced every 16 inches or 24 inches apart. Provides structural support for drywall and sheathing.

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T


Tab - The exposed portion of strip shingles defined by cutouts.

Three-dimensional Shingles - See Laminated Shingles

Time and Materials Contract - A contract which specifies a price for different elements of the work such as: cost per hour of labor, overhead, profit etc. Such a contract may not have a maximum price or may state a 'price not to exceed...'.

Torch Down Roof or Single Ply or Modified Bitumen - A newer roofing material mostly used on flat roofs. This material usually comes in rolls and is applied to the roof with an open flame or 'torch'.

Tongue and Grove - Lumber machined to have a groove on one side and and a protruding tongue on the other side so that pieces fit snugly together, with the tongue of one fitting into the groove of the other.

Treated Lumber - A wood product which has been impregnated with chemicals to reduce damage from wood rot or insects. Often used for the portions of a structure which is likely to be in ongoing contact with soil and water. Wood may also be treated with a fire retardant.

Truss - A manufactured wood member often in the form of a large triangle which is used to form the ceiling joists and rafters on the top floor of a home. Primary frame of a roof system, generally built by a truss builder and delivered to the job site in modular components for final assembly.

Tube and Knob Wiring - A common form of electrical wiring used before W.W.II. When in good condition it may still be functional for low amperage use such as smaller light fixture.

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U


U.L. - Underwriters Laboratories, a private research firm located in the United States that attempts to classify and determine the safety of various materials and products.

Ultraviolet Degradation - A reduction in certain performance limits caused by exposure to ultraviolet light.

Underlayment - A secondary roofing layer that is waterproof or water-resistant , installed on the roof deck and beneath shingles or other roof-finishing layer.

UV Rays - Ultraviolet rays from the sun.

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V


Valley - The inward angle formed by two intersecting, sloping roof planes. Since it naturally becomes a water channel, additional attention to waterproofing it is desirable.

Valley ShieldTM - A quality underlayment for added protection in the heavy water flow areas of your roof. This self adhering product has a waterproof asphalt coating which offers excellent elongation and recovery properties for accommodating roof expansion and contraction and structural movement.

Vapor Retarder, Vapor Barrier - Any substance that prevents the transmission of water vapor.

Vent - Any outlet for air that protrudes through the roof deck, such as a pipe or stack. Any device installed on the roof, gable or soffit for the purpose of ventilating the underside of the roof deck.

Vent Sleeve - See Collar

Voltage - A measure of electrical potential. Most homes are wired with '110' and '220' volt lines. The '110' volt power is used for lighting and most of the other circuits. The '220' volt power is usually used for the kitchen stove. water heater and dryer. (The terms '110' and '220' volts are a short hand, e.g. a '110' volt line is usually rated at 117 volts plus or minus 10%).

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W


Wafer Board - See Oriented Strand Board

Warrantee - In construction there are two general types of warrantees. One is provided by the manufacturer of a product such as roofing material or an appliance. The second is a warrantee for the labor. For example, a roofing contract may include a 30 year material warrantee a and a 5 year labor warrantee. Many (but not all) new homes come with a one year warrantee. Any major issues found during the first year should be communicated the builder at once. Small items can be saved up and presented to the builder in a letter on the 11 month anniversary of the closing. This gives the builder one month to make the necessary corrections.

Watt - A measure of the electrical requirement of an appliance calculated by multiplying voltage x amperage. For example: a 1600 watt hair dryer which uses '110' volt power needs about 15 amps.

Wax Ring Job - Removing a toilet from the floor so that a blockage can be manually removed or to replace a degraded wax ring. Replacing a new wax ring on the bottom of the toilet to create a seal.

Wet- or Dry-Surface Plastic Roof Cement - Superior performance in cold and wet applications. Performs as a general-purpose exterior repair and maintenance material on damp or dry surfaces. Stops roof and other leaks fast.

Woven Valley - Method of valley construction in which shingles from both sides of the valley extend across the valley and are woven together by overlapping alternate courses as they are applied. The valley flashing is not exposed.

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Z


Zoning - A governmental process and specification which limits the use of a property. (e.g. single family use, high rise residential use etc.

Z-Ridge™ - A product designed to cover the ridge line of a roof, designed by Elk Roofing Products®. Gives the roof lines more character.

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