Building Glossary

The following glossary of terms is intended to help anyone not familiar with the construction industry to understand the meaning of the words most commonly used.

Aggregate            Small stones or gravel forming part of a concrete mix.

Anaglypta            A heavy embossed wallpape                      

Architrave           A piece of timber covering the joint between a door or window frame and the plasterwork.

Angle bead           A galvanised steel right angle fixed at the vertical external corners of walls to strengthen and protect the plasterwork.

Apron flashing     A flashing placed at the cill of dormer windows or the lower sides of chimney stacks.

Auger                   A corkscrew-shaped tool for drilling holes.

Backfilling           Excavated material that is compacted around the sides of foundation walls.

Back putty           A narrow strip of putty between the inside face of a pane of glass and the rebate.

Barge board        A sloping timber board fixed to the gable end of a roof.

Bending spring    A helical coiled spring inserted in copper pipes to protect the pipe walls when bending.

Blinding               The practice of treating the top surface of hardcore or broken bricks with sand to produce a smooth surface to receive concrete

Bond                    The arrangement of bricks or blocks to present an attractive appearance and provide structural strength by staggering the vertical joints.

Bradawl               Hand tool used for making starter holes in wood to receive screws.

Browning coat     A mixture of gypsum plaster, sand and water that acts as backing coat for plasterwork.

Butterfly wall       A wall between two leaves of a cavity wall made of

tie                         galvanised wire formed into a double triangular shape.

Cavity wall          An external wall consisting of two leaves of brickwork of blockwork connected by wall ties.

Close boarded     Vertical softwood boards fixed to horizontal softwood

Common brick    A brick usually of poor appearance normally used where it will not be seen, e.g. in foundations or in the inner leaf of a cavity wall.

Coping                 The top course of bricks or a concrete slab on top of a wall.

Counter-              A depression made in a timber surface so that the head
of a screw can be driven flush with the surface.

De-humidifier      An air-conditioning unit that cools the air to reduce its humidity.

Dowel                  A short cylindrical piece of wood or metal sunk into two adjacent members to strengthen the connection.

Eaves tile             A short tile nailed at the eaves of a roof as an extra course.

Engineering         A dense brick used where strength and durability
are required.

Expansion            An overflow pipe from a hot water tank or cylinder
usually discharging over a cold water tank.

Fascia                  A vertical timber board fixed to the end of rafters.

Flashing               A strip of metal or bitumen felt fixed between roof tiles and brickwork to prevent the ingress of water.

Flaunching           Cement mortar placed around chimney pots to deflect rainwater on to the roof.

Hardcore             Broken bricks or stones laid to receive a concrete bed.

Heave                   A swelling in clay caused by excess rainfall.

Jamb                    The internal vertical face of an opening or the side member of a door or window.

Lost headed         A nail whose head is only slightly larger than its
tail that can be driven below the surface.

Luminaire            A light fitting.

Mist coat             A thin coat of emulsion paint applied to the plaster as a first coat.

Mortice                A recess formed in timber to receive a tongue or a tenon from another member.

Newel post           A vertical post in a staircase to support the handrail.

Nogging               A short horizontal timber member fixed between vertical studs.

Overhand             Brickwork to external walls laid from staging inside
                        the building without the use of external scaffolding.

Pargettting          The rendering to the inside of a chimney flue

Pin kerb               A small pre-cast concrete kerb usually 150 x 50mm
and laid as edging to paths.

Purlin                   A horizontal roof member supporting the rafters.

Rendering            The application of mortar to walls.

Reveal                  The vertical face of a window or door opening.

Screed                  A layer of cement mortar laid on top of concrete slab to receive a floor or roof finish.

Skim coat            The final coat of plaster usually only 3mm thick.

Spur                     A branch from a ring main for an electric socket outlet.

Studding              A partition constructed of timber.

Tanking               The application of a waterproof membrane to the floor and walls of a basement.                   

Uncoursed           The arrangement of irregular shaped stones in a stone wall without a continuous horizontal bed.

Underpinning       The technique of replacing a load-bearing wall below ground level by supporting the existing wall in short lengths and building a new one.

Verge                   The edge of a sloping roof at the gables.

Wall plate            A horizontal timber member set on top of a wall to receive rafters or joists.