Construction Resources

Glossary of Construction Terms

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ABOVE-GRADE – The portion of a building that is above ground level.

ACCELERATOR - Any material added to stucco, plaster or mortar which speeds up the natural set.

AGGREGATE - Crushed stone, slag or water-worn gravel that comes in a wide range of sizes that is used to surface built-up roofs.

AMMETER - Device to measure the current flowing in a circuit

ANNEALING – In the manufacturing of float glass, it is the process of controlled cooling done in a lehr to prevent residual stresses in the glass. Re-annealing is the process of removing objectionable stresses in glass by re-heating to a suitable temperature followed by controlled cooling.

APRROACH - The area between the sidewalk and the street that leads to a driveway or the transition from the street as you approach a driveway.

ARCHITECT - A tradesman who designs and produces plans for buildings, often overseeing the building process.

ASPHALT - A dark brown to black, highly viscous, hydrocarbon produced from the residue left after the distillation of petroleum. Asphalt is used on roofs and highways as a waterproofing agent.

AUGER – In carpentry, a wood-boring tool used by a carpenter to bore holes


BACKER ROD – In glazing, a polyethylene or polyurethane foam material installed under compression and used to control sealant joint depth, provide a surface for sealant tooling, serve as a bond breaker to prevent three-sided adhesion, and provide an hour-glass contour of the finished bead.

BACKFILL – (1) filling in any previously excavated area. (2) in carpentry, tthe process of fastening together two pieces of board by gluing blocks of wood in the interior angle.

BACKFLOW- The flow of liquids through irrigation into the pipes of a potable or drinking water supply from any source which is opposite to the intended direction of flow.

BACKFLOW PREVENTER - A device or means to prevent backflow into the potable water supply.

BACKHOE - Self powered excavation equipment that digs by pulling a boom mounted bucket towards itself. It is used to dig basements and/or footings and to install drainage or sewer systems.

BACK NAILING - The practice of nailing roofing felts to the deck under the overlap, in addition to hot mopping, to prevent slippage of felts.

BAROMETER - Instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure.

BARREL ROOF - A roof design which in cross section is arched.

BATTEN PLATE - A formed piece of metal designed to cover the joint between two lengths of metal edge.

BATT INSULATION- Strips of insulation – usually fiberglass, that fit between studs or other framing.

BEAD – In glazing, an applied sealant in a joint irrespective of the method of application, such as caulking bead, glazing bead, etc. Also a molding or stop used to hold glass or panels in position.

BEAM – Structural support member (steel, concrete, lumber) that transfers weight from one location to another.

BELL REDUCER – In plumbing, a fitting shaped like a bell which has one opening of a smaller diameter used to reduce the size of the pipe in the line, and the opposite opening of larger diameter.

BELOW-GRADE – The portion of a building that is below ground level.

BENT GLASS – Flat glass that has been shaped while hot into curved shapes.

BID BOND – Security posted by a bidder to ensure performance in accordance with a bid.

BIDDING - Getting prices from various contractors and/or subcontractors.

BITE – The dimension by which the framing system overlaps the edge of the glazing infill.

BLISTER - An enclosed raised spot evident on the surface of a building. They are mainly caused by the expansion of trapped air, water vapor, moisture or other gases.

BLOCKING – In carpentry, the process of fastening together two pieces of board by gluing blocks of wood in the interior angle.

BLUE PRINTS- Architectural plans for a building or construction project, which are likely to include floor plans, footing and foundation plans, elevations, plot plans, and various schedules and or details.

BRAKE METAL - Sheet metal that has been bent to the desired configuration.

BROWNCOAT- The coat of plaster directly beneath the finish coat. In three-coat work, the brown is the second coat.

BTU - British Thermal Unit - The amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water through a change of one degree F.

BUBBLING – In glazing, open or closed pockets in a sealant caused by release, production or expansion of gasses.

BUILDING BRICK - Brick for building purposes not especially treated for texture or color, formerly called "common brick." It is stronger than face brick.

BUILDING PERMIT - Written authorization from the city, county or other governing regulatory body giving permission to construct or renovate a building. A building permit is specific to the building project described in the application.


CANTILEVER - A projecting beam or other structure supported only at one end.

CANT STRIP - A beveled support used at the intersection of the roof deck with vertical surfaces so that bends in the roofing membrane to form base flashings can be made without breaking the felts.

CAP SHEETS – In roofing, one to four plies of felt bonded and top coated with bitumen that is laid over an existing roof as a treatment for defective roofs.

CAPE CHISEL – Tool used to clean out mortar joints on brick.

CARBIDE BIT – Tool used to drill holes in brick or block.

CHAIR RAIL - A molding that runs horizontally along the wall at about 3 feet from the ground. In storefront, window wall, or curtain wall systems, a chair rail is an aluminum extrusion applied horizontally to the inside of the system 3 feet from the floor to create a barrier in floor-to-ceiling glazing applications.

CHANNEL GLAZING - The installation of glass products into U-shaped glazing channels. The channels may have fixed stops; however, at least one glazing stop on one edge must be removable.

CHECKING - A pattern of surface cracks running in irregular lines. When found in the top pour of an asphalt built-up roof, checking is the preliminary stage of alligatoring.

CIRCUIT BREAKER - Simple switch-like device which automatically opens a circuit when the rated current is exceeded as in the case of a short circuit.

CLEAT - A wedge-shaped piece (usually of metal) which serves as a support or check. A strip fastened across something to give strength or hold something in position.

COLD APPLIED - Products that can be applied without heating. These are in contrast to products which need to be heated to be applied.

COLD PATCH – In roofing, a roof repair done with cold applied material.

COLLAR - In roofing, a conical metal cap flashing used in conjunction with vent pipes or stacks usually located several inches above the plane of the roof, for the purpose of shedding water away from the base of the vent.

COLLAR BEAM – In carpentry, a tie that keeps the roof from spreading. Connects similar rafters on opposite sides of roof.

COMPATIBLE - Two or more substances which can be mixed or blended without separating, reacting, or affecting either material adversely.

COMPONENT - Any one part of an assembly associated with construction.

COMPOSITE BOARD - An insulation board which has two different insulation types laminated together in 2 or 3 layers.

CONDENSATION - The appearance of moisture (water vapor) on the surface of an object caused by warm moist air coming into contact with a colder object.

CONDUIT - A tube for protecting electric wires.

CONSTRUCTION LOAN - A loan provided by a lending institution specifically to construct or renovate a building.

CONTROL JOINT - A control joint controls or accommodates movement in the surface component of a roof.

CONVECTION - A method of transferring heat by the actual movement of heated molecules, usually by a freestanding unit such as a furnace.

COOLING TOWER - A large device mounted on roofs, consisting of many baffles over which water is pumped in order to reduce its temperature.

COPING - A construction unit placed at the top of the parapet wall to serve as a cover for the wall.

CORE - A small section cut from any material to show internal composition.

CORNICE - A horizontal projecting course on the exterior of a building, usually at the base of the parapet.

CORROSION - The deterioration of metal by chemical or electrochemical reaction resulting from exposure to weathering, moisture, chemicals or other agents or media.

CORRUGATED - Folded or shaped into parallel ridges or furrows so as to form a symmetrically wavy surface.

COST BREAKDOWN - A breakdowns of all the anticipated costs on a construction or

renovation project.

COUPLING – In plumbing, a short collar with only inside threads at each end, for receiving the ends of two pipes which are to be fitted and joined together. A right/left coupling is one used to join 2 gas pipes in limited space.

CRAZING - A series of hairline cracks in the surface of weathered materials, having a web-like appearance. Also, hairline cracks in pre-finished metals caused by bending or forming. (see brake metal)

CUPOLA - A small monitor or dome at the peak of a pitched roof.

CURB - A short wall or masonry built above the level of the roof that provides a means of flashing the deck equipment.


DARBY - A flat tool used to smooth concrete flatwork immediately after screeding. See Bullfloating

DEAD LOAD - The constant, design-weight (of the roof) and any permanent fixtures attached above or below.

DECK - An elevated platform. "Deck" is also commonly used to refer to the above-ground floors in multi-level parking garage.

DEFLECT - To bend or deform under weight.

DEFLECTION – The amount of bending movement of any part of a structural member perpendicular to the axis of the member under an applied load.

DOUBLE STRENGTH – In float glass, approximately 1/8" (3 mm.) thick.

DRAWING DETAIL - A top view drawing of a building or roof showing the roof perimeter and indicating the projections and roof mounted equipment, drawn to scale.

DRIP EDGE - A device designed to prevent water from running back or under an overhang.

DRIPPAGE - Bitumen material that drips through roof deck joints, or over the edge of a roof deck.

DRY SHEET - A ply mechanically attached to wood or gypsum decks to prevent asphalt or pitch from penetrating the deck and leaking into the building below.

DRYWALL - Sheetrock (gypsum board) that covers the framing and taping, coating, and finishing to make the interior walls and ceilings of a building. Drywall is also used as a verb to refer to installation process.

DRYWALL HAMMER - A special hammer used for nailing up gypsum board. It is also known as an ax or hatchet. Edges should be smooth and the corners rounded off. The head has a convex round & checkered head.

DRYWALL NAIL - Nails used for hanging regular drywall that is to be taped and finished later must have adequate holding power and a head design that does not cut the face paper. They must also be of the proper depth to provide exactly 1 inch penetration into the framing member. Nails commonly used are chemically-etched and are designed with a cupped head.


EPDM - Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. A single ply membrane consisting of

synthetic rubber; usually 45 or 60 mils. Application can be ballasted,

fully adhered or mechanically attached.

EAVE - The part of a roof which projects out from the side wall, or the lower edge of the part of a roof that overhangs a wall.

EDGE CLEARANCE – Nominal spacing between the edge of the glass product and the bottom of the glazing pocket (channel).

EDGE METAL - A term relating to brake or extruded metal around the perimeter of a roof.

EER - Energy Efficiency Ratio; is figured by dividing BTU hours by watts.

EFFLORESCENCE - The process by which water leeches soluble salts out of concrete or mortar and deposits them on the surface. Also used as the name for these deposits.

EIFS – Exterior Insulating Finish System; exterior wall cladding system consisting primarily of polystyrene foam board with a textured acrylic finish that resembles plaster or stucco.

ELASTOMER – An elastic rubber-like substance, such as natural or synthetic rubber.

ELASTOMERIC – Of or pertaining to any of the numerous flexible membranes that contain rubber or plastic.

ELECTROLYTIC COUPLING - A fitting required to join copper to galvanized pipe and gasketed to prevent galvanic action. Connecting pipes of different materials may result in electrolysis.

ELEVATION - A side of a building.

EMISSIVITY – the measure of a surface’s ability to emit long-wave infrared radiation.

EMT - Electrical Metallic Tubing- This electrical pipe, also called thin-wall conduit, may be used for both concealed and exposed areas. It is the most common type of raceway used in single family and low rise residential and commercial buildings.

EMULSION - In roofing, a coating consisting of asphalt and fillers suspended in water.

END DAMS – Internal flashing (dam) that prevents water from moving laterally within a curtain wall or window wall system.

EXCAVATE - Dig the basement and or all areas that will need footings/foundations below ground.

EXPANSION COEFFICIENT - The amount that a specific material will vary in any one dimension with a change of temperature.

EXPANSION JOINT - A device used to permit a structure to expand or contract without breakage.

EXTERIOR GLAZED – Glazing infills set from the exterior of the building.

EXTERIOR STOP – The molding or bead that holds the lite or panel in place when it is on the exterior side of the lite or panel.

EXTRUSION - An item formed by forcing a base metal (frequently aluminum) or plastic, at a malleable temperature, through a die to achieve a desired shape.

EYEBROW - A flat, normally concrete, projection which protrudes horizontally from a building wall; Eyebrows are generally located above windows.


FAÇADE - The front of a building. Frequently, in architectural terms an artificial or decorative effort.

FACE BRICK- Brick made especially for exterior use with special consideration of color, texture and size, and used as a facing on a building.

FASCIA - Any cover board or framed metal assembly at the edge or eaves of a flat, sloping, or overhanging roof which is placed in a vertical position to protect the edge of the roof assembly.

FASTENERS - A general term covering a wide variety of screws and nails which may be used for mechanically securing various components of a building.

FELT - A very general term used to describe composition of roofing ply sheets, consisting of a mat of organic or inorganic fibers unsaturated, impregnated with asphalt or coal tar pitch, or impregnated and coated with asphalt.

FENESTRATION – Any glass panel, window, door, curtain wall or skylight unit on the exterior of a building.

FERROUS - Refers to objects made of or partially made of iron, such as ferrous pipe.

FILLET BEAD – Caulking or sealant placed in such a manner that it forms an angle between the materials being caulked.

FINISH – In hardware, metal fastenings on cabinets which are usually exposed such as hinges and locks.

FINISH CARPENTRY - The hanging of all interior doors, installation of door molding, base molding, chair rail, built in shelves, etc.

FINISH COAT – The last coat applied in plastering intended as a base for further decorating or as a final decorative surface. Finish coat usually consists of calcified gypsum, lime and sometimes an aggregate. Some may require the addition of lime or sand on the job. The three basic methods of applying it are (1) trowel (2) flat and (3) spray.

FINISH GRADE - Any surface which has been cut to or built to the elevation indicated for that point. Surface elevation of lawn, driveway or other improved surfaces after completion of grading operations.

FIRE-RATED – Descriptive of materials that has been tested for use in fire walls.

FIRE WALL - Any wall built for the purpose of restricting or preventing the spread of fire in a building. Such walls of solid masonry or concrete generally sub-divide a building from the foundations to two or more feet above the plane of the roof.

FLASHING - Weatherproof material installed between roof sheathing (or wall sheathing) and the finish materials to help keep moisture away from the sheathing.

FLASHING BASE - The upturned edge of the watertight membrane formed at a roof termination point by the extension of the felts vertically over the cant strip and up the wall for a varying distance where they are secured with mechanical fasteners.

FLASHING, COUNTER - The formed metal secured to a wall, curb, or roof top unit to cover and protect the upper edge of a base flashing and its associated fasteners.

FLASHING, STEP - Individual small pieces of metal flashing material used to flash around chimneys, dormers, and such projections along the slope of a roof. The individual pieces are overlapped and stepped up the vertical surface.

FLASH POINT - The critical temperature at which a material will ignite.

FLASHING, THRU-WALL - Flashing extended completely through a masonry wall. Designed and applied in combination with counter-flashings, to prevent water which may enter the wall above from proceeding downward in the wall or into the roof deck or roofing system.

FLAT GLASS – A general term that describes float glass, sheet, glass, plate glass, and rolled glass.

FLAT SEAM - A seam at the junction of sheet metal roof components that has been bent at the plane of the roof.

FLEET AVERAGING - By using a point system, builders can show compliance with energy building requirements by using average figures for all air conditioning units in the same sub division.

FLEXIBLE METAL CONDUIT – Conduit similar to armored cable in appearance but does not have the pre-inserted conductors.

FOLDED SEAM - In sheet metal work, a joint between sheets of metal wherein the edges of the sheets are crimped together and folded flat.

FOOTINGS - Wide pours of cement reinforced with re-bar (reinforcing bar) that support foundation walls, pillars, or posts. Footings are part of the foundation and are often poured before the foundation walls.

FOOT PRINT – See Floor Plan.

FULLY ADHERED - A completely attached (adhered) roof membrane.


GABLE - The end of a building as distinguished from the front or rear side. The triangular end of an exterior wall from the level of the eaves to the ridge of a double-sloped roof.

GAMBREL ROOF - A type of roof which has its slope broken by an obtuse angle, so that the lower slope is steeper than the upper slope. A double sloped roof having two pitches.

GALVANIZE - To coat a metal with zinc by dipping it in molten zinc after cleaning.

GASKETS – pre-formed shapes, such as strips, grommets, etc., of rubber or rubber-like composition, used to fill and seal a joint or opening either alone or in conjunction with a supplemental application of a sealant.

GAUGE - The thickness of sheet metal and wire, etc.

GLAZE COAT – In roofing, a light, uniform mopping of bitumen on exposed felts to protect them from the weather, pending completion of the job.

GLAZING BEAD – In glazing, a strip surrounding the edge of the glass in a window or door which holds the glass in place.

GLAZING CHANNEL – In glazing, a three-sided, U-shaped sash detail into which a glass product is installed and retained.

GRADE NW - No Weather brick intended for use as a back-up or interior masonry.

GRADE SW - Severe Weather grade of brick intended for use where high resistance to freezing is desired.

GRANULES - The mineral particles of a graded size which are embedded in the asphalt coating of shingles and roofing.

GROUND SYSTEM - The connection of current-carrying neutral wire to the grounding terminal in the main switch which in turn is connected to a water pipe. The neutral wire is called the ground wire.

GROUNDING ROD - Rod used to ground an electrical panel.

GUTTER STRAP - Metal bands used to support the gutter.

GUY WIRE - A strong steel wire or cable strung from an anchor on the roof to any tall slender projection for the purpose of support.

GYPSUM - See Drywall


HARDWARE - Metal accessories such as door knobs, towel bars, toilet paper holders, etc.

HAZARD INSURANCE - Insurance for a building while it is under construction.

HEADER - Framing members over windows, doors, or other openings.

HIP ROOF - A roof which rises by inclining planes from all four sides of a building.

HOISTWAY - A shaftway for the travel of one or more elevators.

HUB – In plumbing, the enlarged end of a pipe which is made to provide a connection into which the end of the joining pipe will fit.

HVAC - Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning.


INCOMPATIBILITY - Descriptive of two or more materials which are not suitable to be used together.

INSIDE DRAIN – In roofing, a drain positioned on a roof at some location other than the perimeter. It drains surface water inside the building through closed pipes to a drainage system.

INTERIOR GLAZED – Glazing infills set from the interior of the building.

INTERLAYER – In glazing, any material used to bond two lites of glass and/or plastic together to form a laminate.

INTERPLY - Between two layers of roofing felts that have been laminated together.


KICK HOLE - A defect frequently found in perimeter flashings arising from being stepped on or kicked. A small fracture of the base flashing in the area of the cant.

KYNAR COATING – Architectural coating that is UV stable and suitable for exterior use on aluminum and other metal surfaces.


LEAN-TO-ROOF - the sloping roof of a building addition having its rafters or supports pitched against and supported by the adjoining wall of a building.

LINTEL - or header - A horizontal piece of wood or steel over an opening such as a window or door. to support the walls immediately above the opening. Lintels can also be steel or stone.

LIQUID-APPLIED MEMBRANE - Generally applied to cast-in-place concrete surfaces in one or more coats to provide fully-adhered waterproof membranes which conform to all contours.

LITE – Another term for a pane of glass. Sometimes spelled "light" in industry literature but spelled "lite" in this text to avoid confusion with light as in "visible light."

LIVE LOAD – Loads produced by use and occupancy of the building or other structure and do not include construction or environmental loads such as wind load, snow load, ice load, rain load, seismic load, or dead load.

LOT - A parcel of ground with boundaries determined by the county.

LOOSE LAID – In roofing, a membrane "laid loosely", i.e., not adhered, over a roof deck or BURM.


MELT POINT - The temperature at which the solid asphalt becomes a liquid.

MEMBRANE - A generic term relating to a variety of sheet goods used for certain built-up roofing repairs and application.

MIL THICKNESS - Measurement used to determine thickness of a coating. 1 mil = .001 inch (1/1000).

MODULUS – Stress at a given strain. Also tensile strength at a given elongation.

MOLDING – Finish wood such as door and window trim.

MONITOR, SAW-TOOTH - A type of monitor characterized by sharp angled pitches and vertical sections, usually arranged in rows much like teeth of a saw.

MONITOR - A large structure rising above the surrounding roof planes, designed to give light and/or ventilation to the building interior.

MUNTINS – Horizontal or vertical bars that divide the sash frame into smaller lites of glass. Muntins are smaller in dimensions and weight than mullions.


NEAT PLASTER - A base coat plaster which does not contain aggregates and is used where the addition of aggregates on the job is desired.

NEOPRENE – A synthetic rubber having physical properties closely resembling those of natural rubber. It is made by polymerizing chloroprenes, and the latter is produced from acetylene and hydrogen chloride.

NON-DESTRUCTIVE - A phrase describing a method of examining the interior of a component whereby no damage is done to the component itself.

NON-DRYING (Non-Curing) – A sealant that does not set up or cure. See Butyl.

NON-SKINNING – Descriptive of a product that does not form a surface skin.

NON-STAINING – Characteristic of a compound that will not stain a surface.

NOZZLE – The tubular tip of a caulking gun through which the compound is extruded.


ORGANIC - A term designating any chemical compound which contains carbon and hydrogen.

OVERHANG - That part of the roof structure which extends horizontally beyond the vertical plane of the exterior walls of a building.

OXIDIZE - To combine with oxygen in the air.


PARAPET WALL - A low wall around the perimeter of a roof deck.

PARGE COAT - A thin application of plaster for coating a wall.

PAVER STONES - Usually pre-cast concrete slabs used to create a traffic surface.

PLANS - See Blue Prints.

PLAT - A map of a geographical area as recorded by the county.

PLATE LINE - The top horizontal line of a building wall upon which the roof rests.

PLOT PLAN - A bird’s eye view showing how a building sits on the building lot, typically showing setbacks (how far the building must sit from the road), easements, rights of way, and drainage.

PLYWOOD -Wooden panels formed by gluing thin sheets of wood together, with the grain of adjacent layers arranged at right angles.

POINTING - The process where joints between masonry units, brick, etc., are filled with mortar.

POLISHED WIRED GLASS – Wired glass that has been ground and polished on both surfaces.

POLYMER - A substance consisting of large molecules which have been formed from smaller molecules of similar make-up.

POLYSULFIDE SEALANT – Polysulfide liquid polymer sealant which is mercaptan terminated, long chain aliphatic polymers containing disulfide linkages. They can be converted to rubbers at room temperature without shrinkage upon addition of a curing agent.

POP OUT - See stucco popout

POP RIVETS - Fasteners used to join pieces of metal that are installed by either compressed-air-assisted or hand-operated guns. Unique in that they are installed from one side of the work.

POROSITY - The density of substance and its capacity to pass liquids.

PORTLAND CEMENT - A mixture of certain minerals which when mixed with water form a gray colored paste and cure into a very hard mass.

POST - A vertical member of wood, steel, concrete or other material that transfers weight from the top of the post to whatever the post is resting on.

POT LIFE – The time interval following the addition of an accelerator before chemically curing material will become too viscous to apply satisfactorily. See Shelf Life.

POWER - The energy rate, usually measured in watts. Power equals voltage times amps. or W = E x 1. The heavier the flow of amps at a given supply, the higher the rate at which energy is being supplied and used.

PRECAST - Concrete building components which are formed and cured at a factory and then transported to a work site for erection.

PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE – Valve to relieve excess pressure in water storage tanks.

PRESSURE TREATED LUMBER - Lumber that is treated in such a way that the sealer is forced into the pores of the wood.

PRIMING – Sealing of a porous surface so that compounds will not stain, lose elasticity, shrink excessively, etc. because of loss of oil or vehicle into the surround.

PROJECTION – In roofing, any object or equipment which pierces the roof membrane.

PUSH STICK – In hardware, a tool used when cutting a short board on a table saw.

PVDF – Architectural coating. See Kynar Coating.


RADIAL SAW - A circular saw which hangs from a horizontal arm or beam and slides back and forth. The arm pivots from side to side to allow for angle cuts and bevels. When sawing finish plywood, the good side should face up as the saw cuts on the down stroke.

RAGGLE BLOCK - A specially designed masonry block having a slot or opening into which the top edge of the roof flashing is inserted and anchored.

RAIL- The top and bottom frame members of a door or window (not the jamb).

RAKE - The angle of slope of a roof rafter, or the inclined portion of a cornice.

RANKIN - Thermometer scale on which unit of measurement equals the Fahrenheit degree.

RE-BAR - Reinforcing bar used to increase the tensile strength of concrete.

REFLECTIVE GLASS –Glass with a metallic coating to reduce solar heat gain.

REGISTER - A fixture through which conditioned air flows. In a gravity heating system, it is located near the baseboard. In an air conditioning system, it is located close to the thermostat.

REGLET - A horizontal slot, formed or cut in a parapet or other masonry wall, into which the top edge of counter-flashing can be inserted and anchored. In glazing, a reglet is typically a pocket or keyway extruded into the framing for installing the glazing gaskets.

REINFORCED CONCRETE - A combination of steel and concrete using the best properties of each. The steel consists of rebar or reinforcing bars varying from 3/8 " to 2 1/4 "in diameter and is placed before concrete is poured.

REINFORCED MASONRY - Masonry units, reinforcing steel, grout and/or mortar combined to act together to strengthen the masonry structure.

RELATIVE HEAT GAIN – The amount of heat gain through a glass product taking into consideration the effects of solar heat gain (shading coefficient) and conductive heat gain (U-value).

RETURN – In heating and cooling systems, a vent that returns cold air to be warmed. In a hot air furnace system, it is located near an inside wall.

RIGID METAL CONDUIT - This conduit resembles plumbing pipe, protecting wires from damage.

RPM - Revolutions per Minute.


SABER SAW - a saw that cuts on the upstroke, good side of wood faces down.

SEALANT – An elastomeric material with adhesive qualities applied between components of a similar or dissimilar nature to provide an effective barrier against the passage of the elements.

SELF-HEALING - A term used to describe to a material which melts with the heat from the sun's rays, and seals over cracks that were earlier formed from other causes. Some waterproof membranes are self-healing.

SELF-LEVELING - A term used to describe a viscous material that is applied by pouring. In its uncured state, it spreads out evenly.

SELVAGE - The unsurfaced strip along a sheet of roll roofing which forms the under portion at the lap in the application of the roof covering.

SEPARATION – In concrete application, what happens to concrete when it is dropped directly with a flat chute causing the concrete to separate, usually occurring at a 1:2 slope.

SERVICE CONDUCTOR – In electrical contracting, the supply conductors that extend from the street main or from the transformer to the service equipment.

SHED ROOF - A roof having only one slope or pitch, with only one set of rafters which fall from a higher to a lower wall.

HEATHING - Plywood, gypsum or wood fiber encasing walls, ceilings, floors and roofs of framed buildings. It is the first layer of outer wall covering nailed to the studs or rafters.

HEETROCK - Panels made primarily from gypsum installed over the framing to form the interior walls and ceilings. Sheetrock is often called gypsum board.

SHELF LIFE – Used in the glazing and sealant business to refer to the length of time a product may be stored before beginning to lose its effectiveness. Manufacturers usually state the shelf life and the necessary storage conditions on the package.

SILICONE SEALANT – A sealant having as its chemical compound a backbone consisting of alternating silicon-oxygen atoms.

SINGLE TEE - The name given to a type of precast concrete deck which has one stiffening rib integrally cast into slab.

SKY DOME - A type of skylite exhibiting a characteristic translucent plastic domed top.

SKYLIGHT - A structure on a roof that is designed to admit light and is somewhat above the plane of the roof surface.

SLOPED GLAZING – Any installation of glass that is at a slope of 15 degrees or more from vertical.

SOFFIT - The underside of a part or member of a building extending out from the plane of the building walls.

SOLE PLATE - bottom horizontal member of a frame wall.

SPALLING - The chipping or flaking of concrete, bricks, or other masonry where improper drainage or venting and freeze/thaw cycling exists.

SPAN - The horizontal distance between supporting structures such as beams, trusses or


SPANDREL – The panels of a wall located between vision areas of windows which conceal structural columns, floors, and shear walls.

SPECIFICATION - Detailed written instructions which, when clear and concise, explain each phase of work to be done.

SPLITTING - The formation of long cracks completely through a membrane. Splits are frequently associated with lack of allowance for expansion stresses. They can also

be a result of deck deflection or change in deck direction.

SPUD - The removal of gravel or heavy accumulations of bitumen from roof membranes by means of chipping or scraping.

STACK - The vertical pipe of a system of soil, waste or vent piping

STACK VENT - Also called a waste vent or soil vent, it is the extension of a soil or waste stack above the highest horizontal drain connected to the stack.

STANDING SEAM - A type of joint often used on metal roofs.

STATIC LOAD - The total amount of permanent non moving weight that is applied to given surface areas.

STILE - The side frame members of a door or window (not the jamb).

STORM DOOR – A panel or sash door placed on the outside of an existing door to provide additional protection from the elements.

STORM WINDOW – A glazed panel or sash placed on the inside or outside of an existing sash or window as additional protection against the elements.

STRAIN – The percentage of elongation or compression of a material or portion of a material caused by an applied force.

STRIKING OFF – The operation of smoothing off excess compound or sealant at sight line when applying same around lites or panels.

STRING LINE - A nylon line usually strung tightly between supports to indicate both direction and elevation, used in checking grades or deviations in slopes or rises. Used in landscaping to level the ground.

STRUCTURAL SILICONE GLAZING – The use of a silicone sealant for the structural transfer of loads from the glass to its perimeter support system and retention of the glass in the opening.

STUCCO - A type of exterior finish.

STUD - The evenly spaced, vertical framing members of a wall. See also: Wood grades.

SUB CONTRACTOR - A contractor who specializes in a particular trade such as waterproofing.

SUB-FLOOR - Material (such as particleboard) installed before finish flooring materials.


TEXTURE PAINT - One which may be manipulated by brush, trowel or other to give various patterns.

THERMAL MOVEMENT - The measured amount of dimensional change that a material exhibits as it is warmed or cooled.

THERMAL SHOCK - The stress built up by sudden and appreciable changes in temperature.

THERMOPLASTIC MATERIAL - Solid material which is softened by increasing temperatures and hardened by decreasing temperatures.

TINTED GLASS – Glass with colorants added to the basic glass batch that give the glass color as well as light and heat-reducing capabilities. The color extends throughout the thickness of the glass.

TITLE 24 - A federal set of laws that mandates the construction industry to conserve energy.

TOE BEAD – Sealant applied at the intersection of the outboard glazing stop and the bottom of the glazing channel; must be sized to also provide a seal to the edge of the glass.

TONGUE AND GROOVE - A type of flooring where the tongue of one board is joined to the groove of another board

TOP MOPPING - The finished mopping of hot bitumen on a built-up roof.

TOP PLATE - Top horizontal member of a frame wall.

TORCHING - Applying direct flame to a membrane for the purpose of melting, heating or adhering.

TRANSIT - A surveyors instrument used by builders to establish points and elevations both vertically and horizontally. It can be used to line up stakes or to plumb walls or the angle of elevation from a horizontal plane can be measured.


VEINING – In roofing, the characteristic lines or "stretch marks" which develop during the aging process of soft bitumens.

VENT PIPE - A vertical pipe of relatively small dimensions which protrudes through a roof to provide for the ventilation of gasses.

VENTILATOR - Device installed on the roof for the purpose of ventilating the interior of the building.

VENT STACK - A vertical vent pipe installed for the purpose of providing circulation of air to and from any part of a drainage system.

VENT SYSTEM – In plumbing, a system to provide a flow of air to or from a drainage system or to provide circulation of air within such system to protect traps seals from siphonage and back pressure.

VERMICULITE - An aggregate somewhat similar to perlite that is used as an aggregate in lightweight roof decks and deck fills. It is formed from mica, a hydrous silicate.

VISCOSITY - The internal frictional resistance offered by a fluid to change of shape or to the relative motion or flow of its parts.

VISIBLE LIGHT TRANSMITTANCE – The percentage of visible light (390 to 770) nanometers) within the solar spectrum that is transmitted through glass.


WATER REPELLANT COATING – Transparent coating or sealer applied to the surface of concrete and masonry surfaces to repel water.

WATER VAPOR - Moisture existing as a gas in air.

WATTAGE - The electrical unit of power. KILOWATTS is 1000 watts and electric customers are billed on how many kilowatts of power they have used.

WEEP HOLE - A hole which allows for drainage of entrapped water from masonry or glazing structures.

WEEP SCREED – Tool used to drain moisture from concrete.

WELD - The joining of components together by fusing. In thermoplastics, refers to bonding together of the membrane using heat or solvents.

WET SEAL – Application of an elastomeric sealant between the glass and sash to form a weather tight seal.