Jargon Buster


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If you don’t know your purlin from your pointing, our jargon-busting glossary of builders’ terms should help. Sourced from the FMB’s website

For a copy of Practical Tips for Building Success, just call 08000 152522 for your free copy or download it on www.findabuilder.co.uk.

 

ARCHITRAVE 

Moulding round opening such as door or window


ARRIS 

Sharp external angle – usually 90 degrees


BALUSTER

Alternative term for Banister


BARGE BOARD 

Wide board fitted on edge of tiles following the slope of the roof


BEAD 

Small convex moulding


BIB TAP

Tap fed by horizontal supply – as in a garden tap


BLOWN OR LIVE 

Plaster that has lost its bond with the wall


BOND 

Arrangement of bricks to ensure stability of brickwork


BUTTRESS OR PIER

Thickening of wall to form a vertical projection to strengthen it


CAVITY WALL 

Usual construction for external walls comprising an inner and outer leaf with a space between for insulation


CISTERN 

Tank for storing water – usually located in the attic


CLEAT 

Cable fixing for phone wire, etc


COPING

Protective finish to the top of a wall


CORBELLING 

Successive projecting courses of brickwork


COVE OR CORNICE 

Moulding around room at junction of wall and ceiling


DADO RAIL 

Horizontal moulding part way up a wall


DEAL

Term for piece of square-sawn softwood


DISTEMPER

Wall paint made from water, pigment and glue (traditional)


DRIP 

Moulding or groove in overhanging member to prevent water creeping back


EAVES

Overhang of roof beyond wall below


EFFLORESCENCE 

Unsightly powdery white salts brought to surface of brickwork


FLASHING 

Metal sheet used to deflect water at junction between roof and wall


FLAT ARCH

An arch that is almost completely horizontal


FLAUNCHING 

Cement mortar filler round the top of a chimney stack


FLUE 

Tube conveying smoke or fumes from fireplaces or appliances


FLUSH DOOR 

Door with completely flat faces


FOOTLIFTER 

Wedge used to lift boards for nailing to wall


FORMATION LEVEL

The deep point in an excavation for a drive or path


FROG 

Indent on bed face of a brick


GAUGED BRICKWORK

Fine brickwork with very thin joints


GABLE OR VERGE

Upper part of an outer wall at the end of a pitched roof


GLAZING BAR

Thin bar shaped to receive pane of glass


GRAVITY FED SYSTEM

Central heating system that circulates water by gravity and water expansion


HEADER

The end face of a brick


HEADER TANK

Small open cistern (tank) that feeds water to central heating system


HERRINGBONE

Zigzag pattern of brickwork


HIP

Line of adjoining sections of pitched roof at external angle of building


HIPPED ROOF

Pitched roof, the ends of which are also sloped


HIP TILE

Roof tile shaped to cover hip of roof


JAMB

The side of an opening in a wall for a door or window


JOIST

Support for floor and ceiling


KNOTTING

Varnish to stabilise knots in wood


LEAN-TO ROOF

Sloping roof supported along its highest part by a taller adjoining wall


LIGHT

Subdivision of a window – fixed or opening. Opening light can be top or side hung


LINTEL

Concrete or steel beam over opening to support wall above


LOOSE-FILL INSULATION

Loose material for insulating cavity walls and lofts


MANSARD ROOF

Form of pitched roof designed to provide more space for rooms


MEGGER

Test meter used by electricians


MEZZANINE

Extra floor – possibly inserted between floor and ceiling of very tall room


MITRE

Angled joint (similar to joint in picture frame)


MODULE

Dimensional co-ordination of components


MUCK

Brickie term for mortar


MULLION

Upright post in window


NEWEL

Vertical post at top and bottom of staircase


NOGGING

Short wooden stiffeners inserted between joists


NOSING

Rounded edge of a stair tread projecting beyond the riser


PARAPET

Low wall at the edge of a roof


PEBBLE DASH

Roughcast wall finish with stones bedded in rendered wall


PILASTER

Projecting part of a square column which is attached to wall


PITCH

Slope of roof – expressed as an angle or ratio


PLAIN TILE

Rectangular “flat” roofing tile


PLASTER

Applied wall finish


PLASTERBOARD

Prefabricated sheets of plaster for walls and ceilings


PLINTH

Projecting base to external walls


PURLIN

Horizontal beam, part way up a rafter to prevent sagging


RAFTERS

Series of structural timbers rising from eaves to ridge to support pitched roof covering


RAIL

Horizontal member in door or fence


RELIEVING ARCH

An arch constructed above a lintel or beam to take weight of wall above


RENDER

External sand-cement coating for walls


REVEAL

Vertical side of door or window opening


RIDGE

Top of a pitched roof


RING MAIN

Power circuit for sockets


RISE

Vertical distance between two adjacent stair treads


RISER

Upright part of a stair OR vertical water pipe from the mains


ROOF TRUSS

Prefabricated structural timer framework to support roof


RSJ

Rolled steel joist


SASH

Framework for glass – in particular double-hung sliding sash window


SCREED

Layer of fine concrete used to provide smooth surface prior to floor finish


SARKING FELT

Waterproof felt under roof tile battens


SECOND FIX

Items fitted following plastering – including joiner, cupboards and plumbing/electrical fittings


SILL

Bottom horizontal member of a door or window frame


SKIM

Finishing coat of plaster


SKIRTING

Horizontal board at junction between floor and wall


SOFFIT

Visible underside of a projecting surface


SPAN

Horizontal distance covered by a beam or lintel etc.


SPOIL

Material dug out during excavation


STACK

Vertical pipe carrying waste from sinks and toilets


STOCKS

Hand or machine-made bricks made in a mould


STRETCHER

The side face of a brick


STRING

Sloping board carrying the treads and risers of a staircase


TARMAC

Bitumen macadam coating aggregate for drive/path surfaces


TIMBER FRAME

Type of house construction usually finished with brickwork outer skin


TREAD

Horizontal part of a stair


TRV

Thermostatic radiator valve


VOUSSOIR

Wedge-shaped brick used in arch construction


WAINSCOT

Wooden lining to the walls of a room (traditional)


 
Harry Haines