by Gauk
Wed, May 23, 2018 1:30 AM



The joint between two neighbouring surfaces, usually refers to the join between exterior walls and the roof.

AC (Alternating Current)

Current that flows in two directions in the conductor, as found in plugs and outlets.

Adaptor Coupling

Otherwise known as a pan coupling. Used to join the pan waste outlet to the soil pipe.


Product for gluing objects together. Different materials will require different types of adhesive.


Small stones or gravel mixed with cement used to make concrete.

Air brick

A brick perforated with holes used to aid ventilation.

Air lock

A blockage in a water pipe caused by trapped air.

Air vent

A central heating system will have a series of air vents, which will be situated at the radiators, near the hot water cylinder and also in the loft.

Amp (ampere)

The unit for the measurement of electric current.

Ampere rating

The current carrying capacity of a fuse.


See Lead soakers.


Moulding fitted around windows and doors to conceal the joint between the frame and the wall.

Arris rail

The rail between fence posts to which fencing panels are fixed



This is the reversal in the normal directional flow of water in a plumbing system e.g. water being drawn back into the mains supply from the house.

Balanced flue

A two-part ventilation duct allowing combustion gases from a boiler to escape and only fresh air to enter. As opposed to an open flue.

Ball valve (ballcock)

Valve operated by a float or ball, allowing water to enter a cistern when the water level drops.


Coarse stone used in mixing concrete.


Sometimes incorrectly called a banister, balusters are the vertical poles of wood connecting the handrail and string of a staircase.


The entire assembly of balusters, newels, handrails, and base rails on a staircase.


Also known as a vergeboard, a timber board covering the edge of the overhang on a gable roof.


A brick or block cut along the shortest edge. Half bat is half a brick, quarter bat is quarter of a brick. Also, a section of rigid material used in insulation.


A narrow length of square-edged timber


Of either a sealant product or a moulding used to decorate or conceal joints.


Supporting beams.


The process of laying tiles or slabs onto a bed of mortar or concrete.


Specifically made for a purpose or situation.


A layer of sand covering hardcore.


To join and hold two surfaces together. Also, the joint arrangement between brick walls e.g. the vertical joints between courses in brickwork is called a brick bond.


The hollow space that runs through a tube or pipe.

Bottom plate

The horizontal member at the bottom of a stud wall.


A brace is the diagonal support fixed to the back of a timber frame and panel gate.

Brace fitting

To support and strengthen a joint or a structural member keeping a frame rigid.


A projecting support , used to support shelves for example.

Brass blade terminals

A telephone socket terminal comprising of two thin brass blades that cut into the conductor's insulation and make the connection.


A process for joining metals together by melting a third metal or alloy. Much like soldering except that the filler metal used has a higher melting temperature.

Brickbond pattern

A brickwork pattern where the bricks in each row overlap the joints between two bricks in the previous row.

Building control officer

Local authority Building Control Officers ensure that building regulations are adhered to.

Building line

The boundary line for construction of a house, established by the deeds or building control authorities.


The plastic socket that a light bulb is screwed into containing the terminals for connecting flex.


The rough edge after sawing or filing, particularly when referring to metal.


To join the ends of two objects or surfaces together to form a butt joint.


To apply mortar to the end of a brick before it is laid.

Butyl rubber

A flexible material available in sheets widely used for pond liners. Also, butyl rubber based materials are now being used for flat roof coverings.


Cable clip

A small pin with a plastic moulding used for fixing telephone wiring along skirting.

Cable straps

Plastic gripper strips for tying up cables. Also known as zip-ties.


Lead glazing bars holding panes of glass in place.


A beam or other structural part that is only supported on one side or projects beyond the support.

Capillary joints

Plumbing joints where a section of solder is pre-fitted to the pipe, ready to be heated.


Uppermost nut on a compression joint, which tightens the whole joint.

Capping stone

The uppermost stone on a wall protecting the wall from damage and erosion, usually laid flush with the wall.

Capstan head

The turning handle of a rising-spindle tap.


Traditional window which opens out from a hinge.


A flexible compound used to seal cracks and fill holes on a variety of surfaces.

Cavity tray

A cavity tray is a waterproof barrier fitted into the cavity of a wall. It is designed to collect moisture that has penetrated the cavity and direct it back outside. Cavity trays should be fitted over any point where the cavity has been bridged above the DPC (damp proof course): for example above an airbrick.

Cavity wall

A wall comprised of two leafs or sections tied together with an air space in between to prevent the transfer of moisture and improve insulation.

Cavity wall tie

Fixing used to attach inner and outer leafs of a cavity wall.


The initials "CE" do not stand for any specific words but are a declaration by the manufacturer that his product meets the requirements of the applicable European Directive(s).


Adhesive used to bind ingredients to make concrete.

Central muntin

The central panel in a door into which panels are slotted.


Bevelled timber.


Channel excavated in a wall to house electric cables or pipes.

Check valve

Valve that allows water to flow in one direction.

Chimney cowl

A hood or covering fitted to the top of a chimney pot to solve downdraught problems and reduce the entry of rainwater.

Circuit cable / supply cable

The cable connected to the main circuit originating in the consumer unit.


A water storage unit, such as used in a toilet. A supply cistern is sometimes used as a term for a water storage tank.


Covering a surface with wood, plasterboard, stone etc. for protection or decoration.

Clear lumber

Lumber with no knots or holes.


A strip of supporting wood, often fastened to a wall to support a shelf or to strengthen a door. Also, a horizontal section of wood fixing rafters together.


A strip of wood fixed between windows to which the sill may be attached.

Close-coupling plate

A thin metal plate fitted onto the underside of the flush outlet of the cistern from a close-coupled toilet. This is the type of toilet where the cistern is seated on the back of the pan.

Coaxial cable

Used for connecting aerials to TV and radios and transferring high frequency signals.

Cockspur handle

A pivoted handle on a casement window.

Combination boiler

A boiler that heats the central heating system and domestic water supply.


Plastic tubing protecting cables buried in the wall.

Consumer unit

This is where the main on/off switch for the building's electricity supply is located, along with the earthing terminal block for the all the building's circuits and individual fuses or miniature circuit breakers for each circuit.


Stone or brick placed on top of walls as protection against weather damage, usually positioned so that it overhangs the wall.


A conductor or wire, sheathed in colour-coded insulation to distinguish live and neutral cores.


Decorative plaster or wood moulding in the joint between wall and ceiling.


A layer of battens placed at right-angles on top of an existing layer of battens to allow for ventilation in roofs or walls.


To recess the head of a screw so that it lies just beneath or flush with the surface.


A row of blocks or bricks. See also damp-proof course.


Decorative moulding between the top of the wall and ceiling.

Cranked hinge

A hinge that allows a door to open to 180 degrees, such as a parliament hinge.

Cripple stud

A new timber support placed either side of an opening cut into a timber stud wall.

Cross lining

Papering with lining paper in horizontal strips.


The hardening process that concrete undergoes.


The flow of electric charge around a circuit measured in amps.

Cutting in

Painting technique for producing a neat edge in the joint between walls and ceiling or skirting.


Dado rail

Decorative strip of moulding separating the top and bottom sections of wall.

Damp-proof course

Layer of damp-proof material between the courses of bricks near the bottom of exterior walls.

Damp-proof membrane

Sheet of waterproof plastic inserted under flooring to protect against rising damp.

DC (direct current)

Electrical current that flows in one direction only.


T-shaped prop for supporting plasterboard whilst it is fixed to a ceiling.


An appliance used to reduce humidity levels.

Dimmer switch

A switch connected to a transformer allowing you to reduce the flow of electricity in the lighting circuit.


Otherwise known as a splitter or combiner, a diplexer combines signals from two sources and transmits them through a single output e.g. to allow a TV to receive signals from an aerial and satellite dish.


A low trolley for conveying heavy objects.

Door furniture

All door accessories such as handles, knockers, letterboxes etc.

Door lining

The door lining frames the opening and provides the fixing point for the door.


An electrical appliance that has been insulated in such a way that it does not need earthing. In Europe a double insulated appliance must be labelled "Class II", "double insulated" or bear the double insulation symbol (a square inside another square).

Double-pole switch

A circuit where both the Live (L) wire and Neutral (N) wire are disconnected by means of a single switch, these are found on single circuits for electric shower and cookers.

Dovetail nailing

Driving nails into a joint at an angle for extra strength.


Wooden peg hammered in to a wooden joint to strengthen the joint or close cracks in woodwork.

Downpipe shoe

The angled connection at the base of a downpipe, or drainpipe, directing water into a gutter.


Paint effect in which a brush or rag is dragged through wet glaze or paint.

Drip groove

A lip underneath exterior windowsills and doorframes directing water away from the woodwork.


A length of wallpaper, measured and cut in preparation for pasting.

Dry laying

Laying bricks or tiles temporarily without fixing them to check positioning.

Dry lining

Plasterboarding walls and ceilings by fixing sheets of pre-plastered boards to a timber frame or metal channels.

Dry rot

The damage caused to timber and other materials by a fungal attack.


A channel or tube passing through a building to convey air, cables etc.



A terminal to which the earth core is connected which will divert or shut off the power if the circuit is overloaded. Connects all circuits and metal components to the main earth terminal in a house.


At the point where the roof rafters and wall meet, the eaves form an overhanging edge comprised of the soffit (the underside covering) and the fascia.

Edge cutter

A type of bit used to make decorative edging on wood.


White crystalline deposit caused by damp.


A hardwearing paint with a matt finish.


Pipe joint connecting pipes around a bend.


Part of the water heating system, as found in an immersion heater. It is comprised of an inner wire surrounded by filler material enclosed in a copper or stainless steel sheath and transfers heat from the coil to the water.


Exposed end of wood after cutting across the grain.

English bond

A type of brick bond. For more about types of brick bond, see Building a Wall.


Metal plate around a keyhole.

Expansion joint

The narrow gap filled with treated fibreboard between bays of concrete to allow for expansion and contraction.


Face edge

The front or top surface of an object. Also the smooth, planed surface of wood.


Gradient or incline e.g. the fall of a gutter should be at least 1:600.


A flat surface, usually made of wood, that covers the end of roof rafters and on which the guttering is fixed.

Feather-edge boards

Tapered boards used in fencing.


A technique for smoothing the join where sections of paint or plaster meet by sweeping a brush or float horizontally backwards and forwards across the join.


One part of a fitting made up of a male and female part that usually screw together.


Strips of wood used to fill the spaces between square top balusters on handrails and base-rails.


The decorative end-cap used to finish the top of a post or the ends of a curtain pole.

Fire surround

The ornamental stone or timber frame around the fireplace opening, often with a mantelpiece.

Fire-proof rope

A non-combustible rope used to create a compression joint between a fire back and the edges of the opening of the fireplace.


To carry out plumbing, carpentry or electrical preparation work before installation can take place e.g. routing pipes and cables to the new appliance.


A narrow slit, cleft, crack, or groove.


A paintbrush with slender bristles used for retouching and detail work.


Waterproof material used to seal exterior joints such as between the roof and walls or chimney; or where two roof planes meet.


The sloping mortar at the top of the fireback; or the mortar around the chimney pot securing it in position.

Flemish bond

A type of brick bond. For more about types of brick bond, see Building a Wall.


Two-core-and-earth cable used to wire appliances or light fittings to a circuit.


Plastering tool used for finishing the surface of a render or plaster coat.

Float valve

A valve which opens and closes by a float according to water level. The ball valve or ball cock is the most common type of float valve.

Floating floor

Flooring which is not fixed to the surface beneath.


A duct or channel carrying away smoke or hot air.


When the faces of two adjoining surfaces or objects are level, they are said to be flush with each other.

Flying earth

A piece of earth core that is not connected to the electrical circuit but instead links a metal component such a switch plate to an earth terminal.


A concrete-filled trench acting as the foundation for a wall.


Timber boards nailed to pegs in the ground to form a mould in which to pour concrete.

Four by two or 4x2

Refers to timber sold in lengths with a width of 4in and a thickness of 2in. The metric equivalent is 100mm x 50mm.Two by four is used extensively in construction.

Frame fixings

A screw and plug combination used in fixing door linings and window frames. Also called shuttering.

French drain

A drain with no pipe consisting of a trench filled with gravel, which drains water down a slope to a soakaway.


The indentation in one face of some bricks.


A protective device available in cartridge form or as fuse wires. For an appliance to work the current must pass through the fuse. If the current from the mains supply is too large the fuse will overheat and melt, breaking the circuit. Fuses are classed according to their performance requirements.

Fuse box

A wall-mounted unit where the fuses for all the building's circuits are located.

Fused connection unit (FCU)

Appliances such as electric cookers are connected directly to the circuit and are protected by a dedicated fuse.

Fused spur

A branch running off an electrical ring main to a connection box with a double pole switch and fitted with a fuse to enable the connection of a fixed electrical appliance.


The holder or slot for a fuse.



The most common type of roof where two sections of roof meet in a point. The triangular section of wall where it meets a sloping roof.

Gable fillets

Thin strips of timber fixed along the verge of a gable roof of a garden shed.




The outlet or set of terminals in a switch or socket. Two-gang switches allow two lights to be controlled from one switch position. Two-gang sockets have two outlets for plugs. Three-gang and four-gang sockets are also available.


Used to seal joints to prevent gas or liquid escaping.


On/off control operated manually to allow or prohibit the flow of water in low-pressure pipework.

Gland nut

A gland nut screws into the top of the headgear of a rising spindle tap. It is the highest nut on the spindle.


A clear liquid used in decorating. Paint is added to the glaze and then it is applied to a wall where different paint effects can be achieved using brushes, sponges, rags etc.

Glazing points

Found in windows and picture frames, these metal inserts are pushed in underneath the putty to hold the glass to the sash or frame.


A decorative paint which produces a sheen when dry.


The direction of fibres or patterning in wood.

Gravity system

A system for heating and circulating water that operates on the principle of hot water rising and cold water descending. Because hot water is lighter than cold water, the hot water from a boiler rises up to the cylinder and the heavier cooler water drops back to the boiler. With this type of system it is not possible to have heating without hot water.


A plastic or rubber ring inserted into a hole or eyelet for reinforcement or to protect cables.


A compound used to fill the gaps between ceramic tiles.


Half brick

A brick wall consisting of a single 'skin' of bricks laid end to end. Looking at the wall side on, you will only see the short side of the bricks, which is equal to half a brick.


A type of low voltage lighting connected to a halogen transformer. Usually in spotlight form.

Halving joint

Where half of two pieces of timber are cut away and interlocked together. Used in the construction of frames. Different types of halving joint include: half lap; T-halving; and cross halving.

Handwheel valve

A thermostatic valve or knob at the base of a radiator which controls temperature.


Timber generally from deciduous trees, used in construction e.g. oak, ash, beach and birch. The terms hardwoods and softwoods describe the leaves, seeds and structure of the trees. They do not describe the type of timber produced e.g. Balsa is a light and very soft wood used in model making, yet it is a hardwood.


The turning handle of a non-rising spindle tap.

Head plate

Horizontal timber beam that runs across the ceiling, forming part of the frame of a timber stud wall.


Bricklaying term for a brick laid end-on with the short side visible.


The part of the tap mechanism that screws into the top of the tap outlet. The tap washer is fitted to the underside of the headgear.


A retaining wall.


The floor of a fireplace extending out into the room, usually brick or stone.

Hipped roof

A roof with sloping ends as well as sloping sides.


A traditional material made up of gravel, sand and clay, used as a sub-base for pathways and patios.

Hopper head

A wide connector attached to the top of a downpipe, or drainpipe, to filter water from multiple waste pipes into the downpipe.


Projections of timber on door and window stiles (the vertical side sections) to protect the corners while in storage or transit.


A groove or channel cut across the grain of timber to house another piece of timber the same width as the channel to form a joint.


Index disc

Either a red or blue small plastic disc that fits into the top of the capstan head on a rising spindle tap to indicate whether the tap supplies hot or cold water.


Any material used to prevent or limit the passage of heat or sound. Also a non-conductive material surrounding electrical wires or cores.

Interceptor chamber

The interceptor chamber is part of a drainage system where the drain from the property connects to the main drain. An interceptor chamber will be covered by a manhole cover.


The vertical side section of a door or window frame.


A tool used in brick and block work for shaping the pointing.


Timber or steel beams for supporting floors and ceilings.


A groove produced by a saw cut.

Key stone

The central support of a structure, such as in the centre of an arch


The process of creating a rough surface to provide a better grip for plaster, paint or adhesive.

Knocking block

A small offcut piece of timber used to produce a tight fit between tongue-and-groove boards. The knocking block is held against the edge of the board and tapped a couple of times with a hammer.


Generally used to describe a knob or handle that has a series of fine grooves impressed on the surface to improve grip.



The insulation material used to wrap around pipes and tanks in unheated areas to prevent freezing. Also, used on hot water tanks to prevent heat loss.

Latch and striker

Metal components fixed to a gate to keep it closed. The latch is fixed to the gate and the striker to the gatepost.


In referring to lath and plaster walls the laths are the narrow strips of wood that are nailed to timber studs to produce the framework onto which the plaster is applied. This plastering method is only usually found in older buildings.

Laying off

Painting technique where the paintbrush is drawn lightly over the wet paint to produce a smooth, clean finish.

Leading edge

The vertical edge of a window or door farthest away from the hinges.


A horizontal, loadbearing beam above a doorway or window opening for supporting the wall.

Lock-shield valve

A valve on the side of a radiator that is used to balance the radiators in the system so they all heat up at the same rate. By opening or closing the lock-shield valve increases or restricts the flow of water into the radiator. The further the radiator is from the boiler the more the lock-shield valve should be open.


A projecting fixture on an object to allow it to be carried or fixed in place.


Mains voltage

The voltage of electricity entering your house: 230v in the UK.

Making good

Rectifying any flaws or minor problems with the finished job.


In some two-piece fittings there is a male and female part. The male part will fit into the female part e.g. a male screw thread fits into a female thread.

Mansard roof

A design of roof made up of four sloping sides, but with each plane becoming steeper halfway down.


A finish that produces an effect that resembles marble.


A sealant used to waterproof joints with a flexible, rubbery consistency even when dry.


MDF is the abbreviation for Medium Density Fibreboard. A type of manmade hardboard with a smooth finish. See the materials section for more information.

Melamine board

Melamine is a tough, synthetic resin that is used to coat man-made boards such as chipboard. Melamine board is widely used in making kitchen cabinets etc.


A generic term for a structural part of a building.


Refers to a wood finish or paint that allows moisture to escape from the timber to allow it to dry out while protecting it from the rain or damp.

Miniature circuit breakers (MCB)

Located on the consumer unit, MCBs are the modern equivalent of fuses. They act as a trip switch shutting down a circuit when it is overloaded.


An angled cut, usually at 45º to form a right-angled joint.


A roof with only one slope, usually found on extensions.


A mixture of sand, cement and water used in bricklaying and rendering.


A rectangular recess into which a matching rectangular peg fits to form a joint e.g. a mortise and tenon joint or a mortise lock.


A length of string weighted at one end used to feed cable through narrow vertical gaps. With one end of the string tied securely to the cable, the weighted end is dropped down the narrow gap. The weight will end up at the bottom of the narrow gap enabling you to pull the cable through.


The vertical section that divides a window frame.


The central vertical section of a panel door.



A sturdy timber support used in conjunction with props to support a section of wall in an opening prior to an RSJ (rolled steel joist) or lintel being fitted.


The vertical post fitted between the handrail and base rail of a balustrade, which offers strength and support to the structure. Comprised of a newel turning (the main body of the post), newel base and newel cap.


A tile nib - or nibs - is the small projection on the underside of the tile at its top edge. Tile nibs hook over the roof batten and with the weight of the tile keep it in place.

Nogging or noggin

Small lengths of timber fitted horizontally between vertical timber studs or ceiling joists to strengthen the structure.

Non-return valve

A valve that only allows water to pass through in one direction. Often used in pumps and plumbing systems to prevent back-siphoning.


The front edge of a stair tread.


Offering up

To temporarily hold a material or fitting in place to check its position, fixing points or to see how it looks.


A flat abrasive stone lubricated with oil or water, used for sharpening tools.


A metal ring used in plumbing to create a seal for brass compression joints.

One-piece-plastic joint block

Small plastic blocks used to create joints between two components, widely used in flat-pack furniture. For example, fixing a number of joint blocks approximately 1m (3ft 3in) apart to the inside face of a piece of plywood allows you to screw the plywood to a wall with its edge abutted against the wall.


A material or substance through which light cannot pass.


Plastic ring or gasket for sealing pipe joints, like a washer.



Pieces of wood used to wedge part of a structure in place during construction or to fill small gaps.


Solid block of stone positioned at either end of a beam to support and help spread the weight.


The vertical timber paling in a palisade fence or gate is made up of individual pales.


A low wall built where there is a sudden dangerous drop, for example, along the edge of a balcony, roof or bridge.


To remove fine shavings of wood with a chisel or thin slivers of wood with a knife.

Partition wall

Interior walls that divide the building into rooms or spaces.

Party wall

A shared wall dividing two properties in a terrace of houses or between two semi-detached properties.

Penetrating oil

A thin lubricating oil that penetrates between two corroded surfaces making it easier for them to be loosened.


Industry term for a 'live' wire.


Piers are pillars that act as a support at various intervals along the length of a wall. They are constructed out of the same material as the wall itself and are usually square in shape. For single-skin walls, a pier needs to be included every 3m over the height of 400mm. For Flemish or English bond walls below 1.2m, a pier is not usually required.


The raised fibres that stand up from a backing material e.g. a carpet.

Pilot hole

A small hole made in timber prior to inserting a screw that acts as a guide for the screw's thread.


This is the angle of the slant of a roof or banister.


Detachable panels that fit around the bottom of self-assembly furniture that hide the feet and base.

Plug (also wall plug)

A small plastic or metal sleeve inserted into holes drilled in masonry walls to provide better grip for the fixing.


Exactly vertical.


Applying mortar between the joints of bricks or blocks, and then smoothing the mortar with a pointing tool.

Pop-up waste system

This is an alternative to the traditional bath or washbasin plug. Usually supplied with mixer taps it comprises of a stopper connected by levers to a control knob on the mixer unit. When the knob is pushed down the stopper is lifted to allow water to drain away. When the knob is pulled up the stopper seals the plug hole.

Powdered mica

Mica is a mineral that in powdered form is used in manufacturing tough exterior paint, which dries to produce a textured, highly weatherproof finish.


A heavyweight, adjustable pole that can be used to support structures during construction.


Raised above the surface and not flush or level with it.


A supporting beam positioned at right angles to and below rafters.


Is the abbreviation for Polyvinyl acetate which is a synthetic resin that can be used as an adhesive or, when diluted with water, a sealer on porous surfaces.


PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) is a thermoplastic material used extensively in the construction industry. Uses include insulation for electric wire, roofing sheets, and soft floor tiles. PVC is also used in rigid form to manufacture guttering, drain pipes and window frames.


Racking/racking back

Building up the corners of a brick or block wall before the rest of it.


The sloping joists that make up the roof structure, meeting in a point or ridge.

Raised hearth

As opposed to a flush hearth, a raised hearth elevates the fireplace.


A mechanism fitted to some types of spanners and screwdrivers allowing movement only in one direction. This allows these tools to be used without removing them from the nut or screw head.


A groove or rectangular recess cut into the edge of a piece of timber which can form part of a joint.


A space set back in the wall.


A connection that joins pipes of different sizes.


A mortar used as an undercoat for further plaster coats on interior walls. On exterior walls it can be applied as a finishing coat.

Residual current device (RCD)

Located on the consumer unit, the RCD immediately cuts off the power in the event of an earth fault.

Retaining screw

Both non-rising spindle taps and rising spindle taps will have a small screw to secure the head in position. This is the retaining screw.


This is the vertical side of an opening in a wall.


The point or apex at which the pitched sides of a roof meet.

Rip sawing

Sawing timber in the direction of the grain.


A staircase is made up on horizontal treads with vertical risers joining them.

Rising damp

A serious damp problem caused by moisture from the ground rising through the walls or floor of the house.

Rising main

The mains water supply pipe will usually enter the house near to the kitchen. From this point the water supply pipe is known as a rising main.

Roof rafters

Supporting timbers in an A-frame roof.

RSJ (rolled steel joist)

RSJs are used when load-bearing walls are removed to knock two rooms into one. The RSJ supports the wall on the floor above.



The practise of covering the roof rafters with boards before fixing the felt.


A window comprised of sliding sections.


Shards of stone cut-offs or quarry waste used instead of hardcore or other aggregate.

Scarf joint

A diagonal joint used for joining two lengths of timber together, employed in creating long runs of skirting board, dado rails or picture rails.


A first coat of plaster or render which is scored to create a key for the top coat of plaster.


A thin layer of mortar applied to the surface of a concrete floor to give it a smooth finish.

Scribe (also score)

Using a sharp, pointed tool to mark a line that is often used as a cutting guide. Also, to replicate the profile of an obstacle onto a sheet of material that is to be butted against it.


A flexible, waterproof substance used for sealing along joints. Normally applied using a cartridge applicator.


Completing the final stages of construction. For example, fitting the skirting boards after plastering or fitting the light switches after wiring up all of the electrics.

Service cable

The supply cable bringing electricity into your house.

Service duct

A tube or shaft housing mains cables or pipes in modern houses.


This relates to the amount of subsidence that occurs with a new foundation or structure.


The outer insulation covering electric cable or flex.


A small wedge of wood used to pack out a small gap e.g. between the door lining and the opening in the wall.


This is the curved outlet at the bottom of a drainpipe that directs water away from the building.


A timber framework that encloses an area that is to be concreted. The shuttering contains the wet concrete.


To fix nails or screws into timber at an angle.


To apply a thin top coat of plaster.


This relates to brick walls. Single skin walls are one brick thick. Double skin walls are two bricks thick.

Skirting board

Timber panelling that runs around the base of walls covering the joint between walls and floor.

Sleeper wall

A low wall for supporting ground floor joists.


A drainage pit below ground filled with hardcore to channel away rainwater.


This is the underside surface of an archway or of the eaves of a roof.


Timber from coniferous trees like cedar, redwood and pine. This type of timber is not always softer than hardwoods e.g. yew is a softwood yet extremely hard.

Soil stack

This is the main waste drainage pipe recognisable by its large diameter.

Sole plate

This is the horizontal timber beam that runs across the floor to which the vertical studs are fixed in a stud wall.


The base of a substance, usually a liquid. For example, water is the solvent for emulsion paint. The solvent of a substance is also the cleaning agent.


Plastic X-shaped dividers for spacing tiles evenly.


Flaking on the surface of masonry usually caused by moisture freezing and expanding in cold conditions.


This refers to the end of a pipe which fits into a socket to create a joint with another length of pipe.


Another word for a baluster which forms part of the balustrade.


An extension on a ring circuit from a socket or junction box.


Positioning of an object that is directly parallel, level or at a right angle to another.

Stack bond

Method of building a block wall where the joints are not staggered.


The metal arm attached to a casement window, which hooks over a pin on the frame to prop the window open securely.


The vertical side section of a door or sash window.


Creating a series of indentations to texture a surface, usually with paint or concrete.

Striker and latch

Metal components fixed to a gate to keep it closed. The latch is fixed to the gate and the striker to the gatepost.


The timber sides of a staircase supporting the treads. The string on the open side of a staircase is called the outer string; the wall string is positioned against the wall.


A timber or metal upright used to construct a frame for an interior wall or stud partition.


A floor material fitted under decorative flooring. For example, hardboard below carpets or plywood under ceramic floor tiles.


Serious ground movement around or under a building that may cause structural damage.


A building surveyor is an expert on all aspects of property and can offer advice on design, construction, maintenance, repair, refurbishment and restoration.



To compact, flatten with repeated blows. Tamping concrete removes the air from the mix in addition to flattening the concrete in the shuttering before levelling.

Tamping beam

A long, solid wooden beam with a straight edge used for compacting concrete.


The method of producing a waterproof layer on walls and/or floor designed to prevent damp penetrating into the room.


Timber impregnated with preservative.


This is a cutout pattern used as a guide for cutting out shapes, often irregular, in materials.


The projecting tongue on a piece of wood that fits into a corresponding recess called a mortise, thus creating a mortise and tenon joint.


The metal connection point to which the bared ends of electric cable or flex are connected to.


A device used with heating systems that automatically regulates the heat output through temperature control.

Thermostatic valve

Otherwise known as a hand wheel valve, this is a knob at the base of a radiator which controls the temperature.


The spiral rib around the shank of a screw.

Timber framed wall

Timber framed buildings are constructed from factory-made timber framed wall panels. When erected the panels can have a brick, stone or render cladding fixed to the exterior surface.


Method of laying interlocking boards so that the projecting 'tongue' along the edge of one board slots into the groove of another.


A method of closing up unwanted windows, doors or fireplaces using bricks. On either side of the opening the half bricks are removed from the existing brickwork. This allows new bricks to be tied-in to the original wall.

Top plate

The thin cover on top of the head of a tap with a non-rising spindle concealing the retaining screw. A top plate will either have a red or blue index ring around the outer edge to indicate whether the tap provides hot or cold water.


The finishing coat applied to an undercoat or first coat, usually in reference to paint or plaster.


An electrical device used to change the voltage in an electric circuit. The voltage is usually reduced allowing electrical tools requiring a power source of less than 240v to be used.


Translucent applies to any material that only partially allows light to pass through it.


The horizontal section that divides a window frame. Also, commonly used to refer to the small window or 'fanlight' above a door.


A trap is a device that maintains a layer of water in the U-bend of a pipe to prevent sewer odours from coming up from the drain into the building. Common examples are P-traps, S-traps and bottle traps.


The horizontal part of a step or stairway.


Decorative mouldings usually made from timber such as architrave, dado rails, skirting board etc.

Trimming line (or cutting line)

A line drawn with a straight edge to guide you when cutting or sawing.


Otherwise known as a splitter or combiner, a diplexer combines signals from three sources (satellite, TV, radio) and transmits them through a single output e.g. to allow a TV to receive signals from an aerial and satellite dish.


Protective metal or plastic conduits with a rectangular section used for covering pipes or cables that run along the surface of a wall.



The foundation coats applied before the topcoat.


A flat roof covered with roofing felt will normally have three layers of felt. The first two layers are called the underlay.


Strengthening existing building foundations, to remedy a problem with subsidence.


UPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) is a rigid plastic material widely used in the construction industry in the form of pipes, guttering, window and doorframes, fascias and soffits.



A zinc or lead channel between two sloping sections of roof.

Vapour barrier

An impervious material usually plastic or foil placed on the warm side of any insulation material to prevent moisture penetration.


Thin layers of decorative hardwood applied to a cheaper base wood to create the illusion of a more expensive and attractive material.


The edge of the roof where it meets the gable wall. Generally, where there is a roof verge the roof will project slightly beyond the wall.


A granular material with thermal insulating properties which is used as loose-fill loft insulation. It can also be mixed with cement to form a lightweight, fire-resistant concrete.


A plastic material widely used in the manufacture of easy-to-clean floor coverings. Also used as a protective covering on wallpapers designed for the kitchen or bathroom to increase its durability and to allow it to be wiped clean.


The unit of electromotive force.



Decorative wooden panelling fitted on the lower part of a wall.

Wall plate

A horizontal timber beam positioned on the top of a wall to provide support and fixing points for roof joists and rafters, and to spread the load.

Wall tie

A metal tie used to connect the inner and outer walls or 'leaves' of a cavity wall or to connect two masonry walls.

Waney edge

A plank of timber with a natural wavy or undulating edge, which may still be covered with bark.


A distortion in timber usually occurring during the drying process causing it to bow, twist or otherwise alter its original plane.


Disc-shaped rubber or metal rings with holes in the centre. Rubber washers are used on taps to prevent them from leaking. Metal washers are used with screws, bolts and nuts to relieve friction, prevent loosening and distribute pressure.


A wooden moulding fixed to the foot of an exterior door to deflect the rainwater away from the door.


Pieces of wood tapered to a sharp edge and driven between two objects to force them apart or secure them. Wedges are also used to rectify the level of batten when fitting a wooden floor over concrete.


A small opening at the foot of the outer wall of a cavity wall providing an outlet for moisture to drain to the outside.

Well wall

The wall adjacent to the staircase.

published by Gauk



We never spam!