of Home Improvements
Here you will find the glossary. It is alphabetically designed, so just click on the first letter of the word you are looking for and it will take you to that section.
Abrasive Wheel (including diamond wheels). A rotating accessory designed to grind, cut, or remove stock from various materials such as metal or concrete. There are three types of wheels that are most frequently encountered:
Type 1A Wheel (ISO 41). A disc shaped wheel intended for cutting by the periphery of the wheel.
Type 11 Wheel. A cup shaped wheel intended for grinding by the face of the wheel.
Type 27 Wheel. A saucer/center depressed shaped wheel intended for grinding by its periphery or the face of the wheel.
Access Panel. A removable panel in a tub surround, wall, or ceiling that permits repair or replacement of concealed items, such as whirlpool pumps or faucet bodies.
Aerator. A device screwed into the spout outlet of most sink faucets that mixes air with the water to achieve less water splash and smoother flow.
Aggregate. Gravel or crushed rock; when mixed with sand, Portland cement, and water, it forms concrete.
Air chamber. A short, enclosed tube on water lines that provides a cushion of air to control sudden surges in water pressure that sometimes result in noisy pipes.
Amp (A). A measurement of the electrical current in a circuit at any moment.
Amperage (Amps/Rated Amperage). A measure of the flow of electric current. If you think in terms of water through a hose, amperage would be a measure of water volume flowing through the hose. As it applies to electric power tools, "Rated Amperage" is how many amps the tool uses when tested under a specified condition. Rated amperage is useful in choosing the correct extension cord gauge and length (refer to the tool's instruction manual.
Anti-Kickback Device. A device incorporated into some power tools intended to minimize the effects of kickback (see Kickback).
Anti-Kickback Pawl. A device with teeth intended to permit motion in one only direction, and helps minimize the effect of kickback. (See "Anti-Kickback Device".)
Auger. A flexible metal cable fished into traps and drain lines to dislodge obstructions.
Awl. A sharp-pointed tool used to make small starter holes for screws or to scribe lines.
Backerboard. A ready-made surface for setting tile. Also called cement board. Can be cement-based or gypsum-based.
Backfill. Soil used to fill in an excavation next to a wall. It adds stability to the wall and keeps water away from it.
Backsplash. Typical, a 3-4 inch-high length of material at the back edge of a countertop extending the full length.
Ballast. Transformer that steps up the voltage in a fluorescent lamp.
Ballcock. The assembly inside a toilet tank that, when activated, releases water into the bowl to start the flushing action. It also prepares the toilet for subsequent flushes.
Base or Base Frame. The pedestal that elevates a base cabinet off the floor, usually 4 to 4 5/8 inches (higher for European cabinets).
Base Cabinet. The lower cabinet on which the countertop rests.
Batt. A section of fiberglass or rock wool insulation measuring 15 or 23 inches wide by 4 to 8 feet long.
Beam. In framing, a horizontal support member.
Bearing wall. An interior or exterior wall that helps support the roof or the floor joists above.
Beating block. Used to press tiles evenly into adhesive. Can be a store-bought rubber-faced model or a piece of plywood that you've covered with terry cloth.
Bell wire. A thin wire used for doorbells. Typically 18-gauge.
Bevel cut. A cut through the thickness of a piece of wood at other than a 90 angle.
Biscuit joiner. A power tool used to cut incisions in lumber into which flat wooden biscuits are glued.
Blade Guard. See Guard
Blanket. Fiberglass or rock wool insulation in a long roll 15 or 23 inches wide.
Blind-nail. To nail so that the head of the nail is not visible on the surface of the wood.
Board. Any piece of lumber that is less than 2 inches thick and more than 3 inches wide.
Board foot. The standard unit of measurement for wood. One board foot is equal to a piece 12x12x1 inches (nominal size).
Box. To mix the same kind and color of paint from small containers before painting in ensure the color is the same throughout the painting job.
Box. The main body of the cabinet is called a box. It is also referred to as a case or carcass. The box is made from plywood or particleboard, with wood braces on the top and back to give more backing for attaching cabinets to walls and countertops.
Brick set. A wide-bladed chisel used to cut bricks and concrete blocks.
Bridging. Boards nailed between joists to add rigidity and keep the joists from warping. Often used to quiet squeaking floors.
Btu (British Thermal unit). The amount of heat needed to raise 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. Heating and cooling equipment commonly is rated by the Btu it can deliver or absorb.
Building code. Local ordinance governing the manner in which a home may be constructed or modified. Most codes are concerned with fire and health, with separate sections relating to electrical, plumbing, a structural work.
Bullnose tile. Also call cap tile shaped to define an edge of a surface.
Butt joint. The joint formed by two pieces of material when fastened end to end, end to face, or end to edge.
Buttlock. The bottom edge of a siding or soffit panel, or accessory piece, opposite the nailing slots, which locks onto to the preceding panel.
Cable. Two or more insulated conductors wrapped in metal or plastic sheathing.
Cantilever. A beam or beams projecting beyond a support member.
Casing. Trimming around a door, window or other opening.
Caulk. Any compound used to seal seams and joints against infiltration of water and air.
A powder that serves as the binding element in concrete and mortar.
Cement tile. Made from refined clay usually mixed with additives and water and hardened in a kiln. Can be glazed or unglazed.
CFM (cubic feet per minute). A rating that expresses the amount of air a blower or fan can move.
Chalk line. A reel of string coated with colored chalk, used to mark straight lines by pulling the string taut and snapping it, leaving a line.
Chalking. The tendency of some exterior paints to gradually erode over a period of time.
Chamfer. A bevel cut made along the length of a board edge.
Channel. The area of the accessory trim or corner post where siding or soffit panels are inserted. Channels also refer to the trim itself, and are named for the letters of the alphabet they resemble.
Chink. A narrow piece or sliver of stone driven into cracks or voids in a stone wall to achieve added stability.Chip Shield. An attachment to tools designed to contain wood or metal chips, and sawdust, and help keep them away from the operator.
Circuit. The path of electrical flow from a power source through an outlet and back to ground.
Circuit breaker. A safety switch that automatically interrupts electrical flow in a circuit in the event of an overload or a short.
Clamp. A restraining device used to hold a workpiece in place while you work on it.
Clean-out. A removable plug in a trap or a drainpipe that allows easier access to blockages inside.
Cleat. A board attached to strengthen or add support to a structure.
Common. A terminal on a three-way switch, usually with a dark-colored screw and marked COM.
Concrete. A building and paving material made by mixing water with sand, gravel, and cement. See also Cement; Mortar.
Concrete nails. Hardened steel nails that can be driven into concrete.
Condensing unit. The outdoor segment of a cooling system. It includes a compressor and condensing coil designed to give off heat. See also Evaporator coil.
Conductor. A wire or anything else that carries electricity.
Conduit. Rigid or flexible tubing through which wires are run.
Contact. The point where two electrical conductors touch.
Continuity tester. A device that tells whether a circuit is capable of carrying electricity.
Coped cut. A profile cut made in the face of a piece of molding that allows for butting it against another piece at an inside corner.
Corner bead. Lightweight, perforated metal angle used to reinforce outside corners in drywall construction.
Countersink. To drive the head of a nail or screw so that the top is flush with the surrounding surface.
Coupling. A fitting used to connect two lengths of pipe in a straight run.
Course. A row of masonry units. Most projects consist of several courses laid on top of each other and separated by mortar.
Cove. A concave form, as in the face of a style of molding.
Cripple. A short stud above or below a door or window opening.
Crosscut. To saw a piece of lumber perpendicular to its length or its grain.
Crown. A contoured molding sometimes installed at the top of a wall.
Cupping. A type of warping that causes the edges of a board to curl up along its grain.
Cutter Guard. See Guard.
Dado joint. A joint formed when the end of one member fits into a groove cut partway through the face of another.
Damper. A valve inside a duct or flue that can be used to slow or stop the flow of air or smoke.
Deadbolt. A locking device activated only with a key or thumb turn. Unlike a latch's beveled tongue, deadbolts have squared-off ends.
Deck. The permanent bottom shelf of a cabinet.
Derate. To lower the rating of total service capacity used because not all the appliances and fixtures on a circuit are in used at the same time.
Dimension lumber. A piece of lumber that is at least 2 inches thick and at least 2 inches wide.
Dimmer. A switch that lets you vary the intensity of a light.
Double Channel Lineal. A siding accessory that joins two soffit panels.
Double-Insulated (DI). a form of electrical protection featuring two separate insulation systems to help protect against electrical shock from internal malfunctions. DI tools have no provision for grounding (no third grounding prong), and are equipped with a polarized two-prong plug (See "Polarized Plug"). Double-insulated tools will be marked with a "double square" ( ), or the words "Double-Insulated" on the tool's rating plate.
Dowel. A piece of small diameter wood rod used to reinforce joints.
Doweling jig. A metal device that clamps onto a workpiece edge or end and aids in accurately locating and drilling holes for dowels.
Drain-waste-vent (DWV) system. The network of pipes and fittings that carries liquid and solid wastes out of a building to a public sewer, a septic tank, or a cesspool. It also allows for the passage of sewer gases up through the roof.
Drip Cap/Head Flashing. An accessory installed with vertical siding to ensure that water drips away from panels and does not infiltrate them.
Drywall. A basic interior building material consisting of sheets of pressed gypsum faced with heavy paper on both sides. Also known as wallboard, gypsum board, plasterboard, and Sheetrock .
Duplex receptacle. A device that includes two plug outlets. Most receptacles in homes are duplexes.
Ear Protection. Devices such as ear muffs or ear plugs that reduce the intensity of the noise entering your ear. Ear protection will carry a NIOSH Noise Reduction Rating, or "NRR", which indicates how much the noise level you experience is reduced (in decibels), when the device is properly used.
Easement. A legal right for restricted use of someone's property. Easements often are granted to utility companies so they may service the utility lines running through a property.
Eaves. The lower edge of a roof that projects beyond the wall.
Efflorescence. A powdery stain, usually white, on the surface of or between masonry units. The leaching of salts to the surface causes it.
Elbow. A fitting used to change the direction of a water supply line. Also known as an ell. Bends do the same thing with drain-waste-vent lines.
End grain. The ends of wood fibers that are exposed at the ends of boards.
End Panels. Decorative pieces of plywood or similar material that cover exposed cabinet sides.
Expansion joint. A space between structures, filled with a flexible material to allow for expansion and contraction during temperature changes without damage.
Exposed aggregate surface. A concrete finish achieved by embedding aggregate into a concrete surface.
Extension Cord. An electric cord used between power tools and outlets to extend the range of the tools. The more amperage your tool uses, and the longer the distance, the larger the size of the wire needed in your extension cord (larger wire = smaller gauge).
Eye Protection. Goggles or spectacles intended to protect your eyes. Eye protection should meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1 (USA) or CSA Z94.3-M88 (Canada) - these products will be marked with "Z87.1" or "Z94.3". Note: a face shield is not "eye protection" unless used with goggles or spectacles.
Face brick. A type of brick made for covering (veneering) walls.
Face-nailing. The action of fastening directly onto the "face" side of a panel ( instead of using the nail hem slot). This practice is generally not used in siding installation.
Face Shield. An impact-resistant shield that helps to protect your face from chips, sparks, small debris, or wire wheel bristles. Face shields should be used only in conjunction with spectacles or goggles.
Fascia. The trim covering the ends of roof rafters.
Fascia board. Horizontal trim attached to the outside ends of rafters or to the top of an exterior wall.
Face Frame. The entire front framework of a cabinet, consisting of horizontal rails and vertical stiles or mullions. It is usually made from the same material as the doors and drawer fronts. Not all cabinet styles have face frames.
Featherboard. A multiple fingers-like aid, used to firmly hold your workpiece against the fence or table while you're feeding the workpiece through the tool. A device used whenever your hands would otherwise need to pass near the blade or cutter. (See Push Block/Push Stick)
Female. Any part, such as a nut or fitting, into which another (male) part can be inserted. Internal threads are female.
Fence - A device that helps locate and/or guide your workpiece during the cutting process.
Field tiles. Flat tiles, in contrast to trim tiles that are shaped to turn corners or define surface edges.
Filler. A pastelike compound used to hide surface imperfections in wood. One type. Pore filler, levels a surface that has a coarse grain.
Fillers. Narrow pieces of face-frame material intended to fill the empty spaces created when a row of cabinets does not quite fit wall to wall. Fillers can be ripped to the exact width of the space.
Fire blocking. Short horizontal members sometimes nailed between framing studs, usually about halfway up the wall. They serve to slow a fire from moving up the framing space.
Fishing. Getting cables through finished walls and ceilings.
Fish tape. A long strip of spring steel used for fishing cables and for pulling wires through conduit.
Fitting. Any connector (except a valve) that allows you to join pipes of similar or dissimilar size or material in a straight run or at an angle.
Fixture. (1) Any electrical device permanently attached to a home's wiring. (2) Any of several plumbing devices that provide either a supply of water or sanitary disposal of liquid or solid wastes.
Fixture drain. The drainpipe and trap leading from a plumbing fixture to the main drain.
Flashing. A layer of material usually metal inserted in joints and attached to adjoining surfaces to seal out moisture.
Fluorescent tube. A light source that uses an ionization process to produce ultraviolet radiation. This becomes visible light when it hits the coated inner surface of the tube.
Flush. On the same plane as, or level with, a surrounding surface.
Flue. A pipe or other channel that carries off smoke and combustion gases to the outside air.
Flux. A stiff jelly brushed or smeared on the surfaces of copper and brass pipes and fittings before soldering them to assist in the cleaning and bonding processes.
Footing. A thick concrete support for walls and other heavy structures built on firm soil and extending below the frost line.
Framing. The skeletal or structural support of a home. Sometimes called framework.
Frost line. The maximum depth frost normally penetrates the soil during the winter. This depth varies with the climate from area to area.
Four-way switch. A type of switch used to control a light from three or more locations.
Furring. Lightweight strips of wood applied to walls to provide a plumb nailing surface for paneling or drywall.
Fuse. A safety device designed to stop electrical flow if a circuit shorts or is overloaded. Like a circuit breaker, a fuse protects against fire from overheated wiring.
Gable. The triangular area on the end of a house's external wall located beneath the sloping parts of a roof and the line that runs between the roof's eaves.
Galvanized. Coated with a zinc outer covering to protect against oxidation. Nails and screws used in exterior applications often are galvanized to prevent them from rusting.
Ganging. Assembling two or more electrical components into a single unit. Boxes, switches, and receptacles often are ganged.
Gate valve. A valve that lets you completely stop-but not modulate-the flow of water within a pipe.
Protective device that forms a barrier between a hazardous object such
as blade, wheel or a cutter and the operator.
General-purpose circuit. Serves several light and/or receptacle outlets.
Glazing. (1) A protective and decorative coating that is fired onto the surface of some tiles. (2) The process of installing glass by securing it with glazier's points and glazing compound.
Globe valve. A valve that lets you adjust the flow of water to any rate between fully on and fully off.
Goggles (Safety Goggles). See "Eye Protection".
Grain. The direction of fibers in a piece of wood; also refers to the pattern of the fibers.
Granite. A quartz-based stone with a tough, glossy appearance; granite is harder than marble.
Graphite. A soft, black carbon powder used to lubricate working metal parts such as those found in a doorknob or lock.
Green board. Similar to regular drywall, this material is moisture resistant, though no waterproof. Also referred to as blue board.
Greenfield. See flexible metal conduit.
Grit. The abrasive material bonded to sandpaper. Grit is designated by numbers, such as 120 grit. The higher the number, the finer the abrasive.
Ground. Refers to the fact that electricity always seeks the shortest possible path to the earth. Neutral sires carry electricity to ground in all circuits. An additional grounding wire, or the sheathing of metal-class cable or conduit, protects against shock from a malfunctioning device.
Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). A safety device designed to sense electrical leakage to ground and quickly shut off the circuit to prevent electric shock.
Grounded Outlets (Receptacles). An electrical outlet in a typical 120V application is equipped with two vertical slots and a third rounded hole (the "ground"). Use of an adapter with a grounded outlet eliminates the grounding protection.
Grout. A thin mortar mixture. Also, the process of applying grout. See also Mortar.
Grouting float. A rubber backed trowel used for pressing the grout into the joints.
Gusset. A piece of wood nailed or screwed over a joint to give it added strength.
Gypsum board. See Drywall.
Hardwood. Lumber derived from deciduous trees, such as oaks, maples, and walnuts.
Header. The framing component spanning a door or window opening in a wall and supporting the weight above it.
Heavy-duty circuit. Serves just one 120 to 240 volt appliance.
Heat gain. Heat coming into a home from sources other than its heating/cooling system. Most gains come from the sun.
Heat loss. Heat escaping from a home. Heat gains and losses are expressed in Btu per hour.
Heat pump. A reversible air conditioner that extracts heat from outside or inside air.
Hip. The outside angle of a roof formed by the intersection of two sloped sides of the roof.
Hold-down. Device used to help hold the workpiece down to the support surface during the work. (See, e.g., "Clamp" or "Featherboard".)
(HP). a measure
of power - that is the amount of work done in a given time. In terms of
electric power, one HP = 746 Watts. Horsepower of power tools is typically
stated in the following ways:
Tool Horsepower. a horsepower measurement performed at the "work end" of the tool, in other words, the point where the accessory performing the work is attached, i.e. the blade on the spindle or the drill bit in the chuck.
Continuous Horsepower. The maximum output that can be produced continuously without exceeding the rated current. A motor's Continuous Horsepower is usually lower than its Peak Horsepower. It is sometimes referred to as "Continuous Duty Horsepower".
Peak Horsepower. the maximum output that can be developed in actual use.
Hot wire. The conductor that carries current to a receptacle or other outlet.
Impact Energy. represents the amount of work that can be performed by a single blow of the hammering mechanism. It is usually measured in foot-pounds (or inch-pounds) of energy.
Impervious tile. Tiles least likely to absorb water they are generally used only in commercial locations.
Incandescent bulb. Light source with an electrically charged metal filament that burns at white heat.
Instruction Manual (Manual, Owner's/Operator's Manual, Use & Care Guide). The booklet accompanying your power tool that describes the hazards and safe operating procedures, outlines basic tool operation, care, and maintenance.
Insulation. A nonconductive covering that protects wires and other electricity carriers.
Insulation. Insulation is a substance that resists the transfer of heat, generally by incorporating small pockets of air. Insulation is rated in terms of thermal resistance, called R-value, which indicates the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness.
Radiant Barrier. Radiant barriers are thin sheets of highly reflective material, like aluminum, which reduce heat transfer from thermal radiation across the air space between the roof and the attic floor.
U-Value. U-Value is a measurement of heat flow.
R-Value. R-value is a measurement of heat resistance.
Fiberglass. Fiberglass is the most familiar type of insulation.
Rockwool. Dirty grey, although the color can range through green and brown as well.
Cellulose. Cellulose insulation is made from wastepaper. Such as used newspaper and boxes.
Perlite. A white gravelly, yet extremely light material.
Vermiculite. Made from expanded mica, a mineral.
Rigid boards. Fibrous materials or plastic foams pressed or extruded into board-like forms.
Inside corner. The point at which two walls form an internal angle, as in the corner of a room.
Jack studs. Studs at both sides of a door, window, or other opening that help support the header. Sometimes called trimmers.
Jamb. The top and side frames of a door or window opening.
Joint compound. A formula used with paper tape to conceal joints between drywall panels.
Joint strike. A tool used to finish the joints between masonry units. Joints are struck for aesthetic reasons as well as to compress the mortar into the joints.
Jointer. A tool used for making control joints. Or grooves, in concrete surfaces to control cracking.
Joists. Horizontal framing members that support a floor or ceiling.
Junction box. An enclosure used for splitting circuits into different branches. In a junction box, wires connect only to each other, never to a switch, receptacle or fixture.
Kerf. The void created by the blade of a saw as it cuts through a piece of material.
Kickback. Sudden and unintended movement of the tool or workpiece. It is typically caused by binding or pinching of the workpiece.
Kilowatt (kw). One thousand watts. A kilowatt-hour is the standard measure of electrical consumption.
King studs. Studs on both ends of a header that help support the header and run from the wall's sole plate to its top plate.
Lag screw. A screw, usually at least ¼ inch in diameter, with a hexagonal head that can be screwed in with an adjustable or socket wrench.
Laminate. A hard plastic decorative veneer applied to cabinets and shelves. Can refer to a material formed by building up layers, as with plywood, or to the process of applying a veneer to a surface, such as a countertop.
Lap joint. The joint formed when one member overlaps another.
Layout. A plan, often sketched on the wall or floor, showing where cabinets or shelves will be located.
LB connector or fitting. Elbow for conduit with access for pulling wires.
Ledger. A horizontal support (usually lumber) that holds up the ends or edges of other members.
Level. The condition that exists when a surface is at true horizontal. Also, a tool used to determine level.
Lumen: the total amount of light emitted from a source. Lumens are typically used to rate the output of lamps.
Fixture: The physical item referred to as a 'lamp,' or 'table lamp,' or 'floor lamp' is called the fixture by the lighting industry.
Incandescent lamp: The most common source of light, glass bulbs with a filament inside. Aprroximentely ninety percent of the energy consumed by an incandescent lamp is given off as heat rather than light.
Fluorescent Lamp: Up to five time more efficient than incandescent lamps, and last up to twenty times longer. They require a special fixture. Electronic ballast fluorescent are a new efficient improvement over the traditional magnetic ballast fluorescents. Fluorescent lamps are available as straight tubes, U-shaped tubes, circular tubes and compact fluorescent lamps.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps: These fluorescent lamps are small, and are designed to fit in regular lamp sockets. They do require a special fixture. The electronic ballast-based fluorescents are more efficient, and produce better light than the older magnetic ballast models.
Color Rendition or CRI: The CRI rates the ability of the bulb to render an object's true color when compared to sunlight. Look for lamps with a CRI of 80 or higher.
Color Temperature or CCT: The CCT refers to the color objects emit when heated to a certain temperature on the absolute temperature scale (Kelvin). The lower numbers correspond to reddish color and the higher to blue-white color. For color similar to incandescent lighting look for CCT's around 2700.
Linear foot. A term used to refer to the length of a board or piece of molding, in contrast to board foot.
Listed. As in "UL Listed" means the product has been tested for conformance to the applicable national standards. Listed products can be identified by a "mark" on the tool's rating plate (e.g., a "UL", "ETL", or "CSA" mark or symbol).
Load-bearing wall. A wall that supports a wall or roof section on the floor above. Do not cut or remove a stud in a load-bearing wall without proper alternative support.
Lug/Crimp. The raised "ears" or tabs on a siding panel, created by a snap lock punch, which can be used to lock a siding panel into place when the nailing hem has been removed.
MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). Made of very fine wood chips, this material is available in 12 and 16 inch wide pieces often used for shelving.
Main drain. That portion of the drainage system between the fixture drains and the sewer drain.
Marble. A hard and durable limestone characterized by varied patterns and colors of veins.
Masonry cement. A special mix of Portland cement and hydrated lime used for preparing mortar. The lime adds to the workability of the mortar.
Mastic. A premixed setting adhesive for tiles. Used often on walls because it holds tiles in place.
Miter joint. The joint formed when two members meet that have been cut at the same angle.
Molding. A strip of wood, usually small dimensioned, used to cover exposed edges or as decoration.
Mortar. A mixture of masonry cement, masonry cement, masonry sand, and water. For most jobs, the proportion of cement to sand is 1 to 3. Also, the process of applying mortar.
Mortise. A shallow cutout in a board usually used to recess hardware.
Mosaic tile. Small (1 or 2 inch) vitreous tiles, mounted on sheets or joined with adhesive strips.
Motor - There are several types of electric motors typically used in power tools:
AC Motor. An electric motor that operates on "alternating current" - the kind of power source found in a household outlet.
DC Motor. An electric motor that operates on "direct current".
Induction Motor. An AC motor which has no brushes, and is typically larger, heavier, slower, and used in benchtop and stationary equipment, such as table saws, planers, band saws and jointers.
Universal Motor. An AC or DC brush-type motor that is small, light and fast, typically found in battery and corded hand-held power tools (circular saws, routers, drills, etc.), and some stationary equipment.
Permanent Magnet Motor. A DC motor that is commonly used in battery tools.
Nailing Hem (or Flange). The section of siding or accessories where the nailing slots are located.
National Electrical Code (NEC). A set of rules governing safe wiring methods drafted by the National Fire Protection Association. Local codes sometimes differ from and take precedence over the NEC.
Neon tester. A device with two leads and a small bulb that determines whether a circuit is carrying current.
Neutral wire. A conductor that carries current from an outlet back to ground. It is clad in white insulation.
Nipple. A short pipe that has threads on both ends, used to join fittings. A close nipple has threads that run from both ends to the center.
No-hub pipe. A type of cast iron pipe designed for use by do-it-yourselfers. Pipes and fittings are joined using stainless steel clamps with rubber gaskets.
Nominal dimension. The stated size of a tile (usually including a standard grout joint) or a piece of lumber, such as a 2x4 or a 1x12. The actual dimension is somewhat smaller.
Nominal size. The designated dimension of a pipe or fitting. It is slightly larger than the actual size.
NRTL. Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory - The OSHA Program recognizes private sector organizations as NRTL's, and recognition signifies that an organization has met the necessary qualifications specified in the regulations for the Program. Examples of laboratories which are listed with OSHA as NRTL's include CSA, ETL and UL.
O-ring. A round rubber washer used to create a watertight seal, chiefly around valve stems.
On-center (OC). The distance from the center of one regularly spaced framing member or hole to the center of the next.
1-by (2-by). Refers to nominal one or two-inch thick lumber of any width, length, or type of wood. Actual thicknesses are ¾ inch and 1 ½ inch, respectively.
Outlet. Any potential point of use in a circuit, including receptacles, switches, and light fixtures.
Outside corner. The point at which two walls form an external angle, the corner you can usually walk around.
Outside diameter (OD). Plumbing parts are rarely measured by their outside diameter, with flexible copper tubing being the primary exception.
Overload. When a circuit is carrying more amperage than it was designed to handle. Overloading causes wires to heat up, which in turn blows fuses or trips circuit breakers.
Overreaching. Extending your body with a tool or a workpiece in hand such that a loss of balance is likely. For example: reaching over the blade or cutter area; or reaching from scaffolding to drive a screw.
Particleboard. Panels made from compressed wood chips and glue.
Partition Wall. Unlike a load-bearing wall, a partition supports no structure above it and can therefore be removed.
Pilot hole. A small hole drilled into a board to avoid splitting the wood when driving a screw or nail.
Pipe joint compound. A material applied to pipe threads to ensure a watertight seal. Also called pipe dope.
Plumb. The condition that exists when a surface is at true vertical.
Plumb bob. Tool used to align vertical points.
Plumber's putty. A dough like material used as a sealant. Often a bead of it is around the underside of toilets and sinks.
Plunger. A suction-action tool used to dislodge obstructions from drain lines. Also called a force cup and a plumber's friend.
Pointing. See Tuckpointing.
Polarized plugs. Type of plug which has one prong larger than the other so it can only be inserted into an outlet in one way.
Power Source. A household workplace electrical outlet, battery or generator providing the electricity for your tool. The power source must be compatible with the requirements found on the tool's rating p A controlate; voltage, amperage, AC or DC, frequency.
Power Switch. A device that energizes your tool in the "on" position and de-energizes the tool in the "off" position.
Primer. A first coating formulated to seal raw surfaces and hold succeeding finish coats.
Premix. Any of several packaged mixtures of ingredients used for preparing concrete or mortar.
PSI. Pound per square inch. Water pressure is rated in PSI.
Pressure-treated wood. Lumber and sheet goods impregnated with one of several solutions to make the wood more impervious to moisture and weather.
Push-block / Push Stick. A suitably shaped and designed hand-held device used to push the workpiece into and past cutting edges on stationary power tools.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride). A type of plastic pipe that is suitable for cold water only.
R-value. A measure of the resistance to heat transfer that an insulating material provides. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation.
Rabbet. A step-shaped cut made along the edge of a piece of wood used to join board tightly.
Radiation. Energy transmitted from a heat source through the air. So-called home heating "radiators" actually depend more on convection than radiation.
Rafters. Parallel framing members that support a roof.
Rake. The inclined edge of the roof of a home.
Ready-mix. Concrete that is mixed in a truck as it is being delivered.
Rebar (reinforcing rod). Steel rod used to reinforce concrete and masonry structures.
Receptacle. An outlet that supplies power for lamps and other plug-in devices.
Reducer. A fitting with different size openings at either end used to go from a larger to a smaller pipe.
Reinforcing wire mesh. A steel screening used to reinforce certain types of concrete projects, such as walks, drives, and patios.
Relief valve. A device designed to open if it senses excess temperature or pressure.
Retaining wall. A wall constructed to hold soil in place.
Respiratory Protection. A device placed on your face used to filter the air you breathe. Available in a variety of styles (such as disposable dust masks, half-face respirators, and full-face respirators), respiratory protection devices are typically provided with a NIOSH approval rating (e.g., "N95"). ?Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) - for a tool that rotates an accessory (e.g., a drill, saw, router ), RPM is the number of complete turns the accessory makes in one minute.
Ridgeboard. Topmost beam at a roof's peak to which rafters tie.
Rip. To saw lumber or sheet goods parallel to the grain pattern.
Rise. The vertical distance from one point to another above it; a measurement you need in planning stairway or ramp.
Riser. The upright piece between two stair steps.
Rod saw. A strip of tungsten carbide that fits into a standard hacksaw body. It is used for cutting tight curves in tile.
Romex. A trade name for nonmetallic-sheathed cable.
Roofing cement. Asphalt or plastic based compound used as an adhesive and to set flashings and minor leaks.
Roughing in. The process of preparing the initial stage of a plumbing, electrical, carpentry, or other project. These components won't be seen after the drywall or other finishing is in place.
Rout. To shape edges or cut grooves, using a router.
Run. (1) Any length of pipe or pipes and fittings going in a straight line. (2) Any length of wiring between fixtures.
Saddle tee. A fitting used to tap into a water line without having to break the line apart. Some local codes prohibit its use.
Safety Glasses (Spectacles). See "Eye Protection".
Sash. The part of a window that can be opened, consisting of a frame and glass.
Scoring. Running a utility knife blade, a sharpened awl, scoring tool, or other sharp implement across a soffit or siding panel face without cutting all the way through the panel. This weakens the vinyl surface in a specific area and allows the panel to be bent and broken off cleanly.
Scratch coat. The first coat of mortar or plaster, roughened (scratched) so the next coat will stick to it.
Screed. A straightedge, often a 2x4 or 2x6, used to level concrete as it is poured into a form or to level the sand base in a form. Also, the process of leveling concrete or a sand base.
Scribe. To use a geometry compass or scrap of wood to transfer the shape or dimension of an object to a piece of wood to be cut.
Sealant. Coatings used to protect tile and grout from water infiltration.
Septic tank. A reservoir that collects and separates liquid and solid wastes, diverting the liquid waste onto a drainage field.
Service panel. The main fuse or breaker box in a home.
Set. The process during which mortar or concrete hardens.
Setback. The distance a home must be built from property lines (dictated by local zoning ordinances). Also, a temporary change in a thermostat's setting.
Setting nails. Driving the heads of nails slightly below the surface of the wood.
Sewer drain. That part of the drainage system that carries liquid and solid waste from a dwelling to a sanitary sewer, septic tank, or cesspool.
Shake. A shingle that has been split, rather than cut, from wood. Consequently, shakes often have a rougher, more natural appearance than standard wooden shingles.
Sheathing. The first covering on a roof or exterior wall, usually fastened directly to rafters or studs.
Shim. A thin strip or wedge of wood or other material used to fill a gap between two adjoining components or to help establish level or plumb.
Shoe molding. Strips of molding commonly used where a baseboard meets the floor. Sometimes know as base shoe.
Short circuit. A condition that occurs when hot and neutral wires contact each other. Fuses and breakers protect against fire, which can result from a short.
Shower pan. The floor of a shower stall that houses the drain. Can be a prefabricated unit made of fiberglass, acrylic, terrazzo, or other materials.
Siding. Planks, boards, or shingles used as an external covering of the walls of a home. Typically nailed to the sheathing.
Sill. The lowest horizontal piece of a window, door, or wall framework.
Sink Front. A cabinet face without a deck or box. It is installed in front of a sink and attached to the base cabinets on either side. You have to build your own deck.
Slate. A rough-surfaced tile that has been split, rather than sliced, from quarried stone.
Sleepers. Boards laid directly over a masonry floor to serve as nailers for plywood, or strip or plank flooring.
Snap cutter. Cutting tool for tile. Resembles a glass cutter, except that it is mounted on a guide bar.
Soffit. Covering attached to the underside of eaves or a staircase.
Soldering. A technique used to product watertight joints between various types of metal pipes and fittings. Solder, when heated to molten form, joins two metal surfaces together.
Solderless connectors. Screw-on or crimp-type devices to join two wires.
Span. A distance between supports.
Specialty Cabinets. These include corner cabinets (either "blind" or "lazy susan" units), island and peninsula cabinets, and built-in oven cabinets.
Maximum Speed. the highest speed at which a product (i.e. tools, accessories, attachments) can be safely operated.
No-Load Speed. Speed measured when the tool is operating at the rated voltage but not engaged in work. It is usually listed on the tool rating plate.
Rated Speed. Speed measured when the tool is operating at the rated voltage and loaded to work at the rated load current.
Square. The condition that exists when two surfaces are at 90 degrees to each other. Also, a tool used to determine square.
Stack. The main drainpipe that runs vertically through a house. The stack carries away sewage and wastewater to the sewage system and vents gases above the roofline.
Starter Strip. An accessory applied directly to the surface of the building and used to secure the first course of siding to the home.
Stone tile. Marble, granite, slate and flagstone. Dimensioned (or gauged) stone is cut to uniform size. Hand-split (or cleft stone) varies in size.
Stop valve. A device installed in a water supply line, usually near a fixture, that lets you shut off the flow to one fixture without interrupting service to the rest of the system.
Story pole. A measuring device, often a straight 2x4, with a series of marks set at regular intervals, used to verify that a course of masonry units is spaced at the proper height.
Straightedge. An improvised tool, usually a 1x4 or 2x4 with a straight edge, used to mark a line on material or to determine if a surface is even.
Stringer. The main structural member of a stairway.
Stripping. Removing insulation from wire or sheathing from cable.
Stucco. A finish composed of two or more layers of mortar applied to either indoor or outdoor walls.
Stud. Vertical 2x4 or 2x6 framing members spaced at regular intervals within a wall.
Stud finder. Electronic or magnetic tool that locates studs within a finished wall.
Sub floor. Usually plywood or another sheet material covering the floor joists.
Sub panel. A smaller, subsidiary fuse or breaker box.
Substrate. The setting bed and any other layers beneath a tile surface.
Sweep. A flexible strip placed on the bottom edge of a door for insulation and to prevent drafts.
System ground. A wire connecting a service panel to the earth. It may be attached to a main water pipe or to a rod driven into the ground.
Tailpiece. That part of a fixture drain that bridges the gap between the drain outlet and the trap.
Taping. The process of covering drywall joints with tape and joint compound.
Tee. A T-shaped fitting used to tap into a length of pipe at a 90-degree angle for the purposes of beginning a branch line.
Teflon tape. A synthetic material wrapped around pipe threads to seal a joint. Often called pipe tape.
Template. A pattern to follow when re-creating a precise shape.
Thin-set mortar. A setting adhesive for tiles.
Three-four-five method. An easy way to check whether a corner of a large area is square. Measure 3 feet along one side and 4 feet along the other. If the corner is square, the diagonal distance between those two points will equal 5 feet.
Three-way switch. Operates a light from two locations.
Threshold. The plate at the bottom of some-usually exterior-door openings. Sometimes called a saddle.
Tile nippers. A cutting tool for making small notches and curves in tile. It resembles pliers but has carbide-tipped edges.
Time-delay fuse. A fuse that does not break the circuit during the momentary overload that can happen when an electric motor starts up. If the overload continues, this fuse blows like any other.
Toe-kick. Indentation at the bottom of a floor-based cabinet. Also known as toe space.
Toenail. To drive a nail at an angle to hold together two pieces of material, usually studs in a wall.
Tongue-and-groove joint. A joint made using boards that have a projecting tongue on the end of one member and a corresponding groove on the other member.
Top plate. The topmost horizontal element of a stud-frame wall.
Torque. A twisting action tending to cause rotation typically measured in foot-pounds or inch-pounds.
Underlayment. Weather resistant material placed under vinyl siding panels.
Utility Cabinet. A tall storage unit that may have shelves, or an open cabinet that functions as a broom closet.
Utility Trim. A piece of trim used any time the top lock has been removed from the siding, to secure a siding panel. Also referred to as "undersill" or "finish" trim.
Vise. See "Clamp".
Voltage. The electric potential difference measured between two conductors such as the "hot" and "neutral" for AC power supply or the potential difference between the + and the - poles of the DC supply. If you think in terms of water through a hose, voltage would be the water pressure. So the higher the voltage, the more "pressure" is pushing the electricity.
Wall Cabinet. The upper cabinet that is hung on a wall.
Wattage (W). A measure of power, that is the amount of work done in a given time. If you think in terms of water through a hose, wattage is a measure of how much pressure is required to push the volume of water delivered in a period of time.
Weep Holes. Openings cut into siding or accessories to allow for water runoff.
Window Efficiency Terminology
Multiple Layers of glazing. Each layer of additional glazing improves the efficiency of a window, as dead air between panes prevents conduction of heat. Proper spacing of panes prevents convection loops from occurring between the window panes, further reducing heat loss.
Frame Material. Wood, vinyl, or fiberglass frames conduct less heat than aluminum frames, increasing window efficiency
Thermal Break. A material that doesn't transmit heat well, such as plastic, sandwiched inside the metal parts of the frame. This reduces the heat being transferred through the frame. Thermal breaks can be used in the spacer between panes of glass in multi-pane windows as well as in the main body of the frame.
Low-E glazing. A special window coating that helps prevent the warmth inside your house from escaping through the glass in the winter. A variation is designed to block heat from the summer sun. Low-E coating can reduce energy use by up to 35%.
Gas Fill. An inert gas such as argon is used instead of air between the window panes. Inert gases have a much better insulation value than air.
Condensation. Condensation is the buildup of water droplets on a cold window pane. This can occur on the inside of single pane windows, and in between the panes of multiple pane windows. Condensation on single pane windows can damage windowsill and wall surfaces if extensive. Condensation between the panes of multiple pane windows indicates a problem with the seal between the panes.
U-Value. a measurement of heat flow. The lower the U-Value, the more slowly the window transfers heat in and out of your home.
R-Value. a measurement of heat resistance. It is the inverse of the U-value, so the higher the R-value the better the window resists heat transfer.
Zip Lock Tool. Also know as an unlocking tool.