Whether you’re in the midst of a reno, considering doing some home improvements yourself, or planning on hiring professionals, it goes without saying it’s important to know some of the terminology used to help ensure a clear understanding on all sides when communicating and building your vision. Renovations can be a complicated matter, and the language can seem so sometimes as well. Here’s some basic reno lingo to help you along the way:
Apron: the trim below a window sill or table top.
Batt: a section of fibreglass or rock-wool insulation.
Beam: the main, load-bearing horizontal supports for everything from decks to houses.
Bearing Wall: a structural wall that supports the load above it (such as a roof or floor system).
Brown Coat: coat of stucco that’s troweled over the primary or scratch coat. Its primary purpose is to provide a smooth surface for the finish coat.
Cantilever: a beam or beams that projects beyond its support.
Casing: the frame which surrounds a door.
Caulking: a seal for seams and joints against weather and insects. Caulking can also be used to fill gaps before painting.
Centre Bearing Wall: a structural wall that is normally built along the centre of a building. It supports the weight of the above floor system.
Chase: to allow for pipes and ducts, a chase is a grove cut into a wall or floor.
Corner Bead: used to protect the corners of external plastered walls, a corner bead is a strip of metal or wood.
Cornice: horizontal trim where the roof and wall meet. A cornice is strictly decorative and made of stucco, plastic, metal or wood.
Crown Molding: trim placed over the corner formed where the wall meets the ceiling.
Drywall: used for interior walls, drywall is made of plasterboard or gypsum board and used in place of wet plaster.
Finish Coat: the third and final coat of stucco. The finish coat may or may not contain pigment. If it doesn’t, it will need to be painted. The term if also used generically for any final coat placed on a surface.
Floor Trusses: unlike joists, floor trusses allow heating, plumbing and electrical material to run inside them rather than below. Trusses are generally deeper and more expensive then joists.
Footing: sits on soil and is the base for the structure and supports all of its weight.
Foundation: usually made of block, concrete or treated lumber, the foundation sits on the footing and supports the floor system.
Grade Beam: unlike a footing, a grade beam is supported by columns underneath it rather than sit directly on the soil.
Header: horizontal pieces (usually two nailed together) laid on their edge to provide support over a window or door.
Joist: parallel lumber that constitutes the bulk of the framing for a floor or ceiling.
Load-Bearing Wall: a support wall capable of bearing weight.
Moisture Barrier: treated paper that is used to keep moisture from seeping into floors or walls.
Molding: decorative strip often used to mask gaps where walls meet.
Mortar: mixture of cement, sand and water that is used to bond bricks together.
Non-Bearing Wall: a wall that is used to section off rooms or for privacy and does not support any load above it.
Plan: usually provided by an architect, a plan is a series of diagrams that depict a particular project from different views. There are five main views.
1. A floor plan gives you a bird’s eye view assuming the roof has been taken off. It shows walls and fixtures such as stairs and doorways. The floor plan may also give you dimensions.
2. A section view is basically a dissection of the building. If you imagine a home sliced in half vertically so that you can see what’s inside, you have a section view.
3. A detail view is a blow-up of a particular part of a section view and gives a better idea of how pieces fit. If you’ve ever assembled furniture using instructions, the detail view shows you what screw to use and how to insert it.
4. A plot plan shows the structure and the entire lot that surrounds it.
5. The elevation view is just that: the building from the outside at eye-level.
Plaster: made from concrete, water and sand.
Plate: a support structure used to hold studs in place.
Plywood: is made up of an odd-number of layers (each layer is called a “ply”) that are glued together.
Post-And-Beam Construction: foundation or wall that are constructed from posts and beams rather than smaller studs. To keep the posts vertical, diagonal supports are used.
Pressure-Treated Lumber: chemically treated wood to make it more moisture resistant.
Rough-In: construction done for any electrical/plumbing work needed. Rough-ins are hidden by a wall, floor or ceiling.
Scratch Coat: the first coat applied when applying stucco and adheres to a mesh covering placed on an outside wall. It’s followed by a brown coat and then the finish coat.
Shingles: overlapping outer covering of roofs or an external wall.
Sill: the boards at the base of a window or door opening.
Struts: beam or piece of wood used to keep two others apart at equal distance; thereby giving them more strength.
Stucco: an exterior finish that is hard and concrete-like.
Studs: vertical beams placed 16 or 24 inches apart to which horizontal pieces are nailed. Studs give strength to the wall and provide a solid background for nailing in other pieces.
Vapour Barrier: waterproof material that blocks the transfer of moisture in a wall, floor or ceiling.
Veneer: thin sheets of wood applied to the surface of furniture
Tongue-And-Groove: type of joint or edge where one piece has a long “tongue” that fits in the “groove” of an adjoining piece. Its main purpose is for strength.
Wainscoting: decorative wood panelling that only covers the lower section or a wall.
Weep Holes: small holes that allow water to drain to the outside of a foundation wall.
Myles Slocombe is a Sales Representative with Royal LePage R.E.S./Johnston & Daniel Division. Myles is also a regular contributor to the Muddy York Blog. Myles’ web site is located at www.keystoneconnect.ca