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Home Glossary

Glossary of Home

Ash Dump Top
A door or opening in the firebox that leads directly to the ash pit, through which the ashes are swept after the fire is burned out.  All fireboxes are not equipped with an ash dump.
Attic Top
The open space within the attic area.  Learn more about attics.
Backfill Top
The material used to re-fill an excavation around the outside of a foundation wall or pipe trench.
Baluster Top
One of a series of small pillars that is attached to and runs between the stairs and the handrails. The spacing between the balusters should be less than 4 inches to prevent small children from getting stuck between the balusters. Balusters are considered a safety item and provide an additional barrier.
Baseboard Trim Top
Typically a wood trim board that is placed against the wall around the perimeter of a room next to the floor. The intent is to conceal the joint between the floor and wall finish.
Basement Window Top
A window opening installed in the basement wall. Basement windows are occasionally below the finish grade level and will be surrounded on the exterior by a window well.  Learn more about basements.
Blind or Shutter Top
A lightweight frame in the form of a door located on each side of a window. They are most commonly constructed of wood (solid or louvered panels) or plastic. Originally they were designed to close and secure over the windows for security and foul weather. Most shutters now are more likely decorative pieces that are secured to the house beside the windows.
Bridging Top
Small pieces of wood or metal strapping placed in an X-pattern between the floor joists at mid-span to prevent the joists from twisting and squeaking and to provide reinforcement and distribution of stress.
Building Paper/Underlayment Top
Building material, usually a felt paper that is used as a protective barrier against air and moisture passage from the area beneath the flooring as well as providing a movement/noise isolator in hardwood flooring.
Ceiling Joist Top
A horizontally placed framing members at the ceiling of the top-most living space of a house that provides a platform to which the finished ceiling material can be attached.
Chair Rail Top
Decorative trim applied around the perimeter of a room such as a formal dining room or kitchen/breakfast nook at the approximate same height as the back of a chair. It is sometimes used as a cap trim for wainscoting (see wainscoting).
Chimney
A masonry or in more modern construction wood framed enclosure that surrounds and contains one or more flues and extends above the roofline.  Learn more about chimneys.
Chimney Cap Top
The metal or masonry protective covering at the top of the chimney that seals the chimney shaft from water entry between the chimney enclosure and the flue tiles.  Learn more about chimneys.
Chimney Flues Top
The space or channel in a chimney that carries off the smoke and other combustion gasses to the outside air. Most homes will have a terracotta tile flue or a metal flue.  Learn more about chimneys.
Collar Beam/Tie Top
A horizontal piece of framing lumber that provides intermediate support for opposite rafters. They are usually located in the middle to upper third portion of the rafters. It is also known as a collar beam or collar brace.
Concrete Slab Floor Top
Typically approximately 4 inches thick, the concrete slab floor provides a number of uses. It creates a solid level surface to walk and work on. It provides a separation between the grade/soil and a potentially livable area. It also provides lateral compression resistance for the foundation walls, preventing soil pressure from outside the foundation from pushing the foundation walls and footings inward.  Learn more about foundations.
Corner Brace Top
Diagonal braces placed at the corners of framed walls to stiffen them and provide extra strength.
Cornice Top
An overhang of a pitched roof at the eave line that usually consists of a fascia board, a soffit and any appropriate moldings or vents.
Cornice Molding Top
The individual pieces of wood trim that are applied to the cornice area at the eaves.
Door Casing/Trim Top
The finish trim details around the perimeter of the door on the interior finished wall.  Learn more about doors.
Door Frame/Jamb Top
The top and sides of the door to include the wall framing as well as the actual door frame and trim.  Learn more about doors.
Downspout Top
A pipe, usually of metal or vinyl, that is connected to the gutters and is used to carry the roof-water runoff down and away from the house.  Learn more about downspouts.
Downspout Gooseneck Top
Segmented section of downspout that is bent at a radius to allow the downspout to be attached to the house and to follow the bends and curves of the eaves and ground.  Learn more about downspouts.
Downspout Shoe Top
The bottom downspout gooseneck that directs the water from the downspout to the extension or splash block at the grade.  Learn more about downspouts.
Downspout Strap Top
Strap used to secure the downspout to the side of the house.  Learn more about downspouts.
Drain Tile Top
A tube or cylinder that is normally installed around the exterior perimeter of the foundation footings that collects and directs ground water away from the foundation of the house. The tile can be individual sections of clay or asphalt tubing or, in more recent construction, a perforated plastic drain-tile that is approximately 4 inches in diameter. The drain tile leads either towards a sump or to an exterior discharge away from the house.  Learn more about surface water control.
Entrance Canopy Top
A small overhanging roof that shelters the front entrance.
Entrance Stoop Top
An elevated platform constructed of wood framing or masonry at the front entry that allows visitors to stand above or out of the elements. The platform should be wide enough to allow someone to stand on the platform while opening an outward swinging door such as a storm door even if one is not present.
Exterior Siding Top
The decorative exterior finish on a house. Its primary function is to protect the shell of the house from the elements. The choice of siding materials varies widely to include wood, brick, metal, vinyl, concrete, stucco, and a variety of man-made compositions such as compressed wood, compressed cellulose (paper), fiber-reinforced cement, and synthetic stucco.  Learn more about exterior sidings.
Fascia Top
The visible flat front board that caps the rafter tail ends and encloses the overhang under the eave that runs along the roof edge. The gutter is usually attached at this location.
Fascia/Rake Board Top
The visible flat front board that caps the rafter tail ends and encloses the overhang under the eave that runs along the roof edge and at the edge of the roofing at the gables. The gutter is usually attached to this board at the eaves.
Finishing Flooring Top
The final floor covering inside the living space of a house. The most common types of finishes are carpeting, hardwood flooring, ceramic or stone tile, parquet panels or vinyl sheet flooring.  Learn more about flooring.
Finished Grade Line Top
A pre-determined line indicating the proposed elevation of the ground surface around a building.  Learn more about grading.
Firebox Top
The cavity in the open face of the fireplace in which the fire is maintained. The firebox leads directly to the fireplace flue. The firebox is constructed of fire or refractory brick set in fireclay or reinforced mortar in traditional masonry fireplaces.  The firebox may also be constructed of metal or ceramic-coated metal panels in more modern prefabricated fireplaces. The walls of the firebox are usually slanted towards the living space both to direct smoke up towards the flue and to reflect heat into the room.

 

Fireplace Cleanout Door Top
The access door to the ash pit beneath the fireplace. On a fireplace that is located inside the house, the cleanout door is usually located in the lowest accessible level of the house such as the basement or crawl space. On a fireplace that is located at the outside of the house, the cleanout door will be located at the exterior of the chimney.  Not all fireplaces are equipped with a cleanout door.
Fireplace Hearth Top
The inner or outer floor of a fireplace usually made of brick, tile, or stone. Fireboxes that have more than 6 square feet should have hearth extensions that extend a minimum of 20″ in front of the firebox and a minimum of 12″ beyond each side of the opening. Fireboxes that have less than 6 square feet have to be a minimum of 16″ out and 8″ on each side.
Flashing Top
The building component used to connect and cover portions of a deck, roof, or siding material to another surface such as a wall, a chimney, a vent pipe or anywhere that runoff is heavy or where two dissimilar materials meet. The flashing is mainly intended to prevent water entry and is usually made of rubber, tar, asphalt or various metals.
Floor Joists Top
The main sub-floor framing members that support the floor span. Joists are usually made of engineered wood I-beams or 2×8 (or larger) lumber.  Learn more about sub-flooring.
Foundation Footing Top
The base on which the foundation walls rests. The foundation is wider than the foundation wall in order to spread out the load it is bearing and to help prevent settling.  Learn more about footings.
Foundation Wall Top
The concrete block, concrete slab or other non wood material that extends below or partly below grade, which provides support for exterior walls and other structural pans of the building.  Learn more about foundation walls.
Framing Studs Top
A 2×4 or 2×6 vertical framing member used to construct walls and partitions, usually spaced 12 to 16 inches apart.
Gable Framing Top
The vertical and horizontal framing members that make up and support the end of a building as distinguished from the front or rear side. A gable is the triangular end of an exterior wall above the eaves.
Garage Door Top
The door for the vehicle passage into the garage area. Typical garage doors consist of multiple jointed panels of wood, metal or fiberglass.  Learn more about garages.
Girder Top
A large beam supporting floor joists at the same level as the sills. A larger or principal beam used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.
Gravel Fill Top
A bed of course gravel that is laid atop the existing soil prior to pouring the concrete slab. The gravel serves a dual purpose of breaking surface tension on the concrete slab and providing a layer that interrupts capillary action of subsurface moisture from reaching the concrete slab. Typically, a polyethylene sheeting will be installed between the gravel fill and the concrete slab for further moisture proofing.
Gutter Top
A channel used for carrying water run-off. Usually located at the eaves of a house and connected to a downspout. The primary purpose of the gutters and downspouts is to carry roof water run-off as far away from the house as possible.  Learn more about gutters.
Insulation Top
A man-made or natural material that resists heat flow that is installed in a house’s shell to keep the heat in a house in the winter and the coolness in the house in the summer. The most common form of insulation is fiberglass, whether in batts or blown-in material, along with cellulose, rigid foam boards and rock wool.
Jack/King Stud Top
The framing stud, sometimes called the trimmer that supports the header above a window, door or other opening within a bearing wall. Depending on the size of the opening there may be several jack studs on either side of the opening.
Mantel Top
The ornamental or decorative facing around a fireplace including a shelf that is attached to the breast or backing wall above the fireplace.
Moisture/Vapor Barrier Top
A non-porous material such as plastic or polyethylene sheeting that is used to retard the movement of water vapor into walls and attics and prevent condensation in them. A vapor barrier is also installed in crawl space areas to prevent moisture vapor from entering up through the ground.
Newel Post Top
The post at the top and bottom of the handrails and anywhere along the stair run that creates a directional change in the handrails is called the newel post. The newel post is securely anchored into the underlying floor framing or the stair stringer to provide stability to the handrails.
Reinforcing Lath Top
A strip of wood or metal attached to studs and used as a foundation for plastering, slating or tiling.   Lath has been replaced by sheetrock in most modern construction.
Ridge Board Top
The board placed on edge at the top-most point of the roof framing, into which the upper ends of the rafters are joined or attached.
Roofing Top
The finished surface at the top of the house that must be able to withstand the effects of the elements (i.e. wind, rain, snow, hail, etc.). A wide variety of materials are available such as asphalt shingles, wood shakes, metal roofing, ceramic and concrete tiles, and slate, with asphalt shingles making up the bulk of the material used.  Learn more about roofing.
 Roof Rafters Top
Inclined structural framing members which support the roof, running from the exterior wall the to the ridge beam. Rafters directly support the roof sheathing and create the angle or slope of the roof.  Learn more about roofs.
Roof Sheathing Top
The material used to cover the outside surface of the roof framing to provide lateral and rack support to the roof, as well as to provide a nailing surface for the roofing material. This material most commonly consists of plywood or horizontally laid wood boards.  Learn more about roofs.
Sidewalk Top
A walkway that provides a direct, all-weather approach to an entry. The sidewalk can be constructed of poured concrete, laid stone, concrete pavers, or gravel contained between borders or curbs.
Sill Plate Top
The horizontal wood member that is anchored to the foundation masonry to provide a nailing surface for floors or walls built above.
Silt Fabric Top
A porous fabric that acts as a barrier between the backfilled soil (see backfill) and the gravel surrounding the drain tile. This barrier prevents soil particles from blocking the movement of ground water to the drain tile.
Soffit/Lockout Block Top
Rake cross-bracing between the fly rafters and end gable rafters that the soffit is nailed to.
Stair Rail Top
A sturdy handhold and barrier that follows the outside, and sometimes inside, perimeter of the stairs.  The stair rail is used to prevent falls and to provide a means of additional support when walking up or down the stairs.
Stair Riser Top
The vertical boards that close the space between each stair tread on a set of stairs (see stair stringer and stair tread).
Stair Stringer Top
The supporting members in a set of stairs that are cut or notched to accept the individual treads and risers (see stair riser and stair tread).
Stair Tread Top
The horizontal board in a stairway that is walked upon (see stair riser and stair stringer).
Subfloor Top
Boards or plywood installed over joists on which the finish floor rests.  Learn more about sub-floors.
Support Posts Top
A vertical framing member usually designed to carry or support a beam or girder. In newer construction a metal lally (pronounced “lolly”) column is commonly used, as well as 4×4 or 6×6 inch wood posts.
Tar Top
Otherwise known as asphalt, tar is a very thick, dark brown/black substance that is used as a sealant or waterproofing agent.  It is usually produced naturally by the breakdown of animal and vegetable matter that has been buried and compressed deep underground.  Tar is also man-made–a hydrocarbon by-product or residue that is left over after the distillation of petroleum. It is commonly used as a sealant or patch for roof penetrations such as plumbing vents and chimney flashing.  Tar is also used as a sealer on concrete and masonry foundation walls before they have been backfilled.
Termite Shield Top
A metal flashing that is installed below the sill plate that acts as a deterrent to keep termites from reaching the sill plate.  Learn more about termites.
Top Plate Top
The topmost horizontal framing members of a framed wall. Most construction practices require the top plate to be doubled in thickness.
Wainscoting Top
The wooden paneling of the lower part of an interior wall up to approximately waist-height or between 36 to 48 inches from the floor.
Wall Insulation Top
A man-made or natural material that resists heat flow that is installed in a house’s shell to keep the heat in a house in the winter and the coolness in the house in the summer. The most common form of wall insulation is in the form of fiberglass batts.
Wall Sheathing Top
The material used to cover the outside surface of the wall framing that provides lateral and shear support to the wall as well as a nailing surface for the exterior siding.
Window Casing/Trim Top
The finish trim details around the perimeter of the window on the interior finished wall.  Learn more about windows.
Window Cripple Top
Short studs placed between the header and a top plate or between a sill and sole plate.  Learn more about windows.
Window Frame/Jamb Top
The top and sides of the window, to include the wall framing as well as the actual window frame and trim.
Window Header Top
A beam placed perpendicular to wall studs above doors, windows or other openings to carry the weight of structural loads above the window or door.  Learn more about windows.
Window Sash Top
The framework that holds the glass in a door or window.  Learn more about windows.
Window Well Top
An excavation around a basement window that prevents the surrounding soils from collapsing into the window. The window well surround is normally constructed of formed corrugated galvanized metal, built-up masonry, or pressure treated wood.  Learn more about windows.

Article courtesy of U.S. Inspect.

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