Home Improvement Glossary

Understanding the terminology used in home improvement and construction industries can help homeowners be better informed and involved
in projects around their homes. The following are some common industry terms.


Aggregate. Crushed rock used in many asphalt applications.

Ampacity. The amount of current a wire can carry safely.

Asbestos. A fibrous material that was once used widely in
building materials but is linked to cancers of the lung cavity.

Backfill. Soil or gravel used to fill in against a foundation.

Beam.
Horizontal framing member designed to carry a load
from joists or a roof.

Butt Joint.
Lumber pieces joined at the end.

Casement window.
A window with hinges on one of the vertical
sides making it swing open like a door.

Caulking.
Flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces.

Code.
Rules set forth by a governing institution to determine fair
and safe trade practices.

Curing.
A process that brings paint or masonry materials to their
final, durable form.

Drywall.
A wall finish made from gypsum plaster encased in a
thin cardboard.

Estimate.
The anticipated cost of materials and labor for a project.

Fixed price contract.
A contract with a set price for the work.

Flashing.
Sheet metal or roll roofing peices fit to the joint of any
roof intersection or projection.

Footing.
Widened ground base of a foundation to support foundation
of piers.

Framing.
The structural wooden elements of most homes.

GFI.
A ground fault current interrupter, which is an electrical device
used to prevent injury from contact with electrical appliances.

Jamb.
The exposed upright part on each side of a window frame
or door frame.

Level.
A tool to check for level or plumb surfaces.

Permit.
A legal authorization to begin a work project.

Pitch.
The slope of incline on a roof.

Rebar.
Steel rods that are imbedded in concrete for stability.

Shim.
A tapered piece of wood used to level and secure a structure.

Stud.
Vertical parts of framing placed 16 or 24 inches apart.

Watt
. A measure of the electrical requirement of an appliance.

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