Standards / Glossary



AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) – A type of circuit breaker that is designed to reduce the likelihood of fire caused by electrical arcing faults.


Beam – A structural member that transversely supports a load.


Bifold doors – Doors that are hinged at the center and guided by an overhead track.


Blocking – A solid, tight closure used between framing members.


Breakline – A dividing point between two or more surfaces.


Brick veneer – A non-structural outer covering of brick.


Bridging – Wood or metal structural members between horizontal (joists) or vertical (studs) framing that provide lateral rigidity to the members to which applied.


Bug holes – Pits, surface voids, and similar imperfections in a concrete wall. Bug holes generally are up toinch wide or deep.


Cantilever – Construction that is unsupported at one end and that projects outward from the site of the structure to carry loads from above or below.


Ceiling joist – The horizontal structural members to which the ceiling is fastened. Some members may support a floor above.


Checking – Cracks in wood.


Chimney cap – A metal or masonry surface that covers the top portion of a chimney that prevents the penetration of water.


Circuit – The complete path of electricity away from and back to its source.


Circuit breaker – A device that automatically interrupts an electrical circuit when it becomes overloaded.


Cold joint – A joint in poured concrete that indicates where the pour terminated and continued.


Control joint – A joint that is molded or cut in concrete to allow for expansion and contraction and to attempt to control random cracking.


Corner bead – A strip of wood or metal fastened over a corner for protection.


Crawl space – An area under a home which is not a basement or cellar.


Damper – A device used to regulate draft in a furnace or fireplace chimney.


Dead spots – Areas below a carpeted surface where padding appears to be missing or improperly installed.


Deflection – The amount a truss or beam bends under a load.


Dew point – The temperature at which moisture in the air condenses into drops.


Disturbed area – Any area adjacent to a dwelling where original vegetation has been altered or removed.


Downspout – A pipe that carries rainwater from the roof to the ground or to a sewer connection.


Drywall – Gypsum wallboard.


Duct – A round or rectangular pipe used to transmit and distribute warm or cool air from a central heating or cooling unit.


Eave – The lower or outer edge of a roof that projects over the side walls of a structure.


Efflorescence – A white powder that appears on the surface of masonry walls. It is usually caused by moisture reacting with the soluble salts in concrete and forming harmless carbonate compounds.


Finish flooring – The top flooring material that covers the subflooring surface; usually carpeting, hardwood, tile, vinyl, etc. flashing – Strips of metal or plastic material used to prevent moisture from entering roofs, walls, windows, doors, and foundations.


Floor joist – A horizontal framing member to which flooring is attached.


Footing – A flange-like part at the base of a foundation wall which ties and distributes loads from the foundation into the ground and prevents shifting and settling.


Foundation – That part of a building which is below the surface of the ground and on which the superstructure rests.


Frost lift – A condition caused by water freezing and causing soil to expand, which can cause two overlying, adjoining surfaces to separate from each other. Frost lift sometimes occurs at the junction of a garage floor and driveway.


GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) – A type of circuit breaker that is extremely sensitive to moisture and changes in resistance to an electrical current flow. A GFCI protects against electrical shock or damage.


Gypsum – Hydrous calcium sulphate mineral rock.


Gypsum wallboard – See “drywall.”


Hardboard – A wood fiber panel with a density range of 50 to 80 pounds per cubic foot. It is made of wood fibers pressed into solid boards by heat and pressure.


Hardwood – A term used to designate wood from deciduous trees (which lose their leaves annually).


Header – A structural member placed across the top of an opening to support loads above.


Hinge-bound – A condition of a passage or entry door where hinge function impedes proper operation.


Holidays – Voids or inconsistencies in a finished surface.


Honeycomb – Voids in a concrete wall that are larger than bug holes (see “bug holes”).


HVAC – The abbreviation for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Systems.


Jamb – The side framing or finish material of a window, door, or other opening.


Joist – An on-edge-horizontal lumber member, such as a 2x6, 2x8, 2x10, or 2x12, which spans from wall to wall or beam to provide main support for flooring, ceiling, or roofing systems.


Junction box – A box that forms junctions between sections of house wiring.


Lath – Any material used as a base for plastering or stucco surfacing.


Lippage – The difference in surface alignment between two materials.


Mortar – An adhesive and leveling material used in brickwork, stone, block, and similar masonry construction.


Muntins – Strips of wood, metal, or plastic that divide a window into panes. Muntins can be installed within two pieces of glass or on the surface of the glass.


Parging – A rough coat of mortar applied over a masonry wall.


Pitch – The degree of incline in a sloped roof or structure.


Plumb – A measurement of true vertical.


Rafter – Structural members which shape and form the support for the roof deck and the roof covering.


Raveling – A condition in which aggregate is loose from asphalt pavement.


Register – A louvered device that allows air travel from the ducts into a room.


Riser (stairway) – A vertical stair member that supports a tread.


Riser (plumbing) – A water pipe that extends vertically one full story or more to convey water to branches or to a group of fixtures.


Roof ridge – The apex of a roof system.


Scaling – The flaking or peeling away of a surface portion of hardened concrete.


Setting – The driving of a fastener flush or below the surface of a material.


Shakes – Split wooden shingles that are random in thickness.


Sheathing – The application of panels to the face of framing members. Also known as “decking.” shim – A thin, tapered piece of material (usually wood) that is used to adjust or provide support for a member.


Sill – A framing member placed on top of and around a foundation to serve as a level base on which to support exterior wall studs.


Slab – A concrete floor/surface.


Soffitt – The enclosed under surface of an eave.


Spalling – The breaking away of a small piece of concrete.


Stair skirt – A finishing board that may cover the outside staircase edge.


Stud – A vertical framing members.


Subflooring – A floor decking material laid on top of the floor joists.


Substantial completion of the project – A project has met substantial completion where the areas are functional for their intended use as stated by the contract (except for items noted prior to final presentation), and clean-up on the site has been completed.


Sump pump – A pump that is installed in a crawl space, basement, or other low area to discharge water that might collect.


Swale – A shallow depression in the ground that is used as a drainway for water.


Telegraphing – A condition of a subsurface projecting through the finish material.


Tread – A horizontal stair member. A tread is the part you step on when walking up or down stairs.


Truss – An engineered assembly of wood or metal components that generally is used to support roofs or floors.


Vapor retarder – Plastic film or other material used to limit the amount of moisture vapor that passes through a material or wall assembly.


Warranty period – The duration of the applicable warranty provided by The Bolster Contractor or any other period agreed to by the parties.


Weather stripping – Material placed around doors, windows, and other openings to prevent the infiltration of air, dust, rain, etc.



This post is intended for informational purposes only and is general in nature as it does not take into account your personal renovation situation. You should really consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a licensed architect, general contractor or financial / legal adviser. Bolster gratefully acknowledges the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in developing their Residential Construction Performance Guidelines for Professional Builders & Remodelers (Third Edition). Bolster's Quality Standards are closely modeled after the NAHB Guidelines but have been adjusted for local purposes.