Home Construction Terminology: A thru C

Home Construction Terminology A thru C


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Home Construction Terminology

Home Construction Terminology


Air Return:  A series of ducts in air conditioning system to return used air to air handler to be reconditioned.

Anchor Bolts:  (also called J-bolts) Bolts embedded in concrete foundation used to hold sills in place.

Anchor Straps:  Straps embedded in concrete foundation used to hold sills in place.

Apron:  A piece of driveway between sidewalk and curb.

Back Fill:  The replacement of dirt in holes, trenches and around foundations.

Backing (aka Blocking):  a non-structural (usually 2x) framed support (i.e. for drywall).

Bay:  The space between two parallel framing members (i.e. trusses).

Beam:  A horizontal structural member running between posts, columns or walls.

Bearing Wall (aka Partition):  A wall which carries a vertical structural load in addition to its own weight.

Bevel:  To cut an angle other than a right angle, such as on the edge of a board.

Bird Block (aka Frieze Board):  An attic vent located between truss tails.

Bird’s Mouth:  A notch cut in the underside of a rafter to fit the top plate.

Blocking (aka Backing):  A non-structural 2x framing support (i.e. for drywall).

Box Header:  A horizontal structural member over an opening having a rectangular cross section with a hole in the middle, which is filled with insulation.

Building Code:  A collection of rules and regulations for construction established by organizations based on experience and experiment, and enacted and enforced by local municipalities.

California Corner:  A framing member used at the intersection of two walls, consisting of three studs nailed together to form a U-shaped cross section.

Camber:  The slight arch in a beam or truss which prevents it from bending into a downward shape under normal load.

Cantilevered:  Extending horizontally beyond support.

Cased Opening:  An interior opening without a door that is finished with jamb and trim.

Caulking:  A flexible material used to seal a gap in a joint.

Ceiling Joist:  One of a series of parallel framing members (not part of a truss) used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams or bearing walls.

Cement:  (1) The gray powder that is the ‘glue’ in concrete. (2) An adhesive.

Chalk Line:  (1) A cord dusted with chalk (2) A line made by snapping a taut string or cord dusted with chalk.

Chase:  A framed enclosed space or channel in a wall, or through a ceiling for something (usually duct work or plumbing) to pass through.

Circuit Breaker:  A device which looks like a switch and is located inside the electrical panel. It is designed to shut off the power to portions or all of the house. Replaces the old style ‘fuses’.

Clean Out:  A capped opening providing access to a drain line, used to clear blockages.

Column:  A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.

Compressor:  A mechanical device that pressurizes a gas in order to turn it into a liquid, thereby allowing heat to be removed or added. A compressor is the main component of conventional heat pumps and air conditioners.

Condenser:  The part of an air conditioning system containing the compressor and a large fan that sits outside and is responsible for transferring heat to/from the heat transfer medium (Freon).

Concrete:  A mixture of cement, sand, gravel, and water.

Control Joint:  Tooled, straight grooves made in concrete flatwork to “control” where the concrete should crack.

Corner Bead:  A strip of formed sheet metal or plastic placed on outside corners of drywall for support before applying drywall ‘mud’. Can be either square or bull nose (round).

Counter Flashing (aka “Z” Flashing):  A galvanized sheet metal flashing used at the roofline to cover shingle flashing (“L” flashing) and used to prevent moisture entry.

Course:  1. A row of shingles or roll roofing running the length of the roof. 2. A row of block or brick.

Cripple:  Short vertical framing member installed above or below an opening.


If there is a term that you are looking for and you do not find it here, please let me know by leaving a Comment in the Comments section below. If appropriate, I will add it to the list.


Thank you,

CJ Dodaro