Home Construction Terminology: M thru Q
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MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard): A manufactured wood product made of fine saw dust and resin. Used for shelving cleats and stairway treads.
Male: Any part, such as a bolt, designed to fit into another (female) part. External threads are male.
Manufactured Wood: A wood structural product such as a gluelam or microlam, or sheet goods such as OSB, MDF, particle board or finger jointed trim, which are manufactured out of smaller wood pieces and glued to form a larger piece.
Masonry: Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other similar building units or materials. Normally bonded together with mortar to form a wall.
Mending Plates (aka Fascia Gusset, MP14): Toothed metal plates used to join two pieces of fascia.
Microlam (aka Laminated Veneered Lumber [LVL]): A manufactured structural wood beam. It is constructed of pressure and adhesive bonded wood strands. They have a higher strength rating than solid sawn lumber. Normally comes in l ½” thickness’ and 9 ½”, 11 ½” and 14″ widths.
Millwork: Generally all building materials made of finished wood and manufactured in mill-work plants. It includes all doors, windows, moldings and interior trim.
Miter Joint: The joint of two pieces at an angle that bisects the joining angle. For example, the miter joint at the side and head casing at a door opening is made at a 45° angle.
Mortar: A mixture of cement (or lime) with sand and water used in masonry work.
Muntin: A small member which divides the glass or openings of sash or doors.
Natural Finish: A transparent finish which does not seriously alter the original color or grain of the natural wood.
Neutral Wire: Usually color-coded white, this carries electricity from an outlet or switch back to the service panel. Also see hot wire and ground.
Nonbearing Wall: A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.
Nosing: The projecting front edge of a stair tread.
O. C. (On Center): The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, joists and trusses in a building from the center of one member to the center of the next.
Oriented Strand Board (aka OSB): A manufactured 4′ X 8′ wood panel made out of 1″- 2″ wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood.
Outrigger (aka Lookout): An extension from a rafter or truss beyond the wall line to form a roof overhang on a rake end, as a rafter tail or truss tail does on an eave.
Outside Corner: The point at which two walls form an external angle, one you usually can walk around.
Overhang: Outward projecting eave-soffit area of a roof; the part of the roof that hangs out past the outside wall.
Padding: A material installed under carpet to add foot comfort, isolate sound, and to prolong carpet life.
Paint: A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to provide decorative and protective coatings. It can be oil based or water based.
Pallets: Wooden platforms used for storing and shipping material. Forklifts and pallet jacks are used to move these wooden platforms around.
Panel: A thin flat piece of wood, plywood, or similar material, framed by stiles and rails as in a door (or cabinet door), or fitted into grooves of thicker material with molded edges for decorative wall treatment.
Parapet: An extension of a wall past the plane of the roof to hide roof clutter (i.e. the Territorial look) and originally intended as protection, though now mostly decorative.
Particle Board: Plywood substitute made of course sawdust that is mixed with resin and pressed into sheets. Usually used for shelving.
Penny: As applied to nails, it originally indicated the price per hundred. The term now serves as a measure of nail length and is abbreviated by the letter “d“. Normally, 10d (10 “penny”) nails are used for framing.
Permit: A governmental municipal authorization to perform a building process as in:
· Zoning\Use permit – Authorization to use a property for a specific use e.g. a garage, a single family residence, etc.
· Building permit – Authorization to build or modify a structure.
· Demolition permit – Authorization to tear down and remove an existing structure.
· Grading permit – Authorization to change the contour of the land
· Electrical permit – A separate permit required for most electrical work.
· Plumbing permit – A separate permit required for new plumbing and larger modifications of existing plumbing systems.
Pigtail, Electrical: The electrical cord installed on an appliance, or another name for an electrical splitter.
Pier: A pad of concrete used to support a post.
Pilot Hole: A small diameter pre-drilled hole to guide a nail or screw.
Pitch: The slope of a roof expressed as vertical rise to horizontal run (i.e. 4/12 means a 4” rise for every 12” of run).
Plan View (aka Floor Plan): Drawing of a structure with the view from overhead, looking down.
Plate: Normally a 2 X 4 or 2 X 6 that lays horizontally within a framed structure, such as:
Sill plate- A horizontal member anchored to a concrete or masonry wall.
Top plate- Top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters or other members.
Platform: (1) The flat section of floor between stories in a flight of stairs (2) Raised surface supporting an object (i.e. Water Heater Platform).
Plot plan: An overhead view plan that shows the location of the home on the lot and includes all easements, property lines, set backs, and legal descriptions of the home.
Plumb: Exactly vertical and perpendicular.
Plumbing Jack (aka Roof Jack): Sleeve (whose purpose is to prevent water leaks) that fits around drain and waste vent pipes at, and are nailed to, the roof sheeting.
Plumbing Rough: Work performed by the plumbing contractor including installing all plastic ABS drain and waste lines, water lines and bath tubs.
Plumbing Stack: A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.
Plumbing Trim: Work performed by the plumbing contractor to get the home ready for a final inspection, which includes installing all toilets, hot water heaters, sinks, disposal, dishwasher, and all other needed plumbing items.
Plumbing Waste Line: Plastic pipe used to collect and drain sewage waste.
Ply: A term to denote the number of layers in built-up materials, or in any finished piece of such material (i.e. plywood).
Plywood: A panel (normally 4′ X 8′) of wood made of three or more layers of veneer, com-pressed and joined with glue, and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles to give the sheet strength.
Portland Cement: Cement made by heating clay and crushed limestone into a brick and then grinding to a pulverized powder state.
Post: A vertical framing member (often a 4″ x 4″ or a 6″ x 6”) usually designed to carry a beam.
Post-and-Beam: A basic building method that uses just a few hefty posts and beams to support an entire structure, in contrast to our usual stud framing.
Pressure Relief Valve (PRV): A device mounted on a hot water heater or boiler which is designed to release any high steam pressure in the tank to prevent tank explosions.
Pressure-Treated Wood: A wood product that has been impregnated with chemical preservatives to prevent rot and infestation.
Primer: The first, base coat of paint when a paint job consists of two or more coats. A first coating formulated to seal raw surfaces and hold succeeding finish coats. Many paints are now made with a primer and paint in one can.
P Trap: Curved, “U” shaped section of drain pipe that holds a water seal to prevent sewer gasses from entering the home through a fixture’s water drain.
Punch List: A list of discrepancies that need to be corrected.
Putty: 1. A type of dough used for filling small holes and crevices in wood, and for similar purposes. 2. Used in plumbing to seal joints to prevent water leakage.
PVC or CPVC: Poly Vinyl Chloride, a type of white or light gray plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines.
Quarter Round: A small trim molding that has the cross section of a quarter circle.
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.