Home Construction Terminology: S
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Sandwich Header: A horizontal structural member over an opening made of 2xs or 2xs and sandwiched OSB.
Sanitary Sewer: A sewer system designed for the collection of waste water from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry drains, that is usually not designed to handle storm water.
Sash: The frame that holds the glass in a window, often the movable part of the window.
Schedule (Window, Door, etc.): A table on the blueprints that list the sizes, quantities and locations of windows, doors etc.
Scratch Coat: The first coat of stucco, which is scratched to form a bond for a second coat.
Screed: To level off concrete to the correct elevation during a concrete pour.
Scribing: Cutting and fitting woodwork to an irregular surface.
Scupper: (1) An opening for drainage in a wall, curb or parapet. (2) The drain off a flat roof, sometimes connected to a downspout.
Sealer: A finishing material, either clear or pigmented, that is usually applied directly over the surface (sometimes as an undercoat for the final finish).
Semi-Gloss Paint: A paint or enamel made so that its coating, when dry, has some luster but is not very shiny.
Service Entrance Panel (aka Electrical Panel): The main power cabinet where electricity enters a home’s wiring system, which contains circuit breakers or fuses, and switches.
Service Lateral: Underground power supply line from the main line to the house.
Setback Thermostat: A thermostat with a clock which can be programmed to come on or go off at various temperatures and at different times of the day/week. Usually used as the HVAC system thermostat.
Settlement: Shifts in a structure caused by improperly compacted soil or expansive soils.
Sewer Lateral: The portion of the sanitary sewer which connects the interior waste water lines to the main sewer lines.
Sewer Stub: The junction at the municipal sewer system main where the home’s sewer line is connected.
Sewer Tap: The physical connection point where the home’s sewer line connects to the main municipal sewer line.
Shake Shingle: A wood roofing material, normally cedar or redwood, produced by splitting a block of the wood along the grain line. Modern shakes are sometimes machine sawn on one side.
Sheathing, Sheeting: The structural wood diaphragm covering, usually OSB, used over studs, floor joists or rafters/trusses of a structure.
Shed Roof: A roof containing only one sloping plane.
Sheet Metal Duct Work: The HVAC system ductwork.
Sheet Rock: A brand of Gypsum Wall Board (GWB). Also used generically for any GWB (drywall).
Shim: 1. A small piece of scrap lumber or shingle, usually wedge shaped, which when forced behind a furring strip or framing member forces it into position. Also used when installing doors and placed between the door jamb legs and 2x door trimmers. 2. The act of using a shim.
Shingles: Roof covering of asphalt. wood, tile, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thicknesses.
Short Circuit: A situation that occurs when hot and neutral wires come in contact with each other. Fuses and circuit breakers protect against fire that could result from a short.
Shutoff Valve: A device installed in a water supply line, usually near a fixture, that permits an individual to shut off the water supply to one fixture without interrupting service to the rest of the system.
Shutter: Usually lightweight louvered decorative frames in the form of doors located on the sides of a window. Some shutters are made to close over the window for protection.
Sill: (1) The 2X wood plate framing member that lays flat against and bolted to the foundation wall (with anchor bolts). The sill plate is treated lumber. (2) The member forming the lower side of an opening, as a door sill or window sill.
Sill Cock (aka Hose Bib): An exterior water faucet.
Sill Seal: Foam insulation installed between the foundation wall and sill (wood) plate, which is designed to seal any cracks or gaps.
Single Hung Window: A window with one vertically sliding sash.
Skylight: A more or less horizontal window located on the roof of a building.
Slab, Concrete: Concrete floors.
Slab, Door: A rectangular door without hinges or frame.
Slab on Grade: A type of foundation where a concrete floor is placed directly on the soil.
Sleeve(s): Pipe installed under driveway, sidewalk, wall or fence that will be used later to run sprinkler pipe or low voltage wire through.
Slope (aka Pitch): The incline angle of a roof surface, given as a ratio of the rise (in inches) to the run (in inches).
Slump: The “wetness” of concrete. A 3 inch slump is dryer and stiffer than a 5 inch slump.
Soffit: The area below the eaves and overhangs. (2) An area of dropped ceiling such as above cabinetry.
Soil Stack: A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.
Solid Bridging: A solid member placed between adjacent floor joists near the center of the span to prevent joists or rafters from twisting (a type of blocking).
Spacing: The distance between individual members in building construction.
Span: The clear distance that a framing member carries a load without support.
Specifications or Specs: Written elaboration in specific detail about construction materials and methods used to supplement working drawings.
Square: (1) A unit of measure (100 square feet) usually applied to roofing material. (2) a situation that exists when two elements are at right angles to each other.
Square-Tab Shingles (aka 3 Tab): Shingles on which tabs are all the same size and exposure.
Standard Practices of the Trade(s): One of the more common basic and minimum construction standards. This is another way of saying that the work should be done in the way it is normally done by the average professional in the field.
Starter Strip: An asphalt roofing material applied at the edges of the roof deck that provides protection by filling in the spaces under the cutouts and joints of the first course of shingles.
Stair Rise: The vertical distance from stair tread to stair tread (and not to exceed 7 3/4″).
Stick Built: A house built without prefabricated parts, also called conventional framing.
Stile: An upright framing member in a panel door.
Stool: Another name for toilet.
Stops: Moldings along the inner edges of a door or window frame.
Stop Valve: Another name for a Shutoff Valve.
Story: That part of a building between any two floors or between the floor and roof.
Strike: The plate on a door frame that engages a latch or dead bolt.
Stringer: The supporting member for stair treads. Usually a LVL member notched to receive the treads and risers.
Stucco: Refers to an outside plaster finish made with Portland cement as its base.
Stud (aka Wall Stud or King Stud): A vertical framing member, attached to the horizontal bottom plate below and the top plate above.
Stud Framing: A building method that distributes structural loads to each of a series of relatively lightweight studs. Contrasts with post-and-beam.
Suspended Ceiling: A ceiling system supported by hanging it from the overhead structural framing.
Sweep: The metal housing and rubber gasket attached to the bottom of a door that seals against the threshold.
Switch: A device that completes or disconnects an electrical circuit.
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.