Glossary of Building Terms
Baseboard - moulding which goes around the perimeter of a room at the base of the walls.
Base Cabinet - a cabinet that generally rests on the floor with a toe kick and countertop.
Batten - a small rectangular piece of wood positioned vertically to cover the seam of adjoining siding boards.
Bay Window - a window generally consisting of three wall segments. Two side wall segments attached to the main wall plane of the home project at some angle and adjoin a wall section parallel to the home's main wall surface. Each wall section contains a window (or windows).
Beam - a framing member usually significantly larger than other framing members that carries roof or floor loads over a certain span.
Bearing Wall - any wall that carries a structural load.
Bifold Door - usually used for interior closet doors, a bi-fold door is made of two hinged panels that fold to one side of the opening.
Bridging - a short horizontal framing member that joins to studs in a wall (often called blocking or fire blocking).
Casing - pieces of wood trim surrounding a window or door.
Casement Window - a window that pivots on a side hinge much like a door with a handle to crank the window open.
Cathedral Ceiling - a ceiling which follows the underside of the roof or rafters creating a sloped surface.
Chair Rail - traditionally used to protect the walls from chair backs, chair rail is a molding that typically goes around the perimeter of the room at the chair back height.
Coffered Ceiling - a coffered ceiling generally follows the underside of the roof planes up to a specific height where the ceiling is then flattened.
Crown Molding – a decorative molding placed at the joint of a ceiling and wall surface.
Dormer – a projection of vertical walls through the sloped roof plane with a window and its own roof that ties into the main roof of the home. Dormers allow the natural light to enter into upper floors or attic spaces.
Drop Ceiling - a drop ceiling is created by constructing a ceiling plane lower than the actual ceiling height. A dropped ceiling is sometimes used to cover mechanical systems or just to provide a different ceiling treatment.
Eaves - the lower part of a roof plane that extends outward from the structure at the same slope as the roof and is generally finished with a fascia board. Sometimes referred to as the roof overhang. The eave on a gable end is sometimes referred to as the gable overhang.
Egress - building codes regulate egress windows by establishing a minimum size requirement that can be adequately used as a fire escape.
Elevation – a view of an architectural model taken horizontally, looking at a vertical surface in a design.
Fascia - a horizontal board positioned on edge and attached to the ends of the rafters or truss ends where gutters are typically supported. This is called an eave fascia. Fascia placed on the on the end of a gable roof end is called gable fascia.
Fixtures - any electrical, HVAC or plumbing appliance or article that is attached to the structure.
Flashing - a metallic material that is used in certain areas of the roof and walls to prevent water from seeping into a structure.
Footing - a footing supports foundation or bearing walls carrying the weight of upper floors, roof structures etc. A footing is generally wider than the foundation or bearing wall and constructed on undisturbed soil to achieve the maximum stability possible. Footings run continuously under all bearing and foundation walls.
Frieze – a trim member placed at the top of an exterior wall where the soffit of an eave and the wall surface meet.
Gable - when a roof pitch end terminates at an exterior wall a triangular shape is created within the roof planes. This triangular wall section is called a gable.
Gambrel Roof – a gable roof where two roof pitches are used on either side of the triangular shape. The upper section toward the ridge is generally not as steep as the lower section of each side.
Girder – main carrying beam that spans the distance from one side of foundation to the other.
Gutters – a channel attached to the fascia board designed to carry away water that runs off the roof surface.
Hearth – a platform at floor level that extends in front of a fireplace. This surface can be raised but is then generally referred to as a raised hearth.
Hip Roof – a home with a hip roof has a roof place sloped upward and toward the middle of the home. A hipped roof maintains all the eaves level all the way around the home.
HVAC - heating, air conditioning and ventilation equipment.
Joist – a horizontal framing member usually spaced at a regular interval and used to support a floor or ceiling.
Landing – a level platform that is between two sections of stairs.
Lites - separated glass areas in a window, usually separated by some sort of grid pattern.
Mansard Roof – a mansard roof is a hipped roof with two separate roof pitches within the same plane. It is often referred to as a hipped gambrel roof
Monolithic Slab – a single slab foundation for a house that incorporates footings at its edge without any joints.
Newel – a support post placed vertically, generally joining sections with railing and balusters.
Pillar – a post or newel that extends to the ceiling height.
Pocket Door – a space saving door style that slides into the wall rather than swinging open into a room or hallway.
Rafter - a roof framing member extending from the eave to the ridge (peak). The rafters support the exterior roof surface.
Rebar - reinforcing bar that is used to strengthen concrete structures.
Ridge - the highest part of a roof where the sloped roof planes meet. Sometimes referred to as the peak.
Rim Joist - joist at the outer edge of a floor platform to which the floor joist ends meet.
Stair Riser - the vertical face of a step in a flight of stairs.
Stair Tread - the horizontal surface of the stair.
Saltbox Roof – a saltbox too is a type of gable roof where the ridge (or peak) is off center because the pitch of the roof is different on each of the two roof sections.
Sheathing - the outer cover of a framed wall or roof section.
Shed Roof - single sloped roof section which covers and entire area. Structures are often covered by several shed roofs sloping in various directions. Dormers are also often covered with shed roof sections.
Slab Foundation – a foundation in which a concrete slab foundation floor creates the first floor of a home. A slab foundation can be built with a stem wall and footings around its edge or as a monolithic slab having no stem wall or footings created at its edges.
Slider Door – a door composed of two sections. One section is active sliding over the other section when opened.
Soffit - the horizontal area under the roof extension.
Split Level – a house in which various sections of the floor plan have different floor and ceilings heights.
Stile – a vertical face frame member of a cabinet between two doors.
Stringer - the angled member of a stair section that support the risers and treads.
Stud – a vertical framing member usually used to create walls.
Top Plate – a horizontal framing member placed at the top of the wall studs to carry the ceiling joists or rafters.
Transom Window – a window that is placed above a doorway.
Truss - an engineered framing member used for bridging spans and supporting loads like a roof or floor. Trusses are generally triangular in shape with cross members or webbing on the inside.
Wall Cabinet - a wall cabinet is sometimes called an overhead cabinet. Wall cabinets are typically hung on the wall above a base cabinet and do not have a toe kick or countertop.
Window Sill - the bottom horizontal trim member at the base of a window projecting outward.