Glossary of Construction Terminology



above-grade - The portion of the building that is above ground level.

accelerator - Material added to stucco, plaster, or mortar which speeds up the process of natural set.

adhesion - The property of a coating or sealant to bond to the surface to which it is applied.

air duct - Ducts, usually made of sheet metal that carries cooled air from a cooling unit to different areas of an enclosed space.

air infiltration - The amount of air leaking in and out of a building through the cracks in walls, windows and doors.

aluminum wire - Conductors made of aluminum for carrying electricity. Aluminum is lighter and less expensive than copper, however it is not as good a conductor. It is generally only used in the larger wire sizes and must be installed with respect to its different properties when attached to electrical devices.

alligatoring - A painting technique whereby new paint is applied over old paint. The old paint color can still be seen in a course pattern through the fissures of the new color.

amp (amperes) - The rate at which electricity flows through a conductor.

anchor bolts - Bolts that secure the sill plate to a concrete or masonry floor and/or wall.

angle iron - a piece of iron that forms a right angle and is used to span openings and support masonry at the openings of brick veneer.

apron - A trim board that is installed beneath a window sill.

area wells - A barrier wall installed around a basement window to hold back the earth.

asphalt - A product made of the residue from evaporated petroleum. It is used widely for waterproofing roof coverings, exterior wall coverings, flooring tile, and the like.

astragal - A molding that is attached to one door in a pair of swinging doors against which the other door strikes.

attic access - An opening that is placed in ceiling of a home providing access to the attic space.

attic ventilators - Either passive openings protected with screen or power driven fans used to exhaust heat out of an attic.