Glossary of Construction Terms

Do you ever feel as if your contractor is selling you polyisocyanurate foam when what you really needed was a setback thermostat? Here is a handy guide to common (and not so common) construction terms. Scroll through the glossary below or sort by the letter that starts the word you're looking for. For example, to find polyisocyanurate foam, select P and click Submit.

A (7) | B (6) | C (18) | D (8) | E (9) | F (8) | G (2) | H (4) | I (1) | J (1) | L (4) | M (3) | O (2) | P (11) | R (10) | S (19) | T (7) | U (1) | V (1) | W (4) | Z (2)
Title Definition
Baseboard Heaters

One of several types of heaters that are wall mounted near the floor or a room. The most common baseboard heaters are electric resistance units but some are hot water radiant heaters. Most baseboard heating systems can be designs for zone heating.


A horizontal framing member designed to carry a load from a set of joists or a roof and spanning an open space. Usually 6" x 6" or 4" x 10" or larger.

See also: Q&A: Framing


Deck biscuits are a patented product designed and manufactured by EB-TY® and are the heart of their Hidden-Deck Fastening SystemsTM.

"Saba" George using the EB-TY® Hidden-Deck Fastening SystemTM biscuits to build a play structure for his grandaughter.

These biscuits allow for the construction of wood and composite decks without nail and screws holes, splinters or loose deck boards. EB-TY® is one of the sponsors of the Sound Home Resource Center.

For additional information about deck biscuits, their application and use, please see the Deck Q and A page or visit EB-TY®. Available at Dunn Lumber.

Deck Photo courtesy of EB-TY Hidden-Deck Fastening System

Blue Print(s)

A type of copying method often used for architectural drawings. Usually used to describe the drawing of a structure which is prepared by an architect or designer for the purpose of design and planning, estimating, securing permits and actual construction.

See also: Q&A: Buying Property and Building Your Own Home

Bond or Bonding

An amount of money (usually $6,000-$12,000) which must be on deposit with the governmental agency in order to secure a contractor's license. The bond may be used to pay for the unpaid bills or disputed work of the contractor. Not to be confused with a 'performance bond'. Such bonds are rarely used in residential construction. They are an insurance policy which guarantees proper completion of a project.

See also: Q&A: Contractor Profit and Overhead, Topics: A Field Guide to Bad Home Repair and Remodeling Contracts, WA L&I Hiring a Contractor

BTU - British Thermal Unit

This is the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit (F). Most heating appliances are rated in BTUs: furnaces, stoves and even the burners on your cooktop. But just BTUs is not the whole story. For example, a low efficiency heating appliance can produce lots of BTUs but not be adequate for the needs of the space to be heated. A space with very even heat can feel more much comfortable at a lower temperature then one with a high BTU heater on one side and cold surfaces on the other.

Sponsored by: Sutter Home & Hearth