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

A vertical wood member, such as a cedar 1" x 6", which is nailed to the ends of the rafters and is often the backing of the gutter.

See also: Q&A: Roofs

Fixed Price Contract

A contract with a set price for the work. See, "Time and Materials Contract."

See also: Topics: A Field Guide to Bad Home Repair and Remodeling Contracts


The building component used to connect portions of a roof, deck, or siding material to another surface such as a chimney, wall, or vent pipe. Often made out of various metals, rubber or tar and is mostly intended to prevent water entry.

flashing detail

Example of a flashing detail for siding applications. This detail comes from an out of print USDA manual: Wood-frame House Construction that was last edited in 1970. Modern flashing standards are quite similar. A good example for the durability of many building standards.

See also: Q&A: Construction Details For A Deck, Q&A: Roofs

Forced Air Heating

A common form of heating with natural gas, propane, oil or electricity as a fuel. Air is heated in the furnace and distributed through a set of metal plastic ducts to various areas of the house.

See also: Topics: Topics: Heating Your Home, Q&A: Heating and Cooling


The structural wood and/or metal elements of most homes. The floor and ceiling framing is called the joist work. Wall framing is usually made out of 2" x 4" or 2" x 6" studs. See - "rafters," "posts," and "beams."

See also: Q&A: Framing

Fungal Wood Rot

A common wood destroying organism which develops when wood containing material is exposed to moisture and poor air circulation for a longer (6 month +) period of time. Often and incorrectly referred to as "dry rot."

See also: Q&A: Pest, Wood Rod, Mold and Fungus


A device often found in older homes designed to prevent overloads in electrical lines. See, "circuit breakers."

See also: Topics: Electrical Systems, Q&A: Electrical

Full Extension Drawer Glides

Drawer hardware that allows you to pull-out the entire drawer or shelf. Some hardware of this type also contains a mechanism that pulls the last few inches of the drawer into the fully closed position.

A drawer with full extension glides.

See: Kitchens