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
Lath and Plaster

The most common wall finish prior to the introduction of drywall. Thin wood strips (lath) were nailed onto the framing as a base for the sand/lime plaster (see diagram).

Lath and Plaster

See also: Q&A: Framing


A lien is a claim for money owed against another person's real estate. Deeds of Trust and mortgages are examples of liens.

See also: Topics: Real Estate Legal Terms

Load Bearing Wall

A wall which is supporting its own weight and some other structural elements of the house such as the joists.

See also: Topics: Common Construction Wisdom, Q&A: Framing

Limited Use Common Area

A common term in some condominium by-laws that refers to areas such as balconies and decks that are intended for the private use of a single unit owner but maintained by the Home Owners Association (HOA).

In many cases such area designations make a lot of sense, e.g. wood deck and balcony defects can result in wood damage to the structure of the building. The maintenance of such areas is thus critical to the integrity of the entire structure.

See also: Condominiums