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Construction Terms and Slang

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Paint
A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to provide decorative and protective coatings.

Panel
In house construction, a thin flat piece of wood, ply. wood, or similar material, framed by stiles and rails as in a door or fitted into grooves of thicker material with molded edges for decorative wall treatment.

Parapet Wall
A low wall around the perimeter of a roof deck.

Parge Coat
A thin application of plaster for coating a wall.

Parking Strip
The area in front of a building between the sidewalk and the street usually landscaped with grass. The parking strip serves as a buffer between the road and pedestrians walking on the sidewalk.

Parting Stop or Strip
A small wood piece used in the side and head jambs of double-hung windows to separate upper and lower sash.

Partition
A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building.

Patterned Glass
On type of rolled glass having a pattern impressed on one or both sides. Used extensively for light control, bath enclosures and decorative glazing. Sometimes call "rolled," "figured," or "obscure" glass.

Paver Stones
Usually pre-cast concrete slabs used to create a traffic surface.

Penny
As applied to nails, it originally indicated the price per hundred. The term now series as a measure of nail length and is abbreviated by the letter d.

Penthouse
A relatively small structure built above the plane of the roof.

Percussive Maintenance
(slang) Banging on a malfunctioning device with one's fist or blunt object in an attempt to make it work.

Performance and Payment Bond
Guaranty by a surety company that if a contractor fails to perform under a contract, the surety company will complete the work.

Perlite
An aggregate formed by heating and expanding siliceous volcanic glass.

Perm
A measure of water vapor movement through a material (grains per square foot per hour per inch of mercury difference in vapor pressure).

Permanent Set
The amount by which a material fails to return to its original dimensions after being deformed by an applied force or load.

Persuader
(slang) A sledgehammer.

Photo-Oxidation
Oxidation caused by rays of the sun.

Pickling
(slang) The preservative treatment of wood, metals, and piping systems.

Pier
A column of masonry, usually rectangular in horizontal cross section, used to support other structural members.

Pigment
A powdered solid in suitable degree of subdivision for use in paint or enamel.

Pipe Fghter
(slang) Pipe Fitter.

Pitch
(a) The incline slope of a roof or the ratio of the total rise to the total width of a house, i.e., an 8-foot rise and 24-foot width is a one-third pitch roof. Roof slope is expressed in the inches of rise per foot of run. (b) A term frequently used to designate coal tar pitch.

Pitch Pocket
An opening extending parallel to the annual rings of growth, that usually contains, or has contained, either solid or liquid pitch

Pith
The small, soft core at the original center of a tree around which wood formation takes place.

Plan Submittal
Submission of construction plans to the city or county in order to obtain a Building Permit.

Plans
See Blueprints.

Plaster Grounds
Strips of wood used as guides or strike off edges around window and door openings and at base of walls.

Plat
A map of a geographical area as recorded by the county.

Plate
Sill plate: a horizontal member anchored to a masonry wall. Sole plate: bottom horizontal member of a frame wall. Top plate: top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.

Plate Line
The top horizontal line of a building wall upon which the roof rests.

Platform Framing
( or Platform Construction) A system of framing a building in which floor joists of each story rest on the top plates of the story below or on the foundation sill for the first story, and the bearing walls and partitions rest on the subfloor of each story. (Usually one story constitutes a platform.)

Plenum
(or Plenum Chamber) Chamber or container for moving air under a slight positive pressure to which one or more ducts are connected.

Plot Plan
A birds eye view showing how a building sits on the building lot, typically showing setbacks (how far the building must sit from the road), easements, rights of way, and drainage.

Plough
To cut a lengthwise groove in a board or plank.

Plumb
Exactly perpendicular; vertical.

Plumber
(slang) A grave insult to a pipefitter.

Ply
A term to denote the number of thicknesses or layers of roofing felt, veneer in plywood, or layers in built-up materials, in any finished piece of such material.

Plywood
A piece of wood made of three or more layers of veneer joined with glue, and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles. Almost always an odd number of plies are used to provide balanced construction.

Pocket (Channel)
A three-sided, U-shaped opening in a sash or frame to receive glazing infill. Contrasted to a rabbet, which is a two-sided, L-shaped sections as with face glazed window sash.

Pointing
The process where joints between masonry units, brick, etc., are filled with mortar.

Polished Wired Glass
Wired glass that has been ground and polished on both surfaces.

Polymer
A substance consisting of large molecules which have been formed from smaller molecules of similar make-up.

Polysulfide Sealant
Polysulfide liquid polymer sealant which is mercaptan terminated, long chain aliphatic polymers containing disulfide linkages. They can be converted to rubbers at room temperature without shrinkage upon addition of a curing agent.

Polyurethane Sealant
An organic compound formed by reaction of a glycol with and isocyanate.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Polymer formed by polymerization of vinyl chloride monomer. Sometimes called vinyl.

Ponding
A condition where water stands on a roof for prolonged periods due to poor drainage and/or deflection of the deck.

Pop Rivets
Fasteners used to join pieces of metal that are installed by either compressed-air-assisted or hand-operated guns. Unique in that they are installed from one side of the work.

Pop-Out
[definition pending]

Pores
Wood cells of comparatively large diameter that have open ends and are set one above the other to form continuous tubes. The openings of the vessels on the surface of a piece of wood are referred to as pores.

Porosity
The density of substance and its capacity to pass liquids.

Portland Cement
A mixture of certain minerals which when mixed with water form a gray colored paste and cure into a very hard mass.

Post
A vertical member of wood, steel, concrete or other material that transfers weight from the top of the post to whatever the post is resting on.

Post & Beam Construction
Most common type of wall framing, using posts which carry horizontal beams on which joists are supported. It allows for fewer bearing partitions, & less material.

Pot-Life
The time interval following the addition of an accelerator before chemically curing material will become too viscous to apply satisfactorily. See Shelf Life.

Power
The energy rate, usually measured in watts. Power equals voltage times amps. or W = E x 1. The heavier the flow of amps at a given supply, the higher the rate at which energy is being supplied and used.

Pre-Shimed Tape Sealant
A sealant having a pre-formed shape containing solids or discrete particles that limit its deformation under compression.

Precast
Concrete building components which are formed and cured at a factory and then transported to a work site for erection.

Preservative
Any substance that, for a reasonable length of time, will prevent the action of wood-destroying fungi, borers of various kinds, and similar destructive agents when the wood has been properly coated or impregnated with it.

Pressure-Reducing Valve
Valve installed in the water service line where it enters the building to reduce the pressure of water in the line to an acceptable pressure used in buildings (40-55 psi desired).

Pressure-Relief Valve
Valve to relieve excess pressure in water storage tanks.

Pressure-Treated Lumber
Lumber that is treated in such a way that the sealer is forced into the pores of the wood.

Prime Contractor
General Contractor

Primer
(a) A material of relatively thin consistency applied to a surface for the purpose of creating a more secure bonding surface and to form a barrier to prevent migration of components, (b) The first coat of paint in a paint job that consists of two or more coats, (c) the paint used for such a first coat.

Priming
Sealing of a porous surface so that compounds will not stain, lose elasticity, shrink excessively, etc. because of loss of oil or vehicle into the surround.

Projection
In roofing, any object or equipment which pierces the roof membrane.

Protection Board
In roofing, heavy asphalt impregnated boards which are laid over bituminous coatings to protect against mechanical injury.

Purlins
A horizontal structural member spanning between beams or trusses to support a roof deck. In slope glazing, purlins are the horizontal framing members.

Push Stick
In hardware, a tool used when cutting a short board on a table saw.

Pusher
(slang) An overseer not skilled in the trade he supervises.

Putty
A type of cement usually made of whiting and boiled linseed oil, beaten or kneaded to the consistency of dough, and used in sealing glass in sash, filling small holes and crevices in wood, and for similar purposes.

PVDF
Architectural coating. See Kynar Coating.