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Construction Terms and Slang

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Saber Saw
a saw that cuts on the upstroke, good side of wood faces down.

Saddle
Two sloping surfaces meeting in a horizontal ridge, used between the back side of a chimney, or other vertical surface, and a sloping roof.

Sand Float Finish
Lime mixed with sand, resulting in a textured finish.

Sapwood
The outer zone of wood, next to the bark. In the living tree it contains some living cells (the heartwood contains none), as well as dead and dying cells. In most species, it is lighter colored than the heartwood. In all species, it is lacking in decay resistance.

Sash
A single light frame containing one or more lights of glass.

Sash Balance
A device, usually operated by a spring or tensioned weatherstripping designed to counterbalance double-hung window sash.

Saturated Felt
A felt which is impregnated with tar or asphalt.

Scratch Coat
The first coat of plaster, which is scratched to form a bond for the second coat.

Screed or Screeding
The wood or metal straightedge used to strike off or level newly placed concrete when doing cement work. Screeds can be the leveling device used or the form work used to level or establish the level of the concrete. Screeds can be hand used or mechanical.

Scribing
Fitting woodwork to an irregular surface. In moldings, cutting the end of one piece to fit the molded face of the other at an interior angle to replace a miter joint.

Scupper
An outlet in the wall of a building or a parapet wall for drainage of water from a flat roof.

Scutch
A bricklayers cutting tool used for dressing and trimming brick to a special shape. It resembles a small pick

Sealant
An elastomeric material with adhesive qualities applied between components of a similar or dissimilar nature to provide an effective barrier against the passage of the elements.

Sealer
A finishing material, either clear or pigmented, that is usually applied directly over uncoated wood for the purpose of sealing the surface.

Seasoning
Removing moisture from green wood in order to improve its serviceability.

Self-Healing
A term used to describe to a material which melts with the heat from the sun's rays, and seals over cracks that were earlier formed from other causes. Some waterproof membranes are self-healing.

Self-Levelling
A term used to describe a viscous material that is applied by pouring. In its uncured state, it spreads out evenly.

Selvage
The unsurfaced strip along a sheet of roll roofing which forms the under portion at the lap in the application of the roof covering.

Semigloss (paint or enamel)
A paint or enamel made with a slight insufficiency of nonvolatile vehicle so that its coating, when dry, has some luster but is not very glossy.

Separation
In concrete application, what happens to concrete when it is dropped directly with a flat chute causing the concrete to separate, usually occurring at a 1:2 slope.

Service Conductor
In electrical contracting, the supply conductors that extend from the street main or from the transformer to the service equipment.

Service Drop
In electrical contracting, the overhead service conductors from the last pole or other aerial support to and including the splices, if any, connecting to the service entrance conductors at the building.

Setting Blocks
Generally rectangular cured extrusions of neoprene, EPDM, silicone, rubber or other suitable material on which the glass product bottom edge is placed to effectively support the weight of the glass.

Shading Coefficient
The ratio of the solar heat gain through a specific glass product to the solar heat gain through a lite of 1/8" (3mm) clear glass. Glass of 1/8" (3mm) thickness is given a value of 1.0, therefore the shading coefficient of a glass product is calculated as follows:

Shake
A thick handsplit shingle, resawed to form two shakes; usually edge-grained.

Sheathing
The structural covering, usually wood boards, plywood, gypsum or wood fiber, used over studs or rafters of framed buildings as the first layer of outer wall covering nailed to the studs or rafters.

Sheathing Paper
A building material, generally paper or felt, used in wall and roof construction as a protection against the passage of air and sometimes moisture.

Shed Roof
A roof having only one slope or pitch, with only one set of rafters which fall from a higher to a lower wall.

Sheet Metal Work
All components of a house employing sheet metal, such as flashing, gutters, and downspouts.

Sheetrock
Panels made primarily from gypsum installed over the framing to form the interior walls and ceilings. Sheetrock is often called gypsum board.

Shelf Life
Used in the glazing and sealant business to refer to the length of time a product may be stored before beginning to lose its effectiveness. Manufacturers usually state the shelf life and the necessary storage conditions on the package.

Shellac
A transparent coating made by dissolving lac, aresinous secretion of the lac bug (a scale insect that thrives in tropical countries, especially India), in alcohol.

Shingles
Roof covering of asphalt, wood, tile, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thicknesses, which are laid in a series of overlapping rows as a roof covering on pitched roofs.

Shiplap Lumber
Lumber that is edge-dressed to make a close rabbeted or lapped joint.

Shore "A" Hardness
Measure of firmness of a compound by means of a Durometer Hardness Gauge. (A hardness range of 20-25 is about the firmness of an art gum eraser. A hardness of about 90 is about the firmness of a rubber heel.)

Shoring
A temporary support erected in a trench or other excavation to support the walls from caving in.

Shutter
Usually lightweight louvered or flush wood or nonwood frames in the form of doors located at each side of a window. Some are made to close over the window for protection; others are fastened to the wall as a decorative device.

Siding
The finish covering of the outside wall of a frame building, whether made of horizontal weatherboards, vertical boards with battens, shingles, or other material.

Sight Line
The line along the perimeter of glazing infills corresponding to the top edge of stationary and removable stops. The line to which sealants contacting the glazing infill are sometimes finished off.

Silicone Sealant
A sealant having as its chemical compound a backbone consisting of alternating silicon-oxygen atoms.

Sill
The lowest member of the frame of a structure, resting on the foundation and supporting the floor joists or the uprights of the wall. The member forming the lower side of an opening, as a door sill. window sill. etc.

Sill Plate
The framing member anchored to the foundation wall upon which studs and other framing members will be attached. It is the bottom plate of your exterior walls.

Sill Sealer
A material placed between the top of the foundation wall and the sill plate. Usually a foam strip, the sill sealer helps make a better fit and eliminate water problems.

Sill Step
The first step coming directly off a building at the door openings.

Single Family Dwelling (SFD)
A house built for the purpose of a single family as opposed to multi families such as a duplex or apartment complex.

Single Ply
A descriptive term signifying a roof membrane composed of only one layer of material such as EPDM, Hypalon or PVC.

Single Tee
The name given to a type of precast concrete deck which has one stiffening rib integrally cast into slab.

Sky Dome
A type of skylight exhibiting a characteristic translucent plastic domed top.

Skylight
A structure on a roof that is designed to admit light and is somewhat above the plane of the roof surface.

Slab on Grade
A type of construction in which footings are needed but little or no foundation wall is poured.

Slag
A by-product of smelting ore such as iron, lead or copper. Also overburden/dropping from welding which may burn, melt, or discolor adjacent surfaces.

Slate
A dark gray stratified stone cut relatively thin and installed on pitched roofs in a shingle like fashion.

Sleeper
Usually, a wood member embedded in concrete, as in a floor, that serves to support and to fasten subfloor or flooring.

Slope
Incline or pitch of roof surface.

Sloped Glazing
Any installation of glass that is at a slope of 15 degrees or more from vertical.

Slump Test
Measures the consistency of a concrete mix or its stiffness. If the tests results are high, one likely cause would be too much water. Low slump-not enough water. The test is measured in inches.

Soffit
The underside of a overhanging cornice of a building extending out from the plane of the building walls.

Softening Point
The temperature at which a substance changes from a hard material to a softer and more viscous material.

Soil Cover (or Ground Cover)
A light covering of plastic film, roll roofing, or similar material used over the soil in crawl spaces of buildings to minimize moisture permeation of the area.

Soil Stack
A general term for the vertical main of a system of soil, waste, or vent piping.

Sole Plate
bottom horizontal member of a frame wall.

Solid Bridging
A solid member placed between adjacent floor joists near the center of the span to prevent joists from twisting.

Spacers (Shims)
Small blocks of neoprene, EPDM, silicone or other suitable material placed on each side of the glass product to provide glass centering, maintain uniform width of sealant bead and prevent excessive sealant distortion.

Spalling
The chipping or flaking of concrete, bricks, or other masonry where improper drainage or venting and freeze/thaw cycling exists.

Span
The horizontal distance between structural supports such as walls, columns, piers, beams, girders, and trusses.

Spandrel
The panels of a wall located between vision areas of windows, which conceal structural columns, floors, and shear walls.

Specification
Detailed written instructions which, when clear and concise, explain each phase of work to be done.

Splash Block
A small masonry block laid with the top close to the ground surface to receive roof drainage from downspouts and to carry it away from the building.

Splitting
The formation of long cracks completely through a membrane. Splits are frequently associated with lack of allowance for expansion stresses. They can also

Spud
The removal of gravel or heavy accumulations of bitumen from roof membranes by means of chipping or scraping.

Square
A unit of measure, e.g., 100 square feet, usually applied to roofing material. Sidewall coverings are sometimes packed to cover 100 square feet and are sold on that basis.

Stack
The vertical pipe of a system of soil, waste or vent piping

Stack Vent
Also called a waste vent or soil vent, it is the extension of a soil or waste stack above the highest horizontal drain connected to the stack.

Stain
A form of oil paint, very thin in consistency, intended for coloring wood with rough surfaces, such as shingles, without forming a coating of significant thickness or gloss.

Stair Carriage
Supporting member for stair treads. Usually a 2-inch plank notched to receive the treads; sometimes called a "rough horse."

Standing Seam
A type of joint often used on metal roofs.

Static Load
The total amount of permanent non moving weight that is applied to given surface areas.

STC (Sound Transmission Class)
A single number rating derived from individual transmission losses at specified test frequencies. It is used for interior walls, ceilings and floors.

Steel Trowel
Tool used for non-porous smooth finishes of concrete. It is a flat steel tool used to spread and smooth plaster, mortar or concrete. Pointing trowels are small enough to be used in places where larger trowels will not fit. The pointing trowel has a point. The common trowel has a rectangular blade attached to a handle. For smooth finish, use trowel when concrete begins to stiffen.

Step Flashing
Individual small pieces of metal flashing material used to flash around chimneys, dormers, and such projections along the slope of a roof. The individual pieces are overlapped and stepped up the vertical surface.

Stile
a) An upright framing member in a panel door. b)The side frame members of a door or window (not the jamb).

Stink-Pipe
[definition pending]

STL (Sound Transmission Loss)
The reduction of the amount of sound energy passing through a wall, floor, roof, etc. It is related to the specific frequency at which it is measured and it is expressed in decibels. Also called "Transmission Loss."

Stool
A flat molding fitted over the window sill between jambs and contacting the bottom rail of the lower sash.

Storm Door
A panel or sash door placed on the outside of an existing door to provide additional protection from the elements.

Storm Window
A glazed panel or sash placed on the inside or outside of an existing sash or window as additional protection against the elements.

Story
That part of a building between any floor and the floor or roof next above.

Strain
The percentage of elongation or compression of a material or portion of a material caused by an applied force.

Striking Off
The operation of smoothing off excess compound or sealant at sight line when applying same around lites or panels.

String Line
A nylon line usually strung tightly between supports to indicate both direction and elevation, used in checking grades or deviations in slopes or rises. Used in landscaping to level the ground.

String (or Stringer)
A timber or other support for cross members in floors or ceilings. In stairs, the support on which the stair treads rest; also stringboard.

Strip Flooring
Wood flooring consisting of narrow, matched strips.

Structural Silicone Glazing
The use of a silicone sealant for the structural transfer of loads from the glass to its perimeter support system and retention of the glass in the opening.

Stucco
A type of exterior finish. Most commonly refers to an outside plaster made with Portland cement as its base.

Stud
One of a series of wood or metal vertical structural members placed as supporting elements in walls and partitions.

Sub-Rough
That part of a buildings plumbing system that is done before the cement is poured.

Subcontractor
A contractor who specializes in a particular trade such as waterproofing.

Subfloor
Boards or plywood laid on joists over which a finish floor is to be laid.

Substrate
A part or substance which lies below and supports another.

Suspended Ceiling
A ceiling system supported by hanging it from the overhead structural framing.