Remodeling Glossary

Accent lighting: Focused lighting that highlights display items instead of providing ambient light in a room. Normally used with paintings, objects of art, etc.

Accessible design: Characteristics of spaces or products that comply with particular requirements, such as wheelchair accessible.

Accessories: Items that enhance the appearance of a project – crown moldings, designer hardware, fancy towel racks, etc.

Accreditation: Certification standards set by a professional organization that speak to the capability, competence and integrity of an organization within the profession.

Alcove: A smaller, recessed area within another room.

Alternating current (AC): The type of current normally used in household wiring. The current alternates from positive to negative and back 60 times a second (referred to as hertz)

Ambient: The environmental conditions within a room or space.

Ambient lighting: Lighting intended to illuminate an entire room

Amperes, Amps: Measure of electrical current. Equals watts divided by volts.

Anti-microbial finish: Material applied to a product that prevents the growth of bacteria or fungi.

Appliance: Electromechanical devices that perform normal household tasks – refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.

Apron: Trim below a window sill or table top.

Attribute: A quality or characteristic of an item

Auxiliary Sink: A second kitchen sink for either clean-up or food preparation.

Backerboard: Moisture resistant substrate for walls and floors in wet areas.

Backsplash: The section of wall between the bottom of wall cabinets and the countertop.

Ballast: A device to control current in a fluorescent bulb.

Banquette: a built in table or bench usually located in an alcove (breakfast nook)

Barn door: A door that slides along a wall.

Base cabinets: Floor mounted cabinetry on which a countertop is placed. Typically 34.5” tall and 24” deep.

Beam: A load supporting, horizontal framing member.

Bearing wall: An interior wall designed to support the load above it (ceiling, roof, floor, etc.)

Biological pollutants: Indoor air pollutants from living sources (molds, insects, animal dander, etc.)

Blue board: Wallboard specially treated to provide a bonding surface for plaster or tile adhesive.

Blueprint: A scale drawing showing the rooms, dimensions and floor space configuration for each level or story of the interior.

Boilerplate: Standardized language usually contained in a contract or purchase order.

BTU: British Thermal Unit – A measurement of heat quantity. One BTU is the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

Building code: Local laws and ordinances that prescribe how a structure may be constructed or modified.

Cable: Two or more wires inside a protective sheath.

Casing: Frame elements around a door or window opening (trim).

Chair rail: A wall trim piece that runs horizontally at the height of a chair back. Intended to prevent damage to the wall from the chair backs.

Chandelier: An ornate lighting fixture containing several small lamps and hung from the ceiling.

Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC): Plastic pipe suitable for both hot and cold water.

Circuit breaker: A mechanical device that protects equipment and people from damage or injury caused by an overloaded circuit. When a breaker senses an overload, it automatically trips, breaking the flow of power in the circuit.

Classic crown molding: Decorative molding used to finish off the look of cabinets.

Claw foot tub: Freestanding tub with four legs shaped like claw feet.

Compact fluorescent (CFL): A bulb with a coiled fluorescent bulb.

Compartmentalized bathroom: A bathroom where the shower and toilet areas are separated by a wall or divider.

Concealed hinge: A hinge inside the end panel making it hidden from the cabinet exterior.

Concrete slab: The foundation of a building with no basement or crawl space.

Console sink: A freestanding sink basin supported by legs.

Construction plan: A drawing that shows the existing conditions and changes to be made in a renovation.

Daylighting: The use of natural light to augment or replace artificial lighting. Any opening that permits natural light into a structure.

Decorative overlay: A piece of decorative wood or other material added to a panel or cabinet.

Dormer: A roof structure designed to increase the usable space below or to contain windows.

Drywall: A gypsum-based plaster encased between layers of facing paper. Used to create interior walls and ceilings.

Eco-friendly: Having little or no negative impact on the native ecosystem. Having little or no impact on the native ecosystem.

EER: Energy Efficiency Rating. A standard for rating an appliance’s energy efficiency. The higher the EER number, the more efficient.

Egress: An opening for exiting a room or building.

Elevation: A scale drawing showing the width and height of one wall in a room. An exterior elevation shows the design, style and dimensions of any side of the structure.

Emboss: A raised design on an object.

End panels: Cabinet sections used to finish the end of a cabinet.

Energy Star: An EPA program that rates the energy efficiency of consumer products.

Ergonomic design: The application of human factors to the design of products and spaces to improve the performance and efficiency.

Escalation: The amount or percentage a contract price may be adjusted to reflect unpredictable contingencies – such as an increase in the cost of materials.

Exposed hinge: An external cabinet hinge visible from the exterior.

Fabricators: Workers responsible for completing a part of a project.

Fixture (plumbing): Any plumbing feature that is part of the design – tubs, toilets, etc.)

Fixture (electrical): Any electrical device hard-wired into the home wiring system.

Fixture (lighting): The entire lighting assembly, including mounting base, socket, shade, etc.

Floor plan: Overhead, cut-away drawing showing the entire project.

Gage: Diameter of wire. The lower the gage, the larger the diameter. Thicker wires are designed to carry more current than thin ones.

Girder: Horizontal frame member used to support beams.

Green building: A building that minimizes its impact on the environment.

HVAC: Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning.

Incandescent: Type of light in which an electric current runs through a poor conductor, such as a tungsten carbide filament.

Island: An area of cabinets and countertops that can be accessed from all sides.

Laminate: A thin material (wood or plastic generally) that is glued to the exterior of a cabinet, countertop or other surface.

Lead time: Time between ordering and receiving a product.

Linoleum: Flooring material made of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments. This all natural flooring is considered environmentally friendly.

Mechanical Plan: Drawings that show the arrangement of HVAC and Electrical systems within a building.

Molding: A strip of decorative material (wood, plastic, etc.) used to decorate or finish a surface of wall opening.

Mudsetting: Installing ceramic stone tiles by setting them into a bed of mortar.

Nailer: Material attached to the main structure intended for attaching subsequent items.

Particle Board: A panel made from sawdust or wood particles bonded with resin under high pressure.

Pedestal lavatory: Free-standing fixture with a wide top and narrow base to conceal the plumbing.

Pendant: Lighting fixture hung from the ceiling with one or more lamps.

Peninsula: A cabinet or counter area fastened on one side and accessible from the other three sides.

Picture Rail: Horizontal trim piece installed on a wall that provides a means for hanging pictures without damaging the wall.

Plywood: A wood panel made by laminating thin layers of wood.

Pocket door: A door that slides horizontally on a track within a wall.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): Semi-rigid plastic material with many uses, including cold water piping.

Post and Beam Construction: Framing method that uses larger, but fewer structural pieces, providing greater open spaces.

Prefabricated: Building sections that are created in a factory to be shipped and installed at another location.

Project Management: Overall coordination of a project.

Project Plan: A document used to execute the project.

Project Schedule: Activities and anticipated project completion dates.

Rafters: Structural assemblies used to support a roof.

Rendering: a 3D drawing of a completed kitchen or bath design.

Renewable Energy: Energy resources (wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal, ocean thermal, etc.) that replenish themselves in a short period of time. Although non-polluting, they may require large tracts of land to operate.

Roll-in shower: A shower fixture large enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

Romex: Electric cable containing a hot, neutral and ground wire and encased in a flexible cover.

Rough-in: Location of shower head or other plumbing fitting in the wall or floor.

Scope: All the products and services that are part of the project.

SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating – A standard for rating the annual energy efficiency of appliances.

Service Panel: The distribution center for all household electrical circuits. It contains the main breaker and individual circuit breakers.

Smart House: a structure that utilizes programmable controls and sensors to regulate HVAC, lighting, and other electrical equipment to produce maximum energy efficiency.

Spa: A vessel designed for soaking in heated water.

Studs: Framing members in a wall to which cabinets are fastened.

Terms and Conditions: The legal provisions of a contract. All the provisions and agreements of a contract.

Thinset: A type of mortar designed for mounting tiles.

Toe kick: A space at the base of a cabinet designed to accommodate feet while standing in front of the cabinet.

Veneer: A thin sheet of material bonded to another material.

Wainscoting: The use of decorative wood paneling on the lower half of a wall.

Whirlpool: Bathing fixture that uses jets to circulate water under pressure.

Zone: A building section that is served by one HVAC loop.