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Technical glossary

Technical glossary

Technical glossary

  • Acid graffiti – Graffiti vandals use Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) to burn their “tags” into glass surfaces, including windows and car windshields, as well as mailboxes, and anything else the acid will etch.
  • Acrylic – The term “acrylic” is used for products that contain a substance derived from acrylic acid or a related compound. Many different products are made from acrylic, including shower doors, bath enclosures, windows, and skylights.
  • Arch former – Arch Formers are a quick, convenient and versatile way to create non- loadbearing, perfectly shaped brickwork arches in a range of styles.
  • Architrave – Originally used to refer to the lintel or beam resting on columns in classical architecture, nowadays the word refers to a style of mouldings (or other elements) framing the surround to a door, window or other rectangular opening.
  • Arris – The sharp edge formed by the intersection of two surfaces, e.g. corner of a masonry block structure.
  • Awning – A sheet of canvas or other material stretched on a frame and used to keep the sun or rain off a shop window, doorway, or ship’s deck.
  • Balustrade – A railing supported by balusters (spindle or stair stick), especially one forming an ornamental parapet to a balcony, bridge, or terrace.
  • Bathroom pod  – A portable bathroom ‘box’ consisting of walls, floor and ceiling, which contains all sanitary ware, lighting, fittings and decoration. Completed in a factory and delivered to site, the pod is simply craned into position before being plumbed and wired in.
  • ‘Blown’ chipboard – When chipboard (also known as particle board) has suffered from water penetration, it swells and expands – or ‘blows’.
  • Bollard – A short post used to divert traffic from an area or a road. Also defines parking bays.
  • Cant brick – A brick with an angled edge or edges, typically used in feature brickwork or on corners, capping, reveals, where sharp, crisp lines are required.
  • Cementitious – Describes the nature of cement and products based on cement such as some renders.
  • Chatoyancy – A chatoyant stone or gemstone, such as the cat’s-eye: means ‘to shimmer’.
  • Cladding – A covering on a structure such as wall and roofing – often in the form of timber, steel, aluminium and even concrete.
  • Coping stone – The highest stone in a building, wall or structure – sometimes referred to as a capstone.
  • Corium – Developed in the UK and patented around the world, Corium offers a facing brick finish for projects where a cladding system is required rather than traditional masonry – also used for sinks.
  • Corbel – A number of brackets or projections jutting out from a wall to support a structure above it. Corbels can be brick, stone, metal or continuous courses of masonry.
  • Cornice – An ornamental moulding round the wall of a room just below the ceiling.
  • Curing – The setting process of cement, sealants, adhesives or fillers.
  • Dust coat – Also known as mist coat or sizing – whereby watered down paint is applied to a freshly plastered wall as the first coat.
  • Efflorescence – Formation of white powdery deposits on brick or concrete surface while, as they dry out, are very difficult to move or conceal.
  • Façade – The front face of a building, often separate from its structure.
  • Fascia – A frieze or band running horizontally and situated vertically under a roof edge. Fascia panels nowadays are made from timber, GRP or uPVC.
  • Feather out – The process of tapering one surface into another, especially in repair work.
  • Fibre-glass – Contains flexible fibres of glass that are used to reinforce resin materials and form shower trays, mouldings and other building components.
  • Float glass – Modern window glass that is manufactured by floating the hot glass on a molten metal production bath.
  • Formers – A temporary construction of boards or sheets used to contain and shape bricks or concrete in, for example, an arch. Also known as formwork or shuttering.
  • Formica – A trade name for a form of laminated plastic often found in kitchen units and cubicles.
  • French Polishing – A coating that is built up in layers to give a high polish to furniture, made from shellac dissolved in methylated spirit.
  • Galvanised steel – Steel coated with a layer of zinc in order to prevent corrosion.
  • GRC – Glass reinforced concrete.
  • Grouting – The process of pressing material into the joints and gaps between tiles or other components to make a surface complete.
  • GRP – Glass-reinforced plastic, glass-reinforced polymer.
  • Header – A brick laid lengthwise across a wall so that the shorter end or ‘head’ is seen on the surface of the wall.
  • IPS (Integrated Plumbing System) – A series of pre-plumbed panels often used to form cubicles in commercial washrooms.
  • K-Rend – A proprietary form of render often seen on new flats and houses.
  • Laminate – To press and bond together layers of different materials to create a new material (vb) the building up of a structural member from small pieces of timber glued together. High pressure laminates often have decorative finishes and are used for flooring and cladding.
  • Lintel – A steel or precast concrete beam that carries the load over an opening such as a door or window.
  • Louvre – A ventilation inlet that is protected from the rain by horizontal slats slanted downwards. Doors of this design are also used on cupboards.
  • Masonry – The craft of working with stone or construction based on stone, brick, concrete and similar materials derived from rock or earth.
  • Modern Methods of Construction – Where by building elements – such as walls, floors, roofs and dormers or bathroom pods – are manufactured in the factory. Also known as MMC or off-site construction.
  • Monocouche render – Single-coat render that is breathable, waterproof and decorative.
  • Mortar – A mixture used to lay bricks, blocks or stone work and to form the bond between them.
  • Mullion – An intermediate vertical member of the window frame that divides a window into separate lights. Historically, a stone pillar between windows.
  • Patina – A protective film of oxide or other compounds that form on metallic surfaces when exposed to air, considered an attractive aspect to ageing materials like brass. A gloss or sheen on wooden furniture produced by age and polishing.
  • Pelmet – A narrow border of cloth or wood, fitted across the top of a door or window to conceal the curtain fittings.
  • Pitting – Localised corrosion that leads to the creation of small holes in metal or other materials including marble.
  • Plate glass – Thick fine-quality glass, typically used for doors or store windows and originally cast in plates.
  • Plinth – The lower square slab at the base of a column.
  • Plywood – A type of strong thin wooden board consisting of three or more layers glued and pressed together with the direction of the grain alternating.
  • Polishing compound – Normally fine abrasive compounds used to complete the sanding process.
  • Portico – A structure consisting of a roof supported by columns at regular intervals, typically attached as a porch to a building.
  • Powder coated metal – Metal covered with a polyester or epoxy powder, which is then heated to fuse into a protective layer.
  • Primer – A substance used as a preparatory coat on previously unpainted wood, metal, or canvas, esp. to prevent the absorption of subsequent layers of paint or the development of rust.
  • Quoin – The external angle of a wall or building. (Also quoin stone) any of the stones or bricks forming such an angle; a cornerstone.
  • RAL number – RAL is a colour matching system used in Europe. In colloquial speech RAL refers to the RAL Classic system, mainly used for varnish and powder coating; most paints are also given a RAL number.
  • Reconstituted stone – An imitation stone material or masonry product made from a mixture of natural stone and cement.
  • Re-enamelling – The re-application of an opaque or semitransparent glassy substance applied to metallic or other hard surfaces for ornament or as a protective coating. Also the process of recovering worn out enamel on baths or other products.
  • Render – A first coat of plaster applied to a brick or stone surface, sometimes called a parge coat or scratch coat.
  • Rendered elevation – The wall to which render is applied.
  • Shower pod – A complete shower room manufactured in the factory, which is delivered to site fully fitted out.
  • Snagging list – The process of checking a new building for minor faults that need to be rectified.
  • Soffit – The underside of an architectural structure, such as an arch, a balcony, or overhanging eaves. Soffit boards beneath roofline fascias are mainly made from timber, GRP or uPVC.
  • Splashback – The area behind a sink, bath or shower lined with tiles or similar to protect the wall behind from water egress; also stainless steel protection behind cookers.
  • Stanchion – An upright bar, post, or frame forming a support or barrier.
  • Star crack – A crack resembling a star in shape, such as a chip in glass from a stone.
  • Stretcher brick – A brick that is laid so that only the long side shows as part of the wall face.
  • String course – A horizontal band of brick or stone that projects from a wall, which may serve as a decoration or to throw water away from the wall.
  • String Line – A nylon line used to mark out work, and particularly as a guide for the top edge of brick laying.
  • Stucco render – Fine plaster used for coating wall surfaces or molding into architectural decorations.
  • Terrazzo Flooring – material consisting of chips of marble or granite set in concrete and polished to give a smooth surface.
  • Toughened glass – Toughened or tempered glass is a type of safety glass processed by controlled thermal or chemical treatments to increase its strength compared to float glass.
  • Travertine – Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, and is used for tiles and pavers.
  • uPVC – Unplasticized polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated uPVC or PVC-u, is the third-most widely produced polymer, after polyethylene and polypropylene, and is used for applications such as window profiles.
  • Veneer – A thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material.
  • Wall ties – The normally stainless steel tie in a cavity wall is used to connect the internal and external walls (or leafs) constructed of bricks or cementitious blocks together.
  • Weathering – The process of wearing away or changing the appearance or texture of (something) by long exposure to the elements.
  • WRAP – WRAP is a Government initiative standing for Waste, Recycling and Processing.