Renovating glossary

Accent lighting

Lighting that emphasizes displayed items, such as artwork or china cupboards.

Accessibility or accessible design

Characteristics of spaces or products that meet prescribed requirements for particular variations in ability, i.e., "wheelchair accessible."

Bathroom accessories

Additional cabinetry items such as overlays, moldings, etc to enhance the appearance and quality of a project. Also includes towel bars, soap dishes, hardware, etc.


Certification by a recognized body of the facilities, capability, objectivity, competence, and integrity of an operational group to provide the specific service or operation needed.

active solar heating

Heat from the sun is absorbed by collectors and mechanically transferred by pumps or fans for storage for heating, cooling, or making electricity.

Air chamber

A device containing a pocket of air which, when connected in the water piping near a fixture, expands and contracts to prevent the sudden jolt called water hammer.


A recessed area in a room


A type of reflector in recessed lighting fixtures, in silver or gold color.

Ambient lighting

General lighting diffused within an entire room.

Ambient noise

The level of acoustic noise at a given location, such as in a room.

Amperes, Amps

Unit of electrical current. The current in amps equals the power in watts divided by the voltage in volts.

Anti-microbial finish

A material that has an applied finish, or ingredient in the product that inhibits the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungi


Machines such as refrigerator, dishwasher, sinks and others used to perform household task.

Appliance Garage

A common name for a roll-up or single door unit placed under a wall cabinet typically for storage of small appliances.


Trim attached below a tabletop or window sill

Armored (BX) cable

Electrical wires encased in a flexible metal sheathing.

Auxiliary Sink

Second sink in the kitchen providing another work area for either clean-up or food preparation.


A panel material used as a substrate for tile on floors and wall surfaces in wet areas.

Band joist

The floor joist that runs around the perimeter of the house above the foundation.


A built-in table with chairs in an alcove.

Barn door

Hardware that allows the door to slide along a wall. Useful when a pocket door is too costly or not possible.

Base cabinets

Cabinetry used on the floor to provide countertop support and typically is 34 ½ inches tall and 24 inches deep.


A horizontal or nearly horizontal framing member that supports loads imposed perpendicular to the long axis introduced by other framing such as joists.

Bearing wall

A wall designed and placed in a position to hold more of a load above it. Usually around the perimeter of a house and in strategic locations to support floor, ceiling, and roof beams.


A wood preservative considered non-toxic.


A personal hygiene fixture with a hot and cold water supply that is designed for personal cleanliness; used to wash the perineal and genital area.

Biological pollutants

Indoor air pollutants that coming from living sources, including molds, insects, and animals; more likely to be found in moist places


Water containing human waste from toilets and urinals. Black water contains pathogens that must be neutralized before the water can be safely reused. Typically, black water, after neutralization, is used for non-potable uses such as flushing or irrigation.

Blind base cabinet

A base cabinet usually incorporated into a design to turn a corner with an appliance or other cabinet perpendicular to it.

Blue board

A type of gypsum wallboard (drywall) with a blue-colored paper facing chemically treated to provide a bonding surface for plaster or tile adhesive.


A copy of a drawing done to scale showing the room or a number of rooms, dimensions and configuration of floor space for each level or story of the interior of the proposed building. After the machine copies the drawing onto the special paper, the paper is blue, hence the term blueprint. 2) In engineering, a line drawing showing the physical characteristics of a part.

Building code

Community ordinances governing the manner in which a home may be constructed or modified.

Building envelope

The skin of a building—including the windows, doors, walls, foundation, basement slabs, ceilings, roof, and insulation—that separates the interior of a building from the outdoor environment.

Built environment

Human-built structures such as single-family homes.


The under surface of a lowered portion of the ceiling.

Carbon footprint

The measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.


An enclosed frame around a door or window opening. Also called trim.


A line drawn equidistant from the sides of an object, such as a sink or an appliance.

Certified Sustainably Managed

Wood determined to have been harvested from a sustainable forest that exhibits the same ecological characteristics as a healthy natural forest. A number of certifying organizations have been established to oversee the harvesting of wood for lumber and provide guidelines for preservation of forests.

Chair rail

A trim piece that runs horizontally on a wall at the height of a chair back and is used to make the transition between a wainscot and upper wall. Originally used to prevent damage to a wall from the backs of chairs.


A lighting fixture hung from the ceiling containing several small lamps.

Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC)

An improved version of PVC, suitable for both hot and cold domestic water supply piping.


A chemical of the trihalomethane group that is used to kill microorganisms in drinking water, but toxic in excessive concentrations.


Using color to affect mood and sense of well-being, using colored lights in a bathtub.

Circuit breaker

A device that is designed to protect electrical equipment and people from damage or injury caused by overload or short circuit or a protective switch that automatically switches off, or trips, the power to a circuit in the event of an overload or short in the circuit. It can be reset to resume operation.

Classic crown molding

Type of crown molding which is usually used to conjunction with additional moldings. Classic crown is larger and has more decorative profiles.

Claw foot bath

A bath mounted off of the floor on four legs; the base of each leg is shaped like a claw foot.

Clean technology

A technical measure taken to reduce or eliminate at the source the production of any nuisance, pollution, or waste and to help save raw materials, natural resources, and energy.

Clear floor space

Clear floor space - area which is free of obstruction within an overall space, typically used in bathrooms in reference to the recommendations for clearances at a center (i.e. the lavatory or the shower) or for a particular activity (i.e. bathing or exercising). Typically used in kitchens in reference to the recommendations for clearances at an appliances or work center.

Clearance space

The space required for a safe and clear use of an appliance, cabinet doors and safe passage.

Cleavage membrane

A thin, waterproof material such as polyethylene or asphalt saturated felt, placed between a rigid finish material, such as floor tile, and a substrate, such as a wood floor, to allow the substrate to move without cracking the finish material.

Collar tie

A horizontal framing member installed between opposite sloping rafters to counter the outward thrust of the roof.

Color Rendering Index (CRI)

A method for describing the effect of a light source on the color appearance of objects compared to a reference source of the same color temperature. Or a measurement of how accurately a lighting source defines objects. The best score is 100, the CRI of sunlight.

Color rendition

An index of how the light makes objects appear.

Color temperature

The color of the lamp itself as compared to the color of a black reference substance when heated to various temperatures Kelvin, and the effect the lamp color has on the color of an object being illuminated by it. Or an index of how the light source itself looks to us, measured in degrees Kelvin (K).


A decorative paint technique in which a base color and glaze(s) are applied to a wall for a muted "washed" effect


A vertical framing member that supports loads parallel to its long axis.

Compact fluorescent (CFL)

A type of fluorescent lamp with the fluorescent tube coiled into a compact shape in a size similar to an incandescent bulb.

Compartmentalized bathroom

A bathroom where individual activities, like toileting or showering, are separated by walls into individual compartments.


A process whereby organic wastes—food, paper, and yard wastes—decompose naturally, resulting in a product rich in minerals and ideal for gardening and farming as a soil conditioner, mulch, resurfacing material, or landfill cover.

Composting toilet

A fully self-contained toilet that requires no water inlet, sewer connection, or chemicals in order to operate. It works like a septic tank with bacterial action breaking down the solid waste into a soil-type residue.

Concealed hinge

A hinge that is attached to the door and the inside end panel or stile of a cabinet, making it not visible from the exterior of the cabinet

Concrete slab

Used for the foundation of a house or building when there is no basement or crawl space.


The process where water changes from a gaseous stage to a liquid stage; heat is released by condensation


The flow of heat energy through a material. Heat flows from the warmer to cooler side of the material.


As used in electricity, a metal or plastic tube containing electrical cables.

Console sink

A sink basin supported by legs. The legs can be metal or wooden.

Construction plan

A drawing that shows both the existing conditions of the structure and the changes to be made to achieve the design


Supplies or materials (such as paint, cleaning materials, or fuel) that are consumed or exhausted in the production or sale of a good or service.

Contract close-out

Completion and settlement of the contract including resolution of all outstanding items.

Contract installer

Self employed contractor; usually a self proprietor


The difference in brightness between surfaces in the field of view.


The transmission of heat through a liquid or gas. The cooler feeling you experience in front of a fan in summer is due to convective air movement over your skin. It is also a form of cooking.

Countertop plan

A separate plan showing the countertop is helpful in illustrating the installation or fabrication to the allied tradesperson, particularly in complex projects, such as those that combine various counter materials or built-up edge treatments.


A certification system and philosophy established by architect William McDonough based on the idea that products and the built environment should be designed in a closed system so that when they are no longer useful, they provide fuel for new products or natural cycles, eliminating waste. This framework seeks to create production techniques that are not just efficient, but essentially waste-free. In cradle-to-cradle production, all material inputs and outputs are seen either as technical or biological nutrients. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused with no loss of quality and biological nutrients can be composted or consumed.


The process whereby a company takes responsibility for the disposal of goods it has produced, but not necessarily putting products' constituent components back into service.

Crawl space

A small clearance between the underside of a house and the ground, usually high enough to crawl through.. It is usually a minimum of 18 inches in height.

Critical path

The longest sequence of activities through a network. The critical path defines the planned project duration.

Daylight harvesting

The process of using digital photo sensors to detect daylight levels and automatically adjust the output level of electric lighting to create a balance.


The use of natural light to supplement or replace artificial lighting. Strategies include the proper orientation and placement of windows, use of light wells, light shafts or tubes, skylights, clerestory windows, light shelves, reflective surfaces, and shading, as well as the use of interior glazing to allow light into adjacent spaces.

Diagonal corner cabinet

A cabinet used to span across a corner; another term for this type of cabinet is wall angle.


In heating and cooling systems, a grill, or register, in a floor or wall that delivers conditioned air to the room. In lighting, a diffuser is a transparent or translucent lens that encloses the lamp.

Dimension lines

Thin, solid lines showing the height, length or width of a wall or object.


Measurements of wall and objects

Divided light

A type of window or door containing several sections of glazing, each section, or pane, separated from the other by muntins. If muntins go all the way through the glazing, the assembly is called true divided light. If the muntins are applied to the face of the glazing, the assembly is called simulated divided light.


A structure built atop a roof to increase the usable space below or to contain windows. A window set vertically in a structure projecting through a sloping roof

Downdraft ventilation system

A kitchen ventilation system that pulls air with the by-products of cooking down through a vent and exhausts it to the outside; typically the ventilation system is integrated with the cooktop or installed immediately adjacent to it


Gypsum-based plaster encased between two layers of facing paper, used for interior wall surfaces as a substrate for paint, wallpaper, or tile finishes.


Having little or no impact on the native ecosystem.

Ecological footprint

The area of land and water needed to produce the resources to entirely sustain a human population and absorb its waste products with prevailing technology.


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


A path or opening for exiting a room or building.

Electrical breakers

Located at the electrical panel and control the flow of electricity to certain parts of a building.

Electrical panel

Where the electrical breakers are located and usually the main electrical shut-off for a house.


Drawing prepared to scale showing the width and height of one wall of a room. An exterior elevation shows the design, architectural style, and height of the exterior of the proposed building as viewed from any side of the building.

Embodied Energy

The total of the energy required to produce a service or product. Included are the product's raw material extraction, transport, manufacturing, assembly, and installation, as well as capital and other costs of a specific material, in addition to disassembly, deconstruction, and/or decompostion.


A raised effect on an object

End panels

Accessory cabinet part used to finish the end of a cabinet run or the side of an appliance or unfinished cabinet.

Energy efficiency

Ratio of energy output of a conversion process or of a system to its energy input.

Energy smart

Meeting energy needs cost effectively and with the least impact on the environment.

Engineered timber

Structural members composed of wood fibers bonded by resins and formed into structurally efficient post, beam, and joist shapes.


The outermost parts of a building that separate the interior environment from the outside weather, usually the walls and roof.

Ergonomic design

The application of human factor data to the design of products and spaces to improve function and efficiency.


An amount or percentage by which a contract price may be adjusted if specified contingencies occur, such as changes in the supplier's raw material or labor costs.

Expanded metal lath

A type of mesh used as a backing for plaster or mortar.

Expected life

The average length of time a product remains in service or in a serviceable condition.

Exposed hinge

A hinge attached to the door and the front frame of the cabinet, making it visible from the exterior of the cabinet

Extension lines

Terminate dimension lines with arrows, dots or slashes; also known as witness lines.

Exterior grade plywood

Uses phenol formaldehyde (a volatile organic compound) as an adhesive rather than the urea formaldehyde used in interior grade plywood and particleboard.


In CAD software, a command that allows the designer to reshape surface or linear items such as countertops, toe kicks or walls, to form an indent or a projection.


The person(s) responsible for building or creating a piece or part of a project.

Face framing

A method of installing joists or rafters, where they attach to the face of the beam rather than run over the top.


Asphalt-saturated felt (or building paper, tar paper) used as a weatherproof underlayment for roofing and siding materials.


Any fixed part of the structural design, such as tubs, bidets, toilets, and lavatories.


Any fixed plumbing feature that is part of the structural design, such as the primary and auxiliary sinks.


The housing or assembly that holds the lamp and/or trim.

Fixture, electrical

Any device permanently, or "hard-wired" to the home wiring system.

Fixture, lighting

The assembly that includes the mounting base, or socket, and any features that reflect or disperse the light from a lamp fitted into the fixture.

Fixture, lighting

Any light-producing device permanently, or "hard-wired" to the home wiring system.

Fixture, plumbing

A sink or lavatory (these terms used interchangeably in this book), toilet, bathtub, spa, shower, and bidet.

Floor plan

An overhead, cut-away view of the project and the central reference point for all the other drawings. Generally, the floor plan shows the entire building or project


Lighting produced by arcing an electrical current between electrodes at opposite ends of a gas-filled tube.


Colourless, pungent smelling, toxic material used as an adhering component of glues used in many wood products. It can cause respiratory problems, cancer, and chemical sensitivity. At concentrations above 0.1 ppm in air, formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes, resulting in watery eyes. Naturally occurring but when added it is referred to as urea formaldehyde.

Fossil fuels

Carbon-rich deposits in the Earth, such as petroleum (oil), coal, or natural gas, derived from the remains of ancient plants and animals and used for fuel. These are non-renewable resources with a finite supply. They are pollutive, but are so commonly used due to their traditionally low costs.


The below-grade portion of the structure between the footing and main level.

Fuel cell

A technology that uses an electrochemical process to convert energy into electrical power. Often powered by natural gas, fuel cell power is cleaner than grid-connected power sources. In addition, hot water is produced as a by-product that can be used as a thermal resource.


A device that can interrupt the flow of electrical current when a circuit is overloaded. A safety device that protects a device or circuit from overload or a short. The mechanism is a low-conductor metal that snaps in two when the fuse blows, making replacement necessary. For this reason, fuses in household circuits have been replaced by circuit breakers.


The diameter of wire. The lower the gage, the larger is the diameter. Also used to indicate the thickness of sinks. 22 gage would be thinner than 18 gage.


Metal coated with zinc to resist corrosion.


A horizontal framing member that supports beams. The terms are often used interchangeably with beams.


Industry term for a pane of glass in a window. The transparent materials in a window or door.

Grab bars

Safety bars installed in bathtubs and showers to prevent falls. A device, usually installed on a wall, that provide support while rising from, sitting in, entering, or exiting a bathtub or shower.

Grade beam

A type of shallow foundation consisting of a reinforced concrete rim, most used with slab-on-grade floors without basements in regions without seasonal frosts.


Wastewater from sources such as sinks, showers, kitchens, and washers, which after purification, is used for non-potable uses such as flushing and irrigation. Rainwater from gutters can be used for this.

Green building

A building that minimizes its impact on the environment through conservation of energy, water, and other resources, while contributing to the health of its occupants without compromising the aesthetic design.

Green design

A design, also referred to as a sustainable design or eco-design, which conforms to environmentally sound principles of building, material, and energy use. A green building, for example, might make use of skylights, recycled building materials, and energy efficient appliances.

Green power

Electricity generated from renewable energy sources. This includes solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydroelectric power.

Green Star

The Green Star program, managed by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) helps consumers identify energy-efficient products for their homes.

Greenhouse gases

Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the Earth's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen oxides are of particular concern due to their length of time they remain resident in the atmosphere.

Ground wire

A wire that carries current into the earth to protect people from becoming electrocuted.


A variation of incandescent lighting whereby the filament is encased inside a capsule containing halogen gas, produced by iodine vapor.

Hard water

Water that contains a high level of dissolved minerals. Water with a high content of minerals, usually calcium and magnesium; often leads to plumbing problems from mineral deposit


A permanent electrical connection for an appliance or device (as opposed to a cord with a plug).

Harvested rainwater

"The rain that falls on a roof and is channeled by gutters to a storage tank or cistern. "

Heat exchanger

A coil through which heat can be transferred to the heating medium (water or air) without exposing the medium directly to the heat.

Heat pump

A refrigeration device that can reverse the cooling cycle to produce useful heat.

Heat Recovery Systems

Building mechanical systems that capture waste heat from another system and use it to replace heat that would otherwise come from a primary energy source.

Heating element

The cylinder inside a water heater that transfers heat to the water in the tank.

Hood insert

A liner for a custom made hood for housing the filter system, fan, and lights. Made from sheet metal or other non-combustible material.


The amount of water vapor in the air.


Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning.


A type of space heating system that uses heated water as the medium.


Lighting produced when an electrical current runs through a poor conductor, such as a tungsten carbide filament in an incandescent bulb.

Indigenous Materials

Building materials that are mined, manufactured, or fabricated locally to reduce transportation cost and increase the viability of the local economy.

Indoor air quality

The content of interior air that could affect the health and comfort of building occupants. Good air quality inside a building results from streaming an appropriate amount of outside air into the building and regulating proper filtration, air distribution, and removal of indoor pollutants through he use of proper ventilation.

Intelligent materials

Materials able to adapt to their environment by altering their properties, such as thermochromic glazing that changes its transparency in response to changing temperatures.


An area of cabinets and countertops which can be accessed and walked around from all sides. Considered free standing.


An indented space in cabinetry near the floor to accommodate the feet while standing next to a cabinetry.

Kilowatt-hours (kWh)

A measurement of power consumption over time. One Kwh is the power consumed by a 1000w device operating for one hour.

Kilowatts (kW)

One thousand watts.

Kitchen Bulkhead/Soffit

1) A low structure on a roof covering a shaft or protruding service equipment.

2) A boxy structure built to fill the space between the top of your cabinets and the ceiling.

Kitchen Peninsula

An area of cabinets or counter fastened on one side which can be accessed and walk up to on three sides.


A portion of a branch or limb that extends into the trunk of a tree and appears as a darker spot on sawn lumber.


Any thin material such as wood or plastic glued to the exterior of a cabinet, countertop or other surface.

Lazy Susan

A corner cabinet on which the shelves are mounted on a vertical axle such that items may be retrieved by pushing on the shelves to turn them may also be called a lazy Susan. This type is usually found in kitchens. Closed, this type of lazy Susan appears to be two normal cabinets at right angles to each other. When pushed on, the cabinet "doors" reveal the shelves, which are circular except for the ninety degree cutout where the doors are mounted.

Lead time

The time between when a product or item is purchased to the actual delivery date.


An all natural flooring material made of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone, and pigments; regarded as environmentally friendly flooring.

Linseed Oil

A wood preservative considered non-toxic.

Low Voltage

Lamps that operate at a lower voltage than line voltage are termed low voltage lamps. These lamps require a transformer to reduce line voltage usually to 12 or 24 volts.

Low-E (Low Emissive)

Glass that reflect heat, not light, and therefore keeps spaces warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Main Panel

The metal box that is the distribution point for household electricity. It contains the main breaker and branch circuit breakers.

Mechanical Plan

One or more drawings showing the arrangement of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems in the building

Mechanical Systems

Heating and air conditioner systems, ventilation system, plumbing systems, and wiring systems incorporated into a design plan.


An embellishment in strip form, made of wood or other structural material, that is used to decorate or finish a surface, such as the wall of a room or around a door or window


A rectangular recess cut in the edge of one piece to receive another, such as a tenon or-with hardware-a lockset.


A method of installing ceramic stone tiles by setting them into a mortar bed.

Multiple Molding Application

The use of more than one molding stacked or overlaid onto each other to achieve a grander and more elaborate effect.


A small vertical or horizontal strip that divides window panes from each other.


A piece of material attached to the main structure as a base for attaching subsequent items.

Needs assessment

In the context of the design process, gathering information about the client and their needs, wants, and desires for the design project as well as the physical characteristics of the jobsite.

Net weight

The weight of an article exclusive of the weights of all packing materials and containers.

Non-Renewable Energy Resources

Energy resources that cannot be restored or replenished by natural processes and therefore are depleted through use. Commonly used non-renewable energy resources include coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium.


Indicates that a drawing is not to scale.


Hemp rope impregnated with a bituminous compound used as a back stop for molten lead in lead and oakum joints for cast iron pipe.

Oblique Drawing

All paraline drawings including oblique, diametric, isometric and trimetric have three characteristics which separate them from other drawing types: all vertical lines are parallel to each other; all horizontal lines are parallel to each other; and all lines indicating depth are parallel to each other.


Abbreviation for original equipment manufacturer.


A system that runs on renewable energy sources independent of a conventional public utility grid.


The unit of measurement of electrical resistance. The resistance of an electrical device equals the line voltage divided by the device's rated amperage.

On-demand/instantaneous water heater

A gas or electric water heating unit that heats the water as it is demanded by the user.

Oriented Strandboard (OSB)

A panel product made by bonding wood chips together with a resin under high heat and pressure. OSB panels are used mainly for roof and wall sheathing.


Written or drawn at right angles. A plan or elevation view of a room or object is an orthographic drawing.

Overflow Scupper

A projecting lip at the edge of a flat roof, which allows water to run off the edge.

Overhead Lines

A series of long dashes indicating any object's edges which are above the tall cabinets such as skylights, soffits, extensive molding, etc.


Demand beyond the safe carrying capacity of electrical cables and circuits.


A form of oxygen found naturally that provides a protective layer shielding the Earth from ultraviolet radiation's harmful effects on humans and the environment. Ground level ozone is the primary component of smog, produced near the Earth's surface through complex chemical reactions of nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and sunlight.

Particle Board

A panel product made from sawdust or wood particles, bonded with a resin under high heat and pressure.

Passive Cooling

A system whereby a building's structure (or an element of it) permits increased ventilation and retention of coolness within the building components. The intention is to minimize or eliminate the need for mechanical means of cooling.

Passive Design

"Building design and placement in home construction that permits the use of natural thermal processes—convection, absorption, radiation, and conduction—to support comfort levels. "

Passive Heating

A system whereby a building's structure (or an element of it) is designed to allow natural thermal energy flows, such as radiation, conduction, and natural convection generated by the sun, to provide heat. The home relies solely or primarily on non-mechanical means of heating.

Passive Solar Heating

Using the sun's energy to heat a house with minimal dependence on mechanical devices.

Passive solar technologies

Solar energy collection and utilization systems that do not use external energy, like a solar chimney.

Passive ventilation

The use of convective airflows that result from the tendency of warm air to rise and cool air to sink, while also taking advantage of prevailing winds. Many passive ventilation systems rely on building occupants to control window and vents as indicated by conditions inside and outside the building.

Pedestal sink

A free-standing fixture with a wide top and narrow base that conceals the plumbing.


A lighting fixture hung from the ceiling containing one or more lamps.

Peripheral vision

Scope of vision on both sides of the eyes. Range often diminishes with age.


A drawing that relies on the appearance of the space, giving depth to the items in the space and is not drawn to scale. Perspective drawings indicate a drawing with depth. A two-point perspective drawing has two vanishing points. Items get smaller as they approach the vanishing point. For example, think about telephone poles as they move away from the viewer.


The measurement of quantities associated with light.

Photovoltaic (PV)

Electricity directly converted from solar energy. The word derives from "photo" (light) and "voltaic" (electricity).

Photovoltaic Cells

Devices that use semiconductors to convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Picture Rail

A horizontal trim piece installed high up on a wall as a means of hanging pictures without puncturing the wall with nails or brads.

Platform Framing

A standard method of framing where discreet platforms are used for each story of a structure.


A panel product made by cross-laminating alternate thin layers of wood

Pocket door

A door that slides horizontally on a track and is typically moved inside a wall for storage.

Poly, Polyethylene

A type of plastic with many uses in construction, one of which is for vapor barriers in walls, ceilings, roofs, and under slabs.

Polyethylene (PE) Piping

A black-colored plastic pipe used for cold-water supply and underground water supply lines. A flexible gray or black piping used for domestic hot and cold water supply.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

A white semi-rigid plastic material whose many uses in the house include cold water piping and DWV pipes.


A set of pictures (as drawings or photographs) either bound in book form or loose in a folder

Post and Beam Construction

A type of framing which uses larger and fewer pieces of timber which are placed further apart to achieve greater open spaces.

Post Completion Meeting

A meeting between the designer and the installer for the purpose of evaluating the installation project


Water sufficiently free from impurities to allow it to be drunk without posing a hazard to health

Powder room

A small bathroom for guest near the public areas of the home. Consists of a sink and toilet.

Pre-construction meeting

A meeting between a designer, client and installer to go over all the details and sequence of events related to an installation project.


Standardized building sections that are created in a factory to be shipped and assembled in another location.

Preparation center

Long, uninterrupted counter for preparing food. Typically placed between the sink and the cooking surface, or the sink and the refrigerator.

Primary clean-up/prep sink

The sink used most frequently. If only one sink is planned it will be used for both clean-up and food preparation. A kitchen with primary and auxiliary sinks may separate these tasks.


An English word used during the 17th and 18th Centuries to describe what is commonly known as the outhouse, a toileting facility located outside the house and consisting of a seat over an opening placed in a small building.

Product Life Cycle

The stages a new product goes through from beginning to end, from introduction through growth, maturity, and decline.

Project Management

The use of skills and knowledge in coordinating the organizing, planning, scheduling, directing, controlling, monitoring, and evaluating of prescribed activities to ensure that the stated objectives of a project are achieved.

Project Plan

In project management, a document that is to be used in executing and controlling a project. It may exist at a summary or a detailed level.

Project Schedule

In project management, a list of activities and their planned completion dates that collectively achieve project milestones.


Devices attached or built in that enable a person to open a drawer. Pulls are often referred to as stirrup grips and are in the shape of the letter "U.

Quality Control

The process of making sure a job is completed with the standards set forth by your organization. The method of solving problems and measuring results using teamwork.


An enclosure for electrical wires, typically mounted on interior surfaces.


A condition causing a cabinet or other unit to become out of square. This may be an uneven floor or a corner that is not square. Installers use wooden shims to realign the box to prevent racking. This will allow the box to be level or plum.


Structural members used in series to support roofs.


One of the horizontal structural parts of a door panel or face frame of framed cabinets.

Rainwater Harvesting

The collection, storage, and reuse of rainwater.

Reach range

The measured distance off the floor within which a person can reach and grasp an item. The universal reach range refers to the distance where most people can reach an item, which is 40cm to 120cm off the floor.           

Re-circulating (ductless) system

A kitchen ventilation system installed in a hood that pulls air through one or more filters, than exhaust the filtered air into the room; a metal mesh filter to remove grease is typical; an activated carbon filter to remove odors may be included


To use a product again after its initial use. This commonly refers to materials such as tile, brick, and stone.


The reprocessing of materials into new products, which generally prevents the waste of potentially useful materials, reduces the consumption of raw materials, lowers energy usage, and decreases greenhouse gas emissions compared to virgin production.


A pipe fitting that joins two pipes of different diameters.

Relative humidity

A ratio, usually expressed as a percent, of the actual amount of water vapor in the air to the maximum amount (saturation) of water vapor the air could hold at the current temperature. The percent of moisture in the air compared to the amount of moisture the air could contain.


The probability that a product will perform its specified function under prescribed conditions without failure for a specified period of time.


A representation of a building, interior, etc executed in perspective. A 3-D representation of a kitchen or bath design. In CAD software, the process of generating an image from three-dimensional objects using viewpoint, texture, and lighting information.  

Renewable Energy

Energy resources, such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal, ocean thermal, and wave power, that replenish themselves within a short period. Although non-pollutive, some displace habitats and require large tracts of land.

(Rapidly) Renewable Resource

Organic materials, like bamboo or corn, that have a short regeneration period to full maturation, usually in stark contrast to the material they are replacing.

Replacement Factor

The percentage of time on average that an item will require replacement.

Replacement Kitchen

A kitchen remodel where the new cabinets and appliances are installed in the same locations as the old cabinets and appliances were installed.


An item that replaces components originally installed on equipment; a modification to in-service equipment.


To use products, such as glass bottles or shipping crates, repeatedly in the same form.

Ridge Beam

A beam placed at the peak, or ridge, of a gable roof to support the high end of the rafters.

Ridge Board

A board into which rafters terminate at a roof ridge, and which serves as a nailer for the roof sheathing at the ridge.

Roll-in shower

Shower without a threshold that is large enough for a wheelchair to enter.


Installation of plumbing or electrical fixtures in the wall before the gyprock goes on.


A measure of the thermal resistance of material, especially insulation.


A Finnish steam bath. A room that uses dry heat and steam to cleanse and relax the user Steam is produced by pouring water over heated rocks

Scarf Joint

A joint between two straight pieces of trim or woodwork where each piece meets the other one on an angle other than 90 degrees (butt joint), such that any shrinkage will be less noticeable.


A group of pages within the plans which have lists of like items specified for the home


A light fixture that is fixed to a wall.


The sum of the products and services to be provided as a project.


The process of adjusting bumps and other irregularities in the wall by cutting and shaving a countertop or filler to fit.

Secondary center

A work area established for a specific task, such as baking or salad preparation. It may include an appliance or fixture, storage, and counter space, but is not calculated as part of the work triangle.

Section Drawing

A "slice" of a building, showing the inner construction of walls, furniture or any element that needs clarification

Septic System

An on-site system for disposing of household sewage, consisting of a tank that partially digests the waste and a drain field that distributes the liquid into the soil.

Septic tank

A large tank where solid matter or sewage from a home is disintegrated by bacteria.

Sequence of Events

The organization of the procedures which need to be accomplished during a kitchen or bath installation and the order with which they shall occur.

Service entry

A second, informal entrance to the home, used for bringing in groceries and supplies. It is often close to the kitchen and to garage or carport.


Waste containing animal or vegetable matter in suspension or solution.


A material such as plywood used to cover studs or joists, tying them together into a single structural system and providing a base for attaching finish materials.


Building material such as particle board or plywood which is used as a sub-floor, walls and roof under the finished floor, siding, and roofing material


The surface glossiness, or luster, of paints, ranging from "flat," the dullest, to "gloss," the shiniest.


The use of small pieces of wood or plastic to compensate for an existing floor or wall which is uneven and not plumb or level.

Short Circuit

A fault that occurs when a bare wire contacts another bare wire carrying electricity.

Shut-off valve

A valve control that allows the user to shut off the water entering a fixture. These valves are usually located close to the fixture. Valve which controls the flow of water or gas to an appliance.

Sick Building Syndrome

A phenomenon in which building occupants experience acute health and/or comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a particular building.

Sight lines

The range or visual field in direct line with a person's eyes, impacted by the position a person will be in when the space or product is being used. This is useful in planning heights of fixtures, fittings, lighting, windows, and more.


The portion of the door or window assembly at the bottom or floor, including the fixed and movable parts of the window or door and the fixed portion of the building into which the window or door mounts.

Structural insulated panel (SIP)

A composite wall or roof cladding system consisting of a rigid foam insulation sandwiched between an inner and outer sheet of nailbase sheathing, usually plywood or oriented strandboard

Siphon action water closet

A vacuum action creates pressure to more efficiently flush away the waste and use less water in the process; this action is used in most modern toilets today.


A natural, durable fiber frequently used for floor coverings


An auxiliary stud or joist attached to the primary member to add strength or even out the surface.

Site Plan

A drawing prepared to scale showing the placement of a proposed building(s), location of existing structures, and other lot development features -- setback measurements, driveways, fencing, landscaping.


A level of competency and abilities which a person is able to perform.

Skim-Coat Plaster

A plaster process where a thin layer of plaster is troweled onto a special type of gypsum wallboard called blueboard.

Slack Time

In project management, the amount of time that an activity may be delayed from its early start without delaying the project finish date.


The vertical distance wet concrete sags in a test cone, when the cone is pulled up off the concrete.

Smart House

"A home that consists of programmable electronic controls and sensors that can regulate heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, and equipment operation in an energy conserving and climatically responsible manner. "

Snack bar

An area of countertop space used for eating or snacking.

Soaking tub

Extra deep tub that allows the user to submerge to their neck.


The underside of an architectural element such as an arch, balcony or overhanging eave.


An alloy of soft metals that melt to fuse a connection between metal pipe and a fitting. Lead, the traditional base for solder is no longer acceptable in household water piping, having been replaced by silver-tin alloy.

Solid Surfacing

A class of rigid surfacing materials made of acrylic and/or polyester resins mixed with alumina tryhydrate.


A vessel intended for soaking in heated water.

Spa tub

A large tub holding warm water having whirlpool action and seating for multiple users.


Descriptions, in words, of the materials to be used and the quality expected; can be either on the plans or as a separate document if they will complicate the drawing

Spill Light

An area of light which extends from the beam angle out to a point in the lamps cone of light where the candlepower drops to 10% of the candlepower at the center of the cone.


1) The portion of the exposed area between the bottom of the wall cabinets and the top of the countertop.

2) Also, an elevated section of counter material approximately 10cm high typically part of the countertop.


Special Project Request

Stack Effect

The tendency for warm air to rise in a space.

Steel Framing

Method of using steel beams of different dimensions to build buildings which are residence to rot, shrinkage, and will not warp.

Storage principles

"A series of recommendations, developed through research, to increase both the efficiency of storage space and the ease of use. The most common principles are: 1.Store items at the first or last place of use. 2.Store items in duplicate locations, if needed. 3.Items used together should be stored together. 4.Items should be stored so they are easy to see. 5.Frequently used items should be stored so they are easy to reach. 6.Like items should be stored or grouped together 7.Hazardous items should be stored out of reach of children 8.Store items in the appropriate environment."

Structural Framing Plan

A drawing which illustrates how the building is assembled.


Framing members of the wall, usually 2x4s or 2x6s which the cabinets are fastened to.


Contractors who will work specifically for another contractor or design firm


The flooring applied directly to the floor joist on top of which the finished floor rests.


A method of passive solar heating by collecting the sun's heat into a south-facing room that can be opened or closed to the rest of the house.


The practice of meeting the needs of the present without depleting resources or harming natural cycles for future generations.

Tactile cuing

Using textural elements to communicate necessary information through touch to the user.

Task lighting

Added lighting for specific tasks, like grooming, dressing, reading, etc. Lighting focused on an work area.

Task lighting

Lighting focused on a work area.


A pipe fitting shaped like the letter "T" with three outlets.

Terms and Conditions

All the provisions and agreements of a contract.

Thermal Break

An insulating gasket placed between the inside and outside portions of a metal window or door frame to stem heat loss and minimize condensation.

Thinset, Thinsetting

A method for installing cementitious, ceramic, and stone tiles on a substrate, by setting the tiles into a special thinset mortar compound troweled onto the substrate.


The outward force that a sloping roof imposes on the walls.

Title Block

Space on drawings to include company, client information, job identification, drawing number, your name as the designer as well as the draftsperson's name, the date and scale.

To Weather

The vertical dimension of the exposed face of siding or shingles.

Traffic Patterns

The normal walkway or passage a person would go from one place to another.


An electrical device by which alternating current of one voltage is changed to another voltage.


A horizontal window set above a door or other windows.


A section of pipe curved to retain water and make a seal in the line below a fixture. P-traps are shaped like the letter P, while S-traps (no longer allowed) are shaped like the letter S.


A framework of beams forming a rigid structure such as a roof truss or floor truss.

Truss System

Framework used to support the roof or floor of a structure.

Turkish bath

A steam bath that is followed by a shower and massage; developed when Roman bathing customs were combined with those of the nomadic people, such as the Byzantines.


An invisible portion of the light spectrum that fades fabrics.


A material placed over the subfloor plywood sheeting and under the finish covering to provide a smooth, even surface. A non-structural sheet material installed on a subfloor to provide a stable, level and smooth base for the floorcovering.

Universal design

The design of products and environments to be useable by all people to the greatest extent possible.

Updraft ventilation systems

A kitchen ventilation system that includes a hood over a cooking surface to capture the air borne by-products of cooking and a fan to pull air up; captured air is either exhausted to the outside or filtered and re-circulated into the room, depending on the system

Vanishing Point

Parallel lines on the same axis converge at a point on the horizon line. The point of convergence is the vanishing point.


Bathroom cabinet with the lavatory on the type.

Veiling Reflection

A kind of glare that comes from a shiny surface, such as a glass table.


A thin sheet of material bonded to one or more other materials. Plywood is one example of a veneer material.

Ventilated Façade

A special type of curtain wall that consists of two glazed facades separated by a gap through which ambient air is allowed to flow.

Ventilation System

An exhaust fan or unit which pushes or pulls inside air and odors to the outside

Vernacular housing

Housing styles that are typical or common to a region and have developed over time in response to factors such as available building materials, climate, and cultural heritage

Vessel basin

A basin/bowl that sits on top of the counter.

Vichy shower

A seven-headed rain bar with pressure spray treatment used to apply water and warmed essential oils to relax and stimulate the mind and body.

Visible Object Lines

Solid lines used to show wall cabinets, tall cabinets, countertop surfaces, flooring, furniture, some appliances and any other item not covered or hidden in any way.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Any organic compound that evaporates at room temperatures and is hazardous to human health, causing poor indoor air quality. Many VOCs found in homes, such as paint strippers and wood preservatives, contribute to sick building syndrome because of their high vapor pressure. VOCs are often used in paint, carpet backing, plastics, and cosmetics. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found concentrations of VOCs in indoor air to be, on average, two to five times greater than in outdoor air. During certain activities, indoor levels of VOCs may reach 1,000 times that of the outside air.

Voltage, Volts

The electrical force, or pressure that pushes the current over the conductors. Volts are the measurement units


A material used to clad the lower portion of a wall.


An application of wood paneling up to the middle or lower half of a wall

Waste pipe

The pipe that carries water and waste away from a water using fixture.

Water Hammer

The jolt in a water pipe that occurs when the water is suddenly shut off.


The unit of measurement for electrical power. The power in watts equals the voltage times the amperage.


The amount of energy consumed by the lamp used to find the most economical lamp among those lamps powerful enough to provide the proper footcandle level on the workplane.


The interior members of a truss or thin center portion of a beam or I-joist.

Wind Power

The conversion of energy from the wind into electricity. Surplus electricity is often stored in a battery storage system for later use, or the power is passed back to the utility, making the electric meter turn in reverse.

Work aisle

Space needed to work at the kitchen work centers.

Work center

Comprised of an appliance or sink, surrounding landing/work area, and storage.

Work Triangle

The distance between the three primary work centers (cooking surface, clean-up/prep primary sink, and refrigeration). Ideally the three sides of the triangle should be between 1.2 meters and 2.7 meters, and add up to a total of between 4 meters and 7.9 meters.


Y-shaped pipe fittings with an in-line inlet and outlet and a second outlet that branches off at an angle in the DWV system.


A section of a building that is served by one heating and cooling loop to meet distinct heating and cooling needs.