Do You Know These Basic Construction Terms?

By: John Miller
Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Hopefully, you've recognized concrete blocks at some point in your life -- they are a vital building component of cities around the world. But how well do you know other basic construction materials and terms?

Before you begin a construction project, you generally need what?

Construction permits are an important starting point for construction projects. They help ensure that your plan is safe and not likely to wind up hurting someone.

What's the common name for a blend of Portland cement, sand, gravel and water?

If you're using a blend of Portland cement, sand, gravel and water, you're using concrete. Concrete is a fundamental material for many residential and commercial structures.

What do you call a wall that divides the interior of a structure?

A partition is a wall used to divide larger interior spaces into rooms. If you're an unwilling inhabitant of a studio apartment, the idea of partitions makes you sigh wistfully.

What might you do with a "shim"?

Shims are thin pieces of material (often wood) used to shore up things like framed walls, which are sometimes just a bit out of position. Shims are ultra-simple and ultra-useful.

What's the term for a wood section that has a decorative engraved face?

Molding is a wood strip with a decorative look. These engraved pieces add warmth and beauty to home interiors.

What would you call the area where two sloping roofs come together?

The valley joins two sloping sections of roof. Improperly shingled roofs often leak in their valleys.

An ______ is the steel beam that's used to span significant widths in a structure.

An I-beam is a steel beam that's shaped like the capital letter "I." These beams are incredibly strong and can bear many tons worth of weight.

Which process seals the joints between two pieces of drywall?

Once your sheets of drywall are in place, it's time to tape them, a process that bridges the gap between the sections. Then you can apply primer and paint.

Where would you find "stucco"?

Stucco is a cement-based finish often applied to exterior walls. It can be swirled into decorative patterns to add an aesthetic appeal to homes.

If something is ____, it is vertical and perpendicular.

In construction, you'll often need to ascertain that structural elements are perfectly vertical. Using a level, you can make sure it's "plumb."

What's the name for a vertical wall framing member?

A stud is a vertical wall framing member. In most homes, the studs are made of 2 x 4 lumber.

What material do you use to keep a joist in place?

You've seen joist hangers -- they're the U-shaped metal brackets that hold the ends of a joist in place. They are secured with nails.

What's the part of a drain pipe that stops sewer gases from traveling up and into the home?

The P trap is the curved bit of drain pipe that traps a bit of water each time you use a drain. That water blocks sewer gases from stinking up your home.

A "keeper" is really good for which purpose?

A keeper is the little metal plate in a door frame. It helps to keep your door shut tight. Without the keeper, the wooden door frame would wear down and your door would randomly open.

What would you call a wall that's meant to support part of the weight of a structure?

A load-bearing wall is critical to a structure in that it supports a lot of weight. If you rashly remove a load-bearing wall, you might wind up with severe damage to your home.

What sort of material makes up "shake" shingles?

Shake shingles are made of wood, and they offer a rough-hewn appearance that's appealing to many homeowners. They're more common in the Pacific Northwest, where high humidity reduces the amount of shrinking in the shake.

Where would you find the "soffit"?

The soffit refers to the section of a roof that overhangs the walls. In many homes, the soffit is equipped with vents meant to help move air through the attic.

The "R value" refers to which aspect of construction?

R value refers to insulation ratings. The higher the R value of a particular insulation, the better it will moderate the temperatures in a structure.

What collects water from drain tile placed at the perimeter of the house?

The sump is a pit into which the drain tile empties. A pump empties the sump ... and if that pump fails during a major precipitation event, you may wind up with a flooded basement.

Which term refers to the installation of window glass?

"Glazing" is the process of window glass installation. Poor glazing results in terrible home insulation and/or an ugly appearance.

Where would you most likely find a "sole plate"?

A sole plate is generally a horizontal 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 that serves as the base for a framed wall. A top plate, on the other hand, is the horizontal plate at the top of the frame.

What portion of a home is designed to prevent water from seeping into the structure?

Flashing refers to strips of metal that are installed in leak-prone areas, such as where the chimney protrudes through the roof. Improperly installed flashing is a common cause of homeowner headaches.

You might put "grout" where?

Grout is a blend of water, sand and cement that's often used to fill in the spaces between tiles. Grout work takes skill and patience, otherwise it looks terrible and detracts from a room's beauty.

What's the name of the primary person who has the responsibility for completing a construction project?

The general contractor is the "general" of the job. He or she coordinates all of the work that needs to be done in order to complete the structure on schedule.

What's the purpose of a radon system?

Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that's also a carcinogen. Radon systems suck the gas out of your home and release it harmlessly into the air outside.

____ is applied to foundation walls to keep moisture at bay.

Damproofing is a material (often asphalt-based) that's used to coat a foundation wall. It's helpful in reducing the amount of moisture that seeps into a basement.

How do you attach one joist to another?

Toenailing is the act of driving in a nail at a slanted angle to attach two joists that are perpendicular to one another. It's basic construction skill.

An "escutcheon" is meant to hide ____.

An "escutcheon" is a fancy bit of material that goes around a pipe -- it conceals the hole going through a floor or ceiling.

Where would you find the rim joist of a home?

The rim joist is the joist that runs around the perimeter of the floor joists. It's what the floor joists attach to.

Which part of a structure relies heavily on the "trusses"?

Trusses are manufactured roof supports with zig-zag framing members added for strength. They are frequently placed on top of wall frames in order to provide a roof base.

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