Vocabulary for First-Time Home Builders: Construction Terms

In any occupation, knowing the correct terms will help you communicate more efficiently, and interacting with your builder or remodelling contractor is no exception. First and foremost, you’ll have a better understanding of what your contractor is saying, and they’ll appreciate the fact that you’ve done your homework. In this post, we’ll go over the proper terms for your house’s framing members. Equity Builders Roofing is an excellent resource for this.

I hate to pick on home improvement TV shows, but the majority of them are shot outside of the Midwest region, and as a result, some of the terminology, construction techniques, and product choices that they demonstrate are inaccurate for our region; as a result, watching them to learn proper construction techniques and terminology doesn’t always work well for this region.

Sill plates, which differ in thickness, are bolted to the top of the base. Under the sill plate, a strip of foam insulation known as sill sealer is mounted along with shims to help level the sill plate as much as possible in preparation for the next move.

The deck is made up of floor joists that vary in size from 2 x 8 to 2 x 12. The joists are normally 16 inches apart “o.c. on centre refers to the difference between the centre of one object and the centre of another. Engineered components are increasingly being used for floor joists, and they can be spaced up to 24 inches apart “c.o. Rim joists, which are typically the same material and dimension as the floor joists, are used to bind the joists together at the ends.

Plywood sheathing is used to cover the deck. 34″ plywood is used if the floor joists are spaced 16″ o.c. Where the floor joists are spaced 24″ on centre, thicker plywood, such as 15/16″, is used. The long edge of this decking plywood has a tongue and groove attachment that spans the gap between the joists. Seaming the butt ends directly over a joist is needed. To prevent movement and therefore squeaking, the plywood decking is glued and nailed to the joists.

On the deck, exterior and interior walls are installed. Studs are used to build all of the walls. These studs are 2x4s that measure 12″ x 3 12″. I know, I know, but they used to be 2″ x 4″ back in the day. You could come across some if you’re remodelling an old building. If you come across these original 2x4s, be aware that matching new finished surfaces to the existing structure would be difficult.

The roof or ceiling is protected by these walls. The bottom plate and top plate are horizontal 2 x 4s that extend along the bottom and top of the studs and finish the wall framing. Bear in mind that there are two top plates that add extra strength to make it easier to bind the walls together.

Headers are built into the walls and are located above all window and door openings but below the top plate. These headers are normally made up of 2 – 2 x 12s with a slice of 12 in the centre “Between the 2×12’s, there’s a layer of plywood sandwiched between them. A wall stud at either end (side) and a cripple directly under the end of the header, which is nailed along with the full height wall stud opposite it, protect the headers.

Ceiling joists come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 2 x 6 to 2 x 12, and can serve many purposes. They make up the ceiling frame, which holds the ceiling drywall in place, and they may also serve as the floor structure if a second floor is added. Ceiling joists often keep the side walls together, which is an essential feature. The weight will force down and out until the roof is in place. The joists in the ceiling prevent the walls from collapsing and moving outward.

While trusses, which are pre-built rafter components, are increasingly being used, rafter components make up the roof structure. While 2x4s were used on some steep roofs in the past, rafters rarely use anything less than a 2 x 8. A ridge board is placed at the top or peak of the roof, where the rafters cross. This board usually has two people on it “To aid in the relation of the rafters to one another, a wider than the rafters is used. A 2 x 4 is often used to horizontally link the rafters from either side of the roof a few feet below the ridge board. Collar connections are members that assist in keeping the roof rafters together and reducing external strain.