Building Resources                                   Construction Terms - C


Construction Terms Glossary - C

Cable – Defined under “Electrical Terms”.

Camber – The amount of upward curve given to an arch, bar, beam or girder to prevent the member from becoming concave due to its own weight or the weight of the load it must carry.

Camber Arch – An arch having a flat horizontal extrados and a cambered intrados with a rise about 1/8 inch per foot of span.

Cambium – The layer of tissue just beneath the bark of a tree, that the new wood and bark cells of each year’s growth develop.

Canopy –A roof-like structure over an opening in an exterior wall.

Cant Strip – A wedge or triangular-shaped piece generally installed on flat roofs around the perimeter or at the junction of the roof and an adjoining wall.

Cantilever – A construction unsupported at one end that projects outward to carry the weight of a structure above, such as a balcony.

Cap – A block or other covering, plain or moulded, forming the top of a wall, pier, newel post or column; a wall coping chimney cap.

Capital – The upper part of a column, pilaster, pier, etc. widened for decorative purposes or to distribute loads.

Casement – A glazed sash or frame hung to open like a door, hinged on the side.

Casing – A form of trim used around window and door openings.

Catch Basin – A chamber in a drainage system designed to intercept solids and prevent their entrance into the system.

Caulk – To make tight by a sealing material.

Cavity Wall – A masonry or concrete wall constructed of two separate thicknesses with a minimum 2-inch cavity between and tied together by metal ties or bonding units.

Ceiling Joists – Defined under “Joists”.

Ceiling Outlets – Defined under “Electrical Terms”.

Cellar – That portion of a building between two floor levels that is partly or wholly underground and that has more than one half of its height, from finished floor to finished ceiling below grade.

Cellular Concrete – Concrete in that bubbles of air are induced, by chemical means, in the process of manufacture, thereby producing a concrete of relatively low unit weight. See “Aerated Concrete”.

Cement – A gray powdered substance produced from a burned mixture of chiefly clay and limestone used in making concrete.

Cement Grout – A mortar of cement mixed with water and sand to the consistency of thick cream; used for bedding bearing plates, setting anchor bolts and filling and smoothing foundation cracks.

Cement Mortar – A mortar in that the cementitious material is primarily Portland Cement.

Center to Center – In taking measurements, a term meaning on center as in the spacing of joists, studding, or other structural parts.

Central Heating – Defined under “Heating”.

Ceramic Tiles – Vitreous clay tile used for a surface finish.

Cesspool – A chamber below grade for collecting and holding disposal from house drains.

Chalking – A condition in that paint deteriorates by oxidation to form a chalk-like powder.

Chamfer – A sloping or beveled edge.

Channel Iron – A steel section having a web with two flanges extending in the same direction.

Check – A longitudinal crack in timber that may be caused by too rapid seasoning.

Check Rails – The meeting rails in sliding or double hung window sash that meet when in the closed position and are of sufficient thickness to overlap.

Chimney – A structure of brick, stone, concrete, metal or other non-inflammable material, providing a housing for one or more flues that carry off products of combustion.

Chimney Flashing – Any kind of metal or composition material placed around a chimney where it penetrates through a roof, to cover the joint and prevent water from entering.

Chimney Flue – A passage housed in a chimney through that products of combustion are carried from a fuel-burning appliance to the exterior. 

Chimney Lining – A material, usually tile, forming flues within a chimney.

Chimney Saddle – A peaked flashing between a chimney and the roof to shed moisture around the chimney. See “Cricket”.

Chord – The principal member of a truss, either top or bottom.

Circuit – Defined under “Electrical Terms”.

Circuit Breaker – Defined under “Electrical Terms”.

Circuit Vent – Defined under “Plumbing Terms”.

Clapboard – Horizontal exterior wood finish shaped or overlapped to provide a weatherproof cladding.

Cleanout – A device with a removable plate or plug affording access for cleaning.

Clear Lumber – Lumber that is free of knots or other blemishes.

Clerestory – An outside wall of a room or building carried above an adjoining roof and pierced with windows.

Clinch – To bend over the protruding ends of nails to resist withdrawal.

Clinch Nails – Defined under “Nails, Types of”.

Closure – A device for shutting off an opening through a construction assembly, such as a door or a shutter and includes all closure components such as hardware, closing devices, frames and anchors.

Coefficient of Heat Transmission – A constant that represents the ability of a certain material to transmit heat.

Collar Tie – A horizontal member used to provide intermediate support for opposite roof rafters, usually located in the middle third of the rafters. Also called collar beam or brace.

Column – A vertical member in that loads are in the direction of its longitudinal axis.

Combined Sewer – Defined under “Plumbing Terms”.

Combined Stresses – Action of more than one force developing stresses of different character in the same member.

Combustible and Incombustible Materials – Within the range of temperatures that may occur in a building either normally or under fire conditions, materials are classified as combustible or incombustible. The term incombustible is generally applied to the materials of construction, that will neither ignite nor support combustion at temperatures variously assumed at 1200° to 1700°F.

Common – A term applied to a grade of lumber containing numerous defects that renders it unsuitable for high-class finish.

Common Bond – Like a running bond but with a course of headers every fifth, sixth, or seventh course.

Common Rafter – One of a series of rafters extending from the top of an exterior wall to the ridge of a roof.

Common Wall – See “Wall, Common”.

Compression – Defined under “Truss Terminology”.

Concrete – A mixture of cement, aggregate and water.

            Cellular – See “Cellular Concrete”.

            Plain – Concrete without reinforcement.

Concrete Footing – The widened section at the base or bottom of a foundation wall, pier, or column.

Concrete Forms – A box-like assembly of wood or metal panels into that concrete is placed to form the foundations, footings, walls, piers or other parts of structures.

Conduction – Defined under “Heating”.

Conduit – Defined under “Electrical Terms”.

Construction Types

Adobe – A type of construction in that the exterior walls are built of blocks that are made of soil mixed with straw and hardened in the sun.

Block – A type of construction in that the exterior walls are bearing walls made of concrete block or structural clay tile.

Brick – A type of construction in that the exterior walls are bearing walls made of brick or a combination of brick and other unit masonry.

Brick-Veneer – A facing of brick tied to a wood-frame or masonry wall, serving as a wall covering only and carrying no structural loads.

Drywall – Interior cladding with panels of gypsum board, fiber board or plywood, a dry operation as opposed to wet plaster.

Fire Resistive – Floors, walls, roof, etc. constructed of slow-burning or noncombustible materials recognized by building codes or local regulations to withstand collapse by fire for a stated period of time.

Monolithic Concrete – A type of construction or process in that the concrete for the wall, floor, beams, etc is poured in one continuous operation.

Plank Frame – A type of construction in that the structural framework is composed of solid wood plank uprights and horizontally placed planks laid on edge, with or without sheathing.

Post and Beam – A type of construction made with load-bearing posts and beams in that the enclosing walls are designed to support no loads other than their own.

Prefabricated – A type of construction so designed as to involve a minimum of assembly at the site, usually comprising a series of large wood panels or precast concrete units manufactured in a plant.

Reinforced Concrete – A type of construction in that the principal structural system members such as floors, columns, and beams are made of concrete placed around isolated steel bars or steel meshwork in such a manner that the two materials act together in a resisting force.

Steel Frame – A type of construction in that the structural parts are of steel or depended on a steel frame for support.

Wood-Frame – A type of construction in that the structural parts are of wood or depended upon a wood frame for support. In codes, if brick or other incombustible material is applied to exterior walls, the classification of this type of construction is usually unchanged.

Convector – Defined under “Heating”.

Convenience Outlet – Defined under “Electrical Terms”.

Coping – A covering at the top of a wall exposed to the weather, designed to shed water.

Corbel (Masonry) – A horizontal projection on the face of a wall formed by one or more courses of masonry each projecting over the course below.

Core – The base for veneer or the piece of pieces between the surface layers; the piece remaining after the log has been cut into veneer by the rotary process; preformed voids in unit masonry.

Corner Bead – In plastering, a metal strip placed on external corners before plastering to protect, align and reinforce them. In gypsum board finish, a strip of metal or wood fixed to external corners to protect them from damage.

Corner Boards – A built-up wood member installed vertically on the external corners of a house or other frame structure against that the ends of the siding are butted.

Cornerite – Metal lath cut into strips and bent to a right angle. Used in internal angles of plastered walls and ceilings as reinforcing.

Cornice – A horizontal projection at the top of a wall or column.

Corrugated Iron – Sheet steel formed with parallel corrugations to increase stiffness; used as a roof and wall covering and for other building purposes.

Counter Brace – Defined under “Truss Terminology”.

Counterflashing – A flashing applied above another flashing to shed water over the top of the under flashing and to allow differential movement without damage to the flashing.

Countersink – To make a cavity for the reception of a metal plate or the head of a screw or bolt so that it shall not project beyond the face of the work.

Course – A continuous layer of bricks or masonry units in buildings; the term is also applicable to shingles.

Court – An open space, unoccupied from the ground or intermediate floor to the sky, contiguous with the building and on the same lot, intended primarily for the provision of light and air, but that may serve for entrance to the building. It shall be entirely enclosed by walls or enclosed on three sides having one side partially or totally open to a street, yard or abutting property.

Coved Ceiling – A ceiling that is formed at the edges to give a hollow curve from wall to ceiling instead of a sharp angle of intersection.

Cowl – A cover, frequently louvered and either fixed or revolving, fitted to the top of a flue or vent to reduce down draft. 

Crawl Space – A shallow space between the lowest floor of a house and the ground beneath.

Creosote – An oily liquid distilled from wood or coal tar used in preserving wood in damp or wet places.

Cricket – A small roof structure at the junction of a chimney and a roof to divert rainwater around the chimney. See “Chimney Saddle”.

Cross Band – The layers of veneer at right Angles to the face piles; to place layers of wood with their grains at right angles, to minimize warping.

Cross Grain – As applied to lumber, denotes that the fibers do not run parallel to the long dimension of a piece of lumber

Cross Ventilating – The act of causing fresh air to circulate through open doors, windows, or gratings, at opposite sides of a room or space.

Cupping – A curvature occurring in the transverse section of sawn wood.

Curb Roof or Mansard Roof – Defined under “Roof Types”.

Curing (of Concrete) – The maintenance of proper temperature and moisture conditions to promote the continued chemical reaction that takes place between the water and the cement.

Curl – The grain pattern produced in wood when sawn at the junction of a branch and the stem of the tree.

Current – Defined under “Electrical Terms”.

Curtain Wall – A thin wall whose weight is carried directly by the structural frame of the building and that supports no compressive load other than its own weight.

Cut Nails – Defined under “Nails, Types of”.

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