Building Lingo 101

Even if you don’t know how to fix a leaky pipe or build a house, it helps to understand the lingo. You may find yourself dealing with a contractor one day, and you’ll sound a lot more knowledgeable if you know some of the common building terms and what they mean.

Take this little quiz and see if you know the difference between a soldering iron and angle iron.

Choose A, B, or C and view your answers below.

1. A narrow, vertical member in a railing is a:

a) Tread

b) Banister

c) Baluster

2. The temperature surrounding an object.

a) Ambient

b) Radiant

c) Ventilation

3. A non load-bearing wall separating two areas.

a) Partition

b) Gable

c) Plate

4. A rectangular, groove cut in the corner edge of a board or plank.

a) Dove tail

b) Rabbet

c) Notch

5. The vertical portion of the frame on which a door is hung.

a) Mantel

b) Jamb

c) Plate

6. A stud less than a full story high, similar to that found over or under a window.

a) Joist

b) Lintel

c) Cripple

7. The projecting decorative moldings under the bottom edge of a roof or ceiling.

a) Cornice

b) Gingerbread

c) Molding

8. The sawdust-like substance created by boring insects like carpenter ants.

a) Muntin

b) Heartwood

c) Frass

9. The vertical trim running along the edge of the roof to which the gutters are commonly attached.

a) I-beam

b) Fascia

c) Soffit

10. A horizontal structural beam that supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.

a) Lintel

b) I-Beam

c) Rafter

11. The space or passage in a chimney through which smoke, gas, or fumes are ventilated through

a) Hearth

b) Flue

c) Vent

12. A shallow channel or conduit of metal or wood set below and along the eaves of a house to catch and carry off rainwater from the roof.

a) Eaves

b) Leader

c) Gutter

13. A post to which the end of a stair railing or balustrade is fastened.

a) Newel

b) Column

c) Butt Joint

14. A strip of formed sheet metal, sometimes combined with a thin strip of metal lath, placed on corners before plastering for reinforcement. Also, a strip of wood finish three-quarters-round or angular placed over a plastered corner for protection.

a) Corner Bead

b) Corner Braces

c) Cove Molding

15. An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings. This is commonly seen in Cape Cod style homes.

a) Gable

b) Dormer

c) Lookout


1. C

2. A

3. A

4. B

5. B

6. C

7. A

8. C

9. B

10. A

11. B

12. C

13. A

14. A

15. B