Glossary of Construction Terms

Do you ever feel as if your contractor is selling you polyisocyanurate foam when what you really needed was a setback thermostat? Here is a handy guide to common (and not so common) construction terms. Scroll through the glossary below or sort by the letter that starts the word you're looking for. For example, to find polyisocyanurate foam, select P and click Submit.

A (7) | B (6) | C (18) | D (8) | E (9) | F (8) | G (2) | H (4) | I (1) | J (1) | L (4) | M (3) | O (2) | P (11) | R (10) | S (19) | T (7) | U (1) | V (1) | W (4) | Z (2)
Titlesort icon Definition
Pressure Relief Valve

A device mounted on a hot water heater or boiler which is designed to release any high steam pressure in the tank and thus prevent tank explosions.

Post

A vertical framing member usually designed to carry a beam. Often a 4" x 4", a 6" x 6", or a metal pipe with a flat plate on top and bottom (see diagram).

Post

See also: Q&A: Framing

Polyvinyl Chloride PVC or CPVC

A type of white plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines. Polyvinyl Chloride has some potentially serious toxicity problems during manufacture and disposal. I don't recommend the use of materials containing PVC such as: pipes, vinyl siding and some roofing membranes.

See also: Q&A: Copper vs. CPVC Piping

Polyisocyanurate Foam

A rigid foam board insulation often used in locations where there is not enough room for standard batt insulation. A nice word which can be used to impress or confuse someone. Programmed to various temperature settings. One of the least expensive ways to reduce energy consumption.

See also: Q&A: Insulation and Energy

Polybutylene

A type of plastic pipe (often gray in color) sometimes used in domestic water supply systems. Some polybutylene plumbing systems are been recalled due to a history of leaks and failure.

See also: Topics: Consumer News

Plans

See, "Blue Print(s)"

Pex Plumbing

Pex stands for "crosslinked polyethylene pipe". A good substitute for copper plumbing. This is a relatively easy material to install and can be used for hot and cold water supplies and radiant heating.

George's TipsIn my work I see more and more Pex piping for water supplies and heating systems. The only problems I have seen seem to be related to the ease of installation - it's so easy to use that some folks become a bit too sloppy! - George

Pex piping