3 Feb 2012

Common building terms explained

Posted by bcsands

Perplexed by lintels and reo? Wondering what a bar chair has to do with concrete? Wonder no more. Our glossary of building terms will clarify some of the most common building terminology – and some of the most commonly misunderstood. (Words in italics in descriptions are also defined in this list.)

Ag pipe or line: these flexible pipes are laid behind retaining walls or under landscaping – they have holes in them to catch surplus water to prevent flooding

Ag sock: a fabric used to cover ag pipe to prevent stones and other debris from getting through the holes in the pipe and potentially blocking it

Aggregate: gravel, crushed rock or similar used to make concrete and in drainage and construction

Bar chairs: in construction this isn’t a stool that you pull up to a bar, but a small plastic or metal device used to support reo in concrete slabs.

Besser/Bessa blocks:  a popular type of lightweight but strong masonry blocks

Blue metal: not metal that is coloured blue, but a type of aggregate (gravel) used in concreting and drainage.

Cement: the powder mixed with sand, water and aggregate that hardens into concrete

Commons: they are quite common, but this is just a term for cheap, unfinished dry pressed or extruded bricks – usually used where they are not visible or appearance isn’t important

Damp proof course/damp course: a barrier that prevents damp from rising up walls – different products can be used, including bitumen-coated aluminium and thick black polythene

Deformed bar: a steel reinforcing bar or rod cast into concrete to strengthen it– ‘deformed’ refers to the fact that the surface is indented or ridged to improve the bond with the bar and the concrete

Dry pressed bricks: moulded bricks that do not have holes in them

Extruded bricks: these bricks have holes in them as part of the manufacturing process (these holes reduce the amount of clay needed to make them and hence the cost)

Form: a temporary structure, often a frame made of wood, that keeps concrete  in place while it is being poured and while it hardens

Flashing: no need to call the police, in building flashing is simply a strip of impermeable material, usually a soft metal, used to prevent water from entering a joint or cavity

Lintel: a metal or concrete beam or bar which is used above a doorway or window to support the weight of the bricks above. Available in different sizes and shapes.

Mortar: used to fix bricks together and made from a mixture of sand, cement and water.

Render: a finish that can be applied to bricks made from a mixture of sand, cement and clay. Can be painted once cured.

Reo: not a misspelling of Rio, although it’s pronounced in the same way. This is a concreting term which is short for ‘reinforcing’ and refers to mesh, bar or steel rods which is used to strengthen or support a concrete slab, including mesh sheets, deformed bars and bar chairs.

Retaining wall: a wall built to hold a slope in place and prevent ground movement due to erosion or to create a level area

Retaining wall blocks: blocks purpose-designed for use in retaining walls

Slab: short term often used to refer to a concrete slab

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