Cutting through Builders Jargon: What it Really Means

Entering the world of construction is not something most of us do on a regular basis, which can make it tricky to follow what is going on when it comes to your project. There is a lot of builders jargon and construction slang to learn!

With this in mind, Gartec have put together a list of construction industry builders jargon. Now you can get on with your plans (and research the fantastic home lift you wanted installed!).


Ultimate Builders Jargon Buster

Letter Word


A Acro Prop An extendable device used to temporarily hold up a wall
Aggregate General word for materials like builders sand, sharp sand and gravel
Architrave Moulding around an opening โ€“ usually a window or door
B Baluster Fancy term for stair bannister
Balustrade Railings supported by balusters
Batten Wooden frame to which roof tiles are attached
Beading Small moulding that covers a gap or joint
Buttress Strengthening a wall by making it thicker
C Caulk / Caulking Use of filler (caulk) to seal holes, gaps or joints
Chippy Any worker dealing with wood โ€“ usually a carpenter
Closer A brick cut in half lengthways/horizontally
Coping Protective cap to top edge of walls
Corbelling Successively projecting brickwork outwards to form small steps outward as you move along
Course A horizontal row of bricks in a wall. Soldier Course is where the bricks are standing vertically in a wall.
D Damp Proof Course An additional layer of material in brickwork that prevents rising damp
Dob and Dab A.K.A Dry lining โ€“ the gluing of plasterboard to brickwork
F First Fix All works done prior to plastering (such as cables).
Flashing Metal sheeting used externally where walls and roofing meet for waterproofing
Flaunching Cement filler placed around the top of a chimney stack
Formwork Temporary or permanent moulds which concrete is poured into
G Gable / Verge Upper part of a wall that supports a pitched roof, normally triangular
Girder A supporting beam, usually wood or steel
Glazing Bar A thin strip of wood with a slot along the length to hold a pane of glass
Gobbo Slang for mortar (sand, cement & water). Also called โ€˜Muckโ€™
H Header The square end of a brick
Hipped Roof The triangular, sloping ends of a pitched roof (the ends to the upturned V shape)
HVAC Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system
J Jamb The side of the opening in a wall ready for a door or window
Joist A supporting beam for a floor or ceiling
L Lath Thin piece of wood used for support of plasterwork
Lintel Supporting beam over an opening or door to prevent cave-in
Lite A single pane of glass for a window
M Making Good Fixing small errors and issues following construction work โ€“ usually based on a โ€˜snagging listโ€™
Mitre Angled joint
Muck Slang for mortar (sand, cement & water). Also called โ€˜Gobboโ€™
Mullion The vertical, often wooden, strips between windows
N Newel The final post at either end of a staircase that supports the handrail
Nogging Small wooden strips inserted between joists to give extra support
P Passive Cooling / Heating Building design which incorporates ventilation and relevant properties to maximise heat (such as insulation, windows)
Persuader Slang for hammer or claw hammer
Plinth Base for an external wall
Pointing Finishing and tidying the gaps between brickwork and paving
Ponding The pooling of water on a roof
Purlin Horizontal beam in a pitched roof used for support
R Racking Back Bulding a brick wall starting with both ends to get the level correct
Raking Removing old mortar from brickwork
RCD Residual Current Detector โ€“ an electrical component that protects from excess current in a circuit
Relieving Arch A load-bearing archway that supports the wall
Render External coating on walls โ€“ usually sand/cement based
Reveal Vertical side in an opening for a door or window
Rise Vertical height between horizontal treads on stairs
Roof Truss Prefabricated supporting structure, usually a timber frame
RSJ โ€œRolled Steel Joistโ€
S Sarking Felt Waterproof felt used in roofing below tile battens
Screed A concrete layer used for flooring to give a smooth finish
Second Fix All works done post-plastering (such as plug sockets, doors)
Snagging / Snagging List Usually a list that the customer puts together. It is minor problems to be fixed after the job is done which the builder works through to โ€˜Make Goodโ€™
Soffit Visible underside of a projected surface, usually around the edge of a roof
Span Horizontal distance/length
Sparky Slang term for an electrician
Stack Vertical waste water pipe (sinks, showers, toilets)
Stretcher The long side face of a brick
Sub Floor Joists or beams mounted on joists which the finished flooring is placed on
T Toothing In With new or replacement brick work, alternating bricks jut out to strengthen the link between old and new walls
V Voussoir Wedge-shaped brick for arches
W Wainscott Traditional wooden lining for interior walls


Hopefully you’ll be able to understand the builders jargon and be in the know ready for your next project.