Glossary of Interior Handyman Service Terms
A Dallas handyman is trained to do almost every home repair and installation you can think of. With this expertise also comes a varied knowledge of residential and commercial construction and carpentry terms. This helpful guide provided by Mr. Handyman of Dallas will give you the rundown on common interior handyman service terms and their respective definitions. The next time you hire a handyman professional, you’ll know exactly how to describe the problem and understand what the service technician is talking about.
Accessibility: A quality or set of features for a space that allow it to be more easily accessed and utilized by a wide range of people, including those with disabilities.
Aging in Place: A process that describes when a person chooses to remain in their own home as they age, aided by accessibility modifications that make it safer and more comfortable to move around and carry out one's daily routine.
Assembly: The process of fitting together manufactured parts to form a structure or object, such as a piece of furniture.
Attic Insulation: Insulating material such as fiberglass that is placed or blown-in to cover the "floor" of the attic (usually the upper side of a top-story ceiling, not an actual floor) and prevent heat transfer between the attic space and top story. This allows air to circulate freely in the attic.
Baby Proofing: The process of making a home safe for an infant, baby or toddler by removing, neutralizing or locking up hazards that could cause injury or illness to a curious baby.
Backerboard: Substrate panels that are commonly used underneath tile installations to give the grout and mortar a porous surface to adhere to. It's sometimes referred to as cement board.
Backsplash: A tile installation on the wall, usually above the countertop in a kitchen or bathroom, that is decorative and protects the wall from splashes of various liquids and foods.
Baluster: A vertical component of railings that is attached to the rail at the top and sits on its own base or plinth at the bottom.
Baseboard: A strip of interior trim material, usually wood, that runs along the base of a wall and covers the gap between drywall and flooring material.
Building Codes: Safety regulations that dictate how a structure can be constructed or modified. Building codes can come from federal, state or municipal governments.
Carpentry: The act of making or repairing items, components and objects that are made from wood.
Casing: The visible part of window or door moldings that cover the gap between drywall and the window frame or door jamb.
Caulk: A water-resistant, semi-flexible sealant or filler that is used to seal off gaps, cracks and holes to prevent moisture incursion and heat transfer.
Caulking: The act of applying caulk.
Chair Rail: A thin strip of decorative wooden interior trim that runs horizontally along a wall around waist height.
Composite Material: A material that is fabricated by combining two or more constituent materials that merge to form a material that is unlike the individual components.
Crown Molding: A decorative strip of wood, metal or plaster that runs along the top of a wall and covers the point where the wall transitions into the ceiling. It can be simple or elaborate and comes in a wide range of sizes.
Cupping: A type of warping in which the edges of a piece of material curl upward while the middle bows inward.
Curing Time: The length of time required for a product to reach its finished form via chemical reaction. For example, caulk and paint are both substances that need curing time to harden and set.
Custom Cabinets: Rather than being prefabricated, custom cabinets are built on-site to fit precisely into the available space.
Double-Hung Window: A type of window with two operable sashes that move up and down so the window can be open at the top or bottom.
Drywall: Also referred to as Sheetrock, gypsum board and wallboard, drywall is a panel of gypsum encased in thick sheets of backer and facer paper. It typically contains chemical additives that make it more resistant to fire, mold and mildew.
Drywall Finishing: The process of completing a drywall installation after the panels have been hung by using joint tape and joint compound to cover over seams between panels, screw holes, corner beads and other imperfections. There are five levels of drywall finishing, and the fifth level, applying a skim coat, is typically only done for ceiling installations.
Duct: A tube or pipe used to move air from a heating, cooling or ventilation system around a building.
Energy Efficient: A quality of items, machines, materials and buildings that indicates they only use as much energy as needed, wasting as little as possible to reduce the strain on resources and reduce energy costs.
Energy Star: An organization jointly operated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to rate and certify products that meet certain energy efficiency standards.
Engineered Wood: Flooring material made up of a base layer of premium plywood or MDF bonded to a thin veneer of real hardwood. It is resistant to warping due to moisture exposure and can be installed directly over a concrete subfloor without a vapor barrier.
French Doors: Double hinged doors, usually largely composed of glass panes in a wooden frame, that meet in the middle and latch together. They can be interior or exterior doors, but they are typically used indoors at the entrance to a room such as a dining room or study.
Grout: A fine, cement-based mortar used to fill the gaps between individual tiles or other masonry units.
Habitable Rooms: Rooms that are intended to be inhabited for purposes such as cooking, sleeping, working and living, as opposed to enclosed transitional areas such as hallways, lobbies and landings.
Heat Transfer: The natural process in which thermal energy attempts to move from a warmer area to a cooler area. For example, heat from the sun coming inside when you are running an air conditioner, or warm air from your furnace escaping to the cold outdoors.
Installation: The act or process of putting something in place for its intended use.
Insulated Glass Unit (IGU): A type of window with two or more panes separated by a small gap and sealed together at the edges. The gap between the panes is filled with argon gas to provide greater insulating properties.
Jigsaw: A machine saw with a fine blade that is used to make curved cuts in wood, plastic or metal.
Joint Compound: Also called drywall compound or drywall mud, joint compound is a substance composed mainly of gypsum dust and water that is used to cover up joint tape, screw holes and other imperfections on drywall to create a smooth, even surface once it has dried and been sanded down.
Joint Tape: A type of finishing tape that is used to cover joints or gaps between drywall panels. It is then covered with joint compound to form a smooth surface.
Joist: A horizontal support beam for a floor or ceiling.
Level: A device composed of a glass tube filled with liquid and an air bubble inside a frame. When placed on a surface, the position of the bubble indicates whether the surface is true horizontal, or if not, which way it's leaning.
Linoleum: A flooring material that is composed of a canvas backing with a thick, hardened coating of linseed oil, powdered cork and other additives. It's commonly referred to as lino.
Load-Bearing Wall: A structural wall that supports the weight of the roof or upper floor above. It cannot be entirely removed without compensating with a load-bearing column or some other method of supporting the weight from the structure above.
Maintenance: The process of preserving or maintaining a building, area, structure or object to prevent deterioration.
Mantel: The decorative framework above and around a fireplace. It's typically made of wood, but can also be made of stone or other materials.
Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF): Particles of wood that have been mixed with resin and wax before being formed into panels under high pressure.
Newel Post: The central, supporting pillar of a spiral staircase, or the post at the top or bottom of a staircase railing.
Painting: The act of applying paint to a surface or object, such as walls or furniture.
Pet Door: An entry and exit point for a pet such as a dog or cat, so that they can move between indoors and outdoors as they please. Some types include electronic locking devices that unlock when a pet wearing the key tag on their collar approaches.
Pocket Door: A door that slides inside an interior wall on tracks so that it is hidden from view when it's in an open position. Ideal for cramped spaces where there's not enough room for a door to swing open and shut on hinges.
Popcorn Ceiling: Also called an acoustic ceiling, it has a bumpy texture that is sprayed onto ceiling drywall. It's made of a thin drywall compound mixed with particles of polystyrene or vermiculite and it helps improve sound separation between stories of a building.
Prefabricated: Rather than being custom-built, prefabricated or "prefab" items and installations are manufactured elsewhere, then assembled and installed on-site.
Primer: A preparatory coating applied to a surface before painting to improve color and adhesion, and to prevent the paint from being absorbed into the surface.
Property Value: The real estate value of a property, based on expert appraisals and the price that prospective buyers are willing to pay.
Railing: A fence or barrier with a horizontal or slanted rail at the top, usually found alongside staircases or closing off landings.
Remodeling: The act of altering the appearance and function of a room or building with changes such as a new flooring installation, or many other possible projects.
Repair: The process of fixing or restoring something that has broken, deteriorated or suffered some type of damage.
Robertson Screw: A type of screw with a square socket on the head and a slight taper.
Schluter: A thin strip of metal, usually stainless steel, that is used to finish the edge of a tile installation where it transitions to another material such as carpet.
Staining: The act of applying wood stain to a wooden surface to enhance or change its color and provide protection against water incursion.
Structural Integrity: An aspect of engineering that is related to the ability of a structure to support a structural load without breaking. Structural integrity can be negatively affected by decay such as wood rot.
TV Wall Mount: A bracketing system that is mounted on the wall to hang a television on. There are several different types of mounts, including fixed, tilting, and swivel.
Underlayment: Thin layers of material such as rubber, felt or foam that are placed under flooring materials like hardwood to improve sound reduction and moisture resistance. Underlayment may also refer to roofing underlayment, which is a layer between the roof deck and shingles.
Universal Design: Products and environments that are designed to be accessible and usable by the widest possible range of people, regardless of age, size or physical ability.
Vapor Barrier: A layer of waterproof material, often sheets of polyethylene plastic that are used to prevent moisture incursion in places such as underneath flooring or siding materials.
Veneer: A thin, decorative layer of hardwood that is bonded to another material such as MDF to form engineered wood.
Wainscoting: A molded wall trim, usually made of wood, that covers the bottom half of a wall. Wainscoting is primarily decorative, though it does have a protective function as well.
Water Heater Insulation: Insulating material for water heaters. Often a foil "jacket" that fits around a water heater tank to prevent heat loss so it's more energy efficient and uses less fuel to heat water.
Weatherproofing: Strips of material, usually rubber or metal, that are used to seal the edges of doors or windows to prevent air leaks and heat transfer.
Wood Rot: A type of decay caused by wood-eating fungi that grow in timber with a moisture content of about 20% or higher. Wood rot eats away at wood fibers such as cellulose or lignin, causing timber to soften and crumble apart.