Glossary R-Z

Updated by Jill Bowers


Rabbet joint

Siding joint made by thinning the edge of two boards to about half their width and then overlapping the two thinned edges.

Radiant heat

Heat that travels in waves and increases the temperature of objects that it encounters. Examples of radiant heat systems include electric heat panels in ceilings, hot water tubes in floors, steam and hot water radiators, and fireplaces.


Heating device that transfers heat from water or steam running inside of it to the air and objects around it.


A line extending from the center of a circle to the outside edge. It is equal to one-half the diameter of the circle.


Sloped roof framing member that supports the roof sheathing as well as live and dead loads that are placed on the roof.


The side supports of a ladder into which the rungs attach.

Rail (cabinet)

A horizontal member on the cabinet face frame. See stile.

Raised panel

A solid wood panel used in a frame and panel cabinet door. The edges of the panel are shaped to a thin edge so the panel will fit into the slots in the surrounding frame. See frame and panel cabinet door, slab cabinet door and flat panel.

Raised panel door

Door made from panels, usually framed and held in place by stiles and rails. Simulated raised panel doors are also made from pressed-wood fibers.


Edge at the end of a sloping roof plane. For example, the roof edge at the top of the gable end wall is a rake.

Raked joint

Mortar joint between courses of brick in which the mason uses a tool called a rake to remove the excess mortar to a uniform depth.

Range cooker

A self-contained, usually freestanding unit which contains an oven and top burners. See high-low range and restaurant style range.


Coarse file used to smooth and shape wood.

RCV (Replacement Cost Value Reinstatement Value)

RCV is the cost to purchase a new item to replace damaged or lost property, with no deduction for depreciation or obsolescence.

Ready-set tile

Type of small mosaic tile which come pre-fastened to a mat. Ready-set tile are much faster to install than individual mosaic tile.


Common type of reinforcing steel used in concrete to increase the strength of the structural part. The number of a rebar refers to its diameter in 1/8 inches. For example, number 3 rebar is 3/8ths inch in diameter. Rebar is usually heavily ribbed so that when concrete hardens around these ribs the bar will be held firmly in place.

Rebond pad

A urethane foam carpet pad made by gluing small pieces of foam together. See synthetic felt pad, waffle type sponge rubber pad, and high density urethane foam pad.

Recess-mount medicine cabinet

Medicine cabinet which is recessed into the wall, usually between two studs. See surface-mount medicine cabinet.


Recoverable depreciation is depreciation taken on a loss that the insured is entitled to recover upon completion of the restoration or replacement of the item. It is depreciation temporarily withheld until the job or task is completed.

Recoverable depreciation

Recoverable depreciation is depreciation taken on a loss that the insured is entitled to recover upon completion of the restoration or replacement of the item. It is depreciation temporarily withheld until the job or task is completed.

Recycle bin

The Projects recylce bin contains copies of your recent estimates. This allows you to refer back to earlier versions of the estimate if an error has been made. By default, the Recycle bin keeps back-up estimates for 7 days. Depending on your hard drive size or other factors, you can change this default to be shorter or longer. You can also change the default location in which Xactimate stores back-up estimates on your computer.

Red label shingles

Shingles made from high-grade wood with some slight sapwood and very little flat grain. Most residential structures use red or blue label shingles.

Reference area

You can place a reference area anywhere on a sketch, inside or outside of a room, to indicate the location of a detail that you want to show on the sketch. For example, you might use a reference block to show tiled or carpeted area of a room, such as a tiled entryway. The properties of a reference area can be edited.

Reference block

You can place a reference block anywhere on a sketch, inside or outside of a room, to indicate the location of a detail that you want to show on the sketch. For example, you might use a reference block to show a patio slab. The properties of a reference block can be edited.

Reference line

You can place a reference line anywhere on a sketch, inside or outside of a room to indicate the location of a detail that you want to show on the sketch. For example, you might use a reference line to show a cable the runs along the perimeter of a room. The properties of a reference line can be edited.

Reference point

You can place a reference point anywhere on a sketch, inside or outside of a room to indicate the location of a detail that you want to show on the sketch. For example, you might use a reference point o show a light fixture in a room. The properties of a reference point can be edited.

Refrigerant gas

Gas which expands as it absorbs heat and compresses as it gives off heat.

Reinforcing steel

Steel which is buried in the concrete to provide added strength. Usually a reinforcing bar called rebar, it contributes substantially to the strength of the concrete structural part.

Release film

Thin strip of plastic attached to the underside of composition shingles to prevent shingles from sticking together during shipment. When installed, the release film lines up with the sealant strip on the face of the shingle in the course below. When heated by the sun asphalt penetrates the release film and bonds to the sealant strip of the shingles in the underlying course.

Release powder

Powder spread on the concrete surface before a concrete stamp is used. Prevents the concrete stamp from sticking to the concrete and adds a second color to the concrete.


The process of determining whether an item is repairable or should be replaced. If an item can be made to look and function the same as it did before the damaging event—at a cost that is less than replacement cost—it should be repaired. If not, it should be replaced.

Repairs Not Performed

Repairs not done and either not included in the original estimate or indicated as not performed in subsequent estimates.


Replacement material and repairs done as part of an estimate.

Replacement cost loss

The amount of loss based on the cost of replacing the item or structure.

Restaurant style range

A gas range that generally has six burners and two ovens. Some of the burners may be replaced with a griddle or fryer and one or both of the ovens may be convection. See range and high-low range.

Retail labor

The labor component of a unit price (retail labor rate) is designed to reflect an assumed appropriate market rate a contractor will use when billing for time on an hourly basis, as opposed to the hourly wage actually paid to the worker.

Reverse Board and Batten

Vertical siding in which narrow boards called battens are installed first with gaps between them. Wider boards are then installed over the gaps.


Highest part of the roof where the roof planes meet, also called the peak.

Ridge board

Upper-most framing member on a roof to which the tops of the rafters are nailed. It is also sometimes called the ridge rafter or the ridge piece.

Ridge vent

Vent placed along the ridge of the roof. It allows ventilation of the roof by raising the level of the ridge slightly leaving room for air flow. A filtration fabric placed in the side vents allows air to move through while preventing insects from entering.

Right triangle

A three sided shape which includes a 90 degree angle between two of its sides.

Rimless sink

Sink with edges that overlap the hole in the countertop. Rimless sinks are usually made of heavy materials such as cast iron.

Rimmed sink

Sink with a rim that attaches to the edge of the sink and to the countertop.


Vertical height of the roof as measured from the level of the wall top plate to the ridge board.


Part of a stair that is placed vertically between two treads.


Tamping technique that involves pushing concrete around and under the window bucks and rebar using a push stick or rod.

Roll roofing

Roofing material produced in rolls, made by saturating organic mat with asphalt or coal-tar pitch and embedding mineral granules on the surface exposed to the weather.

Roll tiles

Tile shingles that use caps and pans that form a series of peaks and valleys on the finished roof. Roll tiles include barrel and s tiles.

Rolled type standing seam

Standing seam roof in which the panels are placed next to each other with standing edges touching. The edges are then mechanically crimped to fasten and seal the seam.

Rolled wall covering

Any wall covering that is provided in rolls. Examples include: fabric, vinyl, and paper.


Common type of residential clustered wiring. Also see clustered wiring.

Roof deck

Surface of the sheathing placed over the roof framing.

Roof diaphgram

The entire roof system including rafters or trusses, bracing, sheathing, rough fascia, ridge boards, fasteners, and so forth. All elements of the roof system work together to form a diaphragm that resists wind and other forces and secures the top of exterior walls.

Roof drain

Used with a roof membrane system, it fastens in to the roof deck and carries water into a drain pipe. It is usually covered with a strainer that filters out leaves and other debris that may clog the drain pipe.

Roof system

This includes the roof framing, sheathing, trusses, and roofing material. It is a structural part because it helps to hold the bearing walls in place, resisting forces which attempt to move the walls such as wind and earthquakes.

Roofing felt

Asphalt-saturated organic mat that is produced in rolls. Used as shingle or siding underlayment, or anywhere a moisture-resistant barrier is needed. Also called tar paper or organic felt.


A circular or oval decorative wood piece used at the termination of a stair rail into a wall.

Rough electrical

Any electrical device or part that will be hidden by, or embedded in, the finish wall.

Rough fascia

Horizontal member which is fastened to the vertical edge of the rafter tail or truss and which is later covered by the fascia. Also commonly referred to as the sub-fascia.

Rough level

The initial process of placing wet, plastic, concrete at the approximate level desired. The final level is applied when the surface is finished to the desired texture later, after the concrete has lost some, but not all of its plasticity.


Initial construction work that will be hidden by the wall and/or ceiling finish. Rough-in work for the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical trades is completed prior to covering the walls and ceilings. Completion of the rough-in usually means all parts which penetrate through the wall, floor and roof sheathing are in place. The rough-in work for these four trades is reviewed in the four-way inspection before the walls or ceilings are covered.

Rounding decimals

A common practice in construction is to round numbers to the 2nd place after the decimal point. If the 3rd digit after the decimal point is five or higher, increase the 2nd digit after the decimal point by one; if the 3rd digit after the decimal point is four or lower, leave the 2nd digit as is.

Rounding dimensions

When rounding, all dimensions should be rounded to the nearest inch rather than just some of them. Measurements ending with a fraction less than 1/2 inch should be rounded down to the next lower inch. Measurements ending with fraction of 1/2 inch or more should be rounded up to the next higher inch.

Rounding to a unit

Rounding up a material quantity calculation so that a fractional portion is equal to a multiple of the amount contained in the smallest package in which the material may be purchased.


Power tool used to cut holes or openings into wood panels without the need to start at an edge. Also used to make decorative pattern cuts in wood.


A course of brick laid on edge with their ends exposed.

Rubberized asphalt

Shingle underlayment which adheres to the roof deck and seals around shingle nails driven through it during installation. Also referred to as bituthene, ice shield, or storm shield, it is placed on the roof where ice-damming may occur to prevent water that may pass through the shingles from damaging the structure.


Distance from the outer face of the exterior wall to the point directly below the ridge of the roof is the run of one side of the roof.


A rod or bar that forms the step in a ladder. Rungs attach to the two side rails of the ladder.


S tile

Tile with a serpentine "S" shape. Also commonly referred to as Spanish tile.

Saddle T

Connection which is used to tap into existing water supply lines. The saddle T is clamped onto the pipe. When the valve is opened a drill-bit like point pierces the pipe and allows water into the saddle T and the pipe connected to it.

Sailor course

Course of brick with each brick set vertically with the face, the long-wide side, of the brick exposed.

Sales tax base functions

Labor refers to the total amount of all Labor items in the estimate. Material refers to the total amount of all Materials items in the estimate. Equipment refers to the total amount of all Equipment items in the estimate. Total refers to the total amount of the estimate. Overhead refers to the total amount of all overhead for the estimate. Profit refers to the total amount of all profit for the estimate.

Sales tax jurisdiction

A sales tax jurisdiction consists of a combination of sales taxes that apply to a geographical region. These taxes, along with their respective rates appear in the Sales Taxes menu of the Price List Editor.


Wood found near the surface of the tree, between the bark and the heartwood. Sapwood is lighter in color and less resistant to decay than heartwood.

Saw kerf

Groove cut by a circular saw blade.

Saw kerf counterflashing

Specially shaped counterflashing that is pressed into a saw kerf cut in masonry to prevent water penetration.

SBS (Styrene Butadine Styrene)

Plasticiser used in the hot-mop type of modified bitumen roof systems.

Scissor truss

Truss where the bottom chord is not horizontal, used where a sloped ceiling is desired in the inside of the building. The slope of the bottom chord is always less than the slope of the top chord.

Scratch coat

Base coat of stucco. The purpose of the scratch coat is to cover the mesh or metal attached to the exterior wall and provide a surface to which successive coats may bond. See also brown coat and finish coat.


Piece of wood or other material used to align newly poured concrete to reference marks established prior to the pour.

Sculptured carpet

Type of premium carpet in which the carpet pile is cut in varying lengths to produce designs in the carpet. See wool carpet, nylon carpet, berber carpet, indoor-outdoor carpet, and shag carpet.


Opening in a parapet wall, usually several inches above the roof deck, that provides a secondary system for water to drain from a flat roof system if the roof drains fail. On some older structures scuppers are the primary roof drain system and are positioned right at the roof deck line.

Seal tab

See sealant strip.

Sealant strip

Strips of asphalt placed on the face of the shingle where they will be covered by shingles in the course above. The sealant strip aligns with the release film on the underside of the overlapping shingle.


A coat of paint that is designed to seal a stain so it doesn't leach through the paint. At the same time sealer provides a chemically ideal surface into which the finish paint coat can bond.

Sealer coat

A finish coat applied to wood floors which protects the wood floor from being stained by any materials which may drop or spill on it.

Seamless gutter

Aluminum gutter is often called "seamless gutter" because each straight section is made in one long piece with no soldered seams.


One of the five basic views found on a plan. A section is a view of the building as though it had been sliced through vertically and opened up so you could see what is inside. It may be thought of as a view showing a dissection of the building.

Security groups

Security groups are sets of access rights that determine the program features available to each user. Concern about security can vary. Some organizations need to restrict access to certain features, while others allow full access.

Select and better oak grade

Grade of oak strip flooring in which at least 50% of the wood is clear of defects except for a few small bright spots of sap. The other 50% may have pinworm holes, machine defects, and no more than one small tight knot for every three lineal feet of wood. See number one common oak grade and number two common oak grade.

Selector code

The selector code identifies a particular item within that category or trade.

Self-cleaning oven

An oven designed to clean materials that may have splashed or spilled inside by heating to such high temperatures that the material falls off the surfaces of the oven or can easily be brushed off. See continuous-cleaning oven and convection oven.

Self-tapping screw

Type of screw, commonly used with light gauge metal, that has a drill-bit style tip that forms its own hole in the metal.

Semi-gloss paint

Paint with a medium reflective finish. Semi-gloss paint has a higher sheen than flat paint, but a lower sheen than high gloss paint.

Septic tank

Holding tank which treats waste with the help of bacteria and discharges clarified liquid into the soil through a drain field.

Serpentine seam (carpet)

A carpet seam that is made by seaming two pieces of carpet that have been cut in meandering curved or S-shaped patterns. Serpentine seams are more time consuming and difficult to install than straight seams, but are believed to make the seam less visible. See straight seam.

Set back

Distance from the property line to the foundation of the structure. Minimum set backs are established by local government to maintain desired appearance standards by keeping structures from being built too close to the edge of the property.

Sewer lateral

Pipe which connects the structure to the city sewage system or septic tank.

Sewer stub or septic tank stub

Short section of pipe connected to the main sewer line or septic tank and extending toward the home. It is designed so the drain line coming from the home can easily be connected to it. The footings on a full basement home should be positioned so that the stub is lower than the bottom of the footings. This ensures a downhill slope for a sewer line extending from under the footing out to the stub.

Shag carpet

Carpet with a long pile. See wool carpet, nylon carpet, berber carpet, indoor-outdoor carpet, and sculptured carpet.

Shake felt

Thirty pound roofing felt in rolls half as wide.

Shake roof

Roof constructed from roofing material made from hand-split wood. Shakes come in three thicknesses: thin, medium, and heavy, and are usually made from cedar with relatively straight grain and free of knots. See also hand-split and resawn shake and tapersawn shake.


Machine with revolving cutters which is used to cut moldings and other irregular outlines.

Shear force

Pressure required to break the attachment between two members, causing them to slide across each other. For example, if the nail attaching two panels is severed by shear force, the members will slide.

Shear panel

Usually a plywood or oriented strand board sheet that covers the wall from the top plate to the bottom plate. When nailed in place, this sheet resists shear force applied to the wall which try to move it out of square.


The covering placed over the top of floor joists, roof trusses, or on the exterior of the walls of a structure. Usually a lumber product such as plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), wafer board, or dimension lumber.

Shed roof

Roof style that consists of a single plane that slopes in one direction.

Sheet siding

Exterior finish material that comes in sheets, usually 4 feet wide by 8, 9, or 10 feet long.

Sheet stock

Materials such as plywood and medium density fiberboard which come in sheets.


Thin, tapered piece of wood used to adjust or fill the space between two building members such as the window and the rough framing.


Thin piece of roofing material made from wood, asphalt, fiberglass, slate, concrete, tile, or other materials. Shingles are attached to the roof in courses that overlap to provide water-proofing to sloping roofs by moving the water down and away from the structure.

Shingle tack coat

On composition shingles, the shingle mat after it has been saturated with asphalt or coal tar pitch but before granules, talc, or other materials have been embedded into the surface.

Shiplap siding

Horizontal siding which has been rabbeted on both long edges. A weathertight connection is formed when the rabbet joint on the upper piece overlaps the rabbet joint on the bottom piece.

Shovel footing

Footing form that is typically made by thickening the concrete floor slab. Usually formed by using a shovel to trench the area to be filled by the shovel footing. They generally lie directly under the center bearing walls of a structure.

Shower pan

Non-corrosive pan that covers the base of the shower and runs partway up the wall.

Side jamb

Specific name for the jamb located on each side of the inside of window and door openings.


Common exterior finish installed on walls to keep moisture and wind out of the building and to provide an attractive appearance. Siding may be made from wood, pressed wood byproducts, hardboard, vinyl, or metal.

Siding batten

Long, narrow strip of trim commonly used to cover vertical joints on vertical exterior siding.

Sill piece

Framing member that forms the bottom edge of the window opening.

Silt barrier

Material placed over the course aggregate of a perimeter drain system which allows water to enter the drain system while preventing silt (ie: dirt) from filtering down and clogging the system.

Single hung window

Window unit that opens by sliding the lower window sash up, over the fixed upper sash.

Single membrane

Roof system with just one waterproof layer. The most common types of single membrane roofs are modified bitumen and elastomeric roof systems.

Single pane glass

Window pane that has only one sheet of glass. See also thermal pane and triple pane.

Single wall flue

Flue consisting of a single metal pipe.


Teflon-coated common nails used to minimize splitting of the lumber because they are easier to hammer into the wood. Disapproved of by some engineers because the Teflon coating that allows them to slip into the wood more easily also may allow them to slip out of the wood more easily.

Six points of estimation

A method for estimating a loss using six steps. Combining the first letter of each step spells the word points. The six points of estimation are perspective, organization, identification, number, technique, and supporting events.


Compound which holds wallpaper to the wall until it is wetted. When wetted it releases the wallpaper without damaging the wall.


In Sketch, you can draw accurate graphical representations of the rooms or buildings being estimated, similar to a floor plan. When you create a drawing in Sketch, variables are calculated to save time while scoping an estimate.

Sketch inspections window

The Sketch Inspections window displays the issues found for the active level of your Sketch drawing.

Sketch levels

Sketch tracks the level heights using an elevation system. The benchmark elevation that all other elevations are based on is the height of the top of the floor surface for the ground floor, which is set at 100'. For example, the height of the top of the second floor is calculated at 109' (based on an 8' wall and the floor system on top of that wall measuring about 1 foot. The height of the basement floor would normally be 91' (calculated by deducting 9' from the 100' elevation assumed for the top of the ground floor). These figures can be adjusted if the wall heights are more or less than 8' (9' including the floor system).


Decorative trim, usually made from a wood board, that is installed on the wall below exposed stairs which trims the area around or just below the exposed ends of the treads and risers. See stair bracket and balustrade.

Slab cabinet door

A cabinet door made from a single piece of material. A flush slab door is typically made from medium density fiberboard (MDF) or plywood and is either painted or covered with veneer. Sometimes decorative patterns are carved into its surface or decorative moldings are attached. See frame and panel cabinet door.


Heavy metamorphic rock available in several different colors. Used in flooring, roofing, and wall panels. Roofing slate comes in a variety of colors classified as unfading or weathering. Unfading colors stay very close to their original color throughout their life. Weathering colors change as they age.


Strip of wood, plywood, or any material which will isolate wood flooring from contact with a concrete floor. The most common sleepers are made from wood strips. Sleepers are placed over a concrete floor, then the wood flooring is nailed to the sleepers.

Sliding T-bevel

Hand tool with an edge that can be adjusted and then locked into position to mark angles for specific layouts.

Sliding window

Window unit that opens by sliding one window sash past another horizontally.

Slip matched veneer

Veneer produced by sliding or slipping pieces of veneer next to each other. The grain of slip matched veneer appears to run along the entire surface. See veneer, whole piece veneer, book matched veneer, and unmatched veneer.

Slip sheet

Light roofing paper or thin fabric which allows the PVC roof membrane to easily slip over the foam insulation without rubbing and suffering damage.


Incline of the roof. Amount of rise for every twelve inches of run.

Slump block

Masonry unit that is made by removing the forms before the concrete is completely dry. The concrete sags, or slumps, causing the block to have a rounded look. Slump block may be colored with a concrete dye admixture or by painting the surface of the block. Also called slump stone.

Smoke shelf

Ledge in the masonry flue which prevents downdrafts and moisture from entering the firebox.

Smoothwall texture

Drywall finish with no visible texture. To prevent flashing the entire surface is coated with a thin surface coat.

Snap type standing seam

Standing seam roof in which the cap edge is snapped into place over the underlying edge to lock the edges in place and provide a water-tight seal.


Horizontal member that fills the gap between the exterior wall and the FASCIA.

Soils engineer

Scientist who performs the necessary calculations to determine the types and sizes of footings which must be used to ensure safe and proper support of the building by the soil. Also called a Geotechnical engineer.

Soldier course

Course of brick with each brick set vertically with the edge, the long-narrow side, of the brick exposed.

Solid plastic countertop

Class of countertops made from plastic resins. Includes cultured countertops and solid surface countertops. Solid plastic materials are also used to make tub and shower surrounds. See plastic laminate countertop, solid surface countertop, wood block countertop, cultured countertop, cultured marble countertop, stone countertop, and tile countertop.

Solid surface countertop

Countertop made from plastic resin. Solid surface materials are also used to make tub and shower surrounds. See plastic laminate countertop, solid plastic countertop, wood block countertop, cultured countertop, cultured marble countertop, stone countertop, and tile countertop.

Soot mapping

A phenomenon that occurs when soot collects on a wall in a way that reveals or maps materials that are hidden in the wall finish such as drywall tape, the edges of drywall boards, and screws or nails.

Space saver microwave oven

Microwave oven which attaches to the bottom of an upper cabinet unit and may have an integrated range hood.

Spaced sheathing

Sheathing material that is installed to allow air to flow between it and in and around wood shingles installed on it. Spaced sheathing is used because it helps wood shingles last longer by keeping them uniformly dry.


Condition where the surface of the concrete flakes off. It can be caused by premature trowling, overworking the concrete, exposure to high heat or chemicals, or water penetrating the surface and freezing.


Horizontal distance covered by a roof from one exterior wall to the exterior wall directly opposite. On a typical roof, the span can be determined by adding together the run from both sides of the roof.

Spiral stair

Stair system that winds in a circular pattern around a center supporting post. The treads in a spiral system are wedge-shaped.


Location where two pieces of material are joined together.

Sponge texture

Finish applied to drywall with a sponge.


A two-dimensional measurement of surface area equal to 100 square feet.

Square foot

A two-dimensional calculation equal to the area of a square measuring one foot on each side.

Square yard

A two-dimensional calculation equal to the area of a square measuring one yard on each side. There are 9 square feet in a square yard.

Squaring a wall

Pulling the corners of the wall so that the diagonal distance from corner to corner is equal which means that the wall section forms a perfect rectangle. A wall is held in this shape by let-in-bracing or shear panels.

Stable door

Door that contains two half slabs mounted one above the other. Each slab is attached to the jamb with hinges and may swing independently of the other. Also known as a dutch door.

Stack bond

Course of brick in which each brick is directly over the brick in the course below it, making all the vertical joints form a line.

Stain-grade material

Trim material which has few flaws and is suitable for use in materials that will be stained, leaving the grain exposed.

Stair bracket

Decorative trim which is attached to the wall or skirt below each stair tread. See skirt and balustrade.

Stair clamps

After the framer has determined the riser height and tread width, he or she marks these dimensions on the framing square by attaching stair clamps to each leg of the square. The framing square with the stair clamps attached is used to lay out the stringer. The framer places the framing square on the stringer board until the clamps touch the board, then traces the square.

Stair-step pattern

Reference to the installation of several courses of shingles simultaneously with the lowest or bottom course extending further than the next course up and so forth. The result is a zig-zag or stair step outline.

Standard baseboard skirting and casing

Standard baseboard skirting is usually 2 1/4" or 3 1/4" high. Standard casing is usually 2 1/4".

Standard cabinet door hinge

A cabinet hinge which is attached to the door on one side and to the cabinet stile on the other side. Standard cabinet door hinges usually cannot be adjusted once they are installed. See European style cabinet door hinge.

Standing seam

Metal roof seam made by turning the long edges of the panels up and then over. The three common types of standing seams are rolled type, snap type, and batten type.

Starter course

First row of shingles at the eave line. The starter course for composition shingles usually consists of shingles that are installed wrong side down or is made from rolled starter strip material. The starter course for wood shingles or shakes is usually made by sawing two to three inches off the length and installing the wood shingles or shakes right side down. The first course of wood shingles or shakes completely overlaps the starter course. The starter course for tiles is also the first course. Tiles are lifted or boosted at the front edge of the tile with a furring strip, bird stop, or booster tile.

Starter strip

First row or course of material, especially in reference to roofing and siding. The starter strip of siding may be made from metal, wood, or a similar product and is installed under the bottom course.

Steel beam

Two common types are the wide flange steel beams that look like the letter "H" laid sideways and beams that look like the capital letter "I".

Stepped flashing

Short, L-shaped metal flashing often installed at the intersection of a wall or chimney and a sloped roof.


A single piece of dimensional lumber.

Stile (cabinet)

A vertical member on the cabinet face frame.

Stone countertop

Countertop made from stone such as granite or marble. See plastic laminate countertop, solid surface countertop, solid plastic countertop, wood block countertop, cultured countertop, cultured marble countertop, and tile countertop.


Member which forms the horizontal shelf at the bottom of the window.

Storm window

Additional window unit, complete with a window pane installed in a window sash, installed over the original window unit to provide an extra layer of glass insulation.

Story pole

Pole with lines on its surface that mark the height for each row of brick being laid.

Straight seam

A carpet seam that is made by seaming two pieces of carpet that have been cut in a straight line. See serpentine seam.

Straight wood floor installation

Installation where wood strips are installed in straight rows which are usually parallel to at least one of the walls. See diagonal wood floor installation and herringbone wood floor installation.


Part of a stair that is under the treads and risers to support them. There are at least two and usually three stringers for each stair.

Strip flooring

Wood floor that contains wood strips that are 3-1/4" wide. See plank flooring, parquet flooring, and plugand-plank flooring.

Strippable wallpaper

Wallpaper with a face that easily strips from the backing. Also called peelable wallpaper.

Structural damage

Damage that affects the ability of a part or parts to hold and carry parts of the structure it was designed to hold and carry. Also see cosmetic damage.

Structural engineer

Person trained to determine the material type, grade, size and placement requirements for safe construction of the structural parts used in a building.

Structural part

Part of a building that is essential in supporting a load or keeping the structure intact. A structural part cannot be removed without weakening the structure.


Member positioned between two other members to keep them a specific distance apart, giving them added strength.

Stubbed out

Term used to describe leaving the end of a part exposed for easy connection later in the construction process. Rebar may be stubbed out of the footing for connection to the foundation concrete, or a short section of sewer line may be stubbed out from the septic tank or main sewer line for easy connection to the sewer lateral later in the construction process.


Hard, concrete-like surface used as an exterior finish.

Stucco sheathing

Wall covering on which synthetic stucco is installed. Common materials used are foam board and exterior grade gypsum board.

Stud gun

Tool which uses gunpowder contained in a .22 caliber cartridge to drive a nail into a hard surface like concrete.


Vertical members in walls, usually placed 12", 16", or 24" on center, that give the wall much of its strength.


Contractor who specializes in performing a specific building trade such as drywall, masonry, or painting. A subcontractor will often enter into a subcontract with a general contractor to perform specific work in the construction for an agreed upon price.


Surface or support onto which a finish surface is placed.

Supporting events

The sixth of the six points of estimation, supporting events is where the estimator includes work that must be done on undamaged items that is required in order to fix damaged items. For example, if a countertop must be replaced, an undamaged sink must be detached and stored until the countertop has been replaced, then reset. Because it was not damaged, detaching and resetting the sink is a supporting event to the countertop replacement. (ie. for the highlighted assembly item.)

Surface drying

Lumber drying process where lumber is allowed to remain exposed to the air long enough to allow it to lose its excess moisture. Lumber dried in this way is marked with an S-Dry stamp.

Surface-mount medicine cabinet

Medicine cabinet which is attached to the surface of the wall. See recess-mount medicine cabinet.


Name of the process when rough cut lumber is planed down to make the surfaces smooth. Sharp knives are run over the surface of the lumber cutting away 1/4" of the board. When lumber is surfaced on two sides it is called S-2-S and when it is surfaced on all 4 sides it is called S-4-S. Framing lumber is generally S-4-S. The resulting dimensions of the board are called nominal dimensions.

Suspended ceiling system

Non-structural ceiling which is suspended from the structural ceiling with wires.


Found on plans, symbols are used to represent common objects such as doors and light switches.

Synthetic felt pad

A carpet pad made from man-made felt which is highly resistant to tearing. See waffle type sponge rubber pad, rebond pad, and high density urethane foam pad.

Synthetic stucco

Stucco that comes pre-mixed by the manufacturer. It is usually applied in two coats which are much thinner than common stucco. It is applied on stucco sheathing.


T & P valve

Valve that releases water pressure when temperature and pressure exceed a preset limit.

T Lock shingle

Most common type of interlocking shingle. Produces a basket-weave pattern by sliding the lower edge of the shingle into slots at the top of the downhill shingles.

T1-11 (texture 1-11)

Sheets of wood siding, textured with a series of evenly spaced vertical grooves.

Tabbed shingle

Common type of composition shingle. A tabbed shingle has from two to six tabs, but three is the most common number of tabs. Tabbed shingles may have an imprinted texture on their surface.


Soft mineral used to finish areas of composition shingles that will not be exposed on the finish roof like the top of the shingle and the backside.


The process of pressing plastic material into a confined space using a bar or rod so that it compacts the material, removes air pockets, and causes it to mold completely to the shape of the space into which it is being pressed. Tamping concrete, which is also called rodding (because a rod is often used to do the tamping), causes the concrete to flow around rebar and under and around window bucks while removing the air pockets which cause honeycombing.

Taper siding

Siding with one edge much wider than the other. The thicker edge may have a groove or rabbet cut out of it so that it fits snugly over the thin edge of the course of siding directly below it.

Tapersawn shake

Wood shake that is resawn on both faces.


The fifth of the six points of estimation, technique is where the estimator decides how a damaged item will be restored to its original condition. For example, technique is where an estimator decides whether an item should be repaired, replaced, cleaned, or painted.

Teflon tape

Tape made from Teflon that helps to seal threaded pipe joints.

Tegular tile

Ceiling tiles with recessed edges that allow the tile to hang below the ceiling grid.

Tempered glass

Glass that is heated and then rapidly cooled, a process which makes it two to four times stronger than ordinary glass. Tempered glass must be used on tub or shower doors.


Pulling or stretching force. Opposite of compression.

Termite shield

Inorganic material placed between the concrete foundation and the lowest wood framing member. Shaped with downward sloping edges, it deters the entry of non-flying termites by forcing them to crawl over backwards to scale its edge.


Material used to make metal roofing panels. Made from steel mixed with two per cent copper.


Type of stone flooring made from marble or other stone chips that are mixed in Portland cement, poured in place, allowed to dry, and then polished.

Thermal break

Insulating layer located between the inside and outside parts of an aluminum window frame to block the flow of heat through the window frame.

Thermal pane glass

Window pane with two sheets of glass and a spacer between them. Most common residential pane unit. See also single pane and triple pane.


Automatic temperature device that turns on at one temperature and turns off at another.

Thinset tile

Tile which are attached directly to a substrate such as drywall. See isolation membrane.

Three-dimensional calculations

A process by which the number of three dimensional units (e.g. cubic yards) is determined for a given structural part. Three dimensional units of measure include all those that are measured in three directions (e.g. length, width, and height). Three-dimensional units of measure deal with volume. Examples are cubic feet, cubic yards and board feet.

Three-way switch

Electrical switches used to control the same fixture from two different areas, such as two ends of a room.


Horizontal piece at the bottom of the door opening. When the door is closed, the threshold fills the gap between the bottom of the door and the floor.


Area at the top of the firebox between the face of the smoke shield and the top of the flue.

Tile base

Specialty tile trim piece installed on a wall that covers the corner of a floor and the wall. See cap mold piece, cove piece, and double bullnose.

Tile countertop

Countertop made from tiles that are glued to a substrate. See plastic laminate countertop, solid surface countertop, solid plastic countertop, wood block countertop, cultured countertop, cultured marble countertop, and stone countertop.

Tin-can stud

Construction slang for a lighter-gauge metal stud.

Toe kick

Bottom portion of a lower cabinet unit that is recessed to reduce damage from shoes and to and hide marring that occurs as shoes hit against the finished material.


Nailing through one framing member at an angle into another framing member. Usually done to connect framing members that intersect at right angles and should involve having half of the nail in each member.


Unit of measure used to indicate the amount of cooling an air conditioning unit provides. A ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs. An air conditioning unit in a typical home provides from one to five tons of cooling.

Tongue and groove

Type of edge often found on materials to be used for sheathing, each panel has one long edge with a tongue and the other long edge with a corresponding groove. The tongue of one sheet will fit into the groove of the next sheet to form a seam or joint. This produces a much stronger joint than placing two square edges together.

Tool marks

Marks left in material by the knives used to create the shape such as those in a shaper or molder.

Tooled joint

Mortar joint between courses of brick in which the mason removes the excess mortar so that it is flush with the face of the brick. A tool is then used to shape the mortar.


Process of removing unwanted material from a finish carpentry joint through the use of a chisel, rasp or other sharp instrument.

Top chord

Upper or top member of a truss.

Top chord bearing

Flat trusses that are hung from their top chord.

Top rail

Top hand rail used on a balustrade. The tops of balusters are attached into the underside of the top rail. See balustrade and bread loaf top rail.

Topping mud

One of two types of drywall mud. Topping is used for final coats and contains less adhesive chemicals than does all purpose mud.

Touch down installation method

Installation method where roofing materials are heated with a torch until the material liquifies and forms a bond between layers, overlapping seams, or flashing. On modified bitumen roof systems, a method whereby app type modified bitumen roofing is adhered to the base sheet.


Electrical device that converts the high voltage in power lines into a lower voltage that may be used by homes and businesses.


A 4-sided shape with only two parallel sides. Usually the parallel sides are the top and base.


Two leads that are connected between three-way switches which allow power to a fixture to be switched on or off from either switch.


Part of a stair that supports your weight as you walk up it, also called the step.


A 3-sided shape. When one of the angles is a right angle, equal to 90, it is called a right triangle.

Trimmer (single or double)

Vertical framing member (stud) that is trimmed to the height of a door or window so it fits between the bottom plate and the header. It actually holds up the header and transfers the weight that it supports to the bottom plate. The trimmer is held in place by the king stud. Usually, interior wall openings will have a single trimmer under each end of the header and exterior wall openings will have a double trimmer under each end of the header; if the opening spans more than 6 feet, a double trimmer is usually used.

Trimmer bit

Type of router bit that contains a roller which guides the blades along a straight edge.

Triple pane glass

Window pane using three sheets of glass for extra insulation. See also single pane and thermal pane.


Tool with a flat surface, used to finish the concrete surface. Usually the last tool used to smooth the concrete surface. Its use must be timed carefully. Should be used after the concrete has lost its weep moisture but before it loses all of its plasticity.

Trowel pattern finish

Exterior concrete finishes which are created by skilled craftsmen when the concrete is ready to be troweled.


Structural part used to provide the primary support for the floor or roof sheathing. A roof truss system, including the trusses, sheathing, bracing and fasteners also provides support for the tops of the exterior bearing walls.

Tube form

Cylindrical tube made from compressed and resin impregnated paper and used to hold wet concrete until it cures. Also known by trade names such as Sonotube, Sleek Tube, and Smooth Tube.

Tuck carpet installation method

Method of installing carpet on a stair in which the carpet is wrapped around the nose of the tread, is attached to the riser, and then to the inside edge of the tread below. See waterfall carpet installation method.

Turbine vent

Vent which creates a vacuum in the attic by turning as the warm air escapes thereby pulling more air out.

Turbo toilet

Specialty water closet that uses the water pressure from the plumbing lines to force water into the bowl. The turbo toilet uses less water than most other types of water closets. See low-profile water closet and water cloest.

Turtle Vent

Vent positioned several feet below the ridge. Turtle vents have no moving parts, air is vented through them because it rises as it heats.

Two-dimensional calculations

A process by which the number of two dimensional units (e.g. square feet) is determined for a given structural part. Two dimensional units of measure include all those that are measured in two directions. Determining the area of a surface that is measured in two dimensional units, such as square yards or square feet, is a typical two-dimensional calculation.

Type X drywall

Drywall with a gypsum core which contains reinforcing fibers for added fire protection.



Block which looks the same as a standard block from the front or back, but whose cells are open on the top so that grout can flow outward to the other block on each side. The U-block provides for placement of horizontal reinforcing steel and grout to form a bond beam within the course (i.e. layer) where it is used.

Ufer ground

Type of ground where the ground wire is connected to the rebar system inside a footing and foundation system. Named after Thomas Ufer, the first person to specify it.

Under-slab utilities

Heating, plumbing, electrical or other utilities which are placed under the floor slab. They are generally placed in trenches that are then covered with compactible fill before the concrete floor slab is poured.

Undercoursing shingles

Shingles made from low quality wood with sapwood, flat grain, and possibly loose knots. Usually used under higher quality shingles since it will not waterproof a roof.


Material that is installed over the substrate. Vinyl floor covering is attached to the underlayment. See particleboard underlayment, plywood underlayment, lauan plywood underlayment, cement board underlayment, gypsum-based underlayment, and untempered hardboard underlayment.

Unit of measure

Each item quantity is expressed in terms of a two-letter code representing a standard unit of measure. For example, the default unit of measure for drywall is SF (square feet); the unit for light fixtures is EA (each); etc.

Unmatched veneer

Strips of veneer placed according to the veneerers judgment of how the strips look together or with no regard to graining or pattern. Also called pleasing matched veneer. See veneer, whole piece veneer, book matched veneer, and slip matched veneer.

Untempered harboard underlayment

An underlayment made from hardboard. Only untempered hardboard should be used. Tempered hardboard is not a suitable vinyl floor underlayment. See underlayment, particleboard underlayment, plywood underlayment, lauan plywood underlayment, cement board underlayment, and gypsum-based underlayment.

Up and over door

Door commonly found on garages, mounted in a track or frame enabling it to move above the opening when in the open position. See also overhead door (commonly used in the U.S).

Upflow furnace

Furnace which forces air up and out the top.

UPP—Unscheduled Personal Property

UPP includes furniture, some appliances, clothing, kitchen utensils, and other household goods of almost every description. However, there are specific categories with limited coverage such as jewelry, furs, silver and money that must be insured separately.

Upper unit (cabinet)

Any cabinet unit that is designed to hang on the wall, usually above a lower unit or appliance. See lower unit, vanity cabinet, and full height cabinet.

Usable wall space

Any section of wall along which a piece of furniture or an appliance may be placed. Hallways are generally not considered usable wall space.



Inside intersection created at the joint of two roof planes. It looks like a trough and channels water.

Valley flashing

Flashing which lines the valley of a roof system. Valley flashing may be completely covered with shingles or left partially exposed.

Valley jack

Type of jack rafter that runs from the valley rafter to the ridge board.

Valley rafter

Rafter that runs along the valley, forming the valley line.

Vanity cabinet

Type of lower unit cabinet that is designed to hold a bathroom sink. A standard vanity cabinet is slightly shorter than a standard lower unit. See lower unit, upper unit, and full height cabinet.

Vapor barrier

Layer of material placed on the exterior of the structure to prevent moisture from penetrating the surface of the structure.


A thin surface layer, usually wood, which is glued to a base made from less expensive materials such as medium density fiberboard (MDF) or plywood. See whole piece veneer, book matched veneer, slip matched veneer, and unmatched veneer.


Technique that involves the use of a mechanical device to shake concrete so that it settles tightly around the rebar and window bucks and removes the large air pockets which otherwise cause honeycombing. Vibration causes the concrete to settle tightly and smoothly against the forms.


A specific way of looking at a building, there are five basic views on a plan—elevation, floor plan, plot plan, section, and detail.

Vinyl cove

Vinyl which wraps a short distance up the wall.

Vinyl faced wall covering

Type of wall covering with a vinyl face that is strippable from a paper backing.


A decorative, circular handrail piece used at the bottom of a stair top rail that is installed over a bull nose starting step. The newel post connects into the bottom of the volute. See top rail, goose neck, one-quarter turn, and balustrade.



Type of wood product used for sheathing, it is produced by gluing large wood chips or "wafers" together that are at least 2" by 2"50mm x 50mm.

Waffle type sponge rubber pad

A sponge rubber pad which has been shaped to a pattern of alternating bumps and dimples. See synthetic felt pad, rebond pad, and high density urethane foam pad.


A section of wall covering material which starts at the bottom of the wall, then proceeds upward until it is interrupted by a visible border such as chair rail.


Horizontal bracing, usually 2 x 4s, secured to concrete wall forms to stiffen them so they can be more easily straightened. After attaching the walers, the straightening is accomplished by placing a string parallel to the wall form, then moving the form into alignment with the string, and attaching bracing to hold the wall in position. The walers help hold the areas between the bracing in the straightened position.

Wall tie

Used at the intersection of two walls to provide a backing for the end stud of the connecting wall. The two types of wall ties are corner ties and wall channels.


Material that must be purchased but cannot be used. Waste can result from trimming, rejection because of defect or other efforts to maintain acceptable quality of the structural building part containing that material. A per cent of waste should be included in virtually all material calculations.

Water closet

Plumbing fixture which flushes waste to a waste pipe. A water closet is also referred to as a toilet. See low-profile water closet and turbo toilet.

Water softener

Device which removes minerals from water.

Water table

Upper surface of groundwater.

Waterfall carpet installation method

Method of installing carpet on a stair in which the carpet overlaps the edge of the tread and falls in a straight line to the inside edge of the tread below. See tuck carpet installation method.


Process of coating the part of the foundation system that will be below the soil level with a material that can withstand long term exposure to water. Not the same as dampproofing which can only withstand short term exposure to water.

Wear layer (vinyl flooring)

One of three layers of material typically found in vinyl floor covering. The wear layer is the top layer. See pattern layer and backing layer.

Weather head

Device that prevents moisture from entering into the top of the conduit.


Diagonal supporting members running between the top and bottom chords of a truss.

Weep holes

Small openings in a masonry wall to allow water to drain through the masonry to the outside of the foundation wall. Weep holes may be filled with a fibrous material that allows water to drain out but prevents insects from entering.

Weep moisture

Excess water contained in the concrete mix which is not needed for hydration. It escapes through all the surfaces of the concrete as the mixture settles and forces it out.

Weeping mortar

Mortar between courses of brick that has not been troweled or otherwise smoothed after pressing the brick in place.

Welded wire mesh (wwm)

Grid of heavy gauge wires welded together and used to reinforce concrete slabs. Also known as re-mesh or wire mesh.

Wet-set method

Roof tile installation method used on roofs with less than a 7/12 slope and usually over a mineral faced hot-mopped underlayment. Mortar is used to hold the tiles in place. The tile is wet before installation so that the mortar will better bond to it. Most commonly used in the Southeastern United States where high winds and high moisture combine. Also referred to as mortar-set method or mud-on method.

Whole piece veneer

A piece of veneer that is large enough to cover an entire surface. See veneer, book matched veneer, slip matched veneer, and unmatched veneer.

Wind locks

Metal fastener inserted in the nail hole of a tile shingle and designed to overlap the lip of the next higher tile, providing additional means of holding it in place. Also called tile locks.

Window buck

Special form for the basement window opening placed between the foundation wall forms to produce the window opening. Once the poured concrete is in place and has lost its plasticity, the window buck is removed leaving a properly sized and shaped opening for the window unit.

Window fin

Part of the window unit that serves as the flashing when siding is installed over it.

Window pane

Glass part of a window unit; each light in a window unit has a window pane.

Window sash

Frame that holds the window pane.

Window sill

Bottom horizontal member of the window frame.

Window stop

Horizontal or vertical piece that prevents the window from falling out of the window frame. The window stop also forms the groove which the window slides in across the surface of the jamb.

Wire gauge

Unit of measure used to indicate wire size. The thicker the wire, the larger the gauge number. Also see American standard gauge.

Wire nut

Connector that cinches down on the ends of bare wire. The cinching action causes the wire to press together, making a good connection.

Wire reinforcement

Metal reinforcing mesh placed inside the mortar joints along specified courses or rows of block to tie and reinforce the block. Like the bond beam, courses containing wire reinforcement within the mortar joint tie and reinforce the masonry wall horizontally. A structural engineer specifies which courses should contain the wire reinforcement.

Wood block countertop

Countertop made from solid blocks of wood glued together. Although once common, wood block countertops are no longer popular because of their tendency to harbor germs. See plastic laminate countertop, solid surface countertop, solid plastic countertop, cultured countertop, cultured marble countertop, stone countertop, and tile countertop.

Wood edge (countertop)

Edge on a countertop which is made by trimming the square front corner with a decorative strip of wood. See plastic laminate countertop.

Wood shingle roof

Roof constructed from wood shingles that are sawn out of logs and are about 3/8" thick. Grades of wood shingles are blue label, red label, black label, and undercoursing.

Wool carpet

A carpet made with natural wool fibers. See nylon carpet, berber carpet, indoor-outdoor carpet, scultured carpet, and shag carpet.

Worker's wage

is the amount paid to the worker as an hourly rate.


Single, vertical masonry wall one unit thick. A double wythe wall is two units thick.




See Direct yield and Net yield.


Z flashing

Z shaped flashing placed so that its top is under the upper sheet and its bottom is over the lower sheet. Installed to prevent water from leaking into the structure.

Zero clearance fireplace

Another term for factory built fireplace that is not used in Xactimate because the term is misleading. "Zero clearance" indicates that combustible materials can touch the assembly, when in reality no combustible materials should ever touch a factory built fireplace.

Zip code matching

The Zip/Postal Code Price List Matching feature automates the process of selecting the correct price list for your estimates by automatically assigning a price list based on the zip/postal code of the primary address used in the estimate.

How Did We Do?