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DIY and Home-Improvement Glossary

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- A -

Adapter coupling: A flexible sleeve used to join a toilet pan outlet to the soil pipe inlet

Aerate: Loosen soil by digging or spiking to allow air to enter the soil

Aggregate: A mixture of small stones of varying size, which form the bulk of many concrete mixes

Allen keys: Strips of hexagonal-shaped hardened metal bent to an L-shape, used to tighten and loosen special nuts. Available in sets

Amps: A measure of electrical current. In incandescent lamps, amps are related to voltage and power as follows: Current (Amps) = Power (Watts) / Voltage (Volts)

Annuals: A plant which grows, flowers and dies within a single season

Anodised: Metal treated with a coating of zinc to prevent rusting

Aphids( Greenfly): A pest which infests plants, particularly roses, weakening them by feeding on the plant`s sap

Arbour: An attractive garden feature, usually with sides and a roof

Armoured cable: Used for outdoor wiring. Two insulated conductors are surrounded by steel wires which act as the earth conductor. There is an outer sheath of PVC

Arris rail: The triangular rail set between fence posts to which fencing panels are nailed

Auger bit (Twist bit): A bit with helical twist, centre screw and cutters used with a carpenter`s brace to bore holes in wood

Awning: A type of external blind, usually of canvas

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- B -

Back siphonage: A fault caused when external water is drawn back into a domestic water supply system

Ballast: A coarse aggregate used in concrete and for general building repairs

BAR: A measure of pressure

Bark mulch: A material applied around plants to conserve moisture and enrich the soil

Beam spread: A measure of the angular spread of light from reflector lamps such as R and PAR types, typically including the central part of the beam within 50% of the maximum intensity (centre beam candlepower - CBCP)

Bearers: Battens designed to provide a support for other timbers

Bedding: The act of pressing a tile or slab on to a prepared bed of adhesive or mortar

Bevelled edges: Edges which have been angled - such as on many wall tiles

Biax lamp: GE registered trademark for some Compact Fluorescent lamp families

Biennials: Plants producing stems and leaves in the first season, then flowers in the next. The plant dies after flowering

Bitumen: A black composition derived from mineral pitch, used for waterproofing

Bitumen emulsion: A thick liquid form of bitumen used as both waterproofer and adhesive, particularly on solid floors

Bolster chisel: A wide blade steel chisel used with a club hammer. Ideal for splitting bricks and slabs

Braces: Diagonal strips of timber used on tongued and grooved doors and gates to strengthen and prevent sagging

Bradawl: A tool with a sharp tip designed to make start holes for small screws

Brassicas: A plant grouping which includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers

Brick bolster: See Bolster chisel

Bulkhead fittings: Small enclosed watertight fittings used for outdoor lighting. As seen on ships' bulkheads

Burr: A rough edge often produced when drilling metal

Butt hinge: Used for hanging doors, the hinge has two rectangular leaves joined by a pin. It is normally recessed into both door and frame

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- C -

Cable buckles: Small straps, usually of soft metal, designed to hold cables in close contact with a surface

Cable cores: The actual cables which conduct electricity or act as the earth for an electrical system. (Two-core or three core cable)

Cam fastener: A fitting used on sash windows to lock two sashes together

Candela (CD): The International System (SI) unit of luminous intensity. The term has evolved from considering a standard candle as the basis of evaluating the intensity of other light sources. Sometimes the term candlepower is used to describe the relative intensity of a source (See Lumen)

Canker: A diseased and discoloured area on a plant stem

Capillary joints: Joints made in copper pipe using fittings containing a prepared ring of solder ready for heating

Capstan head pillar tap: A tap with a cross-shaped handle, with vertical inlet, designed to fit through a hole in a basin, sink or bath

Casement stay: The metal bar which controls the amount of opening of a casement window

Castor cups: Small plastic cups placed under castors to reduce the amount of wear on carpets

Catenary support wire: A wire which supports the weight of an outside extension cable when linking, for example, house and workshop

Caulking tool: A tool designed to press a filling material into gaps between materials such as plasterboard

Caustic-based stripper: A liquid stripper based on caustic soda which needs care in handling and neutralising

Cellulose filler: The most traditional filler for dealing with cracks and gaps prior to decorating. Not high in adhesion

Cement mortar: A mixture of sand and cement, used for a variety of jobs, ranging from bricklaying and pointing to gap filling

Centre beam candlepower: Light intensity in the centre of the beam, which is usually the maximum intensity

Central muntin: The vertical central timber of a panelled door into which, panels slot

Chamfer: A bevel produced on timber constructions, often for decorative purposes - such as door panels

Chelated iron compounds: Chemicals in soil which can aid the health of lime-hating plants

Chinagraph pencil: A pencil with greasy lead, designed to write on very smooth surfaces

Chitting: A method of preparing potato tubers by placing them in a tray in a light, airy place. This gives them a good start

Circuit breaker: A device designed to cut off the power to a given electrical circuit. Now replaces fuses in many modern homes

Cistern: The tank in which water is stored in many homes

Clearance hole: The hole drilled in a piece of wood, designed to accommodate the shank of a woodscrew

Cloches: A structure of glass or plastic to protect early crops outdoors

Cloddy soil: Soil in a lumpy condition

Closing stile: The vertical timber of a door to which a lock or latch is fitted

Coaxial downlead: A lead from a TV aerial down to wherever a TV and tuner are situated

Cockspur handle: The pivoted handle which holds a casement window shut

Codling moth grub: A caterpillar which attacks mainly apples

Co-efficient of utilisation: A percent of initial lamp lumens that reaches the work plane as determined by surface reflection, room shape (RCR), and fixture efficiency

Coir cement: A cement which contains coconut fibre as a binding agent

Cold frame: A simple outdoor construction in which to grow seeds or small plants

Colour rendering: Defines how light from the lamps affects the colours of objects being illuminated

Combination boiler: Is designed to provide water for heating and domestic hot water. Eliminates the need for a hot water cylinder

Compact fluorescent lamp: The general term applied to families of smaller diameter fluorescent lamps, some of which have built-in ballasts and BC or ES caps for easy replacement of incandescent lamps (See Energy Saving Light bulb)

Compression joint: A plumbing component for pipe jointing where a spanner is used to seal the joint

Compression T joint: A pipe fitting in the form of the letter T. See also Compression joint

Conduit gland: A component used when securing outdoor cable in a mounting box

Consumer unit: The power centre of a home`s electrical system

Continuity tester: An electrical appliance designed to check that electrical circuits are functioning correctly

Core bit: A bit consisting of a circle of tungsten carbide-tipped teeth, designed to make large holes in masonry. Used with a power drill

Couplers: Special sleeves designed to join lengths of PVC conduit together. Joints are solvent-welded

Crackle glaze: A crackle finish produced in the glaze of a tile during manufacture

Cranked hinge: A hinge bent in such a way that a door can be opened through 180 degrees

Cranked spanner: A spanner with off-set jaws, for dealing with nuts in confined spaces

Cranked swivel tails: Tap tails which allow connection to a pipe which may not be in direct line with the tap

Craquelure: A crackle glaze finish supplied as a two-part varnish. Ideal for furniture decoration.

Cross bonding: A method of linking insulated earthing cables so that a system is safely earthed

Cross rail joint: The point at which a door rail meets a vertical stile

Cylinder lock: The most common door lock where the key operates the door latch

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- D -

Datum pegs: Pegs used to mark out an area when constructing paths, drives or patios

Datum point: The measured point at which a datum peg is to be inserted

Deadlocking: The turn of a key in a lock which makes the lock inoperable without the key

Dead-heading: The removal of the remains of flowers which have bloomed

Deciduous: Refers to trees which shed their leaves annually

Dedicated radial circuit: A circuit run from a consumer unit, necessary when installing an instantaneously heating electric shower

Deep seal trap: The U-bend beneath a bath or basin which prevents smells rising from drains

Defoliate: To remove leaves from a plant

Delft rail: A form of display or picture rail

Dimmable: An electrical device which enables you to vary the light output of the lamp

Dip pipe flange: A special flange which fits into the top of a cylinder to provide a separate supply - such as to a pumped shower

Diplexers: Units which avoid the need for multiple downleads when you have both TV and FM aerials

Direct cylinder: A cylinder connected directly to a hot water supply

Directional dipole aerial: A type of aerial which is sited so it is directed at the transmitter supplying radio signals

Distemper: An early form of chalky paint best removed before repainting with emulsion

Double-check non-return valve: A special valve inserted mainly in external taps to prevent back-siphonage

Dovetail nailing: A system of angling nails to provide a better grip - especially in end-grain

Dowel: A cylindrical, grooved piece of wood used to join two pieces of wood together

Downpipe shoe: The angled end-piece of a downpipe directing water into a gully

DPC: Damp Proof Course. A material used to prevent damp rising into the fabric of a building

Drain spigot: The end of a pipe to which a hose can be connected to drain down a domestic water system

Drilling jig: An aid to ensuring holes are drilled in correct positions - as with making dowel joints

Drip loop: A loop designed to discourage rainwater from gathering on an overhead cable

Dry mortar mix: A mix with a minimum of water so the mortar doesn`t stain a surface

Drylined: The use of plasterboard to line a wall or ceiling, as opposed to using wet plaster

Ducting: A form of channelling. Can be to direct air or fumes to an exit, or to house or hide pipes or wiring

Dust mulch: A loose soil surface produced by shallow hoeing. The hoeing also eliminates weeds

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- E -

Earth clamps: A means of connecting insulated earthing cables to pipes

Earthing tags: Used to connect an earthing cable to metal baths and sinks

Eaves: The lowest point of a roof which usually overhangs the walls

Eddy currents: A movement of wind often encouraged by walls and fences. Hedges reduce wind speed more effectively

Edging sander: A power tool ideal for finishing floor sanding around the perimeter of a room

Efficacy: See Lumens Per Watt (lpw)

Efflorescence: A fluffy white deposit formed through salts being drawn by damp from masonry - mainly brickwork

Electromagnetic spectrum: An orderly arrangement of radiant energy by wavelength or frequency. In the visible spectrum, the eye is sensitive to radiant energy between 380 nanometers (violet) and 770 nanometers (red)

Energy saving light bulb: Uses advanced 'electronic' technology to produce a highly efficient and compact light using a fraction of the electricity of ordinary incandescent bulbs. These bulbs use about 20% of the electricity of standard bulbs and last up to eight times as long

EPDM seal: A form of draught excluder

Ericaceous compost: A compost suitable for all lime-hating plants

Escutcheon plate: Open or covered, it provides a neat finish to a keyhole - and keeps out draughts

Espalier fruits: Fruit trees trained by pruning and tying so that the branches lie flat against a wall or fence

Eye bolt: See Ring bolt

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- F -

Faceplate: The outer part of a light switch or socket outlet

Fascia: The board immediately below a roof to which guttering is fixed

Feather-edge boards: Boards which are tapered across the width. Mainly used for close-board fencing

Female connectors: That section of a fitting which houses the thread

Filament: Very thin coiled wire used in incandescent lamps which is heated by an electric current to produce light

Filling loop: A means of feeding water into a sealed domestic water system, or a system with a combination boiler

Finial: The end-stops on curtain poles, usually decorative

Fitch: A type of brush used for stencilling

Fitch fastener: A device designed to secure a wooden sliding sash window. Not a good security risk

Flashing: A means of sealing the gap between a roof and an adjoining wall

Flashing tape: A waterproof, self-adhesive tape, used for creating new or repairing old flashings

Flexible drain auger: A flexible device for clearing blockages in drainpipes

Flexible filler: A filling material which retains its grip despite slight movements in the materials involved

Flexible silicone joint: A seal made with silicone sealant which has the ability to absorb movement between surfaces without cracking

Float valve: A valve which is opened and closed by the movement of a float as water level varies

Floating floor: A floor which is independent of the base upon which it stands

Flue: A channel designed to allow for the removal of fumes from a domestic fire

Flue liner: A flexible liner inserted into an existing flue to prevent corrosion of the flue lining

Fluorescent lamp: A lamp in which electric discharge of ultraviolet energy excites a fluorescent coating (phosphor) and transforms some of that energy to visible light. Uses very little electricity and last for a long time

Foliage: The leaves of any form of plant. Not the flowers

Foliar feed: A type of liquid plant food which is taken up by the leaves

Fruiting spurs: Short lateral branches of a fruit tree

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- G -

Galvanised: Metal parts coated with zinc to prevent rusting

Gasket: A kind of washer designed to provide a perfect seal between two surfaces

Gate valve: A tap designed to control low-pressure water flow. Usually with a wheel handle

Gauge: A simple device for finding the centre point of any circular object (Centre finding gauge)

Gazebo: A garden structure, usually positioned for its view

G clamps (or cramps): Devices shaped like the letter G, for holding work pieces in close contact - often when gluing

Germination: The very first stage of a plant's development

Geyser effect: A fountain with intermittent rise and fall of water

Gimlet: A small tool, usually with T-shaped handle, for boring small holes

Gland nut: A small nut in the body of a tap which compresses the gland packing to prevent water leaking at the tap spindle

Glazing bars: The supports into which glass is fitted - as in a greenhouse

Glyphosate: A garden chemical suitable for helping eliminate unwanted grasses and weeds

Gravity circulation: A natural (un-pumped) flow created within a water heating system

Grommet: A soft washer, usually rubber, designed to prevent a cable coming into contact with a metal socket box

Groundsel: A common weed whose seeds are carried by the wind

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- H -

Halogen beam: A bright light produced by a tungsten halogen bulb. Widely used in exterior security lighting

Halogen light bulb: Produces twice as much light and lasts twice as long as a conventional incandescent bulb of the same wattage. However, they generate a great deal of heat

Hardcore: The sub-base material for concrete work, usually made of broken brick or stone

Hasp: Half of a hasp and staple, used with a padlock to secure the door of a building

Head plate: A horizontal timber fixed to a ceiling to which vertical timbers of a stud partition are nailed

Headgear mechanism: The working part of a tap, including handle

Herbaceous: A type of plant that does not develop a woody stem. Usually dies off in Autumn to re-grow in Spring

Herbicide: A general term for weedkiller

Hexagon bush: A coupling designed to join together lengths of flexible supply hose - as to a washing machine

Hinge bolts: Bolts inserted at the hinge side of a door to prevent the door from being levered off its hinges

Hoe: A traditional garden tool used for chopping off weeds and piling soil around plants

Hoggin: A bedding material of gravel and sandy clay - more expensive than hardcore

Hole boring tool: See Gimlet

Hollow tine aerators: A garden tool with hollow prongs designed to allow air to enter the soil

Hopper head: An external fitting at the head of a downpipe into which wastepipes from basins and baths may drain

Horticultural fleece: A lightweight, fluffy, material which can be laid over seeds or young plants to insulate them from the cold

Hose lances: A metal extension to a hose to simplify the watering of window boxes and hanging baskets

Humus-rich casts: Deposits from some worms which contain nutrients beneficial to the soil

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- I -

Illuminance: The quantity of light (foot-candles or lux) at a point on a surface

Impoverished grass: Grass which lacks nutrients and water

Incandescent bulbs: A bulb with a filament that glows with light and heat

Indirect cylinder: A hot water cylinder in which domestic water and central heating water are separated from each other

Infrared radiation: For practical purposes, any radiant energy within the range 770-106 nanometers. This energy is sensed as heat

Initial lumens: Light output of a lamp

Insectivorous species: Types of plant which trap and devour insects

Irrigation system: A method of circulating or supplying water to feed plants

Isolating valve: A form of tap designed to control the supply of water to a system

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- J -

Japanned: Metal items coated in a tough lacquer

Joists: The timber supports upon which a floor is constructed

Jubilee clip: A circular clip which can be tightened by means of a small screw. Often used on hoses

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- K -

Keyhole angle plates: Slotted metal plates which connect with screw heads to lock an item in place

Kilowatt (kW): A larger unit of power; a thousand watts (watts x 1000 = kilowatts)

Kilowatt Hour (kwh): The measure of electrical usage from which electricity billing is determined. For example, a 100-watt lamp operated for 1000 hours would consume 100 kilowatt hours, (100 watts x 1000 hours = 100 kwh). At a billing rate of 0.10/kwh, this lamp would cost 10.00 (100 kwh x 0.10/kwh) to operate

Knotting: A shellac-based liquid used to prevent knots in wood from `bleeding` resin

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- L -

Lamp: This is actually the technical word meaning light bulb or tube - the part that provides light until it burns out. However, the lamp is also commonly used to refer to a type of fixture, such as a desk lamp

Lamp efficiency: Lamp selection with more light output per watt of input to reduce cost of lighting - the more efficient the lamp, the lower the cost of lighting

Lamp properties: Lamp properties are characteristics which describe the lamp functionality. They include watts, volts, and colour rendering index

Linear fluorescent: Straight, tubular-shaped fluorescent light - uses very little electricity and lasts for a very long time

Lintel: A strong support, usually above a door or window designed to bear the weight of any load above it

Live knots: Any knots in timber which are still exuding resin (See Knotting)

Load bearing: Any structure which is supporting weight. Such as a load bearing wall

Loam: Soil which is a mixture of sand, clay, humus and silt

Lock staple: The housing mounted on a doorframe into which a latch and bolt move

Lockshield head: The upper part of a lockshield valve, fitted to a hot water radiator to control the water flow

Low voltage: Denotes a lamp with a voltage of less than 50 Volts

Lugs: Projections built into an appliance to enable it to be secured to a wall. As with a fireplace surround

Lumen maintenance: How a lamp maintains its light output over its life, often expressed as percent initial lumens vs. percent rated life

Lumens per watt (lpw): A measure of the efficacy of a light source in terms of the light produced for the power consumed. For example, a 100-watt lamp producing 1750 lumens gives 17.5 lumens per watt. Examples: Edison's first lamp 1.4 lpw Incandescent lamps 10-40 lpw Fluorescent lamps 35-100 lpw Halogen lamps 20-45 lpw

Luminaire: The international term for a complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp (or lamps), together with the parts designed to distribute the light, position and protect lamps and connect them to the power supply

Luminaire efficiency: The ratio of lumens emitted by a Luminaire to those emitted by the lamp or lamps used

Luminance: Measurable quantity (candelas per square inch or per square metre) which is related to perceived brightness

Lux: The SI (International System) unit of illumination: one lumen uniformly distributed over an area of one square metre

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- M -

Magnetic contact transmitter: A device mainly fitted to windows which activates an alarm when the window is opened

Male threaded connector: That part of a connector which includes the actual thread (See Female connector)

Marginal plants: Plants which require constantly damp or wet soil

Masonry bit: A drill bit with tungsten carbide tip, used for drilling holes in bricks and blocks

Masonry nails: Specially hardened nails which can be driven direct into bricks and blocks (safety spectacles essential)

Masonry paint: Paint specially formulated for coating rendered exterior walls

Masonry stud anchors: A special type of expanding bolt used to fix timbers to masonry

Mastic: A flexible sealant used widely for repairs, and for waterproofing surfaces

MCB: Short for miniature circuit breakers. Replacing fuses in modern homes

Mealy moulds: White, woolly patches on plants caused by the mealybug pest

Melamine: A plastic best known as the material used to surface worktops (Formica laminate)

Milliamp residual current device: See RCD

Millstone: Stone originally used for grinding flour, but now widely used as a garden decoration

Mini trunking: A plastic surface-mounted channeling used to hide pipes or cables

Mitred: Any material with surfaces cut at an angle. Mostly associated with picture frame corners

Mortar: See Cement mortar

Mortice lock: A type of lock where the key drives a bolt into a striking plate in the door frame

Mouldings: Decorative strips of wood

Mounting box: A box to which a light switch or socket is screwed

Mulching: The application of a material to the soil around a plant to conserve moisture, enrich the soil and discourage weeds

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- N -

Nocturnal arthropods: Insects, such as centipedes, which hunt at night

Noggings: Short timber struts used as strengtheners. Usually associated with joists or timber studs

Non-ferrous: Metals with no iron content, such as copper or aluminium

Non-load bearing: A surface, such as a partition wall which has no weight bearing upon it

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- O -

Offset: A change of direction in the design of a component or tool - such as offset spanner

Offset bend: A section of pipe especially angled to alter the position of a downpipe - i.e, bring it closer to a wall

Omni-directional aerial: A type of radio aerial ideal for receiving signals from several FM transmitters

Openable sashes: A window which slides up and down in a frame, to open or close it

Ornate escutcheon: A decorative keyhole cover, pivoted at the top

Over-rim supply bidet: A bidet connected in the same way as a washbasin, with water supplied to the inner rim

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- P -

Parabolic aluminised reflector (PAR) lamp: A type of incandescent lamp of heavy glass that controls its light beam by a reflector and lens; typically used in floodlighting

Parquet: Timber flooring made up of small blocks of wood, often in basket-weave pattern

Particle board: Sheet material made from wood chips bonded together under pressure - such as chipboard

Passive system: Often referred to an alarm system which lies dormant until disturbed by intrusion

Paste flux: A special paste which is used to prepare a metal surface prior to soldering

Peach leaf curl: A disease often caused by poor air circulation around the plant

Pebble dash: A form of wall rendering produced by flinging small pebbles onto a wet mortar

Pent roof: A roof sloping in one direction - i.e. shed roof, front to back

Perennials: Plants which live for an indefinite period, dying down in Autumn and producing new growth in Spring

Pergola: A decorative timber structure, ideal for climbing plants

Perlite: A fine pebble-like material used with nutrients to grow plants without soil

Phosphor: A coating deposited on the inner bulb surface of fluorescent lamps, which converts ultraviolet energy into visible light

Phosphorous: A garden fertiliser essential for seed germination and root development

Pilaster blocks: Hollow blocks used to form the end piers of screen block walling

Pilot hole: Hole drilled in timber to give a start for the thread part of a screw

PIR detector: Short for passive infra-red, used in security devices to detect the movement of intruders

Plank: A thin but strong section of timber used to stand on, or wheel barrows over

Pirimicarb: A chemical used in pesticides which will control aphids without harming beneficial insects

Plate vibrator: A powered vibrator used to work fine sand between blocks used for paths and drives

Plinth panel: A raised section, such as around the base of a shower cabinet

Plumb line: A weighted cord used to check or locate a true vertical. Used principally in wallpapering

Pointing: The use of mortar to finish the joints formed between bricks in a wall

Pollination: The act of carrying pollen from flower to flower, facilitating fertilisation

Polyurethane: A chemical used in many exterior varnishes to ensure weatherproofing and durability

Porous: A material which has the ability to absorb liquids

Potash: An excellent plant food, which also protects against disease and ensures a balanced use of nitrogen

Power factor (PF): A measure of how efficiently a device uses power. Power factor may range from 0 to 1, with 1 being the ideal. A device that converts all the power supplied to it by the power utility into watts is said to have a power factor of 1. Devices with PF greater than or equal to 0.90 are referred to as High Power Factor (HPF) devices, whereas devices with PF less than 0.60 are referred to as low power factor devices

Press locking bolt: A bolt which can be manually driven home without the use of a key

Proboscis: The elongated part of the mouth of an insect

Profile gauge: A device housing a large number of movable needles which, when pressed against a surface, will take up its shape

Propagation: A way of multiplying a plant by natural process from a parent stock

Propagator: A mini greenhouse designed to encourage propagation

Proprietary filler: Any filler, used when decorating, known by brand name

Purlins: Horizontal timbers running parallel to the ridges, also referred to as side timbers

Purpose-made cylinder union: A device for connecting primary pipe work to a hot water cylinder

Push-fit joints: Joints which lock naturally when pressed together

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- Q -

Quadrant moulding: A thin piece of timber of quarter-circle section

Queen closer: A small section of brick used to complete a pattern in Flemish and English bond

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- R -

Rafter: A timber sloping from the ridge to the wall head and supporting the roof coverings

Rag rolling: A form of decoration where paint is transferred to a surface by a loosely rolled rag

RCD: Short for Residual Current Device, it has the ability to cut off a power supply immediately if a fault develops in a circuit

Reflector lamp: An incandescent lamp with a built-in reflecting surface. The glass bulb is blow-moulded in one piece and may be of soft or hard glass. The reflector is a specific functional shape to concentrate the light in one direction

Render, rendering: The process of coating an external wall with a layer of fine cement mortar

Re-point: To replace missing or damaged mortar between bricks

Resin: The sticky sap which exudes mainly from knots in timber

Ridge: The line formed where two sides of a sloping or pitched roof meet

Ring circuit/Ring main: The system of running rings of cable around rooms, to which electrical sockets are connected

Rodding eye: An opening in a drainage pipe through which rods can enter to clear a blockage

Rootstock: A vigorous growing plant to which another plant is grafted

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- S -

Sash: The part of a window which slides up and down in a frame

Sash stops: Small security devices which prevent a sash window opening further than a given point

Scarify: To remove thatch and dead grass from a lawn by raking

Scotia beads: Decorative mouldings, all based upon a right-angled section of timber

Screed: A fine layer of concrete or compound used to provide a smooth and level surface to a floor

Screeding timbers: Spaced battens temporarily fixed to a wall and used for depth control when plastering

Screw eye: A screw with open circular head available in a range of sizes. Provides an anchor point for curtain wire hooks or ropes

Scumble glaze: Used in a form of decoration where a light glaze is painted over a darker colour

Sealant: A special filler designed to seal the gap between two surfaces - such as bath or basin and wall

Sealing washers: A flexible washer used between tap and a basin to provide a watertight seal

Serpentine layering: A system of layering along the long stems of climbers such as Clematis

Shavehook: A shaped metal tool designed to scrape softened paint from a decorated surface

Shellac-based knotting: See Knotting

Shepherd`s purse: A common annual garden weed

Shiplap claddding: Shaped timber boards, designed to overlap to provide a weather tight joint

Shuttering (Formwork): A temporary structure into which fluid concrete is poured

Silicon carbide paper: An abrasive paper which can be used wet or dry. Contains a special non-clogging agent

Skew nailing: Nails driven in at an acute angle to improve holding power

Soffit board: A board used to enclose the space below a fascia board (See Fascia)

Soil stack (Soil pipe): A pipe designed to convey gases from drains away from the house

Sole plate: A timber used as a base to which vertical timbers are nailed to form a stud partition

Solenoid valve: An electrically operated valve, often used to control water flow in an appliance - washing machine, dishwasher

Solvent cement: An adhesive which softens the material to which it is applied - such as polystyrene cement

Solvent-welded joints: Used in plastic plumbing, the adhesive used melts the plastic together

Spacers: Pieces of X-shaped plastic inserted between wall tiles to produce small gaps. Not removed

Spacing lugs: The small projections on certain wall tiles which provide the necessary spacing

Spigot end: The plain end of a pipe, designed to fit into a socket in another pipe

Spoke shave: A small two-handed tool used to plane narrow curved sections of timber

Spotlight: Beam of light projected onto a particular object or location

Spurs: Electrical cables run from a ring circuit to feed other sockets or appliances

Stabilising primer: A primer used to bond an unstable surface prior to decorating - i.e. over old distemper or old external rendering

Stakes: Strong timber battens used to support plants

Stamen: The male reproductive organ of a flower

Staple: Used with a Hasp on an outbuilding door to provide a fixing point for a padlock

Stay arm: See Casement stay

Stay peg: The raised pin on which holes in a casement stay can be located

Stiles: The vertical timbers of a panelled door

Stippler: A special brush designed to produce a soft broken effect to a surface being painted

Stock block: The main part of a mortise gauge which slides along the bar housing the marking pins

Stop cock: Most commonly the tap which can be used to cut off the water supply to a home

Stopends: Sections of guttering used to cap the ends of runs

Stress crack: Damage often caused by over tightening a fitting, or applying too much pressure

Striker plate: The part of a lock fitted to the door frame, into which the bolt and latch pass

Striplight: Tubular-shaped incandescent lightbulb used in bathroom shaver lights, picture lights and under-cupboard lighting (See also Fluorescent Lamps)

Stud partition: A wall constructed of timbers to which plasterboard is nailed

Stud and noggin: A timber framework with short strengthening pieces inserted

Succulent: A type of plant which retains a large amount of water and has thick, fleshy leaves

Surface-mounted socket: A type of socket designed to be mounted on the surface of a wall, rather than inset

Surform: A shaping tool with a base perforated by scores of chisel-like teeth

Sward: An area of ground covered by short grass

Swarf: Metal shavings - produced by drilling

Swivel tap: Any tap where the spout can be moved from side to side

Systemic fungicide / insecticide: Chemicals which enter the sap of a plant to kill fungus or insects

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- T -

Tamping: To compress soil or building materials by striking with a flat surface

Tap spindle: The part of a tap linking the handle to the main body

Taproot: The chief descending root of a plant

Teed-off: A branch taken from an existing pipe - in the form of a letter T

Thermal Resistance: The value of the thermal resistance of a piece of material can be thought of as the temperature difference across it required to produce one unit of heat flow per unit area. It is measured by m2K/W, where m2 is the surface area, K is the temperature difference and W is the resultant heat flow

Thermostatic valve: A valve used on a radiator which can be set to control the heat-output

Threaded insert: The threaded part of a jointing system designed to be inserted into timber

Tilling soil: Raking over an area to prepare it or disturb weed growth

Tilth: Soil prepared and ready to use

Timber bearers: See Bearers

Topiary: The art of clipping shrubs into ornamental shapes

Torque: The amount of force applied by a spanner to tighten or loosen a thread. Some tools have a Torque control

Trellis: An open construction of thin battens, ideal for climbing plants

Tuber: The thick part of an underground plant stem - such as the potato

Two-core flex: A flexible cable having only `live` and neutral conductors. As used with double-insulated appliances

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- U -

Ultraviolet radiation: Any radiant energy within the range of 100-380 nanometers. Wavelengths 180-220nm produce ozone; 220-300nm bactericidal (germicidal); 280-320nm erythemal (reddening of human skin); and 320-400nm secondary luminance (blacklight)

Union clips: Special sections, incorporating seals, which link two sections of plastic gutter together

Unvented water cylinder: A cylinder well suited to feeding continental water taps

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- V -

Vapour barrier: A water-resistant sheet often used in house construction to prevent moisture passing from one surface to another

Variable gain controls: A TV signal booster which allows you to select the level of amplification you need for good results

Variegated: Plant leaves marked with a number of contrasting colours

Vine weevil: A beetle pest which cuts irregular notches in the leaves of many plants

Volt: A unit of measure of the potential difference in an electric circuit. (A lamp's voltage should match the voltage rating of the circuit on which it operates)

Voltage: A measurement of electromotive force or the pressure of electricity

Volts (V): Voltage requirement (e.g. 240V)

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- W -

Waterproofer: A liquid designed to prevent the entry of water into masonry. It may still allow the wall to `breathe` so moisture can escape

Watt: Unit used to measure power consumption

Weatherstruck joint: Pointing in brickwork finished with a sloping, roof-like, surface

Worm casts: Mounds of coiled, sticky earth deposited on a soil's surface

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