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Glossary

General building terms

See also   English Heritage Glossary -  building materials keywords 

 

AIR BRICK
A perforated brick or metal/plastic grille used for ventilation, typically in external walls to suspended timber ground floor voids.

 

ACCESS TOWER

A moveable scaffolding platform allowing access for high level work on roofs etc.

 

AGGREGATE

Gravel, shingle or pebbles etc used in the manufacture of concrete.

 

APRON

A metal strip, usually of lead, fitted at the base of a chimney or under window sills above tile-hung bays, to provide a waterproof joint.

 

ARCHITRAVE
Moulded wood strip covering the joint at the edge of a door or window frame and the surrounding wall.

 

ASBESTOS CEMENT

Cement with 10 –15% asbestos fibre as reinforcement. Hazardous fibres may be released if cut or drilled.

 

ASPHALT

Black tar-like substance used as an adhesive and impervious moisture barrier on flat roofs and floors.

 

BACK GUTTER

A metal flashing strip forming a waterproof seal between the back of a stack and its roof slope.

 

BALANCED FLUE

Metal vent that allows gas appliances both to draw air in from outside and to expel exhaust fumes. Some are fan assisted.

 

BALUSTERS
Vertical spindles supporting the handrail of a staircase.

 

BALUSTRADE
A row of balusters / spindles  joined to a horizontal rail, typically to a staircase or landing.  

BARGE BOARD
Boards placed along the verges of a roof , usually at gable ends, often of decorative timber. AKA ‘vergeboard’.

 

BATTEN
Thin lengths of timber  to which  tiles or slates are nailed or fixed.

 

BEETLE INFESTATION

Larvae of various species of beetle which tunnel into wood causing damage, usually evident as small boreholes.  The generic term is  ‘woodworm’.

 

BENCHING

Smooth layer of concrete alongside the drainage channel in an inspection chamber. AKA ‘haunching’.

 

BITUMEN

Black, sticky substance related to asphalt. Used in sealants, mineral felts and DPC’s

 

BOND
The pattern in which bricks are laid in mortar to form a wall.

 

BREEZE BLOCK

Commonly used  term for  various types of concrete building blocks, originally made from cinders (‘breeze’).

 

 

CASEMENT
A window hinged at one edge and designed to open inwards or outwards.

 

CAVITY WALL

Standard modern (post 1930) main wall construction comprising two leaves of brick or blockwork about 280mm thick, separated by a gap (cavity) of about 50mm which can be insulated. The leaves are secured together with wall ties.

 

CEMENT FILLET
The covering over a junction (eg between roof s and walls) made from mortar instead of a metal flashing.

 

CESSPIT or  CESSPOOL
An underground tank  to hold sewage and foul waste, needing regular emptying.

 

CHIMNEY BREAST
That part of the chimney flue that projects into a room. The ‘stack’ is the part above roof level.

 

CISTERN

A water storage tank (usually to a WC or water tank in loft)

 

COLLAR
A horizontal timber member that joins and restrains  opposing roof slopes.

 

COMBINATION BOILER

Modern ‘sealed system’ gas boiler  which activates on demand for hot water or central heating and does not require water tanks or cylinders, being supplied direct from the mains.

 

COPING
Masonry covering laid on top of a wall, to stop rain soaking into the wall, usually of stone or concrete.

 

CORBEL
Projection of brick, stone, timber or metal  jutting out from a wall to support a load such as a beam.

 

CORNICE  and  COVING
Ornamental plaster around the joint of a wall and ceiling. Coving is a curved strip covering the joint of a wall and ceiling.

 

COWL
A cap to a chimney or vent pipe.

 

DADO

Protective wooden or tiled horizontal strip running along internal walls, about 1m above the floor.

 

DAMP PROOF COURSE (DPC)
An impervious layer (eg  slate, felt, PVC) built into a wall to prevent the passage of dampness.

DAMP PROOF MEMBRANE (DPM)

An impervious layer (polythene sheeting, bitumen etc) within a concrete ground floor slab to prevent rising damp.

 

DORMER WINDOW
A window which projects out from a roof slope.

 

DOWEL
Thin timber plugs that hold jointed sections of  timber together.

 

EAVES
The overhanging edge of a roof near the gutter.

 

 

FALL

The slope or gradient, typically of a pipe run or flat roof, to ensure water run off.

 

FANLIGHT
A small window above a door or casement.

 

FASCIA
H
orizontal timber boards that run along the eaves at the base of  roof slopes. They often cover the ends of the rafters. Gutters may be fixed to them.

 

FEATHERBOARDING

A lining of timber boards laid over the rafters, under the tiles. Fitted to some better quality roofs

 

FIBREBOARD

Lightweight board for ceilings or internal walls made of compressed wood pulp, now superseded by plasterboard.

 

FILLET
A small strip of cement / lime mortar,  timber, plastic  etc used to cover or seal the junction between two surfaces.

 

FLASHING
A thin strip usually of lead or zinc used to cover roof joints to prevent leakage  (eg to chimney stacks).

 

FLAUNCHING
Smooth contoured cement mortar around the base of chimney pots.

 

FLUE LINING

Flues are the ‘exhaust ducts’  for gasses  from fires or appliances.  Flue linings are long tubes fitted within flues, usually of stainless steel, clay pipework or concrete.

 

GABLE
The triangular upper part of a wall under the verges at the edge a pitched roof (‘gable end’).

 

GULLEY

An opening into a drain,  receiving water from downpipes or waste pipes.

 

HEADER

The end of a brick, visible in solid walls when laid crossways  (see ‘stretchers’).

 

HIP
The external junction where two roof slopes meet.

 

HOPPER  or  HOPPERHEAD
An open-topped box or funnel at the top of a downpipe that collects rainwater or waste water from one or more pipes.

 

INSPECTION CHAMBER

A ‘manhole’ with a removable cover providing access to the drainage channel at its base.

 

JAMB
Vertical side part of a door frame or window.

 

JOISTS
Horizontal structural beams used to construct ceilings, timber floors and flat roofs.

 

LAP
The overlap of courses of slates or tiles.

 

LATH

Thin strips of wood traditionally used as a backing to plaster

 

 

LINO

‘Linoleum’  - a sheet material floor covering made of hessian, jute etc with a mixture of powdered cork, linseed oil, rosin and pigment.

 

LINTEL
Horizontal structural beam over a window or door opening. Normally made of timber, concrete, stone or steel.

 

LOUVRES
Glass or timber slats laid at an angle or hinged so that they can be opened to allow ventilation.

 

MASTIC
A generic term for any sealant used in the building process, eg for sealing joints around window openings.

 

MEZZANINE
An intermediary floor, eg  between the ground and first floor.

 

MORTISE

A slot cut in a section of wood for a corresponding ‘tenon’ of another section to fit into.

 

MULLION
An upright division of a window such as a vertical bar dividing individual lights.

 

NEWEL
A stout post at the bottom or top of a stair to which the handrail is fixed.

 

NIB

The projecting ‘lug’ on the back of a tile that hooks over the supporting batten

 

NOGGIN  or  NOGGING

A short timber batten that fits between a pair of joists or timber studs  to add strength.

 

NOSING
The rounded projecting edge of a stair step.

 

ORIEL WINDOW
A window projecting from an upper floor.

 

PADSTONE
A  stone or robust  block laid under the end of a beam or steel joist,  to help distribute the load.

 

PANTILES
Large curved roofing tiles which hook over adjoining tiles.

 

PARAPET
Low wall  along the edge of a flat roof or balcony.

 

PARQUET FLOOR
Small strips of wood usually laid on a solid floor to form a pattern.

 

PIER

A vertical column, usually built in brickwork, used to strengthen a wall or support a weight.

 

PARTY  WALL
The wall which separates, but is shared by adjoining properties.

 

PITCH
The angle or slope of a roof, technically the ratio of span to height.

 

PLASTERBOARD

Large thin sheets made of plaster sandwiched between coarse paper, used for ceilings and internal walls.

 

PLINTH
The projecting base of a wall, usually of brick or render.

 

POINTING
The smooth outer edge of mortar joints between bricks, stone etc

 

PURLINS
Horizontal beams in a roof  upon which the rafters rest.

 

QUARRY TILES

Plain single colour  ‘geometric’  floor tiles made from clay, often red or brown, usually unglazed. (from the French word carre’ meaning square)

 

QUOIN
Projecting bricks or stone blocks traditionally used at corners of walls.

 

RAFTERS
The main sloping roof timbers to which the tiles/slates, battens and felt are fixed.

 

RAILS 

The horizontal framing members of a door or window, usually at the top or bottom (see also ’stiles’).

 

REBATE
A  recess, groove or rectangular step cut in the edge of a piece of timber or stone etc (rebated’ or  set-back)    to receive a mating piece.

 

RENDER or RENDERING
General term for the finish applied to external wall surfaces of sand and cement /lime (or the first coat to plastering internally). It may be smooth, or finished in rough cast , pebbledashed etc. 

 

RETAINING WALL
Usually a garden wall built to hold back or retain a large bank of soil, rubble etc.

 

REVEALS

The vertical sides of an opening cut in a wall (typically of brick or stone) eg between a door or window frame and the front of the wall  (see also ‘jambs’).

 

RIDGE
The top or ‘apex’ of the roof where two slopes meet, formed from a timber board joining the tops of the rafters and covered with shaped ‘ridge tiles’.

 

RISER

The vertical portion between treads of stairs

 

RISING DAMP

Moisture soaking up a wall  from the ground, by capillary action, or through a floor ( see ‘Damp Proof Course’)

 

RODDING ACCESS

Removable covers at  bends in drainage pipes, gullies etc  allowing access for clearing blockages.

 

ROOF SPREAD

The outward thrust of a poorly restrained roof  causing a wall to bow out. (see ‘collar’).

 

ROOM SEALED APPLIANCE

One that takes its combustion air from outside via a ‘balanced flue’ and also expels exhaust fumes  via the same flue. Most modern boilers are room sealed.

 

ROUGHCAST
A rough render finish to external walls, usually incorporating gravel.

 

RSJ
Rolled Steel Joist,  used for  structural support ( eg to  walls or floors) usually spanning relatively wide openings.

 

SARKING FELT
A layer of bituminous felt used for covering roofs before laying battens as a secondary defence against rain, but was not normally fitted in pre-war houses.

 

SCREED

A smooth finish coat on a solid concrete floor slab, usually of mortar, concrete or asphalt.

 

SCRIM TAPE

A special weaved material for re-inforcing the filler concealing joints between plasterboard panels.

 

SEPTIC TANK

Private drainage system comprising underground tanks where sewage decomposes through bacteriological action, but can require periodic emptying.

 

SETTLEMENT
General disturbance in a structure showing as distortion in walls etc. Usually the result of initial compacting of the ground due to the loading of the building.

 

SILL or  CILL
The lower horizontal member at the bottom of a door or window frame. Externally it should throw water clear of  the wall below (of stone, concrete, brick, or timber). Internally it is a shelf at the bottom of a window.

 

SKYLIGHT
A window in a roof slope or ceiling to admit daylight

 

SLEEPER WALL
A  dwarf wall supporting the joists under a suspended timber ground floor. 

 

SOAKAWAY

A rubble-filled pit for rainwater dispersal

 

SOAKERS
Strips of metal (usually lead, zinc or copper) fitted beneath tiles to provide a water-proof joint at the junction of a roof with a wall or a chimney. Normally overlain with flashings.

 

SOFFIT

The underside (‘external ceiling’) below eaves, balconies etc

 

SPALLING

Crumbling masonry as a result of weather damage

 

STILES 

The vertical framing members of a door or window (see also ‘rail’).

 

STRETCHER

The side of a brick, visible in walls when laid lenghways (see ‘header’)

 

STRING COURSE
A course of brickwork that projects beyond the face of an external wall (or band course).

 

STUD PARTITION

Lightweight internal wall, usually of a timber framework faced with plasterboard or lath & plaster, usually non-loadbearing

 

SUBSIDENCE

Downward ground movement, often as a result of clay shrinkage, drainage problems or mining activities.

 

SUBSOIL

Soil lying immediately below the top soil, upon which foundations usually bear.

 

SVP

Soil and vent pipe. Vertical stack taking ‘soil’ waste from WC’s & bathrooms etc, typically of plastic or iron, and vented at the top, normally terminating at roof level.

 

TIE BAR

Large metal bar passing through a wall to brace a structure suffering from structural instability.

 

TILTING FILLET
A timber fillet fixed under the roof coverings above the eaves, in order to  raise the edge of the first row of slates.

 

TINGLES
Small metal strips used to hold slipped slates in position.

 

TONGUE & GROOVE BOARDING
Close fitted boards where the edge of one board fits into a groove of the adjoining board.

 

TRANSOM

Horizontal bar of wood or stone across a window or top of door.

 

TREAD

The horizontal ‘flat’ part of a step or stair.

 

TRIMMER

A small section of timber joist  run at  right angles to the ends of the main floor joists to form an opening, eg for stairs or a fireplace.

 

TRV

Thermosatic radiator valve. An adjustable sensor valve next to a radiator allowing its temperature to be set.

 

UNDERPINNING
A method of strengthening weak foundations where a new stronger foundation is placed beneath the original.

 

VALLEY GUTTER
Gutter at the junction of two roof slopes – at the bottom of a ‘V’.

 

VERGE

The edge of a roof , especially over a gable.

 

WAINSCOT

Wood panelling or boarding on the lower part of an internal wall.

 

WALL PLATE
A timber beam placed on a wall, eg  at eaves level for the roof rafters, or  to receive floor joists.

 

WALL TIES
Strips of metal built across cavity walls to join the inner and outer skins.

 

WEATHERBOARD   /  WEATHER BAR
A board fixed to the bottom of a door on the outside to prevent rain driving underneath. A weather bar is a strip of metal fixed to a door sill to prevent water flowing under the door.

 

WOODWORM

General term of beetle infestation – ‘beetle infestation’.


GLOSSARY II

Building Materials -  Keywords     

                                                                                                with thanks to  Images of England

ABERDEEN GRANITE

Medium grained, dark bluish-grey stone. Quarried mainly from the Rubislaw Quarry.

ALABASTER

Fine grained, whitish, granular variety of Gypsum. Suitable for carving.

ALUMINIUM

Lightweight, strong metal with good corrosive resistance, normally used as an alloy.

ANODIZED ALUMINIUM

Aluminium coated by a protective film of oxides created by electrolosis.

ARTIFICIAL SLATE

A rectangular sheet of roofing material created by a man made process (eg. asbestos cement slate) and made to look like, and used in the same way as, natural slate.

ARTIFICIAL STONE

Synthetically manufactured stone made from natural stone aggregate or reconstituted ceramics or clay, and made to appear natural. Used as solid stone for masonry or for sculptural and architectural ornament.

ARTIFICIAL TIMBER

Synthetic fibres and reconstituted materials imitating, or in the form of, timber created by a man-made process. Use carefully - do not confuse with mock and sham timber work.

ASBESTOS

A mineral crystal of thin, tough fibres which can be woven. Used for high temperature insulation or as reinforcement in asbestos cement building board and corrugated roofing. If used to imitate slate, use artificial slate.

ASHLAR

A square, hewn or worked, high class freestone which can be 'freely' cut and is laid in horizontal courses with vertical joints.

ASPHALT

Solid or viscous bituminous pitch of natural occurrence or produced from petroleum mixed with sand or other aggregate filler, for use in roads or as a covering material

BAKELITE

Thermosetting plastic commonly used for its properties of electrical insulation.

BAMBOO

Tropical giant grass with hollow stem used structurally or as a covering material.

BARGATE STONE

Hard, coarse grained, calcareous sandstone, coloured by iron oxide. Quarried in the Guildford and Godalming area of the South East.

BASALT

Basic, black coloured, fine grained igneous rock.

BATH STONE

Even grained, poorly fossiliferous, light brown/cream coloured, oolitic limestone. Quarried in the Bath area.

BEER STONE

Coarse, hard Chalkstone, light grey to white coloured, containing shell fragments.

BEMBRIDGE LIMESTONE

Generic name for the hard, white/cream coloured, freshwater limestone. Quarried on the Isle of Wight.

BITUMEN

A semi solid mixture of complex hydrocarbons derived from coal or petroleum used as a waterproof binder or protective coating.

BITUMINOUS FELT

A material made of felted fibres bonded by bitumen, often used as a roofing material.

BLUE LIAS

Hard white/grey coloured liassic limestone. Quarried on the Devon-Dorset border.

BONE

Any of the pieces of hard tissue consisting largely of calcium phosphate that make up the skeleton of a vertebrate animal.

BRASS

Easily formed metal alloy composed of copper and zinc.

BRECCIA

Sedimentary rock consisting of angular fragments naturally cemented together.

BREEZE BLOCK

Lightweight building block traditionally made with coke breeze from gas works combined with sand and cement. Use this term generally to denote a light, modern concrete building block with man made characteristics.

BRICK

Standard rectangular block or tablet bonded on mortar joints in a regular arrangement or pattern for strength or decoration. Made from clay or brick earth which may contain varying quantities of chalk, lime or iron oxide which effect colour or density.

BRONZE

Hard corrosive resistant alloy of copper and tin.

CAEN STONE

Fine grained limestone, yellow or yellow/white in colour. Imported from France, mainly for ecclesiastical use.

CAMPAN MARBLE

White coloured marble. Imported from France.

CANVAS

An unbleached cloth of hemp, flax or other coarse yarn.

CARBONIFEROUS LIMESTONE

Limestones formed during the Carboniferous period. Many are cut, polished and used as marble.

CARRARA MARBLE

Imported Italian marble varying in colour from green, blue, purple to white.

CARSTONE

Coarse hard sandstone often coloured with iron oxide creating its characteristic brown shades.

CAST IRON

Dating from the 15th century, it is a hard alloy of iron and carbon, melted and shaped into various moulded forms.

CEDAR

Durable wood from a non-native, evergreen conifer.

CEMENT

Originally obtained by burning limestone to produce quicklime. Now a fine grey powder made from a mixture of limestone and clay used with water and sand to make mortar or with water, sand and aggregate to make concrete.

CERAMIC

Designating or pertaining to hard, brittle substances produced by strong heating of clay.

CHALK

A soft, porous, white to light grey coloured limestone.

CHERT

A hard silica rich rock, black or brown coloured, commonly found in nodular form.

CLAY

A fine grained earth which becomes more plastic when water is added and can be moulded and dried to make bricks, tile, pottery, etc.

CLAY LUMP

Large, moulded, unburnt blocks of clay type soil laid in a similar way to brick, but bedded in lime and clay 'mortar'. The walls produced are characteristically thinner than those of cob and pise.

CLINKER

Fused ash from furnaces used as aggregate.

CLUNCH

A hard, gritty, grey/green coloured form of chalk.

COADE STONE

Durable artificial stone consisting of china clay, sand and finely ground stoneware cast from moulds and fired in a kiln. Commonly used for architectural ornament and facings.

COB

Walls composed of clay, earth, straw, lime and sand, mixed with water. Constructed without shutters in layers upon a stone or brick plinth and usually covered with protective limewash.

COBBLE

Naturally occurring glacial rock fragments (diameter 64-256mm) larger than pebble and smaller than boulder.

CONCRETE

Composed of sand, stones or other aggregate and cement mixed with water which sets in a hard mass. The material is usually associated with modern building but was developed by Romans where cement was obtained from quicklime.

CONGLOMERATE

Sedimentary rock consisting of rounded pebbles naturally cemented together.

CONNEMARA MARBLE

One of only three 'true' British marbles, green and white in colour, predominantly used in large public buildings.

COPPER

Metal used primarily for roofing and ornamental purposes, being lighter and stronger than lead.

CORK

Buoyant, light material obtained from the cork tree.

COTSWOLD STONE

Sandy, light brown (cream to golden) coloured limestone, easily worked and readily available.

CRETACEOUS LIMESTONE

Limestone formed during the Cretaceous period.

DAUB

Application of earth based plaster to a backing of lath or wattle used in internal or external walls. Composite mixture which may include clay soil, dung, straw, lime putty, sand or horsehair.

DECORATIVE PLASTER

Ornate or patterned decoration, carved into or moulded from plaster.

DEVONIAN LIMESTONE

Limestone formed during the Devonian period, and found predominantly between the Exe and Tamar rivers in Devon. Varying in colour from black/grey to pink/white it was often polished to imitate and be used as marble.

DIORITE

Coarse grained, dark coloured igneous rock.

DOLERITE

Medium grained, intrusive, black or dark green coloured, igneous rock.

DOLOMITE

Soft, often white, but may be transparent. Dolomite can be found on its own, but may also occur as a replacement mineral found in some rocks, particularly limestone, formed after action by magnesium-rich fluids.

EARTH

Combination of organic and inorganic material cohered to form a hard solid wall or covering. Use for structures created by the excavation and piling up of earth, such as ice houses. Earth buildings may be used in combination with other materials.

ELM

Deciduous wood from the native elm tree, commonly used for framing or cladding of lesser timber framed structures due to its poorer weathering qualities as compared to oak.

ELVAN

Miner's term for fine grained, often light grey/fawn coloured porphyritic rocks. Commonly found in Devon and Cornwall.

ENCAUSTIC TILE

Glazed and decorated, patterned earthenware tile combining different coloured clays which are inlaid and burnt in. Mainly used for flooring and external decoration.

ENGINEERING BRICK

A dense, high strength, low absorption brick of uniform size, employed predominantly in industrial structures such as railway viaducts.

FAIENCE

Solid masonry slabs (tiles) of terracotta which are usually used as a cladding by bedding in concrete. Faience also refers to decorative glazed units.

FELDSPAR

Hard, often coloured, can be transparent. Found on its own as crystals and veins but also as a major constituent of all three geological rock types.

FELT

Fabric of fibrous materials consolidated by heat and mechanical action so that the fibres are matted together.

FIBREBOARD

A sheet formed from wood which has been separated into its fibrous elements and reconstituted under pressure. The natural fibres produce resins which act as adhesive, but often additional adhesives are used.

FIBREGLASS

Any material consisting of glass filaments woven into a textiles, paper or board.

FIRESTONE

Soft sandstone stained by iron oxide often used in the Surrey area.

FLINT

Hard, durable, dark grey stone, the purest native form of silica, which can either be used decoratively or as a main material. Predominantly found in East Anglia and the South East.

FLUORITE

Soft mineral, colour varying from black/purple to yellow/green. Commonly found as a mineral vein.

FOREST STONE (LEICESTERSHIRE)

Collective name for a series of rocks (granite, syenite, porphry and slate) found in the Charnwood Forest of Leicestershire. Index with specific stone type where given.

FOSSIL

The remains of living organisms preserved in stone over a long time period. This may be the internal or external moulds of, usually, the hard parts of an organism (shells, bones, etc.).

FREESTONE

Stonemason's term for any easily worked sedimentary rock. Index with specific stone type where given.

GALVANISED IRON

Iron coated in zinc, which gives protection against weathering.

GALVANISED STEEL

Steel which has been coated with zinc, giving good protection against weathering.

GLASS

Transparent, hard substance made by fusing soda-silica which solidifies from a molten state.

GNEISS

Coarse grained, metamorphic rock in which the colour is dependent upon the predominant mineral.

GOLD

A precious metal characterised by its yellow colour and resistance to tarnishing.

GORSE

A spiny evergreen shrub of the pea family which can be utilized as a roof covering in areas of its predominance, eg. heathland.

GRANITE

A hard, coarse grained, durable igneous rock. Can be used decoratively or as a main material. Found throughout the country.

GRAVEL

Grains of rock fragment larger than coarse sand and finer than pebbles (diameter 2-4mm).

GREENSTONE

Geologist's term for any dark coloured, slightly metamorphosed igneous rock. Index with specific stone type where given.

GRITSTONE (LIMESTONE)

Specific English quarryman's term for any limestone abundant in shell fragments. Use this term with care. When only Gritstone is mentioned, unless otherwise specified, assume it to be Gritstone (Sandstone), since this is the most common usage.

GRITSTONE (SANDSTONE)

Carboniferous sandstone varying in grain size from coarse to fine and in colour from white, yellow, pink to brown. When only Gritstone is mentioned, unless otherwise specified, assume it to be Gritstone (Sandstone), as this is the more common usage.

HAM HILL STONE

Shelly, gold/brown, coloured liassic limestone containing large quantities of crystalline calcite.

HEATHER

A dwarf shrub of the heath family used as an alternative to straw as a roof covering in moorland regions. Cut while in bloom and laid with the roots carefully entwined. The covering turns a characteristic black colour with age.

HIGH TENSILE STEEL

A strong alloy of steel.

HORNBLENDE

Medium hard, green/black coloured. Found in many igneous and metamorphic rocks.

HORNTON STONE

Compact grained, brown/yellow/green/grey blue, coloured liassic limestone.

HORSHAM STONE

Hard, fissile sandstone which weathers to a dark brown colour. Mainly used as a stone roofing material (stone slate) throughout Sussex and Surrey.

IONA MARBLE

One of only three 'true' British marbles, pale green and white in colour.

IRON

A malleable, ductile ferromagnetic metal widely used for structural and decorative purposes.

IRONSTONE

Collective name for any stone that has become impregnated with iron oxide. Index with specific stone type where given.

JURASSIC LIMESTONE

Limestone formed during the Jurassic period. Provides many widely used building stones.

KEINTON STONE

Hard, white/grey coloured liassic limestone. Quarried near Somerton in Somerset.

KENTISH RAGSTONE

Sandy, rough blue to green/grey coloured limestone. Quarried in Kent and widely used throughout the South East.

KILLAS

Cornish miner's term for slates formed during the Carboniferous and Devonian periods.

LAKE DISTRICT SLATE

Collective term for the Burlington (Silurian period) and Borrowdale (Ordovician period) groups of slates from the Lake District and parts of Cumbria, Lancashire. Hard, fine grained metamorphic rock, varying in colour from green/olive to black/blue black.

LATH

Narrow strips of wood which can form the groundwork for slates, panels or plaster work.

LEAD

Metal used primarily for roof coverings and window fittings. It is easy to work, can be worked cold and does not rust which makes it suitable for holding or repelling water.

LEATHER

Animal skin that has been hardened or treated by a tanning process.

LIAS

Collective term for the building limestones formed during the Lower Jurassic period.

LIGHTWEIGHT CONCRETE

A concrete which is either aerated or made from lightweight aggregate.

LIME

Calcium Oxide obtained by heating limestone in a kiln. Used as a constituent of modern mortar, or as slaked (non-hydraulic) lime in lime putty, daub, limewash and traditional lime plaster, mortar and renders.

LIMESTONE

Sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcium carbonate. Varying in grain size, colour and hardness, quarried and used throughout the country.

LINCOLNSHIRE LIMESTONE

Generic term for the oolitic limestones quarried in Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland. Varying in grain size from medium to coarse, and colour from cream to pale brown.

LONG STRAW

Composed of loose uncombed lengths of harvested wheat which are formed into bundles for laying. Distinctive appearance with both ears and butts visible on the surface traditionally using hazel spars which hold the straw in place.

MAGNESIAN LIMESTONE

Permian limestones which have had their chemical composition naturally altered with the calcium content being replaced by magnesium. Fine grained and varying from yellow/brown to cream in colour, although they weather to a dark grey.

MAJOLICA

Fine earthenware with raised patterns of coloured decoration in the form of an enamel or coloured opaque glaze. Use for decorative wall facings.

MALMSTONE

A soft, grey to white coloured, sandstone formed during the Cretaceous period, whose sand grains are cemented together with lime.

MARBLE

Collective name for, in a true geological sense, a metamorphosed limestone, eg. Carrara marble, and, in the British sense any decorative stone that will take a polish, eg. Purbeck marble. In the latter's case index with specific stone type where given.

MARLSTONE

Fine grained, iron rich, liassic limestone, found in Dorset, Somerset, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Rutland.

MATHEMATICAL TILE

Tile nailed externally to a wall and usually laid in mortar designed to present a brick-like appearance.

METAL

Class of elements and alloys that are characteristically lustrous,ductile, fusible and malleable. These are extracted from ore minerals originally existing in nature and processed before becoming a recognisable metal. See METAL Class List for narrow terms

MOORSTONE

Stonemason's name for granite found lying upon the moorland surface, as opposed to having been quarried, in the West Country and the Lake District. Used as found since prehistoric times, in later years was often dressed and shaped.

MORTAR

A mixture of lime or more recently cement with sand and water used for bonding stones or bricks.

MOUNTSORREL GRANITE

Very hard, rough medium/coarse grained, pink to grey coloured granite. Usually found and quarried in Leicestershire.

MUD

Wet soil, sand or other earthy matter combined with ballast and bonded with straw or other binding material. Walls are built in the absence of shuttering by the simple process of pitching in layers.

OAK

A native hardwood of the Beech family with hard and durable characteristics which traditionally made it appropriate for structural work.

OOLITIC LIMESTONE

Limestone formed during the Jurassic period. Composed of ooliths, literally small rock particles with the appearance of fish roe.

PANEL BOARD

Large board used for covering the internal surfaces of a building, ie. floors, walls and ceilings. Some forms can be used as external cladding.

PANTILE

Curved, interlocking roof tile of S-shaped section usually made of clay or concrete.

PAPER

Thin flexible sheets made from the pulp of wood or other fibrous matter.

PARGETING

External decorative plasterwork often incised or modelled with ornamental patterns. Usually applied to timber-framed houses, especially during 16th and 17th centuries.

PEAT

Part-decomposed vegetable matter formed under waterlogged conditions into a firm, brown deposit resembling soil. Used as a brick for infilling in timber framed walls.

PEBBLE

Rock fragment (diameter 4-64mm) larger than gravel and smaller than cobble, combined with other material e.g. flint, for decorative effect.

PEBBLEDASH

A render with small washed stones added as aggregate. Popular in the early 20th century.

PENNANT STONE

Hard, fine grained, blue/grey coloured sandstone. Quarried in South Wales and the Bristol area and commonly used, throughout the country, as a stone roofing material (stone slate).

PETERHEAD GRANITE

Coarse grained, dark coloured granite, quarried in the Peterhead and Cairngall areas of Scotland, but used throughout the North.

PINE

Wood of a coniferous tree native to Scotland and Scandinavia.

PISE

Rammed earth or clay of a low moisture content used to make floors or walls, or found between shuttering.

PLANT

Any tree, shrub or herb of cellulose form, normally subsisting in soil and producing its food through photosynthesis.

PLASTER

Lime plaster, consisting of lime and sand, is the oldest type of render. Applied externally to walls or onto laths for infill panels and usually limewashed.

PLASTIC

Any of large class of polymers based on synthetic resins or modified natural polymers which may be moulded, extruded or cast while soft or liquid, which then set rigidly or slightly elastic in form.

PLYMETAL

Structural board comprising a core of thin layers of wood bonded together, which is faced on one or both sides with a sheet of metal, usually galvanised steel or aluminium. Mainly used for external wall cladding.

PLYWOOD

Thin layers of wood, bonded together to form a structural board. The grain of the adjacent layers lie across one another to give structural strength. Produced since mid 19th century for use in interior joinery, since 1930's for exterior use.

POLYCARBONATE

Very tough transparent sheeting often used for security glazing.

POLYPHANT

Compact, grey/green/brown/white-speckled coloured igneous rock, peculiar to Cornwall. It is easy to carve and readily takes a polish, hence its similarity to British marbles.

POLYVINYL CHLORIDE

A type of thermoplastic polymer which is versatile and cheap, often referred to as PVC. This includes plasticized PVC and unplasticized PVC (uPVC).

PORPHYRY

Traditional term for any fine to medium grained igneous rock, containing large crystal fragments.

PORTLAND CEMENT

A form of cement originally named since it was said to be like Portland Stone in appearance.

PORTLAND STONE

Fine to coarse grained, cream to green/grey coloured oolitic limestone. Quarried since Roman times, it is one of Britain's best building stones, hence its use throughout the country.

PRESTRESSED CONCRETE

Concrete, containing bars or wires, which is compressed to greatly increase its strength.

PUDDING STONE

Conglomerate consisting of rounded flint pebbles held together in a natural silica and sand cement.

PURBECK STONE

Collective name for the oolitic limestone quarried in the Isle of Purbeck region, geologically classified into two main groups. Firstly, a fine grained whitish variety, Purbeck Portland, secondly a fossil-rich cream/gold to grey variety, Swanage Stone etc

QUARTZ

Hard, transparent, often coloured mineral. Can be found on its own as crystals and veins but also as a major constituent of rocks such as granite. Often used decoratively.

QUARTZITE

Medium grained, hard, white/grey coloured stone consisting of quartz and often silica, produced by the metamorphosis of sandstone.

RAGSTONE

Stonemason's term for any coarse/hard stone that is not easily worked. Index with specific stone type where given. Not to be confused with Kentish Ragstone.

REED

The tall, straight stalks or stems formed by plants found in the wetland areas, particularly The Fens. Used as a roofing material, the reed is laid with the ends forming the exposed covering surface.

REIGATE STONE

Soft, medium grained, green/grey coloured, highly calcareous, cretaceous sandstone. Mined (more frequently than quarried) since pre-Norman times from the Reigate area of Surrey.

REINFORCED CONCRETE

Aggregate, cement and mortar combined with structural elements of iron or steel mesh or rod reinforcement to form stonelike masses for load bearing, structural building work.

RENDER

A general term for the weatherproof coat on the external walls of a building.

RESIDUE

By-product or waste, resulting from an industrial process.

RHYOLITE

Fine grained, acidic, light-grey/white/ brown/red-coloured igneous rock.

ROMAN CEMENT

Technically a quick setting hydraulic cement or lime,but term has been adapted to denote cement made from burning lumps of marl found in London clay,a technique adopted for C19th building work. Name not intended to denote a relationship with Roman period

ROMAN TILE

Single lap regular shaped roof covering which can have one or more water channels. Typically made of clay or concrete. The name does not denote a relationship with the Roman period.

ROUGHCAST

A render including an aggregate of gravel or stone chipping thrown rather than trowelled onto an external wall.

RUBBER

Flexible, synthetic, polymeric organic material formed by chemical synthesis usually in imitation of a natural substance. It can be moulded to shape, extruded or formed into a sheet from solid or foam material.

RUBBLE

Rough, unhewn, undressed building stones with irregular faces, generally not laid in regular courses. Index with type of stone if specified.

SAND

Granular material consisting of small eroded fragments of rock or mineral grains, finer than gravel used as an ingredient in mortar and other traditional building materials.

SANDSTONE

Geologically sandstone consists of particles of quartz naturally cemented together by either silica, calcium or iron. It is this geological composition that accounts for the varying colours and grain sizes found in the many building sandstones.

SARSEN STONE

Extremely hard, fine grained, grey to brown silica rich sandstone. It is often found on the surface of the South Downs and has been used, as found, since prehistoric times.

SCAGLIOLA

Composite substance of plaster formed by gypsum, sand and lime and coloured with pigments, fixed under heat and highly polished. Used to imitate marble and popular in the 17th and 18th centuries for architectural features.

SCHIST

Medium to coarse grained metamorphic rock, colour being determined by its dominant mineral. Often used for floor and wall cladding.

SCOTTISH SLATE

Collective term for the Scottish Slates including the Aberdeen/Baniff and Ballachulish/Easdale groups. Fine grained, varying in colour from brown to dark grey/blue. Geologically different from Lake District, Welsh and West Country groups of slate.

SEPTARIA

Conglomerate consisting of nodules of calcium rich clay (marl). Used as a building stone from Roman times and as a key ingredient in Parker's Roman Cement, between 1796 and circa 1850.

SERPENTINE

Medium to coarse grained, green to dark red/black coloured igneous rock, mainly found on The Lizard, South West Cornwall. Due to its fragmentary structure, Serpentine is mainly used for decorative and ornamental purposes.

SHALE

Soft, very fine grained, dark coloured, sedimentary rock which splits easily.

SHAP GRANITE

Hard, coarse grained, grey to red/brown coloured granite. Used predominantly for tombstones becasuse of its ability to take a polish, but it is also in demand for underwater construction.

SHELL

Hard, protective covering made largely of calcium salts secreted by soft bodied invertebrate animals.

SHINGLE

Wooden roof tile (traditionally oak) which is riven or sawn from good quality timber to a regular size and used as a roof and/or wall covering. Index with type of wood if known.

SILTSTONE

Fine grained, yellow/buff to grey/black coloured sedimentary rock.

SILVER

A precious metal of lustrous white colour with great malleability and ductility.

SKYE MARBLE

One of only three 'true' British marbles, white in colour, predominantly used for sculptures and statues.

SLAG

Waste material or dross separated from metals during smelting or refining.

SLATE

Collective term for a hard, fine grained, dark coloured metamorphic rock, which splits easily; hence its common use as a roofing and flooring material, and a functional description for any rectangular, sheet, roofing material.

SLURRY

Cement/water mix often used as covering. Use this for entries including slurrying and slurried.

SOLAR CONTROL GLASS

Glass to control or reduce the effects of the sun, includes both reflective and absorpative types of glass.

SPANISH TILE

Single lap roof covering made of clay. Half cylinder in profile although one end is slightly wider than the other. A Spanish tile roof covering comprises under-tiles and over-tiles, the two have the same shape, but the under-tile is slightly larger.

STEEL

An alloy of iron and carbon, its strength makes it suitable for load bearing purposes. It is primarily used in structural steelwork and concrete reinforcement.

STONE

Rock of definite form and size, usually artificially shaped. See STONE CLass List for narrow terms.

STRAW

Roofing material consisting of stems or stalks of wheat, rye, oats or barley separated from grain and laid flat in 'yealms' which form an overlapping surface which sheds water.

STUCCO

Smooth rendering applied to the exterior of buildings which may be incised to suggest coursed masonry. Made of lime and sand or brick dust, and more recently, cement.

SUSSEX STONE

Fine grained, buff, brown to green coloured Cretaceous sandstone. Quarried at various locations in Sussex. Not to be confused with Sussex marble which is a cretaceous limestone.

SYENITE

Hard, coarse grained, green to pink coloured igneous rock. Commonly used as a polished cladding.

TAR

Thick, viscid liquid, obtained by the distillation of wood, coal or other organic substances, chemically a mixture of hydrocarbons with resins.

TARMACADAM

Road or paving material combining crushed stone, rolled and mixed with bitumen type mixer.

TERRACOTTA

Hard, unglazed, brown, versatile earthenware which can be used as a tile or moulded into statuary. Used in a structural or semi-structural context as a moulded hollow block.

TERTIARY LIMESTONE

Hard, fossil rich, white to deep red coloured limestone, laid down during the Tertiary period. Used since Roman times because of its good durability and weathering properties.

TESSERA

Squared block of glass, tile, stone or marble used in mosaic.

TEXTILE

A woven or bonded fabric or cloth. See TEXTILE Class List for narrow terms.

THATCH

Traditional roof covering consisting of materials such as reed, straw or heather layered and fastened together onto roof to form a run off to prevent water penetration.

TILE

Tablet of a uniform shape. Used as finishing or covering materials which fit together in a regular format.

TIMBER

Wood, cut and seasoned so forming or capable of forming any part of a structure. May be treated with preservative before use.

TIN

Malleable metal used for roofing and for alloys such as bronze.

TUFACEOUS LIMESTONE

Very light, depositional limestone formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate rich water (Tufa). The more dense and compact form, Travertine, is formed in a similar way.

TURF

Layer of grass with earth and matted roots cut from the ground and used for earth buildings and as a covering material.

WATTLE

Wooden rods or stakes which can be interlaced with twigs or branches to make walls or fences, or more commonly, to form the basis of panels in traditional timber framed buildings which are then covered with daub.

WEALDEN STONE

Fine grained, brown/yellow to dark grey coloured cretaceous sandstone. It is a particularly good freestone and was often used for ashlar finishes.

WEATHERBOARD

Length of timber boarding (usually elm, now pine) fixed horizontally or vertically to the exterior of a structure which may be 'tongue and grooved' or 'feathered' to provide external protection.

WEATHERING STEEL

An alloy of steel.

WELSH SLATE

Collective term for the North and South Wales groups of slate. Hard, fine grained, metamorphic rock, with varying dark shades.

WEST COUNTRY SLATE

Collective term for the slates from Devon and Cornwall. Hard, fine grained metamorphic rock. Varying in colour from dark grey/green to blueish/grey. West Country Slate is geologically different from both Lake District and Welsh Slate.

WHINSTONE

Northern quarryman's name for any fine grained, dark grey/black to green coloured igneous rock. Index with specific stone type where given.

WICHERT

Cob type construction typical to Buckinghamshire using a local clay with a high chalk content to produce walls of notable inherent stability.

WOOD

Hard, compact, unprocessed, fibrous cellulose substance. The roots, trunks and branches of trees and shrubs consist of this tissue.

WOODWOOL SLAB

A sheet or board made from a mixture of thin strips of wood and cement which are bound together through compression within a mould. Woodwool slabs are used for roof or wall cladding, providing fire resistance, and heat and sound insulation.

WROUGHT IRON

The oldest form of iron, it is a tough, pure form of iron that can be fashioned into decorative items or shapes by hammering, squeezing or rolling.

YORK STONE

Generic name for the fine grained, brown coloured carboniferous sandstone, quarried in the Leeds, Bradford and Halifax area.

ZINC

A hard and lustrous metallic element, used for roofing, galvanising iron and a component of alloys such as brass.

 

 

 

 

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