Glossary of Bathroom Renovation Terms

Glossary of Bathroom Renovation Terms

Most bathroom renovation or remodelling projects begin with a trip to your local home improvement store or surfing the net to gather ideas just to see what’s out there. Another good place to start is to get to know the jargon and terminology that the trade’s people in the home refurbishment industry are currently using.

This is beneficial so you won’t get totally lost when you try to communicate with them as to what you want. Here is a short list of common bathroom renovation terms encompassing: plumbing and lighting, flooring, framing, planning and design terminology. This is not a complete list but more of a work in progress and relevant terms and descriptions will be added on a regular basis as we assess them.


Access Panel – a removable section in a ceiling, wall or floor that allows you access so you can repair or replace something.

Adapter – is a plumbing fitting that allows you to connect two pipes, whether they are the same size, different sizes or made from different materials, or simply makes it possible to go from a male ending to a female ending or vice versa.

Amp – is the abbreviation for the word ampere which is a measure of the electrical current flowing through an electrical wire or appliance.

Apron – is the bottom section of a window casing that finishes the windowpane frame beneath the window sill.


Back-Butter – is the tradesman’s term for when you apply mortar or some type of adhesive to the back surface of a section of tile before setting it.

Backerboard – sometimes called cement board, it is a kind of cement or gypsum based sheet that is used as an underlayment for setting tile.

Banding – is when you apply solid wood trim to a plywood edge to conceal plies.

Baseboard – usually made of wood, it is the trim that runs along the bottom of a wall to conceal the gap between the wall and the floor and can also be used to protect the bottom of the wall.

Basin Wrench – is a specialized plumbing tool that has a long shaft that allows you to reach down into spaces to tighten or loosen hold-down nuts.

Bearing Wall – a wall in your house that bears a portion of the weight of the floor or building above it.

Biscuit Joint – a wooden joint that uses wooden wafers glued into holes cut in the edges of mating pieces.

Bisque – the clay and liquid mixture that is the body substance of the tile.

Blocking – are pieces of wood that are nailed horizontally between wall studs to act as anchor points for holding molding or cabinetry in place.

Bullnose Tiles – are flat tiles that have at least one round or bevelled edge. They are primarily used as trim edges when installing tiles. They are sometimes called caps.

Butt Joint – the point where two ends of adjoining sections are cut square and the two pieces are simply butted up against one another.


Cable – the casing in which two or more insulated wires are wrapped in, usually either metal or plastic sheathing.

Cap Moulding – moulding that is made to be put on the top edge of another material as a finishing touch.
Circuit Breaker – is a protective measure put on a device in a service panel that automatically shuts off power to the circuit if it senses a short or the circuit overloads.

Cleanout – is a removable plug in a trap or a drainpipe that when removed allows easier access to whatever is blocking it inside.

Cleft – is the process of creating stone paving pieces by splitting off pieces from a larger rock surface.
Closet bend – can be described as the elbow-shaped fitting underneath a toilet that carries waste down to the main drain.

Continuity Tester – is a device that ascertains whether or not a circuit is able to transmit electricity.

Corner Bead – is a plastic or metal end piece that is attached to outside drywall corners which makes them easier to finish and also protect the corners from excessive damage.
Counterbore – can be defined as a screw hole that is deep enough to accept a wood plug after the screw is in position.

Countersink – is a drilled hole that fits shape of a wooden screw.

Coupling – a fitting used to connect two separate lengths of a pipe in a straight line. These couplings can be made from galvanized steel, copper, brass, or plastic.

Crosscut – is a measured cut across the grain that brings a material to a desired length.

Dado – is a channel cut in wood that goes across the grain whereas a groove is a channel that runs in the direction of the grain.

Deadman – is a T-shaped brace primarily used to keep drywall from moving against the ceiling joists while you fasten the drywall in place.

Dielectric Fitting – is a special fitting joint that you can use to join together two dissimilar metals. This is used to prevent the two metals from corrosively reacting with each other in a negative way.

Dimension Lumber – refers to standard sized lumber that is two to five inches in nominal thickness and up to twelve inches in nominal width.

Diverter – is a valve on a faucet that readily changes the water flow coming from a faucet to either a showerhead or hand sprayer alternatively.

Dowel – is typically a cylindrical shaped piece of wood that can be use to reinforce a joint.

Drum Trap – This round shaped trap is built into the floor or older homes and is normally covered with a chrome plated, brass or expandable cap.

Dry Fit – this is the joining together of plastic pipes or wooden materials without an adhesive glue, just so you can see if the parts fit together properly.


Elbow – also known as an ell, this fitting is used to change the direction of a water supply line to make if fit within a given space or to avoid obstacles.


Face Frame – A four-piece wooden assembly attached to the front of a cabinet.

Fall – A word uses to express the slope of drain lines.

Field Tiles – Flat tiles with unrounded edges used within the edges of a tiled installation

Fire Stop – A piece of wood nailed across a stud bay to prevent the bay from acting as a chimney and conduit for fire.

Fitting – Any connector (except a valve) that lets you join pipes

Flow Restrictor – A device found in some showerheads to restrict the flow of water and thus reduce water use.

Flush – Having the same surface or plane as an adjoining surface

Flux – A stiff jelly brushed or smeared on the surfaces of copper and brass pipes and fitting before joining them.


Green Bisque – Clay that has not been fired (not a reference to its color).

Green Board – A moisture-resistant drywall product made for wet installations, such as baths and showers. Greenboard is not waterproof.


Hammer Arrester – A shock absorbing device that provides a cushion of air to prevent watter hammer – sudden surges in water pressure that sometimes result in noisy pipes.


I.D. – The abbreviation for inside diameter. All plumbing pipes are sized according to their inside diameter.


J-Bead – A modling made to cover the edge of drywall sheet so thae raw edge does not show in the finished product.

Jig – A device that holds a workpeice or tool in a certain way to efficiently and accurately saw or shape wood


Kerf – The slot left by a saw blade as it cuts through material


Latex-Modified hinset – Thinset mortar mixed with latex addictive to increase its flexibility, resistance to water and adhesion


Mitre – An angle, often 45 degrees, cut across the grain on a piece of wood

Molding – Shaped wood used as trim

Mortar – Any mixture of masonry cement, sand, water, and other addictives. Also described s the action of applying mortar to surfaces or joins

Mortise – An opening cut in a piece of wood to accept a mating piece of wood (tenon)

Mud – Trade jargon for cement based mortars


Nipple – A 12-inch or shorter pipe with threads on both ends that is used to join fittings

No-Hub-Fitting – A neoprene gasket with a stainless-steel band that tightens to join PBC drain pipe or ABS or cast-iron pipe

Nominal Size – The designated dimension of a pipe or fitting or piece of lubber. It varies slightly from the actual size.


O.D. – the abbreviation for outside diameter.

Open Time – The interval between application of adhesive and when it can no longer be worked; also called working time.

Organic Mastic – One of several petroleum or latex-based adhesives for setting tiles. Exhibits less strength, flexibility, and resistance to water than thinnest adhesives.


Packing – A plastic or metallic cord-like material used chiefly around daucet steams. When compressed it results in a watertight seal.

Partition Wall – A wall whose only purpose is to divide a space-it does not contribute to supporting the weight of the building.

Pigtail – A short length of wrire spliced with two or more wires in a box and connected to a terminal so that two or more wires will not be attached to a terminal

Plumb – A surface that lies on a true vertical plane

Plunge Cut – Starting a saw in a wood away for an edge

Pocket-Hole – A joining technique that employs screws driven into holes drilled at an angle

Polymer-Modified – A substance like grout or mortar to which an acrylic or latex solution has been added to increase its strength and workability




Rabbet – A channel sawed or formed on the edge of a board or panel

Radious Trim – A trim tile whose edge turns down to form a smooth, glazed border

Rail – One of the two horizontal pieces in a face frame.

Reducer – A fitting with different size opening at either end used to go from a larger to smaller pipe

Reveal – A narrow flat area on a molding or board left purposely uncovered for visual effect

Revent – Is a pipe that connects a fixture drain pipe to the secondary or main vent stack in your home.

Rip-Cut – Is a cut along the length or a sheet or panel. Cut along the longest dimension to trim a wide board by sawing with the grain.

Riser – Is a pipe supplying water to a location such as to a toilet or sink.

Rough-In – This occurs at the preliminary stages of a plumbing project in which supply lines and drain waste vent lines are run to their final designations.

Rout – When you cut or shape wood with a bit and router.

Run – The length of a pipe or multiple pipes with fitting all going in a straight line.

Saddle-Tee Valve – This is a fitting used to tap into a water line without you having to cut the plumbing line apart

Sanded Grout – Grout that has sand in it to increase the strength and also to reduce the shrinkage of the joint.

Sanitary Fitting – Is a fitting that is designed to help direct waste downward used to join drain waste vent lines.

Sanitary Sewer – The network of drains under your home that carries solid and liquid waste down to a waste treatment facility.

Self –Rimming Sink – A sink that has a lip that supports the sink from falling through the countertop. It basically holds the sink in place.

Semi-Vitreous Tile – Tile that is only partially resistant to water and other liquids.

More to come…..


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