Glossary of Common Terms for Log and Timber Homes

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Glossary of Common Terms for Log and Timber Homes


ADJUSTABLE STEEL COLUMNS: steel post that supports a beam or timber, typically in the basement of our homes.

AIR DRIED: process that allows drying to naturally occur.

ANCHOR BOLT: steel threaded bolt used to attach structures to concrete or block foundations.

BACKFILL: fill dirt or gravel used to fill in around the basement or crawl space (only performed after subfloor is completed.)

BASEBOARD: wooden board covering the lowest part of the interior walls.

BASE LOG: bottom-most log in log wall system.

BATTEN: thin strip of material typically made from wood. Battens are used in building construction and various other fields as both structural and purely cosmetic elements.

BAY: a bay is a unit of form in architecture. This unit is defined as the zone between the outer edges of an engaged column, pilaster, or post; or within a window frame, doorframe, or vertical wall form.

BAY WINDOW: a window space projecting outward from the main walls of the building and forming a bay in a room.

BEAM: a horizontal structural element that is capable of withstanding load primarily by resisting bending.

BIRDS MOUTH: a woodworking joint that is generally used to connect a roof rafter to a top plate of the supporting wall.

BEVEL: a cut edge on a surface, which is typically used to soften the edge of the piece for the sake of safety, weather resistance, or aesthetics; or to facilitate mating with another piece.

BLOCKING: horizontal boards placed between wall studs to facilitate hardware attachment.

BLUEPRINTS: a technical drawing documenting an architectural element or an engineering design.

BORATE: used as a wood preservative and natural insecticide.

BUCK: the frame that is assembled around windows and doors which makes a rough opening.

BUILDING CODE: a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and non building structures.

BUILDING PERMIT: a form obtained through the county in which the structure is being built; typically required prior to building a structure.

BUILT-UP ROOF: a combination of structural and nonstructural elements which make up the full system of the roof.

BUTT JOINT: a square cut joint where the ends of two pieces meet.

BUTT & PASS: where logs butt up against each other at the corners.

CANT: wood that is cut from a felled tree of log.

CANTILEVER: a beam or joist that is only anchored at one end, and supported while crossing over a secondary support location.

CASEMENT WINDOW: is a window that is attached to its frame by one or more hinges.  Casement windows are hinged at the side of the window frame.

CAULKING: a waterproof adhesive material that remains flexible, used for sealing joints and seams.

CHECK: a crack in the surface of a log, which does not go through the log.

CHINKING: a filling that is used between rows of logs.

COURSE: a continuous horizontal layer of logs.

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY: (CO) a document issued by the building department, stating that all codes have been met and may be occupied.

DEAD WOOD: small pieces of wood used as nailers in framing.

DORMER: a structural element of a building that protrudes from the plane of a sloping roof surface.

DRIP EDGE: metal trim installed at the edge of the roof to stop water from running back under the edge of the roof deck.

DRY-IN CONSTRUCTION: a log or timber home constructed to the point of a weathertight state.

DOUBLE HUNG WINDOW: a window consisting of two sashes that can slide vertically.

DOVETAIL: a joint technique most commonly used in woodworking joinery, including furniture, cabinets, log homes, and traditional timber framing.

EAVES: the overhangs of the roof projecting over the wall.

ELEVATION: drawing that shows vertical dimensions and specifications.

FACIA: a board nailed to the ends of rafters below the roof edge.

FIXED GLASS WINDOW: a window that does not open.

FLASHING: material used to prevent leaking over windows, doors, and at intersecting roof planes.

FLOOR PLANS: drawings of a structure showing the arrangement of rooms, locations of windows and doors, technical specifications, and dimensions.

FOOTINGS: widened concrete at the bottom of a foundation.

FOUNDATION: the part of a building or wall which supports the structure.

D LOG: a log profile (shape) that is round on the outside and flat on the inside.

FULL LOG: both first and second story walls are log, as opposed to framing on the second level.

GABLE ENDS: triangular wall between the sloping ends of the roof.

GAMBREL ROOF: a two-part sloped roof with the lower part steeper than the upper parts. This is commonly found in barn construction.

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: the person who contracts to build a house or part of the house for another person. This person is typically responsible for overall supervision of the entire project.

GIRDER: a beam that supports floor joists

HALF LOG: a log that is cut in half horizontally,  which is used to start the first layer of logs on every other log wall around a dovetail or saddle notch system.

HEADER: wood pieces supporting joists and a floor, also placed on edge over windows and doors to transfer weight from above to around the window or door.

HIP: the type of roof where all sides are sloped downward to the walls, usually with a fairly gentle slope.

H.V.A.C or HVAC: abbreviation for heating ventilation and air conditioning system.

INSULATION: material which is added to buildings for comfort and energy efficiency.

JACK RAFTER: a rafter having less than the full height of the roof slope.

JAMB: side post of a doorway, window, or cased opening.

JOINT: the junction of two pieces of wood.

JOIST: wood beams running parallel to each other that support either a ceiling or roof.

KING POST: a vertical structural member used to transfer weight ridge beams, gable sidewalls, end walls, or cross beams.

KNEE WALL: short second floor wall used to create additional storage space, or to cover low clearance areas of porches and upper levels.

LAG BOLT: heavy-duty screws used to fasten together two pieces of wood.

LAM BEAM: engineered wood laminated together to make longer spans possible.

LOADBEARING: a wall that is used to support weight from above.

LOG GASKET: the strip that is placed between the logs to provide a tight seal.

LEDGER STRIP: a strip of lumber fastened along the bottom of the side of the beam on which a joist rests.

LINTEL: the horizontal structural member which supports the load over an opening.

LOG SIDING: exterior cover for second floor exterior wall and gable ends and typically also garages.

MILLED LOGS: logs that are uniformly shaped through the use of machinery as opposed to manually.

MORTISE AND TENON: a joint made by cutting a hole (mortise) in one piece of lumber, and a tenon (tongue), of another.

NON-BEARING WALLS: supports only its own weight.

ON CENTER OR (O.C.): Measurements of space between the middle line of components.

OLY-LOG: a large screw that is used to fasten two pieces of wood together.

OSB (ORIENTED STRAND BOARD): 4 x 8 panel of composite wood material adhered together with glue and pressure.

PARTITION WALL: Wall that divides space but plays no part in the home’s structural integrity.

PERC TEST: engineering performed on soil in order to measure flow rate of water passing through.

PIER: column of masonry or wood used for support.

PITCH ROOF: the incline of the roof plane.

PLATE: the horizontal framing members at the top and bottom of wall studs.

PRECUT LOGS: logs that are cut to a specific length and labled to tell exactly where each piece is located.

PRELIMINARY DRAWINGS: drawings which show elevations and layout for each floor plan of the home. Not to be confused with final blueprints.

PRESSURE-TREATED: process of forcing preservatives into wood using chemicals and pressure.

PROFILE: the size and shape of a log.

PURLIN: in a roof, a horizontal timber which supports rafters, or one that supports the roof sheathing directly.

R-VALUE: measure of thermal resistance.

REBAR: reinforcement in footings and wall foundation.

RAFTER: one of a series of structural members of the roof designed to support roof loads.

RIDGE: The topmost point of the roof system.

RIDGE BEAM (RIDGE BOARD): horizontal structural member supporting the upper ends of the rafters.

RISER: each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the treads of stairways.

SCRIBING: fitting woodwork into an irregular surface.

SETBACK: amount of space required between a certain area, such as road frontage or side property lines.

SETTLING: downward movement of logs or other wooden material due to weight and pressure over time.

SHEATHING: the covering placed over the studs or rafters consisting of plywood or OSB.

SHED ROOF: sloped roof on top of a full or partial wall that allows for more headroom and useable space.

SHELL PACKAGE: log home package that consists of logs beams, timbers, and other structural materials which compose the outer shell of a log home.

SILL: the bottom horizontal member in contact with masonry or concrete foundation.

SILL PLATE: pressure treated structural member anchored to the top of the foundation.

SLAB: the concrete floor placed directly on the ground or gravel base.

SNOW LOAD: the amount of snow that a roof, porch, or deck can handle.

SOFFIT: the underside of the roof overhang.

SPLINE: a thin strip of wood used to reinforce other wood and/or wood connections.

SQUARE: the amount of roofing or siding materials to cover 100 ft.².   —  OR  —  A term used to describe perfect 90° angles at intersecting walls.

STANDING TIMBER: dead lumber that comes from trees which are dead but not fallen.

STRINGER: diagonal boards that support stair treads.

STUD: vertical members of frame walls.

SUBCONTRACTOR: person hired by general contractor to perform a certain part of the building project.

SUBFLOOR: the first layer of rough flooring applied to the floor joists.

TACKING: nailing two pieces of wood together in a fashion where they can be removed later.

THERMAL MASS: a concept in building design that describes how the mass of the building provides inertia against temperature fluctuations, sometimes known as the thermal flywheel effect.

TOE NAILING: driving a nail at an angle.

TONGUE AND GROOVE (T & G): a method of fitting similar objects together, edge to edge, used mainly with wood.  One side has female joint (groove) and the other has male portion of wood (tongue).

TREAD: horizontal part of the stair system.

 TRIMMER: the double framing members at the sides of an opening.

TURNKEY CONSTRUCTION: a type of project that is constructed so that it could be sold to any buyer as a completed project.

TRUSS: a manufactured assembly used to support a load over a span.

TURNBUCKLE: a device for adjusting the tension or links of ropes, cables, tie rods, and other tensioning systems.

V GROOVE:  the joining of two beveled wood products.

VALLEY: the inside corner formed by intersecting roofs.

VALLEY RAFTER: a rafter which runs from the wall plate to the ridge.

VAPOR BARRIER: sheet material used to prevent water from passing through a building surface.

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By |2016-11-30T11:59:53+00:00March 11th, 2014|Builders Corner Blog, Log Home Construction|0 Comments

About the Author:

Chris Sparks is an architectural designer specializing in residential log and timber homes. Practically growing up on job sites, he has been around construction and on sites since the age of seven (shhh! don't tell OSHA, it was okay back then). After graduating from the University of Tennessee, he began putting his construction knowledge and love of computers to use in the field of computer-aided design. Chris specializes in ArchiCAD. Chris lives in the Knoxville, TN area with his two children.

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