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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