Bathrooms might be the smallest room in most houses but they're full of special features that make bathing, dressing and relaxing enjoyable in the US and other western countries. There's a real renaissance in bathrooms with lots of contemporary designs changing the look of our bathrooms, so keep your eyes open. You can learn more about bathrooms in our library, or here in the homeowner glossary.
As the world goes global, Americans are learning about different home styles around the world. For example, in Europe it's common for the toilet to be in a room by itself and that's what you call a water closet, not to be confused with all the other “closets” in our houses.
When looking for bathroom professionals, look for members of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).
Back End Ratio – Ratio of monthly housing costs (principal, insurance, taxes and interest) plus regular monthly payments to gross monthly income used by lenders to evaluate an applicant qualification for a loan. Lenders will typically allow a back ratio between 32 and 45 percent.
Backfill– Earth used to fill excavated areas around exterior foundation walls.
Back Nailing – The practice of blind-nailing roofing felt to a substrate in addition to hot-mopping to prevent slippage.
Back Surfacing – Fine mineral matter applied to the back side of shingles to keep them from sticking.
Back Water Lap Joint – A non-water shedding seam between building materials.
Baffles (also called proper vent, shown on left) – Device to help achieve a ventilation space between insulation and roof sheathing. It helps ensure air flow from the eave vents in attics and cathedral ceilings.
Bald Roof- A smooth-surfaced roof.
Balusters – Thin columns or spindles supporting the stair railing.
Band-Aid Loans – When people have high too much debt, they may not qualify for traditional loans, and need to use a band-aid loan to purchase a house.
Band Board – Perimeter floor joist that sits atop the sill in a wood floor framing system.
Band Joist (Also known as the Rim Joist) – Vertical member that forms the perimeter of a floor system in which the floor joists tie in.
Bankruptcy – A legal proceeding, which offers protection from creditor, if one is unable to pay debts.
Basement Floor Slab – The 4 to 5-inch layer of concrete forming the basement floor.
Base Ply (Base Sheet) – The bottom or first ply in a built-up roofing membrane when additional plies are to be subsequently installed.
Bay Window – A combination of three windows, that stick out from the wall of the house. with the middle window parallel to the house.
Bead – A small amount of mastic, caulking or flashing cement applied to the waterproofing membrane at a termination, generally the width of a 1/2″ caulking gun opening.
Below-grade – Pertaining to the location of a finished floor that is in direct contact with the ground or with less than 18 inches of well-ventilated space.
Bitumen – Any of various flammable mixtures of hydrocarbons and other substances, occurring naturally or obtained by distillation from coal or petroleum, that are a component of asphalt and tar and are used for surfacing roads and for waterproofing.
Bituminous (Bituminized) – Containing or treated (impregnated) with bitumen.
Bituminous Emulsion – A suspension of minute globules of bituminous material in water or in an aqueous solution; (2) a suspension of minute globules of water or of an aqueous solution in a liquid bituminous material (invert emulsion).
Bituminous Grout – A mixture of bituminous material and fine sand that will flow into place without mechanical manipulation when heated.
Blind Nailing – The use of nails that are not exposed to the weather in the finished roofing.
Blister – A raised portion of a roofing membrane resulting from local internal pressure; (2) The similarly formed protuberances in coated prepared roofing.
Blocking – Wood built into a roofing system above the deck and below the membrane and flashing to a) stiffen the deck around an opening, b) act as a stop for insulation, c) serve as a nailer for attachment of the membrane or flashing.
Bond – The adhesive and cohesive forces holding two roofing components in intimate contact. Bottom Plate (Sole Plate)
The lowest horizontal member of a wall that rests on the rough floor, to which the studding is nailed.
Bow Window – A bow window is made of 4 to 6 windows, that stick out from the house in a semi-circular configuration.
Boxing Paint – The process where you mix all (multiple cans) the paint for a job, to ensure color consistency.
Breach – Failure to perform on a promise made in contract without legal excuse.
Brick Mold Trim/Brick Molding – The wood molding covering the gap between brick masonry and a door or window frame.
Bridging – Framing members placed between joists to brace them and prevent the joists from twisting or deflecting.
Broker – A licensed professional who assists in the purchase, sale, rental, or management of real property. A broker can be employed by either the buyer or seller, and accordingly, his duties may include locating and showing properties to prospective buyers, advertising properties for sale, assisting in contract negotiations, and other related activities. The term agent is often used interchangeably with broker, although in actuality, agents work under a broker and act as agents for that broker.
Builders Show – The International Builders Show (IBS) is similar, yet different that any home shows you've attended. This is where builders, architects and just about anyone involved in the industry, learns about new products and building trends.
Building Paper – A heavy waterproof paper such as asphalt felt paper, placed on the exterior side of wall sheathing to prevent the passage of air and water into the home. (Note: Building paper is not a vapor barrier.)
Building Permit – A process where you apply to build a new house or remodel an existing one, that follows a process to insure work is done according to building codes.
Bullnose Trim – Ceramic trim installed on the wall. Upper edge of the tile slopes inward toward the wall, providing transition or closure.
Bundle – A package of shingles. There are typically 3, 4 or 5 bundles per square (100 square feet).
Butt Edge – The lower edge of the shingle tabs.