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Building Products & Terms

The beauty of renovating is not only having a gorgeous room to come home to but, you will soon be familiar with building products you never even knew existed, least of all what they may be used for.

At first, understanding all the building products can be overwhelming however; this glossary should provide you with the initial foundation to some building products that you may encounter during your renovation.


Cement is a powder like substance that is made from calcifying lime and clay. Cement is mixed with water to form a paste like consistency and then combined with sand, gravel, and more water to make concrete.


Cladding is defined as a covering or coating on a structure or material. Cladding can assist the control of water infiltration but, can also be used for visual purposes.

Popular claddings include:

  • Shingles – can be found used on the roof and sides of buildings. They consist of individual, flat rectangular profiles that are placed in rows. Each row overlaps the bottom rows joint. Shingles are commonly made of slate, wood, bitumen and ceramic.

  • Weatherboards – are long thin boards made from timber that neatly overlap one another, commonly in a horizontal position. Usually, the horizontal sections of the boards have a tongue and groove system that easily interlocks the adjoining board.

  • Shiplap – is a wooden board, somewhat similar looking to a weatherboard. Shiplap has a rebate or grove cut into the edge of the board that allows the boards to interlock and partially overlap. The cladding allows for excellent water protection and creates a channel that provides a shadow line.


Insulation in building terms refers broadly to any object in a building used as insulation for any purpose. While the majority of insulation in buildings is for thermal purposes, the term also applies to acoustic insulation, fire insulation, and impact insulation.


Plaster is a finishing material commonly used, in buildings, for coating ceilings and walls. Plaster is similar to cement in that it’s a dry powder. Plaster, when combined with water, forms a paste which remains workable when dried and as such can be easily manipulated with sandpaper and tools.

Plasterboard is a widely used plaster material in the fit outs of homes. It consists of a gypsum core encased in a heavy-duty paper liner. Plasterboard can come in all shapes and sizes from large sheeting’s to cornices and trims. Plasterboard is used in various applications throughout the home due to its fire-rated, wet proofed, sound proofed and insulating properties.


A truss is a structure that comprises one or more triangular units. The triangular units are built with straight members whose ends are joined at joints. Trusses are commonly made of timber or steel.


A beam is a structural component used in building that’s primary function is to support a roof or floor above. Beams are typically squared timber or metal.


A joist is a horizontal support that runs from wall to wall, wall to beam, or beam to beam to support a ceiling, roof, or floor. A joist can be made of timber, steel or concrete to name a few. Joists are usually supported by beams, and as such they are smaller, and are typically laid in a repetitive pattern.

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