Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

The Ultimate Guide to Home Remodeling Terms

August 18th, 2023 | 6 min read

By Michael Flory

home remodeling terms kitchen remodel countertops custom built lansing mi

Are you planning a home remodeling project but feeling overwhelmed by the jargon and technical terms used in the industry? Do you find yourself struggling to understand the language of contractors and designers?

Whether you're remodeling your kitchen, bathroom, basement, or adding an addition to your home, navigating the world of home remodeling terms can be challenging and confusing.

At Custom Built, we understand the importance of clarity and knowledge when it comes to your home improvement journey. As a trusted remodeling company with 15+ years of experience, we are committed to providing you with the expertise you need to make informed decisions about your home.

In this guide, we'll break down complex remodeling terms into simple explanations, ensuring that you have a clear understanding of each concept:

General Home Remodeling Terms for Beginners

ultimate guide to home remodeling terms living room design custom built lansing mi

1. Blueprint

Blueprints are detailed architectural plans that outline the design and layout of your remodeling project. It includes dimensions, structural elements, and other essential details.

2. Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the attractiveness of a home's exterior when viewed from the street. Good curb appeal can enhance the property's value and make a positive impression on potential buyers.

3 Energy Star

Energy Star is an energy efficiency certification program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Energy Star-rated appliances and products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines, reducing energy consumption and utility costs.

4. Finish Schedule

A finish schedule is a detailed list that outlines all the finishes and materials to be used in the remodeling project, including paint colors, flooring types, and hardware selections.

5. Subcontractor

Subcontractors are specialized trade professionals hired by the general contractor to perform specific tasks, such as plumbing, electrical work, or flooring installation.


HVAC is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. This system regulates indoor temperature, humidity, and air quality to maintain a comfortable environment.

7. Load-Bearing Capacity

Load-bearing capacity represents the maximum weight a structure or foundation can support safely. It is essential to consider load-bearing capacity when adding new features or structures to your home.

Decking Building Terms for Your Home Remodel

home remodeling terms deck builders lansing mi custom built

1. Beam

Beams are horizontal supports that carry the weight of the joists and transfer them to the posts.

2. Deck Load

Deck loads represent the weight capacity of the deck, including its structure, furniture, and occupants

3. Deck Sealant

Deck sealants are protective coatings applied to the deck's surface to prevent moisture damage and extend lifespan.

4. Fascia Board

A fascia is a finishing board attached to the outer edges of the deck to create a polished look.

5. Footings

Footings are concrete supports buried in the ground that provides a stable base for the deck's posts.

6. Hidden Fasteners

Hidden fasteners are concealed between the boards, providing a seamless and clean look.

7. Joist

Joists are horizontal framing members that support the decking and provide the structure for the deck.

8. Ledger Board

A ledger board is a horizontal board attached to the house to which the deck is connected.

9. Post

Posts are vertical structural supports that provide the foundation for a deck's framework. These sturdy pillars are usually made of wood, metal, or composite materials and are installed at specific intervals along the deck's perimeter.

10. Scribe Board

A scribe board is a custom-cut board used to fit the deck around irregular shapes or objects.

11. Skirt Board

A skirt board is a decorative board installed around the bottom perimeter of the deck to hide the framing and create a clean appearance.

12. Stair Risers

Stair risers are the vertical boards that form the front face of each step in a staircase. They are installed between the stair treads and provide structural support and safety by preventing feet from slipping through the gaps between steps.

13. Stair Stringers

Stair stringers are the inclined, diagonal boards or beams that support the treads and risers of a staircase. They are typically located on either side of the stairs and are responsible for carrying the weight of the steps and transferring the load to the floor or landing.

14. Stair Treads

Stair treads are the horizontal boards or surfaces that form the steps of a staircase. They are part of the stairs where individuals place their feet while ascending or descending. Stair treads come in various materials and styles, providing both functional and aesthetic elements to the staircase design.

Kitchen Remodeling Terms for Your Culinary Space

kitchen remodel guide to home remodeling terms custom built lansing mi

1. Backsplash

Backsplashes are protective and decorative elements installed on the wall behind kitchen countertops and sinks to prevent water damage and add visual appeal.

2. Kitchen Island

Kitchen islands are freestanding or built-in countertop units located in the center of the kitchen, providing additional workspace, storage, and often used for dining or entertaining.

3. Kitchen Peninsula

Kitchen peninsulas are extensions of the kitchen countertop that jut out from the wall or an existing island, providing extra workspace and serving as a partial room divider.

4. Pendant Lighting

Pendant lighting is decorative fixtures suspended from the ceiling, often used in the kitchen to add ambiance and task lighting above islands or dining areas.

5. Pot Filler Faucet

Pot filler faucets are wall-mounted fixtures installed near the stove, designed to make it easier to fill large pots with water without carrying them from the sink.

6. Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are engineered stone surfaces made from 90-95% crushed natural quartz combined with resins, offering durability, non-porosity, and a wide range of color options.

7. Shaker Cabinets

Shaker Cabinets are a style of cabinetry characterized by simple, clean lines and a recessed panel design, originally developed by the Shakers in the 18th century.

8. Soft-Close Drawers

Soft-close drawers are cabinet drawers equipped with a mechanism that slows down the closing process, preventing slamming and reducing wear and tear over time.

9. Toe Kick

The recessed space beneath the base cabinets allows users to stand close to the counter without their toes touching the cabinet.

10. Undermount Sink

An undermount sink is mounted underneath the countertop, creating a seamless and easy-to-clean transition between the countertop and sink basin.

Bathroom Remodeling Terms for Upgrading Your Tile, Shower, and More

bathroom remodel with tub and glass shower custom built lansing mi

1. Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is a clay-based tile kiln-fired to create a durable and water-resistant surface commonly used for bathroom floors and walls.

2. Freestanding Bathtub

Freestanding bathtubs that aren’t attached to walls or fixtures are often placed in the bathroom's center to create a focal point.

3. Grout

Grout is a cement-based or epoxy material used to fill the gaps between tiles, providing stability and preventing water from seeping into the substrate.

4. Rainfall Showerhead

Rainfall showerheads mimic the sensation of rainfall, offering a luxurious and immersive shower experience.

5. Shower Niche

Shower niches are recessed shelves or compartments built into the shower wall to hold shampoo, soap, and other essentials.

6. Soaking Tub

Soaking tubs are deep and commonly freestanding bathtubs designed to allow you to immerse yourself in a relaxing bathing experience.

7. Subway Tile

Subway tile is a rectangular material with beveled edges inspired by the classic tiles used in subway stations, commonly used in bathroom wall designs.

8. Vanity

Vanities are bathroom cabinets or cabinets that typically include a sink or countertop, providing storage space and serving as a focal point in the bathroom.

9. Vessel Sink

Vessel sinks sit on top of the bathroom countertop, resembling a freestanding bowl or basin, creating a contemporary and stylish look.

10. Waterfall Faucet

Waterfall faucets feature unique designs that allow water to flow like a waterfall, creating an elegant and visually appealing effect in the bathroom.

Basement Finishing and Remodeling Terms for Your Underground Sanctuary

basement finishing and remodeling living area with furniture and TV custom built

1. Egress Window

Windows large enough to provide an emergency exit route in case of a fire or other emergencies, required by building codes in finished basements.

2. Framing

The process of building the structural framework of the basement, including walls, ceilings, and partitions, to support the weight of the finished space.

3. Moisture Barrier

Moisture barriers prevent moisture and water vapor from seeping into the basement. This is crucial for maintaining a dry and comfortable environment.

4. Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting is fixtures installed into the ceiling, creating a streamlined and modern look in the basement while providing ample illumination.

5. Sump Pump

Sump pumps are used to remove water that accumulates in a basement's sump pit, helping to prevent flooding and water damage.

6. Subfloor

The subfloor is a layer of flooring material installed over the concrete basement floor, providing a level surface and acting as a moisture barrier.

7. Underlayment

Underlayment is a material placed between the subfloor and the finished flooring that provides additional support and noise reduction.

8. Vapor Barrier

Vapor barriers are installed on the walls or ceiling to prevent water vapor from entering the basement, reducing the risk of mold and mildew growth.

9. Walkout Basement

Walkout basements that include an exterior door or sliding glass door that allows direct access to the outside, typically situated on a sloping lot.

10. Waterproofing

Waterproofing applies sealants and coatings to the basement walls and floor to prevent water infiltration and protect against moisture-related issues.

Next Steps to Starting Your Home Remodel

By gaining a clear understanding of essential remodeling terms, you are now better equipped to communicate effectively with contractors, designers, and builders.

With this newfound knowledge, you can confidently navigate the remodeling process and make informed decisions that align with your vision for the perfect home.

Throughout "The Ultimate Guide to Home Remodeling Terms," we've explored the ins and outs of common jargon used in the home improvement industry, aiming to alleviate the confusion and uncertainty that can accompany remodeling projects.

At Custom Built, we are committed to empowering homeowners like you with the expertise needed to achieve successful remodeling projects. As a trusted remodeling company with 15+ years of experience, we are here to guide you through every step of the way, turning your dreams into reality.

luxury home remodeling services design build firm custom built lansing michigan

For more information on additional remodeling terms to know, we recommend the following articles:

Michael Flory

Michael brings over 2 decades of building and remodeling experience to his position as the Owner and Visionary of Custom Built. Michael’s passion to make an impact on the home building industry has led him to serve for over ten years at the local and state Home Builders Association, culminating as President of the HBA of Michigan in 2020.