When it comes to building a deck, there can be a lot of terms to remember. Compiled below are commonly used words on our site that you may not be familiar with. Still have questions? That's okay, our specialists are available to help! Please feel free to give us a call or use the live chat link above.
AC/DC – These describe the flow of electric current. DC (Direct Current) will only flow in one direction. AC (Alternating Current) has the ability to change direction. If an electronic device is DC but your power source is AC you will need to covert the flow with a transformer.
Aluminum – A strong metal that has a wide range of uses. It is virtually maintenance free and a popular choice for deck railing.
Auger bit – A drill bit that is designed to remove the material out from the hole being drilled while it creates the hole.
Back Brushing – A technique to ensure even coverage when staining deck boards. Using a brush, apply the stain to the board in one direction, then brush back over your stroke in the opposite direction.
Balusters – Small pillars in a series that support the rails, also known as Pickets or Spindles. The classic choice for infill between rails.
Balustrade – A section of railing.
Base Adapters – An adapter that attaches to the base of a post cap or post that adapts it to fit a different size.
Base Leveler – A base for deck support pedestals that compensates for slope to create a level surfaces.
Batten Strip – A strip of material used to provide attachment points to connect balusters in a railing section.
Beam – A piece of framing attached horizontally on the posts to support joists.
Beer Rail – A deck board connected to the top rail to create a flat surface, often to place drinks.
Bi-Pin – A light bulb with a two pin connection terminal that connects to a specific lamp fitting for bi-pin bulbs.
Biscuit-Fasteners – Another term for hidden deck clips.
Blocking – Short sections of support between joists that help stabilize the deck framing.
Bracket – The part of a railing assembly that connects the rail to the posts.
Brazilian Rosewood Oil – An oil that is harvested from seeds of Brazilian Rosewood trees. Known for being water-resistant, flexible, and strong.
Bridging – Shorter piece of framing material attached between joist to strengthen the deck framing.
Brightening – A step in deck staining. Cleaners and strippers can cause the pH of wood to change slightly, causing a darkening reaction. Brighteners will neutralize this causing the wood to "brighten" back up.
Butt Seam – When edges of decking boards meet.
Butyl Tape – A rubber based adhesive watertight sealing tape. It is flexible and has the sealing power of caulk.
Cable – An attractive and modern alternative to balusters as infill between rails. Typically they are installed horizontally, but there are options for vertical cable installation. Cable is constructed of multiple individual wires woven into a flexible but strong strand.
Cam-Out – A process by which the torque exceeds a certain amount and slips out of the head of a fastener while being driven.
Cantilever – A strong structural beam connected on only one of its sides to a post or structure. This needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of whatever it is supporting without a second support.
Cap Head – A rounded head fastener.
Capstock – A decking material that is made of composite with a exterior vinyl cap.
Chop Saw – A saw that makes straight cuts.
Circuits – A collection of individual electronic components connected by conductive wires in which an electric current can flow.
Clips – Hidden Decking fasteners that screw into the joist and slide into pre-cut grooves in the decking boards in order to fasten your decking boards without and visible screws.
Collated – Fasteners held together by strip of material that breaks apart when used in a installation tool.
Composite – An alternative to wood used for decking boards and railing. Composite is a synthetic building material made of recycled wood fibers and plastic. Comes in many color options
Countersinking – To enlarge the rim of a drilled hole so the fastener can insert flush.
Crack Tool – A tool that is thin and allows stain to be applied between decking board cracks.
Cumaru – A Brazilian Teak wood. It is naturally durable with a density much like IPE but with a lower price point.
Deck Plate – A plate installed at the base of a post that keeps it from sinking into the ground under the weight of the deck.
Deck Supports – Strong pedestals that hold up a decking surface for uses like rooftop patios.
Diodes – An electronic component that conducts electric current in one direction.
Driver Bit – A small metal bit that fits inside a drill in order to screw a specific fastener head.
Electroplated – A process to coat metal that uses electric current.
Epoxy Coating – A thick protective coating made of epoxy resins, resistant to rust and chemical corrosion. Often used as a finish on screws.
Face-Mount – Same as fascia mount, mounts on the side of the deck instead of on the top/surface.
Fascia – A flat piece of material that frames the perimeter of a deck.
Fascia Screws – Screws that are strong enough to provide structural attachments to the face of a building or deck.
Fiber Glass – A reinforced plastic material composed of glass fibers embedded in a resin matrix.
Flashing Tape – Strong, waterproof adhesive tape that is used to tightly seal seams.
Flat Head – A screw with a flat top that is installed into a countersunk hole.
Forstner Bit – A bit that cuts into wood to create a precise hole.
Framing Screws – Screws with a sharp drill point and are strong enough to hold up the frame of a deck.
Galvanized – A zinc coating to steel or iron that prevents rusting.
Gate Uprights – A set of posts that can be attached to a railing panel to turn it into a gate.
Gauge – The size and capacity of a wire.
Graspable Hand Rail – Most commercial and residential codes require a rail be graspable on a stair case, if the rail is not graspable a secondary handrail may need to be installed on the stair railing section.
Grooved and Ungrooved Boards – Deck boards that have notches or channels down the edges to allow for clips to achieve a fastener-free look.
Hex Cap – A six-sided decorative cap for installing over screw heads.
Hidden Fasteners – Fasteners for your deck boards that are concealed either as clips in between boards or as screws topped by camouflaging plugs.
Hot Dip Galvanization – A process coating iron and steel with a layer of zinc resulting in a strong material with a dull grey color.
Hurricane Zone Tested – Standards set by Miami Dade Hurricane Standards for building material that can withstand high winds to be used on the coast.
Incandescent – A light bulb with a wire filament that heats up and produces visible light.
Inset Measurement – How deep a component can slide inside of a cap, post, or rail.
International Residential Code (IRC) – A residential code that sets minimum structural standards for one and two family dwellings of three stories or less.
IPE – A Brazilian Walnut wood. Known for its beautiful dark coloring. IPE is a strong wood that is naturally resistant to rot.
Joist Hangers – A fastener that secures the joist to a ledger or rim joist.
Joist Tape – Tape that is installed on top of the joists before attaching the decking boards. This keeps moister from causing the joists to decay.
Joist Top Accessory – A topper for deck support pedestals that includes a tab that attaches to and helps supports the joist.
Joists – A horizontal length of framing material supporting the structure of a deck.
Kick Panel – A solid piece of material that often is installed at the bottom section of screen door or a full floor to ceiling install of screen to keep it from being damaged by foot traffic.
L-Brackets – Used to attach the first plank, last plank, and butt seam to achieve a fastener free decking surface.
Lags – A large wood screw with a square or hex head.
Leads – A length of wire coming from a light or transformer to transfer power.
LED – A light source, like a light bulb, but uses a diode instead of a bulb. It consumes less energy, has a longer lifespan, and is smaller in size than an incandescent bulb.
Ledger Board – A piece of material attached to the side of a structure that the joists attach to and supports the framing of a deck.
Line voltage and Low Voltage – Line Voltage is what a home is typically wired for, which is 120 volts. Low voltage tends to be at 12 volts. Low voltage lighting will need to be plugged into a transformer to bring down the voltage before use.
Loop Installation – A deck lighting configuration where the wire is running from the transformer to the first light, from the first light to the second and so on. The last wire connects back to the transformer creating a loop for the electrical current.
Lumens – The measure of quantity of visible light.
Marine Oil – An oil that seals and protects wood, while offering a "hand-rubbed" finish.
Matte – A flat finish with little to no gloss.
Mill Glaze – This is a natural occurrence when fresh lumber is sawed, causing the grains to close. This can prevent penetration of stain.
Multi Tap Configuration Transformers – These are transformers with several terminals to deliver current. This is a flexible voltage system that is used for larger lighting jobs where there is a great distance between lighting fixtures and lights that are more prone to voltage drop.
Mushrooming – When material displaces and "mushrooms" around the head of a screw.
Nail Screws – Screws that are used in an installation gun and shoot like a nail would.
Newel – A support post or column.
NiCAd Rechargeable Batteries – A rechargeable battery using nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes.
NiMH Rechargeable Batteries – A rechargeable battery like a NiCad battery, but NiMH uses hydrogen-absorbing alloy instead of cadmium. This can make it twice the capacity of a NiCad.
Nominal Dimensions – An approximate measurement. An example is how rough cut lumber 2x4 boards tend to be less than 2 inches thick and less than 4 inches wide.
Nylon – A lightweight and flexible plastic.
Oil-Canning – A term used when flat metal surfaces buckle or deform.
On Center – This is the distance from the middle between two objects. This measurement is often used when installing railing and balusters.
On Grade and Off Grade – On grade means that something is on ground level, off grade means it has been raised up above the ground.
Pergola – A structure that forms a shaded walkway or sitting area often seen in a garden or over a patio. These are constructed with posts that support cross-beams and are have many decorative options available.
Photo Eye – A sensor that senses light, often attached to a transformer to dictate if it needs to turn on or off.
Pigtail – A single piece of wire used to connect two or more wires.
Pilot Hole – A hole drilled as a guide for drilling a larger hole.
Pitch Rail – The foundation to install an under-deck system into. Pitch rails will connect to the joists of your deck.
Plugs – A piece of decking board used to conceal the fastener, often rounded, that slides in the screw hole over the fastener.
Pneumatic Gun – An installation gun that uses air pressure to fire fasteners.
Polarity – This describes the direction of the current flow in electronics. Current flows from the positive pole to the negative and vice versa.
Poly Sprayer – A tool that holds liquid and sprays it onto a surface using a nozzle connected a pump. A popular tool for staining decks.
Post Cover and Sleeve – A sleeve slides over a post. A cover wraps around a post instead of slides over. These are often for decorative purposes.
Post Flash – A snug fitting collar that slides over a 4x4 wood post to prevent moisture penetration.
Post Mount – A base for a post that will mount it on the ground or the decking surface.
Post Skirt or Flare – The cover over the base of the posts, often to cover the lags that connect the post to the deck.
Powder-Coat – A dry powder coating that is applied with electrostatic and cured under heat. This creates a hard finish that is tougher than paint
Pressure Treated Lumber (ACQ) – ACQ is an abbreviation for Alkaline Copper Quaternary, also known as Pressure Treated Lumber. This is a water based wood preservation method. The treatment makes the wood resistant to bacteria, fungi, and bugs.
Rail Plate – Horizontal top and bottom structural boards that form a connection between newel posts.
Rail Saddle – A post base with rail brackets attached.
Rim Joist – A final joist that is installed on the perimeter of the deck to cap off the row of joists supporting the floor.
Satin Finish – A smooth semi-gloss finish.
Sealer – A non-pigmented finish that seals out all elements. Most often used to prevent wood from becoming water damaged.
Self-Tapping Screw – A screw that does not need pre-drilling. The tread has a cutting gap at the tip that removes the material it’s being driven into.
Single or Simple Tap Configuration Transformers – These are transformers with one terminal which delivers current to a pre-set amount.
Sister Joints – A way to repair a broken joint by attaching more joining material to the questionable joint.
Solar – The conversion of sunlight into electricity. Decks Direct solar lights use a solar panel to collect light during the day and will turn on automatically once its light source is gone.
Splicing – When two pieces of wire need to be joined, often a wire nut is the easiest method.
Spline – A plastic piece that slides into your screen frame and holds the screen in place.
Split Load Installation – A wiring layout recommended when light fixtures run in two or more directions from the transformer. For this layout, locating the transformer in the center of the run reduces the effects of voltage drop.
Stainless Steel – A metal alloy that combines elements to create a rust resistant steel.
Stair Riser – A board installed in the vertical space between stair treads. Some deck owners decide to omit this in their stairway construction to give the stairs an open look.
Stair Treads – The flat step in your stairway. Part of a tread would be the surface you step on when you use a staircase. The tread depth is measured from the riser to the outer edge of the step. The width is the measurement from one stringer to the other stringer on the opposite side.
Straight Installation – A deck lighting wire layout that starts at the end of the lighting and follows the direct light fixture sequence, all the way to the transformer.
Stringers – Diagonal framing material that supports stairs. This attaches on either side of the treads.
Stripper – A strong solvent that removes paint, stain, and other finishes from surfaces.
Structural Post – The main vertical supports on a structure that does not need additional support.
Tannins – Brown discoloration on paint or stain surface due to migration of a discoloration from the surface that was painted or stained.
Terminal Blocks – A connector that allows more than one circuit to connect to each other in electric configurations.
Thermal Cut-Off – A safety feature that stops an electric current if it overheats.
Thermally Modified Wood – The process by which wood is heated with steam in a controlled environment in the absence of oxygen. This enhances the structural properties and makes the wood highly resistant to rot.
Timber Bolts – A threaded fastener that uses clamping force to connect two beams with the aid of a nut.
Torx Bit Heads – A trademark name for a type of screw head that has a 6-point star-shaped pattern. They come in head sizes ranging from T1- T100. The smaller number will correlate with a smaller dimension of the screw head.
Transformer – An electrical device that is used to increase or decrease the voltages before it feeds them into lights.
Trim Head – A screw with nibs that trim into the surface to create a countersunk finish when there is no pre-drilling. A trim head will lay flush and leave a smooth surface.
Vinyl – A synthetic material often made of resin or plastic.
Volatile Organic Compound – Also known as VOCs, these are organic compounds that become vapors.
Volt – A unit of power. The voltage is the amount of force of the electricity through a wire.
Voltage Drop – The voltage loss that occurs when a circuit experiences resistance to its current flow. This causes the load to work harder with less voltage, often causing lights to flicker or dim.
Wattage – A unit of power. Typically used to express the rate of energy conversion over time.