Home improvements can be costly and inconvenient – and that is before you have encountered an entirely new vocabulary which uses words that ca be easily confused or misunderstood. I have renovated two of the homes we have bought and i still come across some phrases and wording that confuses the hell of out of me. Here are seven terms to help you reimagine your house into the home of your dreams.
Remodel/ Refit/ Retrofit/ Redecorate/ Renovate: All these terms sound very similar and it is tempting to use them all interchangeably, but this would be incorrect as each term has a very specific meaning of its own.
- Remodel means to change the structure of the building, knocking walls down or installing new stairs etc.
- Refit means to renew equipment, so a 'kitchen refit', for example, would mean replacing all the kitchen equipment, such as the fridge, oven and so on.
- Retrofit refers to adding something to a building or room that it did not have before – for example, converting the space under the stairs into a small bathroom.
- Redecoration is generally cosmetic – repainting, cleaning and putting up new wallpaper.
- Renovation is when a building is restored to a previous good condition. This can include both remodelling and redecorating.
Soffit: This unusual and very specific word refers simply to the underside of an architectural feature, such as a balcony or an arch, usually the visible part. Soffits can be utilitarian or decorative.
Bow/ Bay Window: Both of these features – usually found on the lower floor of the home – protrude from the building. The difference is that bay windows always feature three panels, while a bow (rhymes with no) window has six or seven panels. The number of panels makes a difference to the look of the building. A bay window has an angular look, while a bow window curves out gracefully.
Fixture vs Fitting: Fixtures and fittings and generally mentioned as a pairing, but they do have different meanings. Fixtures are, as the word implies, fixed firmly in place or bolted to the wall or floor. Fittings, on the other hand, are features that are loosely in place, for example, a picture hanging on the wall.
Forced Air/ Radiator: These methods of heating homes are both effective and tend to be found in widely differing places: the UK and Europe favours radiator-heated homes, a system by which hot water is piped around the home into radiators, usually heated by gas. Forced air, most commonly found in America and Canada, uses a system of heated air being funnelled through a system of pipes and ducts. The air is heated by natural gas or oil, depending on the local area.
Laminate Flooring: This is a great way to achieve a wood effect floor, without the careful maintenance required of solid wood. Laminate flooring consists of several layers of pressed wood, sometimes topped with a clear protective coating or sheet, which features an authentic-looking Wooden Grain
. Because of the installation process can be easy, some laminate flooring allows the installation of underfloor heating.
Hardboard/ Chipboard/ Plywood: All these products are made from wood chippings bound into sheets that are used for building and renovations. But what is the difference between them all?
- Hardboard – also called High Density Fibreboard
– is made from wood fibres (small pieces of wood, such as those that have been run through a wood chipper) which are compressed very tightly together, binding them into very sturdy planks. Hardboard usually has one very smooth, shiny side, while the other is quite rough and untreated.
- Chipboard – also known as Low Density Fibreboard or particle board. It is made from wood chips or even tinier pieces, such as the waste generated by a saw mill. The wood fragments are mixed with an artificial resin, and then extruded into planks and sheets of the desired size. Chipboard is not as sturdy as hardboard – or even the middleweight MDF – and thus is rarely used as shelving. Instead, it is used as backing boards for cupboards and bookcases, and also to cover walls for insulation or as a base for fixtures to be installed.
- Plywood – the name comes from the many thin layers or 'piles' of wood from which this product is made. The very thin sheets are placed with the grain alternating ninety degrees (this process being called cross-graining) and they are bound with resin and compressed. This process makes a very strong (the more layers the stronger) product that can look like solid wood. Plywood can be used for almost anything needing wooden materials, from walls, to steps to ceilings. Picture frames made from plywood can be designed to show off the laminated layers, making an eye-catching and effective display.
None of these wood products have a wooden grain to their finish, but veneers are sometimes applied so the finished piece of furniture or shelving looks like solid wood.