Do You Know These Construction Basics?



By: Amanda Monell

6 Min Quiz

Image: dima_sidelnikov/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

About This Quiz

It may or may not have happened to you recently. You saw a house that you fell in love with and had to have, and after a lot of talking, an inspection and a trip to the bank, you're holding the keys to your new home. Things go swimmingly for a while, but eventually, a repair or replacement may need to be made. Hopefully, it's minor, but either way, you're going to need some building essentials to get the job done.

For the new homeowner, heading into a hardware store can be a little intimidating, especially when you step into one of the bigger chains. Internet searches for how to remedy or repair an item do shine a little light on the steps required to finish the task. However, no matter how much you study up, the minute you're standing in the vast wonderland that is a big hardware store, all that research could quickly go out the window. That's where the smaller hardware stores come in handy. On any given day, you could go into one of these stores and get the items you need as well as advice on how to get the job done.

So do you think you can ace this quiz on construction basics? Better sharpen your carpenter's pencils and see if you can pass the grade.

What would you use to seal and fill in the spaces between ceramic tiles?

Location is key when it comes to choosing grout for ceramic tile. If you're tiling a bathroom, cementitious grouts are great because they come in a variety of colors. However, if a kitchen is where the tile is going, then you'd want to go with epoxy grout.


If you're looking to complete a large project and don't have the time to keep all the small details straight, you'll need one of these. Who are these individuals?

General contractors (or GCs) are godsends to individuals working on projects requiring more than one discipline. They will contact subcontractors qualified to work on every detail of the project, making it easier for management to track.


If you're painting a wall and want to prevent the previous color from bleeding through, what would you use?

As with many construction materials, you want to double check your labels when purchasing any primer. Many paint companies have included various primers in their paints to help speed up labor times as well as lowering material costs.


What building material would you use to seal the bricks of a wall together?

If it's poured in a moderate-temperature environment with an average amount of moisture, cement as it ages actually becomes stronger. This is because the cement gets a chance to settle and harden, which reduces the amount of permeability.


When it comes to pouring a foundation, having a level ground surface is very important. What word is commonly used to define this work?

By smoothing out the ground under your foundation, you lower your costs on materials and labor. If left ungraded, you would have to add extra cement until you got the level surface you desired, as well as adding man hours for the pour.


In many areas, having proper drainage between buildings is important. What is the name of the small channels between properties called?

In residential areas, swales are extremely useful for a couple of reasons. These channels help promote rainfall drainage as well as distribution to lawns and other landscaping. They are also really handy at telling where property lines lay.


Shoot! Your general contractor went over budget on something. What will they need to issue to get their extra funds?

As a whole, general contractors tend to stick to their projected budgets. However, client demands may cause certain expenses to increase. Design changes, the expedited delivery of goods and overtime labor are usually the causes of change orders.


If you need to create a level surface on something you're constructing, you probably want to use some of these small wedges. What are we thinking of?

Shims are an absolute must have when it comes to woodworking. In addition to creating level surfaces, shims can provide extra support and in the case of mismeasured wood, they can fill gaps so materials don't have to be repurchased.


Cutting tile can be quite the chore if you don't have the right instruments to mark cut lines. What writing implement would you use to mark a tile for cutting?

Just like a carpenter's pencil, most China pencils are easy to sharpen while in the field. Pull the thread down its perforated line and peel the paper off from bottom to top.


What is defined as an unobstructed method of exit?

While many egresses and ingresses (a means to enter a building) are similar, there are a few instances that lend themselves to egress-only designs. A prime example of this is if you have a turn lane with a partition when you drive away from the building.


What is a company that sells goods made by other entities called?

If you've ever shopped for construction materials at The Home Depot, you've used a vendor. For the most part, they employ companies to supply them their goods and mark their retail prices up for a profit.


If you ever needed a price for a home renovation, you've probably requested one of these. What are we thinking of?

When you request quotes from various contractors, you always want to be sure that you get a breakdown of all the costs involved. That way you can make an educated guess by comparing line item by line item.


In the corporate arena, when you're ready to place an order for an item, you're going to need to talk to one of these guys to get the job done. Who are we thinking of?

If you're ever confused about what quote is best and you're working in the construction field, pass those quotes onto your buyer. They'll be able to figure out what's what, and if you have a good agent, they'll get the suppliers to lower their prices.


What is a company that makes and sells their own goods called?

Many people will use the words "vendor" and "manufacturer" interchangeably. This is not accurate, as manufacturers have more responsibilities than vendors do; they may need to issue warranties or quality certificates.


If you're looking for a company to complete a specific task on a project, you want to hire one of these. Who are we thinking of?

If you're working with a general contractor who works with subcontractors (or subs), there is a little bit of a risk. Subcontractors aren't linked directly to the project, and if they're unprofessional or produce poor work, it may add extra costs you may not have the money for.


These passages often found in walls are used to help circulate the air. What are we thinking of?

If you want to maximize your airflow into your home, you should do two things. First, install fans to circulate the air, especially in areas without windows, and second, get your air ducts cleaned to remove pollutants from the air.


Oh no! One of the electrical wires to your thermostat has gotten stripped! What can you use to protect it until it gets repaired?

In addition to your wiring in your home, electrical tape is a godsend to phone chargers. When you place a little strip of electrical tape around a cord, it prevents shocks and shields the cord from moisture and corrosion.


A lot of handymen will use this construction compound to prevent water leakage in bathrooms and kitchens. What is it?

In addition to sealing up spaces in between tubs and sinks, caulk can be used on walls. As homes start to age and settle, cracks may start to appear. With a little bit of caulk, you can improve the appearance of your walls and help prevent further damage.


One of the many tips carpenters give new woodworker is, "Measure twice, cut once." Which of these instruments would you use to mark a cut line on wood?

A carpenter's pencil is constructed of rectangular wood and offers many advantages that a regular pencil doesn't. The lead is thicker and can hold a point longer, and because it's rectangular instead of round, there's little danger of it rolling away and disappearing.


Just like assembling a piece of furniture in your home, a set of these items needs to be sent to a contractor as instructions on construction. Do you know what these instructions are called?

During the design phase of a project, the construction manager will often consult architects and engineers to design drawings for distribution. Piping sizes for plumbing and proper voltage to electrical lines are a couple of the details illustrated.


If you need to mix a great deal of cement, you will want to rent one of these. What are we thinking of?

Many of the large-quantity concrete mixers used today are mounted on trucks. If you look carefully, the massive trucks' drums are always turning. Why? To prevent the concrete inside of it from drying.


Which of these items would you use to see if a piece of wood is straight?

Some levels measure both horizontal and vertical materials, and the use is fairly simple. If using a standard level, simply monitor the liquid filled tube; if the bubble is in the center, it is level.


Gas leaks can be fatal if undetected. What instrument do HVAC professionals use to find gas leaks?

As you can imagine, finding a gas leak in the home can develop into a pretty big problem if left unattended. In addition to an increase in gas bills, there could be an explosion, which could not only be fatal to you and your family but neighbors too.


Sometimes doors swell due to humidity, which makes them hard to close. Which of these tools can you use to shave a little wood off of it?

To cut down on costs, contractors will often use raw lumber instead of milled lumber, resulting in some uneven boards. In order to rectify the situation, planes will often be used to make the wood level.


What construction essential would you use to smooth out wood?

If you ever run across a rough piece of wood, you can easily smooth it out using sandpaper. As it comes in various grits and grades, it can soften hard edges and prime the wood, which makes it easier to absorb paints or stains.


If you're building a building, you're going to need these pivotal beams to keep the building from collapsing. What beams are they?

If you're ever hanging a piece of art or other wall accessories, you're going to want to make sure you hammer into one of the studs. This will prevent damage to the drywall and keep your items secure.


When you have a lot of equipment, you're going to need to use one of these to house it. Which of these shelters is it?

If you ever need to shop for a warehouse, you should always consider what their tracking methods are. Many of the better warehouses place bar codes on the items that they are storing so there's no question on its location.


What piece of construction equipment shares its name with a bird?

Have you ever wondered how materials get delivered on the higher levels of a building? Usually, when construction starts, a tower crane is installed, and with its massive reach (up to 1000 meters high), materials reach higher elevations with ease.


Sometimes you need to move a mountain of dirt away from your building site. Which of these vehicles will help you achieve this goal?

If you've ever driven on a road, you should thank the driver of a bulldozer. These big machines are instrumental in building roads because they remove the topsoil, which contains moisture and therefore doesn't make a good building surface.


If you're looking to transport equipment to your site, you may want to make sure that it's mounted on one of these. What are we thinking of?

When transporting goods from a warehouse to construction sites, pallets are built so forklifts can quickly pick them up and get them to the trucks. Be careful when handling a pallet, though; they're usually made of unfinished wood, and splinters are all over.


Which painting essential would you use to protect your furniture from drips?

In an ideal situation, you would be able to move every piece of furniture out of the room that you're planning to paint. However, we all know there's always that one piece that needs protecting. In a pinch, old flat sheets can double as tarps.


Are you a messy painter? If so, you should use some of this tape on the edges. What are we thinking of?

Painter's tape often is confused for its cousin, masking tape. The difference between the two tapes is that, unlike masking tape, painter's tape doesn't leave a residue when removed.


What glue is best for securing wood to a wall?

Wood glue is great for securing and repairing wooden surfaces. However, you want to be really careful when applying it. Wood glue, when it's time to remove it, is nearly impossible to do, unless you use acetone or sand it off.


When applying spackling paste to a wall, which of these items should you use to smooth out the surface?

Painting a wall can be a really daunting experience, however, if you make sure you have a smooth wall, it will help immensely. Applying spackling paste to the wall, smoothing it out with a putty knife and then sanding it will make your project rock!


No one on the face of the Earth has ever cheered when a toilet clogged in their home. Which of these things would you use to remove a clog?

If you're dealing with a problematic clog, you should probably use a couple of other devices before breaking out a plumber's snake because if a snake is used too often, the piping can end up getting damaged.


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