Most bathroom renovation or remodelling projects begin with a trip to your local home improvement store or surfing the net to gather ideas just to see what’s out there.

Another good place to start is to get to know the jargon and terminology that the trade’s people in the home refurbishment industry are currently using.

This is beneficial so you won’t get totally lost when you try to communicate with them as to what you want.

Here is a shortlist of common bathroom renovation terms encompassing: plumbing and lighting, flooring, framing, planning and design terminology.

This is not a complete list but more of a work in progress and relevant terms and descriptions will be added on a regular basis as we assess them.

A

ABS – A strong and rigid plastic material that combines the best qualities of Acrylics, Butyrate and Styrenes. It is commonly used in shower trays due to its durability.
Access Panel – a removable section in a ceiling, wall or floor that allows you access so you can repair or replace something.
Acrylic – a strong type of plastic that is used to both provide strength to a unit and to gift it a glorious, smooth finish.
Adapter – is a plumbing fitting that allows you to connect two pipes, whether they are the same size, different sizes or made from different materials, or simply makes it possible to go from a male ending to a female ending or vice versa.
Airlock – A type of blockage caused not by anything solid, but by a trapped air bubble.
Amp – is the abbreviation for the word ampere which is a measure of the electrical current flowing through an electrical wire or appliance.
Apron – is the bottom section of a window casing that finishes the windowpane frame beneath the window sill.

B

Back to wall toilets – one of the standard designs for a toilet, the other being close-coupled. With a back to wall toilet, the cistern isn’t exposed, making for a smoother, cleaner look.
Back-Butter – is the tradesman’s term for when you apply mortar or some type of adhesive to the back surface of a section of tile before setting it.
Backerboard – sometimes called cement board, it is a kind of cement or gypsum-based sheet that is used as an underlayment for setting tile.
Back-siphoning – A potentially hazardous situation where water flows back into the mains water system, e.g. from a toilet, shower or hose.
Backsplash – a section of tiling, glass, marble, stone or other impermeable material fitted to the backs of sinks so water splashing back does not damage the wall.
Ballcock – an air-filled ball that sits within the cistern and allows the tank to fill without overflowing.
Banding – is when you apply solid wood trim to a plywood edge to conceal plies.
Banjo unit – Nothing to do with George Formby! This is a combined waste and overflow unit.
Bar – a measurement for water pressure, and what pressure is needed for optimum performance of a fitting. Factors include the mains company, the house’s location, the system and the boiler.
Bar mixer kits – This is a style of exposed shower kit that features a horizontal bar mixer tap with a shower attachment.
Baseboard – usually made of wood, it is the trim that runs along the bottom of a wall to conceal the gap between the wall and the floor and can also be used to protect the bottom of the wall.
Basin Wrench – is a specialized plumbing tool that has a long shaft that allows you to reach down into spaces to tighten or loosen hold-down nuts.
Bath filler bar mixer kits – much the same as the above, though in this case, the mixer tap doesn’t just supply the shower head but also functions as a tap to fill the bath. This is all contained in the one unit.
Bath Wastes – bath wastes are the plughole and initial piping that helps speedily draw off water from your bath. They often feature special traps to collect dirt that could clog the pipes, or save you from losing your wedding ring!
Bathroom suites – full sets of complete bathroom furniture, including sinks, toilets and other items sold as a cheaper bundle not separately.
Bearing Wall – a wall in your house that bears a portion of the weight of the floor or building above it.
Bidet – from the French meaning ‘pony’, a bidet is a small ceramic unit much like a sink. It is installed in the bathroom for the purposes of cleaning one’s derriere more thoroughly.
Biscuit Joint – a wooden joint that uses wooden wafers glued into holes cut in the edges of mating pieces.
Bisque – the clay and liquid mixture that is the body substance of the tile.
Blocking – are pieces of wood that are nailed horizontally between wall studs to act as anchor points for holding moulding or cabinetry in place.
Bore – Not just me at parties, but the measurement of the hollow section of a pipe.
Brass – what we use to form the cores of our taps, valves and other metallic items. Chosen for its strength and demonstrable high resilience against corrosive elements, including rust.
British Thermal Unit (BTU) – a measurement for the amount of power needed from radiators to heat a certain space. Many factors are involved in calculating this.
Bullnose Tiles – are flat tiles that have at least one round or bevelled edge. They are primarily used as trim edges when installing tiles. They are sometimes called caps.
Butt Joint – the point where two ends of adjoining sections are cut square and the two pieces are simply butted up against one another.

C

Cable – the casing in which two or more insulated wires are wrapped in, usually either metal or plastic sheathing.
Cap Moulding – moulding that is made to be put on the top edge of another material as a finishing touch.
Cap-nut – A special type of bolt used to ensure the tightness of fitting on to pipework.
Ceramic Discs – washers are rings used to keep the water flow sealed when the tap is turned off. Other stockists use inferior rubber washers, which soon perish and cause leaks. We have ceramic discs, which not only last infinitely longer but which also allow for simple quarter-turn operation.
Chrome – sparkly metallic loveliness. We use an extremely thick triple coating of chrome on our units to ensure an unblemished and nigh-on unperishable finish.
Circuit Breaker – is a protective measure put on a device in a service panel that automatically shuts off power to the circuit if it senses a short or the circuit overloads.
Cistern – Strictly speaking, a cistern is anything designed to hold liquid. In our terms, it is the small tank that contains and regulates the amount of water needed to flush your toilet.
Cleanout – is a removable plug in a trap or a drainpipe that when removed allows easier access to whatever is blocking it inside.
Cleft – is the process of creating stone paving pieces by splitting off pieces from a larger rock surface.
Cloakroom Basins – ceramic sinks engineered to provide the ultimate in usability in the smallest space.
Close-coupled toilet – the other mainstay of toilet design, alongside back to wall toilets. These are formed of two units, the cistern and the pan, that are closely coupled with a connecting pipe.
Closet bend – can be described as the elbow-shaped fitting underneath a toilet that carries waste down to the main drain.
Combined Vanity Furniture – This is an all-in-one unit that provides a sink, lots of storage and often a toilet. Keeps the style consistent and saves having to buy units separately.
Concealed shower kits – any type of shower kit where the majority of the operating parts are installed and thus hidden in a wall. Used to create an extremely contemporary, minimalist look.
Continuity Tester – is a device that ascertains whether or not a circuit is able to transmit electricity.
Corner Bead – is a plastic or metal end piece that is attached to outside drywall corners which makes them easier to finish and also protect the corners from excessive damage.
Counter Basins – these are sinks designed to rest atop a vanity unit or counter, instead of on top of a pedestal. This decision can be stylistic, or simply to save room in a small bathroom.
Counterbore – can be defined as a screw hole that is deep enough to accept a wood plug after the screw is in position.
Countersink – is a drilled hole that fits the shape of a wooden screw.
Coupling – a fitting used to connect two separate lengths of a pipe in a straight line. These couplings can be made from galvanized steel, copper, brass, or plastic.
Crosscut – is a measured cut across the grain that brings the material to the desired length.

D

Dado – is a channel cut in wood that goes across the grain whereas a groove is a channel that runs in the direction of the grain.
Deadman – is a T-shaped brace primarily used to keep the drywall from moving against the ceiling joists while you fasten the drywall in place.
Dielectric Fitting – is a special fitting joint that you can use to join together two dissimilar metals. This is used to prevent the two metals from corrosively reacting with each other in a negative way.
Dimension Lumber – refers to standard-sized lumber that is two to five inches in nominal thickness and up to twelve inches in nominal width.
Diverter – is a valve on a faucet that readily changes the water flow coming from a faucet to either a showerhead or hand sprayer alternatively.
Diverter – this is a unit that directs water to different outlets, for example, a bath filler tap and a showerhead.
Double vanity – a nice his and hers piece. A vanity unit featuring two sinks, not one.
Dowel – is typically a cylindrical shaped piece of wood that can be used to reinforce a joint.
Drum Trap – This round shaped trap is built into the floor or older homes and is normally covered with a chrome-plated, brass or expandable cap.
Dry Fit – this is the joining together of plastic pipes or wooden materials without an adhesive glue, just so you can see if the parts fit together properly.
Dual flush – all BathEmpire toilets feature a dual flush capability. This means you can choose between a small and large flush, saving water. This reflects not just on your bills but on the environment.

E

EasyClean Glass – These units activate in natural light and break down organic muck and grime, leaving you to simply wipe it away.
Elbow – also known as an ell, this fitting is used to change the direction of a water supply line to make it fit within a given space or to avoid obstacles.
Electric showers – any type of shower that uses an electric element to directly heat the water as it transitions from the pipe to the head. This means you theoretically can never run out of hot water.
Element – an electrical item that is fitted to radiators to directly heat, using the mains power supply, the fluid within the radiator. Also comes in thermostatic models.
Exposed shower kits – any style of shower kit whose units are on display. As opposed to the concealed kits, the valve and pipework will be visible.

F

Face Frame – A four-piece wooden assembly attached to the front of a cabinet.
Fall – A word uses to express the slope of drain lines.
Faucet – not Farrah, but what our American cousins, and some others, call a tap.
Field Tiles – Flat tiles with unrounded edges used within the edges of a tiled installation
Fire Stop – A piece of wood nailed across a stud bay to prevent the bay from acting as a chimney and conduit for fire.
Fitting – Any connector (except a valve) that lets you join pipes
Flat-pack – Any type of unit supplied in sections to be put together by the customer. This isn’t a problem with us, as our furniture comes pre-assembled. This is to save both your time and your patience!
Floor Standing Vanity Units – Sink and storage cupboard combination that is not fitted to the wall, but which supports its weight from the floor.
Flow Restrictor – A device found in some showerheads to restrict the flow of water and thus reduce water use.
Flush – Having the same surface or plane as an adjoining surface
Flux – A stiff jelly brushed or smeared on the surfaces of copper and brass pipes and fittings before joining them.
Freestanding – Any unit of furniture that is not built-in or otherwise affixed to a supporting surface.

G

Galvanized – Covered with a protective coating of zinc.
Green Bisque – Clay that has not been fired (not a reference to its colour).
Green Board – A moisture-resistant drywall product made for wet installations, such as baths and showers. Greenboard is not waterproof.

H

Hammer Arrester – A shock-absorbing device that provides a cushion of air to prevent water damager – sudden surges in water pressure that sometimes result in noisy pipes.
Hard water – water that contains a significant level of soluble minerals. This can cause problems in some area due to build-ups of these minerals on fittings and in the system.
Hot tub – a thing of luxury: a large Jacuzzi or other bath fitted out with jets with for your relaxation.

I

I.D. – The abbreviation for inside diameter. All plumbing pipes are sized according to their inside diameter.
Isolating valve – A type of valve used to cut off the mains water supply to a particular room or appliance. Extremely convenient as you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of turning off the entire system.

J

J-Bead – A modelling made to cover the edge of the drywall sheet so that the raw edge does not show in the finished product.
Jig – A device that holds a workpiece or tool in a certain way to efficiently and accurately saw or shape wood
Joy – what our beautiful designs will bring to your bathroom life.

K

Kerf – The slot left by a saw blade as it cuts through material
Kitchen taps – at the risk of insulting your intelligence: taps for the kitchen. These will tend to have handy extras like pullout spouts and whatnot for rinsing off worktops and dishes.

L

Laminate – A slightly tricky one, this. It can be two or more sheets of material fixed together. However, it can also mean just the water-resistant sheet of the bonded sheets. Lastly, as a verb, it also can mean to fix such sheets together.
Latex-Modified hinset – Thinset mortar mixed with latex additive to increase its flexibility, resistance to water and adhesion
LED Showers – a term for the dazzling array of lighted shower heads we supply. Requiring no wiring, the water pressure activates dynamos that turn the LEDs through a trio of shades dictated by the water temperature. Red: Hot Green: Warm Blue: Cold.
Lucite – a special type of acrylic we use to top off the finish of our top-class baths. Resilient, it also stays warm to the touch.

M

MDF – This stands for Medium Density Fibreboard, the best friend of home makeover shows since time immemorial. It is a man-made material that can be used and worked like natural wood. It is strong and light.
Mist-Free Mirrors – mirrors with special sensors that keep the surface of the glass at just the right temperature to prevent annoying steam build-up. Makes shaving far safer!
Mitre – An angle, often 45 degrees, cut across the grain on a piece of wood
Mortar – Any mixture of masonry cement, sand, water, and other addictives. Also described s the action of applying mortar to surfaces or joins
Mortise – An opening cut in a piece of wood to accept a mating piece of wood (tenon)
Moulding – Shaped wood used as trim
Mud – Trade jargon for cement-based mortars

N

Niagra – simply because the ‘N’ section was looking a little sparse: one of our stunning ranges of kitchen and bathroom taps.
Nipple – A 12-inch or shorter pipe with threads on both ends that is used to join fittings
No-Hub-Fitting – A neoprene gasket with a stainless-steel band that tightens to join PBC drain pipe or ABS or cast-iron pipe
Nominal Size – The designated dimension of a pipe or fitting or piece of lubber. It varies slightly from the actual size.

O

O.D. – the abbreviation for outside diameter.
Open Time – The interval between application of adhesive and when it can no longer be worked; also called working time.
Orange – a type of sweet, edible citrus fruit and warm, summery colour. Here because the ‘O’ section was extremely bare.
Organic Mastic – One of several petroleums or latex-based adhesives for setting tiles. Exhibits less strength, flexibility, and resistance to water than thinnest adhesives.

P

Packing – A plastic or metallic cord-like material used chiefly around faucet steams. When compressed it results in a watertight seal.
Partition Wall – A wall whose only purpose is to divide a space-it does not contribute to supporting the weight of the building.
Pedestal Basins – sinks that are held up in place, by a pedestal, or ceramic column, beneath it. The classic setup for basins in the bathroom.
Pigtail – A short length of wire spliced with two or more wires in a box and connected to a terminal so that two or more wires will not be attached to a terminal
Plumb – A surface that lies on a true vertical plane
Plunge Cut – Starting a saw in a wood away for an edge
Pocket-Hole – A joining technique that employs screws driven into holes drilled at an angle
Polymer-Modified – A substance like grout or mortar to which an acrylic or latex solution has been added to increase its strength and workability
Profile – The silhouette or outline of an object.
PTFE – Also known as ‘plumber’s tape’ and the helpfully explanatory ‘thread seal tape’, PTFE is made from polytetrafluoroethylene. As one of the names suggest, it is used to properly seal and waterproof threaded plumbing fittings.
Pump – fitted to your water system to raise the pressure – this allows for proper thermostatic or power shower operation, for instance.

Q

Quadrant enclosures – a type of shower enclosure shaped like a quadrant, i.e. one-quarter of a circle. Helpful as their design helps you use otherwise neglected corner spaces.

R

Rabbet – A channel sawed or formed on the edge of a board or panel
Radiator valves – These act as taps for your radiators, in that you control the ingress of water into the radiator.
Radious Trim – A trim tile whose edge turns down to form a smooth, glazed border
Rail – One of the two horizontal pieces in a face frame.
Rainfall showerhead – nope, not using the clouds as a hygiene tool, but a large shower head engineered to replicate the invigorating, fast delivery of a rainstorm.
Reducer – A fitting with different size opening at either end used to go from a larger to smaller pipe
Reveal – A narrow flat area on a moulding or board left purposely uncovered for visual effect
Revent – is a pipe that connects a fixture drain pipe to the secondary or main vent stack in your home.
Rip-Cut – Is a cut along the length of a sheet or panel. Cut along the longest dimension to trim a wide board by sawing with the grain.
Riser – Is a pipe supplying water to a location such as to a toilet or sink.
Riser rail – a pole fitted to the wall in your shower enclosure to allow for positioning and adjustment of the showerhead.
Rising main – An important pipe that supplies water under mains pressure. They more than usually run to a storage tank, often in the roof.
Rough-In – This occurs at the preliminary stages of a plumbing project in which supply lines and drain waste vent lines are run to their final designations.
Rout – When you cut or shape wood with a bit and router.
Run – the length of a pipe or multiple pipes with fitting all going in a straight line.

S

Saddle-Tee Valve – This is a fitting used to tap into a water line without you having to cut the plumbing line apart
Safety glass – panes specially engineered to not just be stronger but to shatter safely if they are broken. As the sheet crazes into tiny pieces, not shards, it is much less likely to injure anyone close by.
Sanded Grout – Grout that has sand in it to increase the strength and also to reduce the shrinkage of the joint.
Sanitary Fitting – Is a fitting that is designed to help direct waste downward used to join drain waste vent lines.
Sanitary Sewer – The network of drains under your home that carries solid and liquid waste down to a waste treatment facility.
Self –Rimming Sink – A sink that has a lip that supports the sink from falling through the countertop. It basically holds the sink in place.
Semi Pedestal Basins – a type of sink that combines the best from both options. Essentially, it is fitted to a wall, but instead of a clean base, it has a half pedestal which looks very regal.
Semi-Vitreous Tile – Tile that is only partially resistant to water and other liquids.
Shower tray – a solid, watertight piece that you stand on. It is fitted inside and at the bottom of your shower enclosure.
Silicone mastic – Also known as ‘caulk’, mastic is a flexible compound used to seal joints. Used when fitting showers, sinks and baths, among others, to prevent leaks.
Sliding door enclosures – any type of shower enclosure whose entrance features a piece of glass mounted on runners that slide aside to allow access.
Slotted basin waste – a type of waste you will need if you have an overflow fitted to your sink, and vice versa.
Steel – the material we use to form our radiators. With its low carbon content, in tests, it proved to be seriously resistant to rust and other damaging elements.

T

Thermostatic radiator valves – radiator valves that automatically regulate the power to your radiator to maintain your set temperature. Larger than standard valves, but energy-saving, as the thermostat detects ambient heat.
Thermostatic shower valves – shower valves that feature a thermostat. Serious advantages accrue to having a thermostatic shower valve, not least safety features and your temperature is automatically set for you – this prevents fiddling to balance the taps yourself.
Toilet – self-explanatory, surely?!
Trap – A curved or bent piece of pipe that ‘traps’ water, creating a seal against gases.

U

U-bend – A section of waste pipe, turned up in a U shape, for the purposes of acting as a trap.

V

Vanity – a combination of storage cupboard and sink, to fit into one space. Sometimes also features a toilet, too.
Veneer – a thin piece of wood or other material fitted over another material to create a different finish to what is underneath.

W

Wall Hung Toilets – as opposed to being fixed to the floor, wall hung toilets are screwed directly into the wall. This gives a nice elevated look, clearing the space normally taken by the base.
Wall Hung Vanity Units – Ideal for clearing floor space or utilising large walls, these vanity units do not rest on their base but are fitted to the wall.
Wall Mounted Basins – as opposed to having sinks sat on a vanity or a pedestal, these basins are fixed directly to the wall.
Waste – a piece of piping that intercedes between the sink and the outdoor piping. Can both allow water to escape and hold it in a basin.
Waterfall tap – taking its cue from nature, a waterfall tap has one large open spout to give a unique method of water delivery and look.
White Vitreous China – the only material we use on our ceramic units. Tested for strength and gives a gorgeously clean white finish.

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