10 Terms Every DIYer Should Know

If you love all things DIY, you’re probably familiar with a glossary of terms referring to carpentry projects, painting ventures, outdoor installations, or anything in between. Becoming well versed in the world of home improvement can take time, but we have a cheat sheet prepared for anyone aspiring to be a full-on DIYer. Read below for 10 key terms that all home improvement masters should know off the top of their head.


For projects that aim to increase the energy efficiency of a home, this term is an important one to grasp. Insulation is material used to prevent heat loss in a structure, most notably in your home. It’s placed within ceilings, walls, and even floors to lock heat in and keep the cold out.


A man replacing a filter in a vent.

Because many home improvement projects center around or at least involve this household system, it’s an important one to know. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This is the system of appliances that makes up the heating and cooling processes of a home.

Circuit Breaker

A circuit breaker is a device that resembles a switch and is typically located within the electrical panel or circuit breaker box of a home. This breaker shuts off the power to either a specified area or all of a home, limiting the amount of power floating through a circuit. This is an important item for any DIYer to know about as circuit breakers are mentioned in many projects involving anything electric around your home.


Someone applying grout on a tile wall.

For bathroom and kitchen projects, grout is referenced frequently. This is a hydrous mortar whose consistency makes it easily able to be placed or pumped into small joints or cavities. This includes in between pieces of ceramic, clay, slate, or tile.


Studs are referenced time and time again in projects that involve carpentry around a home or hanging items on a wall. A stud is a vertical member of a frame wall, typically located between a bottom plate and top plate. These normally exist every 16 to 24 inches apart from each other, providing structural support for drywall and sheathing.


Caulking around the base of a toilet.

Similar to grout, the term “caulking” is bound to come up again and again within home improvement tutorials. It’s a process that seals gaps between surfaces and is likely referred to in projects taking place in the kitchen or bathroom. Caulking works to protect water leaks and acts as a seal against the elements. Caulking is something that would have to be done in a project such as installing a new kitchen backsplash.

Dry Rot

This isn’t a term you want to run into in your DIY travels, but it’s still an important one to know, especially when working with wood. Also referred to as “fungal wood rot,” this is a fungus that eats away wood fibers, causing their diminishment into a powder. This issue thrives in moist and damp conditions.


A man shopping for plywood in a home improvement store.

When you’re building something from scratch, it’s almost a guarantee that this material will come up on your “to-buy” list. Plywood is a building material made out of thin sheets of wood that have been glued and pressed together. Given what a versatile material this is, it’s an important one to know.


The process of weatherstripping comes up in a variety of DIY projects, particularly as individuals are getting their homes ready for winter. This is the process of sealing openings and cracks around windows and doors. This is done with metal, wood, or plastic materials that prevent air and water from coming through the openings.


A brick wall with a level on it.

This is a simple term with a simple meaning: “true vertical.” This can be compared to “level,” which is a “true horizontal.” Both are important to know in the world of DIY.

The world of DIY projects is vast, so learning and understanding some basic terms makes it easier to get a handle of the projects you want to complete to make your home the best it can be. Use this guide to put yourself on the road to becoming a DIY expert.