Building & Renovating

Building 101: Carpentry Terms Decoded (Part 2)

Dos por dos, asintada -- familiarize yourself with more building terms


Yesterday, we delved into commonly used terms for the different parts of the house, common tools, and measurement terms. To review what we've featured so far, visit Building 101: Carpentry Terms Decoded (Part 1).

Today, we'll focus on terms pertaining to carpentry and concrete works.

Illustration by Mikke Gallardo.

Read the original article ("Say What?") in the May 2005 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 


Tanguile is a type of wood with a reddish color, fine-textured but with large grains. It is the most common wood specified nowadays for rough carpentry such as door and window jambs.

When specifying the sizes of wood for rough carpentry, refer to these terms: dos por dos, a 2”x2” strip of wood usually used in ceiling or cabinet framing; uno por dos, 1” x 2”; and de uno, 1” x 1”.  Suppliers sell these wood strips at 8ft (2.4m) in length.

Tabla is a wood plank, usually 5” or more in width. S4S and S2S refer to the smoothness of the sides of the wood; they’re abbreviations for “smooth four sides,” and “smooth two sides.” S4S pieces are used for exposed members such as some rafters (roof supports). When  sending your carpenter to buy wood, say, “dalawa pang dos por dos, na S4S.”

When designers want a durable finish for wood, they specify ducco or duko–a type of paint finish. Painters achieve this finish by applying putty, and sanding and painting in layers. This is more expensive than typical paint finish. 

Concrete works

When masons put up a concrete wall, they check the hulog—the vertical straightness of a wall with respect to a plumb bob (a metal ball on a long string). Hulog has made its way to everyday lingo: “Wala sa hulog” means a person can’t think straight.

Asintada is the  alignment of the wall. “Wala sa asintada” means it’s not aligned. “Asintahin” is to align. Workers might say, “Natayo na ba ang asinta?” to ask whether the wall has been put up. 

When masons finish a concrete wall, they first apply a rough coat of plaster—the rebokada, or scratch coat. This serves as a binder between the wall and the final layer of plaster, or the palitada. “Habulin na lang sa palitada yan” is commonly proposed when wall defects (like an uneven finish or a misaligned wall) need to be masked (by thickening the plaster).

Plaster not bonding well with the wall produces a defect. Knocking on it creates a hollow sound—probably why this defect is called kapak (The word itself mimics the hollow sound). Architect Kenneth Barrientos, who works for a prominent local architectural firm says, “Even our Singaporean construction manager uses this term. He’ll say, ‘You need to rectify this wall, lah. It’s full of kapak.’” 

Another wall defect is balbon—the result of uneven plastering done by an inexperienced mason.

When a wall is going to be painted, masilya (putty) is applied first. Pahid refers to the coat of paint; painters say “napahiran na” when they’ve gone over a wall. If the paint is too thin, you can say, “Kulang sa pahid.”

Anay finish is a rough concrete wall finish (so-called because it looks termites ate through it). It’s achieved by flattening a rough concrete finish with a trowel (a flat-bladed hand tool).

There’s reason to be concerned when a worker says, “May nagbubuntis dito.” It means a concrete column is bulging due to weak formworks.

When unsightly pipes appear in  areas like the underside of a comfort room  it needs a tambol. It’s not a musical instrument but a covering. Say, “Lumabas ang tubo sa pader. Tambulan mo na lang.”

Next time you feel like complaining about shoddy work on a concrete wall, instead of just exclaiming, “Ang pangit!”, you can be more articulate and say, “Ang dami namang kapak nito. Balbon at wala sa hulog. Nagbubuntis pa yung poste. At kulang sa pahid yung pintura.” If the mason replies, “Habulin na lang natin sa palitada...” you can reply back, “Huwag. Tibagin mo!” (Tibag means to demolish). And to check whether you said it right, it’s always good to ask, “Naintindihan mo ba?

For more tips and guides, click here.


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