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Building & Renovating

What All Those Pinoy Construction Terms Mean

Here's a handy glossary to help you decode your contractor's or worker's lingo, from Asintada to Tambol

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Original Article: Amillah Rodil Photography: Seong Kwon (Main Photo)

If you’re building or renovating your house, are you always “lost in translation” when talking to your contractor or finisher? It may sound like a secret construction code, but it’s quite easy to learn or remember (so you’ll know exactly what they’re doing). Here are the common Pinoy constru terms and their meanings:


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Alulod

Alulod means gutter. When preparing for the rainy season, tell your handyman: “Tingnan mo naman yung yero kung may butas. At linisin mo yung alulod—puno na siya ng dahon.

Anay finish 

This 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), and was popular in the 1980s-90s.

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Asintada

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.

Balbon

Not hairiness, but rater, a wall defect that is the result of uneven plastering done by an inexperienced mason.

Dangkal

Length from tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky finger (length depends on whose hand you’re using).

Dipa

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Another unit of measurement—the length of both arms stretched out (including torso).


Dos Aguas and Quatro Aguas Roof

dos aguas has two sides or slopes (a gable roof), and quatro aguas has four sides (a hip roof). Use either of the terms when you want to specify the type of roof, e.g. “Gawin nating quatro aguas ang bubong.

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Dos por dos, etc.

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

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Ducco or duko

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


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Hamba

Carpenters use wood for constructing the hamba, or jamb—a frame surrounding the door or window.

Hulog

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.

Kapak

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).

Masilya

When a wall is going to be painted, masilya (putty) is applied first. 

Media Agua

A canopy over a window. In ancestral Filipino houses, the traditional media agua is a scallop-bordered cloth; in a bahay kubo, it’s a nipa push-out or awning. In modern houses, it could be as simple as a ledge shading the window.

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Nagbubuntis

There’s reason to be concerned when a worker says, “May nagbubuntis dito,” and it doesn’t mean someone’s gotten pregnant! It means a concrete column is bulging due to weak formworks.


Rebokada

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).

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S4S and S2S 

These terms 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.”

Tabla 

A wood plank, usually 5” or more in width. 


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Tambol

When unsightly pipes appear in areas like the underside of a bathroom it needs a tambol—not a musical instrument, but a covering made out of plywood or gypsum to hide the pipe or eyesore. Say, “Lumabas ang tubo sa pader. Tambulan mo na lang.”


Tanguile 

This is a popular 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.

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Tibag

To demolish.

So, the 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, “Huwag. Tibagin mo!

Condensed from the original article "Say What?” in the May 2005 issue of Real Living Magazine. 

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