Home Improvement Glossary: P

packing: A substance that is packed into a faucet through which the water flows.

paint finish: The paint finish determines how bright or shiny the paint looks when it dries. Paint finishes range from flat, which absorbs light but isn’t easily cleaned, to scrubbable, stain-resistant glosses that reflect light.

paint guard: A paint guard is a plastic tool used to block paint from reaching the walls or surrounding surfaces. It is usually held in one hand while the paint is applied with the other.

paint thinner: A solvent that is used as a cleaner or to thin down oil-based paint.

paneled door: A door that has molding to create multiple panels on the surface.

paper scraper: This nifty gadget can scrape and perforate wallpaper applied on drywall. It has a round, knoblike handle attached to a scraping blade that cuts the paper. Solvents or steam can then penetrate to the adhesive layer but can’t damage the drywall’s paper facing.

parting strip: A piece of wood that separates the tracks of the upper and lower sash of a window.

pattern repeat: The repeat is the vertical distance between one point on the pattern and where the identical point appears again vertically.

peel-and-stick drywall patch kit: A patch that is used to cover the gap in a hole in drywall. The solid patch has an adhesive background that sticks to the wall surrounding the hole.

permanent furnace filter: A permanent furnace filter is a washable filter used to block debris from entering the furnace.

PEX (cross-linked polyethylene): PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is the newest pipe for residential use. Approved in many regions of the country, PEX is easy to install because it cuts easily, is flexible, and uses compression fittings. However, more permanent connections require a special crimping tool.

pilot hole: A pilot hole is a starter hole made by drilling. Using pilot holes prevents the screw or nails from causing damage to the wall.

plaster washer: A plaster washer is a thin metal disk that increases the size of the head of a drywall screw so that it doesn’t pull through the plaster.

plastic pipe: Plastic pipe comes as either ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Most homes since mid-1970 have plastic pipes and fittings because it’s inexpensive and easy to use. Simply glue the joints together using a primer and liquid cement.

plumb line: A vertical guide created by hanging a weighted string from the ceiling.

plumber's snake: The plumber’s snake has a long tightly coiled wire attached to a handle. This coiled wire can slither down the pipes clearing blockages and even pulling out the obstruction.

plunger: A plumbing tool that is used to loosen clogs by using suction to dislodge the clog.

polystyrene foam insulation: A type of insulating material made of polystyrene foam. This foam is waterproof.

popcorn ceilings: Popcorn ceilings are textured, acoustic ceilings that are sprayed on and resemble popcorn or cottage cheese when they dry.

prime: To prime a surface means to apply a primer and/or sealer to the surface to seal the surface and provide the best bond for the paint.

pry bar: A pry bar is a flat steel bar with beveled edges in its ends and a hole in one end. Its design gives you leverage to slide one end in between the molding and wall while you use the other end to force the molding away from the wall.

putty knife: A tool used to apply a paste or compound to a surface. The shape of the tool allows control over how much materials is applied and how thickly.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe: This white or cream-colored pipe is the most commonly used pipe for drain lines. It’s strong, untouchable by chemicals, and seems to last forever! The rating and diameter is stamped right on the pipe.

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