Friday, April 5, 2013

Project Casserole: UK vs US DIY terms

A short and sweet post for you guys: as we've been working hard at completing the renovations to our home, I encountered some serious linguistic differences in the words Americans and British/Irish (Bi-rish) use for home improvements. I stubbornly refuse to switchover to many of them, resulting in a fair bit of confusion and sometimes hilarity. Here's a quick list for your amusement:

crown molding, or cornice (US) = coving (UK)
molding (US) = beading (UK)
spackle (US) = filler (UK)
baseboard (US) = skirting boards (UK)
drywall, or sheetrock (US) = plasterboard (UK)
hardware (US) = ironmongery, or fittings (UK)
shop-vac (US) = Henry (UK)

I'm sure there are more, so I'll update you when I discover them – but maybe you have some to add? Send me your additions to the DIY word differences list!

PS: Even though I use it liberally across the blog when talking about our renovations, DIY as a term is a uniqely British concept and saying. It not only encompasses the activity (i.e., the home repairs completed by an individual not a builder) but also the category of paraphenalia and associated jargon surrounding the activity. So if you talk about what you did over the long Easter weekend, you could say you "Did DIY" which isn't grammatically correct AT ALL but refers to the wearing of yuck clothes, going to B&Q, prepping, doing, cleaning – the entire lifecycle of a home repair. And it can be anything – renovation, repair, redecorating, replacing lightbulbs – anything home-related.


  1. Love this list, thanks for sharing! As my time in the UK gets farther away, I am missing all of those "Britishisms". Best of luck finishing everything - you definitely have much more courage than I! Looking forward to seeing the "After" pics....

  2. Thanks for these terms. Sometime I got a customer from the US and I don't know the terms he used. I was confused when he said "Molding", I was like "hmmm mold in what? bread?" we ended up laughing but this list certainly helped.