Use the verb APPLY for liquids, thin materials or sheets

Use the verb INSTALL for systems, parts, or large pieces of material



Sealer is a liquid product that is applied to concrete.   It is similar to paint, but is clear.   It helps protect the concrete from water, but is NOT waterproof and won’t prevent water from passing through the concrete if it cracks. 


Sealant: Sealant is different than ‘sealer.’  Sealant is a highly technical material used to seal a joint between materials.  It is used to make a durable, waterproof joint that allows movement.  It is installed according to strict specifications.


Finish can be any final, visible material that has a good appearance (wood panel, wallpaper, paint, stucco, etc).  


Fill and sand: often there are holes in wall and ceiling finishes after installation.  The painting subcontractor fills them with putty and then sands (rubs with sandpaper to make a smooth finish) the area before painting.


Miscellaneous Metals: Miscellaneous metals typically include items of steel, and sometimes aluminum that are not part of the building structure:  Ladders, connectors, railings, etc.


Dowels: are pieces of reinforcing steel used in concrete.  They are cast in one piece of concrete and connect it to the next piece of concrete poured on top or next to it.


Fireproofing: is a layer of material sprayed on structural steel members.  It has different thicknesses, according to the fire rating and steel members.


Look at the nouns in blue after the blanks below.  According to the rules above, which is the best verb to use?


1. Many general contractors require the precast subcontractor to __________ the sealer to all panels.

APPLY sealer

Sealer is a thin, liquid material applied to the surface of concrete.

2. Normally, the painting subcontractor will fill and sand any nail holes after the material is in place, and then __________ the final finish.

APPLY a finish

A finish is a thin material applied over the surface of something.

3. The insulation subcontractor will always furnish and__________ the horizontal roof insulation below the structural roof deck.

INSTALL roof insulation

Roof insulation is a thick object that is placed on top or below the roof deck. 

4. The flooring subcontractors will provide and __________ this small wood base trim.

INSTALL wood trim

wood trim is a thicker strip of material or object, not thin coating applied to the surface.

5. The metal panel subcontractor should __________ all caulking and sealants at the perimeter of their panel systems.

INSTALL sealant.

This is a difficult question.  Look at the photo of a sealant joint above.  Is the sealant applied to the surface?  It’s actually between two objects.  Is the sealant a thin coating?  It’s actually a system that includes backer rod or breaker tape and fits inside a joint.  Generally we use the word ‘install’ if the material is inside something.

6. The miscellaneous metals subcontractor should furnish and __________ all steel railings.

INSTALL steel railings

railings are objects, not liquids or thin coatings.

7. The rebar subcontractor should always furnish and __________ the dowels for the concrete masonry unit (CMU) work.

INSTALL dowels

dowels are objects installed inside the concrete (not applied to the surface)

8. There is obviously no perfect time to __________ fireproofing.

APPLY fireproofing

Fireproofing is a thin coating applied to the surface of steel.

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