Architectural Glossary

Arch:
An opening in a wall between living spaces. The curved top on a door or open entryway. Arches come in many different shapes and styles.
Balcony:
A platform projecting from a wall, enclosed by a railing or balustrade, supported on brackets or cantilevered out.
Bay and bow windows:
These windows project out from the front or side of a house. Bay windows are angled projections that rise up from the ground on the first floor.
Bead moulding:
A small, cylindrical molding enriched with ornaments resembling a string of beads.
Bracket:
Used in gables and under roof lines. A small supporting piece of wood or stone, often formed of scrolls or other decorative shapes.
Cantilever:
A horizontal projection from a building, such as a step, balcony, beam or canopy, that is without external bracing and appears to be self-supporting.
Capital:
The head or crowning feature of a column.
Casement window:
A metal or wooden window that opens outward or inward. Our standard is vinyl opening outwards.
Ceramic tile:
Any of a wide range of sturdy floor and wall tiles made from fired clay and set with grout. May be glazed or unglazed. Colors and finishes vary. May be used indoors or out.
Chair-rail moulding:
A decorative wooden molding placed along the lower part of the wall to prevent chairs, when pushed back, from damaging the wall.
Clerestory window:
A window (usually narrow) placed in the upper walls of a room, usually at an angle, to provide extra light. Commonly seen in two storey homes with an "open to below" floor plan.
Concrete:
Cement mixed with coarse and fine aggregate (pebbles, crushed stone, brick), sand and water in specific proportions. There are three types of concrete:
precast, reinforced and prestressed.
Cornice:
Any projecting ornamental molding that finishes or crowns the top of a building, wall, arch, etc.
Cove moulding:
The large concave molding produced by the sloped or arched junction of a wall and ceiling. Popular accent for dramatic living rooms.
Dormer window:
A window placed vertically in a sloping roof that has a tiny roof of its own. Most often seen in second-floor bedrooms.
Eaves:
The underpart of a sloping roof overhanging a wall.
Facing:
A covering applied to the outer surface of a building.
Fascia:
A horizontal piece (such as a board) covering the joint between the top of a wall and the projecting eaves; also called fascia board.
Fieldstone:
Rough, irregularly shaped pieces of rock that can be used to cover the surface of a building, make a walkway, line a garden bed, etc.
Fluting:
Shallow, concave grooves running vertically on the shaft of a column, pilaster or other surface.
Foyer:
The entrance hall of a home.
French door:
A door with multiple glass panes that extend for most of its length. Usually constructed as a pair or multiple pairs of doors, one of the pair may be fixed into a closed position indefinitely, using locks or posts. They are most frequently used at the back of the house leading the garden or patio from a living room.
Frieze:
A decorated band along the upper part of an interior wall.
Gable:
The triangular upper portion of a wall at the end of a pitched roof. It typically has straight sides, but there are many variations.
Gambrel roof:
A roof with one low, steep slope and an upper, less-steep one on each of its two sides, giving the look of a traditional American hay barn.
Header:
A brick laid in a wall so that only its end appears on the face of the wall. To add a varied appearance to brickwork, headers are alternated with "stretchers," bricks laid full length on their sides.
Hipped roof:
A roof with sloped instead of vertical ends.
Lintel:
A horizontal beam or stone bridging an opening, most often a door.
Low energy/solar shield windows:
Windows designed with multiple panes to trap air and provide greater insulation.
Mantelpiece:
The wood, brick, stone or marble frame surrounding a fireplace, sometimes including a mirror above.
Niche:
A recess in a wall (interior or exterior), especially for a statue.
Palladian window:
A window with three openings, the central one arched and wider than the others.
Parquet flooring:
Flooring of thin hardwood laid in patterns on a wood subfloor. Inlaid parquet consists of a veneer of decorative hardwood glued in patterns to squares of softwood backing, then laid on a subfloor.
Patio:
Paved recreation area, usually at the rear of a home.
Pedestal:
In classical architecture, the base supporting a column or colonnade.
Quoins:
The dressed stones at the corners of buildings, usually laid so their faces are alternately large and small. Usually in contrasting color of brick from the rest of the wall. Common accent in Georgian homes.
Segmental/arch window:
A window, often semicircular, with radiating glazing bars suggesting a fan that is placed over a door.
Shutters:
Window or door screens featuring horizontal slats that may be articulated, allowing control over air and light transmission. They are usually made of wood. While they may be hinged, modern exterior shutters are often decorative and remain fixed to the wall alongside the window or door opening.
Sill:
The lower horizontal part of a window frame. Materials vary widely, from wood to marble.
Skylight:
A window set into a roof or ceiling to provide extra lighting. Sizes, shapes and placement vary widely.
Soffit:
The underside of any architectural element (as of an overhang or staircase). In modern homes, the wood or metal screening used to cover such areas.
Studs (exterior or interior framing):
Smaller upright beams in a house, to which drywall panels.
Telepost:
A vertical supporting floor system, mainly made of steel.
Transom:
Small, usually rectangular or fanlight window over a door. Some transoms open to cross-ventilate a home, while others are only decorative.
Trim:
The framing or edging of openings and other features on the facade of a building or indoors. Trim is usually a different color or material than the adjacent wall.
Truss:
A number of wood planks framed together to bridge a space, such as a roof truss.
Veranda:
The roofed entrance to a house.
Window Grill:
A vertical post or other upright that divides a window or other opening into two or more panes. Sometimes only ornamental.