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Construction Glossary



This glossary has been put together for non-technical people. It is meant to provide those who may not be familiar with the terms listed a simple, understandable, working definition of some of the words and terms common to the construction industry. These definitions should net be considered technical definitions.





A606 Steel A606 is high-tensile, weathering (non-coated) steel that is compliant with the standards of ASTM A606. It is sometimes referred to as Corten steel.
AA Aluminum Association.
Abutment The solid portion of a wall or pier, that acts as a structural support.
ACM Aluminum composite material.
Acoustical Panel Perforated metal panels used to control sound movement, or to achieve sound attenuation, when used in conjunction with insulation and other materials.
Acre An area of land totaling 43,500 square feet.
ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) Act requires that access to all areas accommodate persons with disabilities.
Adhesion The property of a coating, sealant or adhesive to bond to the surface of the material to which it is applied. Adhesive failure occurs between the coating, sealant or adhesive and the material. Cohesive failure occurs within the coating, sealant or adhesive itself.
Aggregate Crushed stone, slag, or water-worn gravel used to surface built-up roofs.
AIA American Institute of Architects.
Air Infiltration Air penetration through the joint or seams of a wall panel, roof system, window, door or curtain wall system. Tested per ASTM E283.
AISC American Institute of Steel Construction.
AISI American Iron and Steel Institute.
Alclad Aluminum An aluminum substrate, typically 3003 or 3004, that is metallurgically bonded with aluminum alloy 7072 for added corrosion resistance. Alclad aluminum is typically used in power and process applications.
Alcove A large recess adjoining a room, usually accessible through an arch or a cased opening.
Alloy Composition of two or more metals metallurgically fused together, usually to obtain a desired property.
Aluminized Steel Aluminum coated steel.
Aluminum (Al) A malleable and ductile metal substrate, derived from bauxite that is highly corrosion resistant. Aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth.
Aluminum Moldings Finishing strips in a wide variety of patterns for architectural use.
Ambient Temperature Temperatures of the surrounding airs on all sides.
Anchor Bolt A bolt that secures a column or a beam to foundation or other masonry.
Anchor A device for securing a metal curtainwall or its parts to the building frame.
Angle Iron (Iron Lintel) An L-shaped section of a metal beam that supports a masonry course over a door or a window opening.
Anodizing Artificially forming an oxide coating on aluminum by one of several methods. Such a coating may be for protection only or, if followed by dyeing and sealing, may also produce decorative effects.
ANSI American National Standards Institute.
Approval Drawing A product drawing, or shop drawings, sent to the GC and/or architect for verification of design, dimensions, materials, etc.
Apron The trim member under the projecting interior sill of a window.
Arbitration An independent party resolution to a construction dispute.
Architect The architect designs the physical improvements of a project. The architect is generally responsible for the aesthetics, building appearance and functionality of the building. The architect is responsible for the construction drawings that translate the vision and aesthetics into a constructible project.
Architrave (1) The lowest portion of an entablature; it rests on a column cap.

(2) The molding around a door opening.

Areaway An open subsurface space next to a building designed to admit air or light or to furnish access to a basement.
Ash Dump A small metal frame on the floor of a fireplace through which ashes can be dumped to an ash pit at the base of a chimney.
Ashrae American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.
Asphalt-Mounted Foil Foil bonded to another material (usually heavy paper) by a uniform layer of asphalt.
ASTM American Society for Testing Materials. See example test standards below.
ASTM E1592 Metal roofing wind uplift test that simulates actual field conditions.
ASTM A792 Measurement of aluminum-zinc coating on galvalume (steel).
ASTM A653 Measurement of zinc coating on galvanized steel.
ASTM B209 Test standards for aluminum and aluminum alloys.
Astragal A closure between the two leaves of a double swing or a double slide door used to close the joint.
Attachment Clips The hidden clips necessary to properly fasten an engineered concealed fastener wall panel or standing seam roof system to the attachment substrate.
Attic The open space in a building between the ceiling joists and the roof rafters.
Awning A metal roof like cover frequently hung over a window for protection against sun or rain.


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Back Coat The paint coating applied to the back side or unexposed side of a metal coil or panel. Also known as backer.
Back Fill The replacement of excavated earth into a pit or trench from which it came. The term frequently refers to the refilling of a pipe trench after the pipe has been laid.
Backer Rod A polyethylene or polyurethane material formed into rod shapes to be inserted into the back of a panel joint (to control sealant depth) prior to application. The backer rod also ensures that the sealant does not adhere to 3 surfaces which will cause sealant failure.
Balcony A projected railed platform in front of a window or door.
Baluster A small spindle or column forming the main part of a railing for a stairway or a balcony. A baluster is fastened between a bottom and a top rail.
Balustrade A railing or parapet consisting of a handrail on balusters, sometimes on a base member and sometimes interrupted by piers.
Banister Alteration of baluster.
Barge Board A seldom used term that usually refers to the fascia on the end of a dormer roof. It is also called a flying rafter since it is not supported by the wall.
Bar Joists Open web, steel frame joists.
Barrel Roof A roof design that is arched in cross section.
Barrier Material Material designed to withstand the penetration of water, water vapor, oils or gases.
Bascule Bridge A vertical lift bridge.
Base Angle Structural piece at the base of a wall, secured to the foundation, upon which wall panels are seated.
Baseboard A usually decorative board placed against the wall around a room, next to the floor, to finish properly between the floor and wall material.
Base Plate (1) A steel plate attached to the foundation surface upon which a column rests.

(2) A plate that a portion of a beam or column rests on for support.

Batten (1) A narrow formed metal strip attached (by concealed clip) to the vertical legs (ribs) of two adjacent standing seam roofing panels.

(2) A narrow strip covering the vertical joint between boards or panels on a wall.

Batt Insulation Blanket insulation made is short lengths to facilitate handling.
Batten Plates Tie plates that connect components of a structural member.
Bay (1) Any projecting part of a building in the form of an arc or part of a polygon. Also known as a bow.

(2) The distance between two trusses or columns or transverse beams.

Bay Window A window in the bay or bow of a building.
Bead Glazing An aluminum or plastic section that is used to hold and seal glass in a frame.
Bead Mastic Sealant furnished in a continuous roll and used for sealing panel laps.
Beam The principal horizontal member of a building, supporting the load of the structure.
Bearing The support, or its surface, upon which a structural load rests.
Bearing Partition or Wall A partition or wall that supports a load in addition to its own weight.
Bearing (Structural) A steel support at the end of a beam or truss.
Bed Molding A trim angle between the eaves of a building and the sidewalls.
Bent (Noun) Two columns plus a connecting cross beam to support framing.
Bevel An angle, cut, or miter, on a metal wall or roof panel.
Bid A proposal or offer to complete a construction task for a pre-determined amount of money. Bids are generally submitted by trade.
Bid Bond A bond provided by the bidder that guarantees the bidder will perform the work bid for the agreed upon price consistent with the submitted proposal or bid.
Bid Documents Spells out the bidding requirements, specifications and proposed contract documents detail prior to bidding.
Biff A major mistake.
Bird Screen Wire Mesh Used To Prevent Birds From Entering A Building Through The Louvers Or Ventilators.
Blanket Insulation Mineral, wood or glass fibers formed into a light-weight blanket of uniform thickness and unfaced or securely mounted on heavy asphalt-coated paper or vinyl.
Blind (1) A light, wooden, metal or plastic, door-like section that closes over a window.

(2) A Place To Remain Inconspicuous When Duck Hunting!

Blind Rivet A rivet applied from one side, incorporating a stem which pulls against the material on the blind side and pops off when the rivet is fully formed or engaged.
Board Foot The standard unit of measure for lumber. A board foot is the equivalent of a piece of lumber that is one inch thick, twelve inches wide and one foot long.
Board Measure Similar to board foot.
Bollard Protective post designed to prevent vehicle access and to protect property from damage.
Bond (1) The integrity of the adhesive line as it relates to composite materials.

(2) In masonry, the overlapping of joints in successive courses, or the use of units that project laterally into adjacent courses or through a wall.

(3) A surety.

Boring Ground drilling for purposes of earth samples for testing.
Bottom Rail The bottom aluminum member of a fixed fabricated panel.
Brace A reinforcing member placed at the angles of a structure (columns and girts or joists or eave struts, etc) or substructure to stiffen the structure. A brace that supports a rafter is often called a strut.
Brace Rods Steel rods used on roofs and walls of steel frame structures for plumbing the structures and to transfer wind loads to the foundation.
Bracing System Struts and diagonals placed between main structural members.
Bracket A projecting connection or support.
Bridging The small stiffening pieces between floor joists and partition studs. Where a double row of diagonal braces in opposite directions is placed in a joist span, the system is called cross-bridging.
BRIL Package Brick, refractory, insulation and lagging specification typical for a power plant – generally, fossil fuel or nuclear, but also applies to co-gen and waste-to-energy.
British Thermal Unit (Btu) A measure of heat. It is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
Buck The rough framed opening members.
Buckstays A beam held by stays to the exterior of a power boiler to keep the adjacent areas of the wall from being forced inward under operating pressure.
Builder’s Hardware Hinges, locks and door knobs in residential construction.
Building Paper Insulating paper applied between the sheathing and the outer wall to prevent wind infiltration. (Building wrap (i.e., Tyvek) is typically used to resist wind, and prevent vapor and moisture infiltration.)
Build-Out The finishing of raw space.
Built-Up Roof A roof made up of layers of felt held in place with pitch and held down with stinking rocks.
Built-Up Section (Or Member) A structural part, usually an “I” section, that is manufactured by welding individual steel plates together.
Bulkhead (1) A structure above a floor or roof to admit light or to cover an elevator shaft.

(2) A Structure To Prevent Earth From Sliding Into An Excavation.

Buttering The application of sealant or caulking compound to a flat surface prior to putting or setting member in position.
Butt Glazing The installation of glass products where the vertical edges are without structural supporting mullions.
Button Punch A button punch is an option for fastening or connecting the sidelaps of two adjacent sheets of metal. This is accomplished by means of a button punch tool which creates a male/female offset in the joined layers of metal. This means of fastening is extremely rare, but is occasionally used for roof deck and floor deck applications.
Butt Plate A prepunched end plate of a structural member that rests against a matching plate of another like member and then the two are bolted together.
Buttress An abutting pier that strengthens a wall, sometimes taking the thrust of an inner arch.
Butyl A non-curing, non-skinning sealant for internal system application.


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CAD Computer aided design.
CADD Computer aided design and drafting.
Camber (1) A predetermined curvature designed into a steel structural member to offset the anticipated deflection when load is applied.

(2) The “sweep” of a metal coil or rollformed part.

Canopy An overhanging or projecting structure with the ends usually unsupported.
Cant (Verb) To set at a slant from horizontal or vertical.
Cantilever A projecting beam or member supported at one end only and built into a wall or pier.
Carport An open-sided, roofed automobile shelter.
Casement A hinged window operated by a rotating handle or crank.
Casing The wood or metal trim around a door or window.
Cast-In-Place Concrete Concrete that is poured on site in its intended location and form.
Caulk To seal and make a joint weathertight.
CEG A continuous edge grip attachment system for metal composite material where the perimeter edge of the panel is routed and framing extrusions are attached around 100% of the panel edge creating a picture frame appearance.
Chair Rail A horizontal wood or metal molding on an interior wall to prevent damage by the back of chairs. Also serves ornamental / architectural design function.
Chalk Chalking is the mechanical breakdown of the surface of a paint coating as evidence by surface whitening. Chalk ratings are a straight-line function from 1 to 10 with 10 being best. High-performance PVDF coating systems will achieve a chalk rating of 8 over 20-30 years.
Change Order A written document between an owner and a GC or between a GC and a subcontractor authorizing a change in work for a specified dollar amount or time.
Channel An open-ended “C” section with no return lips.
Checkered Plate Metal floor plate with raised ribs or patterns to increase walking friction.
Chimney Breast The horizontal projection of a chimney from the wall in which it is built.
Chimney Cap A coping of concrete, stone, metal, tile or terracotta, surmounting the brick work and to protect the upper mortar joints of a chimney from weather and the chimney flue from birds, bats, etc.
Chimney Pot A cylindrical pipe, or ornamental component, placed at the top of a chimney to increase the draft and to act as a spark arrestor.
Chord Member The main truss member, as distinguished from diagonals.
Civil Engineer An engineer who is generally responsible for the horizontal construction – the roads, earthwork, waterworks, etc.
Cladding (1) The application of one material over another.

(2) The exterior envelope (wall) of a building.

(3) The layer of insulation and outer (metal) wrapping around a power boiler.

Clear Span Building A building structure without internal columns.
Cleat A strip fastened to a surface to serve as a batten attachment or as a support for another member.
Clip Angle An angle used to fasten structural members together.
Closure Strip Neoprene or rubber strips formed to match a rollformed profile and installed at base, rake, eave and accessory locations to protect against nature’s elements. Sometimes referred to as filler strips.
CMU Concrete masonry unit.
Column A vertical structural member that supports the floor above and/or the roof.
Collar Beam A horizontal beam fastened above the lower ends of a rafter to add rigidity.
Column Cap A shallow protective cover, like an inverted square pan, placed on top of a concrete column. Usually made of steel angles, the cap receives the load and distributes it evenly to the column.
Column Cover An architectural metal shape designed to cover a structural column. Typically, a column cover is fabricated from sheet metal, metal plate or metal composite material.
Completion Bond A bond supplied by the bidder guaranteeing that a project will be completed.
Compression Forces acting on a body which tends to shorten it.
Concealed Fastener Panel A metal wall or roof panel that is installed by means of concealed clips or direct concealed fastener attachment.
Concentrated Load (Point Load) A load applied to a structural member at one point, rather than uniformly across a span.
Condensation Moisture that accumulates on the inside of a metal exterior enclosure when warm, moist air from the interior reaches a colder surface. Louvers and attic ventilators will reduce condensation in an attic space.
Conductivity, Thermal -K Factor A measure of the rate of heat transfer expressed in BTU’s which will follow through a layer of material one square foot in area when the temperature difference between the surfaces of the layer is 1 degree F per inch of thickness.
Conductor Head (Leader Head) An architectural and functional member installed at a scupper, or near the top of a downspout and below the gutter drop. The conductor head is designed to handle the flow of excess water moving through the roof drainage system. Sometimes referred to as a collector box.
Conduit Piping used for the installation of electrical wiring.
Construction Documents The drawings, specifications, details and addenda related to the construction of a specific building project.
Construction Manager A consultant or advisor that is responsible for managing an overall construction project and oversees the work of the contractors.
Contingency Funds set aside for unforeseen or unplanned construction costs.
Continuous Beam (or Girder) A structural member that is supported on more than two columns.
Contract Documents Executed agreements between the owner and contractor(s) for the purpose of a project’s completion in accordance with bid documents.
Cool Metal Roofing Roofing design to achieve a solar reflectance of over 70%. Reflected solar energy allows the roof surface to remain cooler, which results in less heat transferred to the building interior. Typical infrared emittance levels are above 80%.
Cooling Tower Heat removal devices that transfer waste (process) heat from the process equipment to the atmosphere. Waste heat is cooled by means of evaporation, or cooling water or fluid that is near the surrounding air temperature.
Cope (Verb) To cut the flange of a beam or metal panel to avoid interference with other structural or building sections.
Coping The top course or cover for a wall manufactured and installed with slope to shed water.
Copper (Cu) A reddish, brown highly ductile metal. Copper is an excellent conductor of heat and is ideal for architectural sheet metal applications.
Corner Brace A diagonal brace between studs to reinforce the corner of a frame structure.
Cornice The horizontal trim / section around a building at the roof line.
Corrosion The electrolytic degradation of metal due to reaction with their environment.
Corrugating Forming, by means of rollforming or brake-pressing, metal coil or sheet into a series of straight, parallel alternate ridges, ribs or grooves.
Corten (Steel), Cor-Ten Corten is a steel that was developed to form a stable “rust” appearance if exposed to the weather for several years. Consistent with ASTM A606.
Cove (1) A concave molding.

(2) The curved junction between a ceiling and a side wall.

Crenellation A series of square indentations in a parapet designed to give a castle-like appearance.
Cricket The structural build-up that fills in crevices at the rear slope of a chimney. The cricket is generally covered with metal flashing(s) designed to shed water and snow.
Crimping (1) Forming relatively small corrugations in sheet metal. Crimps around the end of a sheet metal pipe reduce its diameter so that the end can be inserted in another pipe.

(2) Fabrication means of curving ribbed metal profiles.

Crinolines A framework of hoops that provide support for cladding installation over a power boiler.
Critical Path Method A construction scheduling system that insures that critical elements of construction are completed in the proper sequence and in a timely manner in order to ensure the overall project is completed on schedule.
Cross Bracing Structural bracing with intersecting diagonals.
Cross Frames Vertical cross bracing between girders or trusses.
Cross Section The view of a structural member, rollformed profile or construction detail section by an imaginary plane.
Crown Molding A molding on a cornice or wherever a large angle is to be covered.
“C” Section A formed steel section used in bearing frame endwalls and framed openings.
CSI Construction Specifications Institute.
Curb Raised flashing at a roof opening to provide water tightness and weathertightness. A framed opening rising above the roof surface.
Curling The rounding of the edge of sheet metal into a closed or partly closed loop called a bead, usually for strength or stiffness.
Curtainwall A wall supporting no more than its own weight. The roof or floor above is carried by the structural framework of the building. Curtainwalls are designed to limit building penetration of wind, rain, rodents, insects, etc.


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Damper A baffle used to open and close the throat of a ventilator.
Daylight Opening The exposed glass area in a window or door.
Dead Load The load on a structure that is due to its own weight, that is, the material of which it is constructed.
Deflection The bending or deforming of a member under weight, pressure or wind load.
Design-Build Construction Construction project where both the architectural design and the construction management (or general contracting) is the responsibility of one company.
Design Development Drawings Advance architectural drawings prepared for the design development phase of a building project.
Design Development Phase Period in which the uses and aesthetic concepts are developed and drawn.
Design Pressure The specified wind pressure a product is to withstand upon application.
Dew Point The temperature at which water vapor forms from condensation.
Diaphragm Action (1) The action of wall panels on a flush framed walls to act as one unit to resist longitudinal wind force.

(2) The resistance to racking caused by longitudinal forces.

Dirt Jockey A person that operates earth moving machinery.
Door Buck A doorframe or rough material to which the finished doorframe is attached.
Door Jamb The surrounding casework into which a door closes. It consists of two upright jambs and a cross piece or head.
Dormer A minor gable in a pitched roof, usually having one or more windows on its front vertical face.
Door Trim The casing around a door opening to conceal the break(s) in construction between the walls and the door frame or jamb.
Dormer Window An attic window, the framing of which projects from a sloping roof.
Double-Hung Window A window consisting of two sash, both of which are movable in a vertical plane in separate tracks.
Downspout A pipe, usually of metal, attached to gutters and for carrying rain water from the roof gutters to grade or to other building surfaces.
Draft Curtain A transverse or longitudinal partition suspended below the roof to restrict airflow through a structure.
Drained / Back-Ventilated (D/BV) Wall A wall system designed to minimize, but not prevent water penetration. The system will allow water to penetrate through open joinery. There is series of channels behind the outer leaf that allow water penetration to gravity drain to the exterior and to provide positive back-ventilation that promotes rapid evaporation of any water deposited on the inner leaf surface.
Dressed And Matched (Tongue And Groove) Boards or planks with a groove on one edge and a matching tongue on the other. Sometimes referred to as a male/female attachment joint.
Driftpin A tapered pin driven through holes to draw (structural) members into alignment.
Drip (1) The projection of a vertical surface beyond a lower one in a parallel plane with an under-cut edge to drip rain water. A metal drip-edge is designed to perform this function at a roof-edge.

(2) A condensation drain line in vapor heating systems or plumbing.

Dry Seal When a panel joint is sealed by means of a gasket or other internal wipes with no external wet sealant. This is common to metal composite panel applications.
Duct, Ductwork (1) A single enclosed runway for electrical conductors or cables.

(2) A sheet metal passageway for the movement of air.

Ductility The property of a material to withstand deformation by stretching without recovery of shape upon removal of the stretching force.
Dumbwaiter An elevator for carrying materials only and generally limited to a 500 pound capacity.
Dutch Gable (Flemish Gable) A gable whose sides are made up of one or more curves and has a pediment (triangular section / classical architectural element) at the top.


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Eave The lower part of a roof projecting beyond a wall.
Eave Height The vertical dimension from the finished floor to the top of the eave strut.
Eave Strut A structural member at the eave of a building, connecting the tops of columns.
Eco-Efficient Design that combines efficiency and environmental/ecological aspects in the pursuit of sustainable development.
Economizer An equipment device, attached to a power boiler that saves energy by using exhaust gases from the boiler to preheat cold water used to fill the boiler itself. In a heat recovery steam generator, the water passes through an economizer to the boiler to a super heater. The economizer also prevents the flooding of a power boiler with cold water.
EIFS (External Insulation Finishing System) This synthetic stucco wall system includes insulation, mesh and synthetic stucco (i.e., Dryvit).
Elasticity The capacity of a material to recover its original size and shape after deformation.
Elbow A fabricated part in a roof drainage system. The elbow is designed to redirect the flow of water, when connected to a downspout, at an angle to another gutter, downspout or splash block. Elbows are defined by the direction of their curvature, size and bend angle.
Elevation View of the side of a building.
Embossing Mechanically texturizing the surface of a metal substrate to provide aesthetics, additional rigidity or to mask the potential of oil canning. Stucco and diamond embossing are common.
End Dams An internal flashing that prevents water from moving laterally in a curtainwall.
Entablature The portion of a building above a series or columns or pilasters. It includes the architrave, the frieze and the cornice.
EOD Edge of deck.
EOJ Edge of joist.
EOS Edge of slab.
EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) A “rubber” like product common to single-ply roofing products.
Equipment Screen Metal panels attached to a framework on the roof to conceal rooftop equipment (i.e., exhaust fans, HVAC equipment).
Errors And Omissions Insurance Insurance taken by a building owner to protect against items being left out of a project or being misfabricated. Protects the owner against design or contractor negligence.
Escutcheon The faceplate of a keyhole or the backing of a door handle.
Esplanade A concourse or landscaped plateau with drives and walks.
Expansion Bearing A bearing placed under the end of (bridge) girder to permit movement under load or movement caused by temperature changes.
Expansion Bolt A split-sleeve bolt that expands in masonry when it is tightened creating a strong grip.
Expansion Joint A pre-determined space between structural units to allow for expansion and contraction as a result of temperature change.
Exposed Fastener Panel A metal wall or roof panel that requires exposed fastening to complete the attachment to the building.
Extrusion The forcing of a base material (i.e., aluminum or vinyl) through a die to achieve a predesigned shape.
Eyebrow A projection of a building wall which is normally over a window.


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Façade The face of a building.
Fade (Color Retention) Fade is the chemical failure of a paint coatings pigment and resin system. Fade ratings are a logarithmic function from 1 to 10 with 1 being best. A high performance PVDF paint coating system will achieve a fade level of 5 over 20-30 years.
Falsework Temporary supports for a structure during erection.
Fascia A flat architectural facing used to finish an eave around a building.
Fast Track Construction A construction method where continuous design and construction takes place during the life of a project. The GC generally starts construction prior to the plans and specifications being finalized.
Fastener Clips or screws used to attach metal panels to the structure and to each other.
Felt A flexible sheet of interlocking fibers used as an underlayment for roofing application.
Fenestration The windows, doors and curtainwall on the exterior of a building.
Ferrous Objects made largely from iron.
FEVE Fluorethylene Vinyl Ether; the fluorocarbon resin system used in Megaflon, Lumiflon and Valflon coating types. Paint coatings using FEVE technology are thermoset and typically do not maintain the long-term performance characteristics of PVDF coatings.
Field Assembled Wall A wall system installed in the field using a metal interior liner panel, subgirts, blanket or rigid board insulation, and a metal exterior panel. This system is fastened to the exterior face of the building girts.
Field Connections The connections of structural members that are to be made on the site.
Fillet A narrow, flat band serving as molding or as a division between larger moldings.
Film Integrity Film integrity represents the quality of the bond between a paint coating system and the substrate to which it is applied. Film integrity is measured by means of abuse, impact, accelerated weathered and exposure to harsh chemicals and salt water.
Finial A terminal part at the top of a spire, a gable, a gatepost, a pinnacle or other point of relative height.
Firewall A wall built to restrict or prevent the spread of fire within a building or from building-to-building.
Flange The projecting edge of a structural member.
Flash (Verb) To make a joint weathertight, usually with sheet metal, but also of composition material
Flashing Fabricated metal parts worked and attached into roof joints, valleys, around pipe penetrations, dormers, wall panel corners, etc.
Flat Glass A general term for flat glass, plate glass or rolled glass.
Flatseam Fabricated metal panels where the seam has been bent to the plane of the structure surface (wall or roof).
Float Glass This is glass formed on a bath of molten tin. The resulting glass has a tin surface and an air surface (or air side).
Floor Slab A reinforced concrete floor supported by beams and girders.
Flying Gable A gable that is not perpendicular to the eave line. Also referred to as a flared rake.
Fm-Factory Mutual Testing agency for various building materials and systems
Foamed-In-Place Metal wall or roof panels that include two metal skins separated by liquid (insulating) foam that cures in place. The foam is generally polyurethane or polyisocyanurate.
Folded Seam A joint between sheets of metal where the metal edges are crimped together and folded flat.
Footing The spreading concrete course at the base of a wall upon which the wall rests.
Form Temporary structures that contain concrete while it sets.
Foundation The entire masonry substructure below the first story floor or frame of a building, including the footing upon which the building rests.
Four-Sided Structural Glazing Glass infill that is glazed into a curtainwall, window wall or skylight that is fully adhered with structural silicone which eliminates the view of metal framing from the exterior side (or outside).
Foyer A subordinate space between an entrance and the main interior to which it leads.
Frieze Any sculptured or ornamental band around a building. The horizontal member of a cornice set vertically against a wall.
Fully Tempered Glass This is glass that has been heat-treated to a specific high surface or edge compression. Fully tempered glass is roughly four times stronger that annealed glass and will fracture into small, cubical pieces when broken.
Furring Wood or metal strips applied to a wall or roof to even it out or to provide a dead air space for insulation. Serves as a base for application of exterior roofing or wall panels.


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Gable The vertical triangular portion of the end of a building from the level of the plate to the ridge of the roof.
Galvalume A steel substrate that is metallurgically bonded with an aluminum-zinc coating to provide corrosion resistance.
Galvanized Steel A steel substrate that is metallurgically bonded to a zinc coating that provides sacrificial corrosion protection. Zinc coating weight is measured in ounces per sf.
Gambrel A form of roof in which the angle of pitch changes abruptly between ridge and eave.
General Contractor A prime contractor for general construction. A company generally responsible for all construction related to a project.
Girder A structural beam.
Girder Post A column supporting a girder or a beam.
Girt One of the horizontal members of the frame of a building, between the sill and the plate, to which vertical covering is applied. A secondary structural member.
Glaze (Verb) To install glass panes in a window, door frame or curtainwall system.
Glazing Channel Plastic, rubber or metal stripping with a U-shaped cross section used in setting glass in a frame. The channel slips over the edge of the glass and fits into a slot in the frame.
Government Anchor A short bent rod welded to a wall-bearing beam to tie masonry and beam together.
Grade Line The level of ground where it touches the foundation of a building.
Green Architecture Design embracing energy conservation, building and material sustainability and the minimal use of non-renewable resources.
Grid System A structural system composed of prefabricated vertical and horizontal members to support a curtainwall.
Grounding Rod A rod used to ground an electrical panel or building system component.
GSA (US General Services Administration) Guides construction of most federal office space.
Gauge (Gage) A designation of metal thickness.
Gusset A triangular piece of material inserted in another piece for added width or strength.
Gusset Plate The plate that joins members of a truss.
Gutter A fabricated channel, typically of steel, aluminum or vinyl, set below and along the eaves of a house to catch and carry off rainwater from the roof.
Gutter Hangar Attachment component for gutter systems.
Gutter Spike An attachment fastener for gutter installation.


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Hangar (1) A vertical rod by which a horizontal member is supported.

(2) A house for aircraft.

Hardness The relative resistance of a material to denting, scratching or bending.
Haunch The deepened portion of a column or rafter, designed to accommodate high stress where a column and rafter intersect and connect.
Hazard Insurance Insurance purchased for events that may occur during construction.
Head The top horizontal frame piece of a window or door.
Header (1) A framing piece generally used around door or window openings to transfer load to a parallel joist, stud or rafter.

(2) A lintel.

(3) A soccer ball directed off the head.

Heat-Strengthened Glass Glass that is heat-treated to a specific surface and edge compression. Heat-strengthened glass is not considered safety glass.
Heel The end of a rafter that rests upon the wall plate.
Hem A fabricated return edge on a piece of flashing, trim or a rollformed part. The hem provides a stiffened edge and conceals the exposed sheared metal edge.
Hip Roof A roof that rises by equally inclined planes from both sides of a building, or a roof that rises equally from four sides creating a pyramid.
Honeycomb Panels A laminated panel consisting of two metal skins and a honeycomb core or either paper or aluminum. These panels provide excellent strength and flatness.
Hook A crane.
HVAC Heating, ventilation and air conditioning.


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IBC International Building Code.
IDIQ Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (US Dept of Defense) contract.
IMP (Insulated Metal Panel) A manufactured foam-in-place, insulated metal panel.
Incline The slope of a roof. See Pitch.
Indemnification A contractual agreement whereby one party agrees to reimburse another party for damages or losses resulting from specific liabilities.
Indirect Costs Costs that cannot be directly attributable to an individual component of a construction project. (i.e., consultancy.)
Insulating Board Board made by reducing wood or vegetable fibers to a pulp and then re-assembling the fibers. The insulating value comes from the millions of tiny air spaces between the fibers.
Insulation A material that retards the flow of heat through walls, ceilings or floors of a structure.
Interior Gutter A gutter hidden behind an outside wall or located inside a building.
Iron Worker A tradesman that erects structural steel, wall panels, curtainwall or window wall.
I-Units A measure of flatness used for metal sheet and coil. An I-unit is a combination of deviation from flat and cycle (or wave interval). (I.e., 5 I-units deviation from flat is a 1/8″ deviation from flat on a 28″ wave interval.)


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Jack Beam A beam used to support another beam or rafter to eliminate a column support.
Jack Rafter A roof rafter that reaches from the wall plate to a hip or from a valley to a ridge.
Jalousie A window made of horizontal glass slats that open outward from the bottom for ventilation while preventing the entrance of rain.
Jamb The side post of a doorway or window.
Joggle An abrupt offset in a flat plane surface.
Joist The horizontal structural member to which roof deck or flooring (floor deck) is attached.
Joistmaster Long-bay structural system composed of built-up frames and long-span joists.


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Kelvin Thermometer scale in Celsius degrees.
Kerf The notch or slit made by a saw, torch or router when cutting.
KIP 1,000 pounds.
Knee Brace A corner brace used to prevent angular movement.
Kynar® Or Hylar® Resin Primary paint film resin component in PVDF thermoplastic coating systems. Typical architectural coating systems contain 70% Kynar or Hylar resin.


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Lally Column A steel column supporting a girder.
Laminated Glass Two or more lites of glass permanently laminated together with one or more inter-layers.
Laterals Diagonal bracing members in heavy construction.
Lath Thin strips of wood or metal mesh fastened to the frame of a building to act as a plaster base for inside walls.
Lattice And Lacing Crossed flat bars or angles designed to hold main structural members in their proper location.
Lattice Girder A structural member similar to a truss, composed of two parallel bars connected by a series of diagonal braces.
Lead (Pb) Lead is a soft malleable metal that is used in ornamental flashing and sound dampening applications. Lead is considered toxic and poisonous to animals and human beings and is in limited use today.
Lead Agency The entity with final responsibility for the construction project.
Lean-To A section of a building leaning against a larger structure with its roof sloping away from the main structure.
Ledger Strip A strip of lumber or metal attached to the lower edge of the side of a girder on which joists rest.
LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; a rating system for energy efficient and sustainable construction.
Liability A legal responsibility.
Lien A legal claim against a project by one party against another party (generally for purposes of money).
Lift Bridge A bridge with a span that can be lifted vertically between two towers.
Lineal Measure Measure of the length of structural items, without regard to width or depth, as opposed to cubic or board measure.
Liner Panel Wall panel attached to the outside or inside of the building girts and acts as the interior, exposed surface of the building.
Lintel A horizontal member above a window or door opening, to provide support to the wall above the opening.
Lip A flange stiffener.
Liquidated Damages Monetary charges, by contractual agreement, that result from a default on timing, performance, product, etc.
Lite A pane of glass.
Live Load The weight to be supported on the floor of a building. It includes the weight of the structure above (the dead load) and the furnishings and occupants.
Lookout (1) A short bracket supporting an overhanging portion of a roof usually from a concealed view.

(2) A mountain in Tennessee.

Louver A framed opening, in a building, with a series of horizontal or vertical fabricated slats to permit ventilation, but to exclude rain, direct sun, vision or animals/insects.
Lumber, Dressed Size The dimensions of lumber after planning, usually 3/8″ less than the nominal or rough size. (For example, a 2×4 stud usually measures 1-5/8″ x 3-5/8″.)
Lumber, Kiln-Dried Lumber dried by artificially controlled heat and humidity to a satisfactory moisture content.
Lumber, Nominal Size The ordinary commercial size by which lumber is known and sold.
Lumiflon -Also Known As Megaflon A fluoroethylene alkyl vinyl ether (FEVE) resin based paint system that is thermosetting. The Lumiflon coatings are best known for their ability to achieve a high gloss. The Lumiflon resins coatings are classified as fluorocarbons.


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Mansard Roof A sloping roof with two pitches; the lower pitch being steeper than the upper.
Masonry Plate A flat steel plate under the end of a vertical steel section to help distribute the load to a masonry foundation.
Master Plan The overall vision of the completed project.
Mastic A form of cement or caulking compound that retains some elasticity upon setting.
MACC Multiple Award Construction Contract (US Dept of Defense).
MATOC Multiple Award Task Order Contract (US Dept of Defense).
MBMA Metal Building Manufacturers Association.
MCA Metal Construction Association.
MCM Metal composite material.
Meeting Rail A horizontal member of an upper or lower double-hung window sash.
Meeting Stile The stile of a door on which the lock is set. In a double door, the stiles that meet when the doors are closed.
Metal Edge Perimeter edge metal that forms a weathertight seal.
Metal Lath Expanded metal that has been split drawn out to form mesh openings, to which plaster is applied.
Mil 1 mil equals .001″.
Miter The surface forming the beveled end of a piece where a joint is made.
Miter Joint A joint made by cutting two pieces of material at an angle and then rejoining to form another (closed) angle.
Mitigation Report Report of measures taken to minimize a projects environmental impact.
Mock Rafter A short piece of material used in construction to simulate a real rafter.
Mock-Up Testing Air infiltration, water penetration and structural performance testing of a glazing or wall / roof system in a controlled environment prior to installation.
Modulus of Elasticity The ratio of stress corresponding to strain; it is a measure of stiffness.
Moment The effect a load has on a structural member causing the member to bend or twist about a fixed point. It is moment that causes a member to bend under load.
Moment of Inertia An external moment is resisted by the built-in internal moment that is determined by the shape and size of a member.
Monel Monel is a trademark of Special Metals Corp. This metal is an alloy of nickel (up to 67%) and copper, with small amounts of iron and other trace metals. Maintains strength at very high temperatures.
Monitor A raised structure above the roof of a building to provide light or ventilation.
Moondog A person born of the Sea of Wandel.
Mopping A layer of hot bitumen “mopped” between layers of roofing felt. Not sure that the use of a mop in the installation of a roof is the avenue to a quality roof system.
MRA Metal Roofing Alliance.
Mullion (1) A slender bar forming a division between units of a window or a screen.

(2) A vertical structural framing component in a glass curtainwall system.

Muntin (1) A bar member supporting and separating panes of glass in a sash or door. A glazing bar.

(2) A support framing member in a glass curtainwall system.


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Naval Brass Alpha-beta brass consisting of 60-62% copper, 37-39% zinc and 1% tin. Naval brass is highly resistant to sea water. Due to cost, naval brass is seldom used for our purposes.
NAVFAC Naval Facilities Engineering Command are the design engineers for US Navy and Marine construction projects.
Negative Pressure Clip Attachment clips occasionally used in concealed fastener panels to resist extreme negative pressure related to high wind.
Negligence The failure to use due care in construction and/or design.
Newel (1) A post to which the end of a railing is fastened.

(2) What Chevy Chase sawed off in a fit of fury in Christmas Vacation.

Nibbler An electric hand tool used for cutting metal parts.
NIBS National Institute of Building Sciences
NICA National Insulation Contractors Association.
Non-Bearing Wall A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.
Notice To Proceed The official approval to commence construction work.
NRCA National Roof Contractors Association.
NY Screwdriver A very large hammer.


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OC (On Center) (1) The center-to-center spacing of structural or sub-structural elements.

(2) The center-to-center rib pitch on a rollformed or brake-formed profile.

Ogee A profile section or a molding with a reverse-curve face, concave above and convex below.
OICC Officer in Charge of Construction (on a military base).
Oil Canning Oil canning is the tendency of sheet metal substrates to display non-flat conditions in large, field areas. Oil canning is caused by many factors including building and panel expansion and contraction, installation practice, building attachment substrate, metal coil with camber, etc.
Oriented Strand Board (OSB) OSB is an engineered wood product produced from compressed wood strands and flakes. OSB is often used for building sheathing.
Orthotropic Plate Design A bridge design in which the deck, composed of stiffened plate sections, acts as the top flange of the girder.
OSHA The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration charged with oversight and maintenance of safe working environments and practices for workers.
Outlooker A support for the end or edge of a roof.


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Parapet A low retaining wall at the edge of a roof, porch or terrace. Generally covered by a fabricated metal parapet cap (or coping).
Partition An interior dividing wall.
PCM Phase change material designed to be an energy reducing construction component.
Peak The highest point on the roof where two roof slopes meet.
Peak Box A trim piece that flashes the rake fascia connections at the apex of the gable.
Pedestal An in-ground structural stool for support of a girder or column.
Performance Bond A bond provided by a contractor or sub-contractor guaranteeing payment to complete the project should the contractor or sub-contractor default for any reason.
Performance Specification Written project specifications that outline the minimum standards of construction to complete a project or a component trade within the project.
Perm A unit of water vapor transmission. Defined as one grain of water vapor per square foot per hour per inch of mercury pressure difference.
Picket One of the upright members in a type of fence, supported by upper and lower rails between posts.
Pier A support for adjacent ends of two structural spans.
Pilaster A part of a wall that projects not more than 1/2 its own width beyond the outside or inside face of the wall.
Pile A columnar support that is driven into the ground as part of a foundation. Its lower section is driven to refusal. It may be capped with a concrete cylinder for greater strength.
Pin Connection A member connected to the foundation or other member in such a way that allows free rotation.
Pitch (1) The incline or rise of a roof expressed in inches per foot of run.

(2) The number of threads per inch of length of a screw.

(3) The number of teeth per inch of circumference of a gear.

(4) A black viscous material obtained from the distillation of various organic compounds and used as a component in built-up roofing.

(5) The rib-to-rib (center-to-center) distance on a rollformed or brake-formed profile.

Pivoted Window A window that rotates vertically or horizontally on a central pivot.
Plan (1) A building drawing or diagram in plain view; the top view of a building to be constructed; the method to complete construction.

(2) Commitment.

Plancier The horizontal portion of a cornice extending from the frieze to the fascia.
Plaster Arch An untrimmed plaster opening.
Plat A map of a land area showing the location and boundaries of properties.
Plate (1) A horizontal member laid on a wall or spiked to the top of studding to receive and support other members, particularly the ends of joists or rafters.

(2) A solid aluminum or steel section fabricated to a thickness of a minimum of 1/4″ with sheared or returned edges to be used in a curtainwall system or plate wall system.

Plate Line The top horizontal line of a building wall upon which the roof rests.
Plenum A chamber for moving air to one or more ducts.
Plinth (1) The base block of a column, a pedestal or other isolated object.

(2) The base block at the juncture of a baseboard and trim around an opening.

Plumb Exactly perpendicular.
Plywood Wood panel composed of several layers of veneer joined together with glue and laid with the grain of adjoining layers at right angles.
Pole A post or column which is supported by a concrete pad and is secured by packed soil.
Polyester Paint System A paint system utilizing polyester resin that cross links to form a coating film. Polyester coatings are typically used in non-critical, short life span applications. Silicone modified polyesters are available that provide longer term performance.
Ponding Deformations and depressions in roof systems where water gathers.
Pop Rivets Fastening method for joining metal.
Portal Bracing Bracing between the end posts of a bridge or structural columns.
Post-Frame Construction A type of construction that uses engineered lumber framing for the structural framing system.
Post Painting The process of spray applying a paint coating system after a part has been formed.
Precast (Concrete) Concrete that is poured and set at a different (factory) site than where it is designed to be installed.
Prefabricated Construction A type of construction so designed as to involve a minimum of site assembly, usually consisting of a series of large units or panels manufactured in a factory.
Prescriptive Specification A specification where the products to be utilized are fully detailed and described (as opposed to a performance specification which sets minimum standards).
Pressure Equalized Wall System A pressure equalized wall system is an unsealed, open joint wall system that is designed to equalize pressure in the wall cavities to prevent rain and moisture from being drawn in. The weather seal is applied behind the wall system.
Prime Contractor The (general) contractor responsible for the overall construction of the project.
PSF Pounds per square foot.
PSI Pounds per square inch.
Punch List A list of tasks to be completed at the end of a construction project. Generally, the completion of the punch list is necessary for final contract payment.
Purlin A horizontal structural member applied across the trusses of a roof to which the roofing material is attached. A secondary structural member.
PVC (Poly-Vinyl Chloride) Plastic material used for conduit, piping, fittings, residential siding and gutters.
PVDF A polyvinylidene fluoride or Kynar (Hylar) resin based paint / coating system. PVDF coating systems provide long-term chalk and fade resistance, corrosion resistance and film integrity. PVDF coating systems are thermoplastic. PVDF is a fluoropolymer or fluorocarbon paint coating system. Common PVDF suppliers include Valspar (Fluropon, Fluropon Classic).


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Rainchain A functional alternative to a downspout. A rainchain is attached to a gutter drop or outlet and visibly guides waterflow to the ground through linked chains or cups.
Rainscreen Principle A wall panel (or curtainwall) attachment system where the joints are open and unsealed, but the wall cavity contains a series of weep holes and drainage points that allow water and moisture to drain to the exterior or evaporate. The weatherseal is behind the (rainscreen) wall system.
Rafter One of a series of structural members of a sloped roof that support roof loads. Rafters Extend From The Ridge To The Eave.
Rafter, Common A structural roof section that reaches from a wall plate to the ridge.
Rafter, Double Jack A structural roof section that reaches from a valley to a hip.
Rafter, Jack A structural roof section that reaches from a wall plate to a hip or from a valley to the ridge.
Rafter, Valley A structural roof section that forms the intersection of an internal roof angle.
Raggle Block A masonry block with a slot or opening for insertion and anchoring of roofing flashing.
Rake A slope or inclination as of a roof gable or a stair string. The edge of a gable roof.
Reactions Forces required to resist loads from a structure.
Reglet A horizontal slot (typically in masonry) for counterflashing insertion.
Reinforcing Bar (Re-Bar) A metal bar immersed in concrete to increase structural strength.
Relative Humidity The ratio of weight (or partial pressure) of water vapor in an air-vapor mixture to the saturated weight (or partial pressure) of water vapor.
Reserves Monies set aside to address unplanned or unanticipated project costs.
Retrofit The placing of a new metal roof or wall panel systems over deteriorated surfaces.
Reverse Roll-Coat Paint Line A metal coil coating line where the metal strip (coil) is cleaned, a conversion coat applied, a prime coat is applied and a finish coat is applied in one pass through the painting operation. The strip moves through the line in one direction while the paint laydown rolls turn in the opposite direction.
RFP A request for proposal or official invitation to bid a project.
RFQ A request of qualification or official invitation to submit documented experience and qualifications to perform (work requested).
Return (Noun) (1) A continuation in a different direction of a molding or projection, usually at 90 degrees.

(2) The return (attachment) leg of a plate or metal composite material panel.

Rib Panel A standard rollformed metal panel. Attached by means of exposed fasteners.
Ridge The highest horizontal line along the upper angle of a roof and where two roof inclines meet.
Ridge Cap A formed part that is installed at the ridge line, or apex, where two slopes meet in a gabled roof. The ridge cap is designed, when properly sealed, the keep the elements out of the structure.
Ridge Strut A structural member along the peak of a roof.
Ridge Board The highest horizontal member in a roof to which the upper ends of a rafter are fastened.
Ridge Roll A strip of sheet metal, composition roofing, tile or wood that covers and finishes a ridge.
Rigid Connection A joint capable of transmitting moment to another member of a system.
Rigid Frame Any structure in a plane, made up of beams or girders and columns, so constructed that the joints are rigidly fixed to transmit moment, and thus reduce moment in other parts of the frame.
Rise (Noun) (1) The perpendicular height of a roof ridge above the wall plates.

(2) The perpendicular height of a step or flight of steps.

Riser (1) The upright member between two stair treads.

(2) An opening or penetration through a mold or surface to allow the escape of gas off of a process.

Rocker A bearing surface that distributes a load from the stringers or girders to the masonry.
Rockwool Industrial insulation manufactured by spinning molten rock. Typically used in high temperature power and process applications.
Rollforming The process of manufacturing a rollformed shape in continuous process from a metal strip on a multi-stand rollformer.
Roof Deck Metal profiled and structural deck that is welded or mechanically attached to the roof joists. The finish roof system is then applied over the roof deck material.
Roof Sheathing Solid deck substrate attached to the roof rafters on which the roofing material is attached.
Route & Return An attachment method for metal composite panels where the panels are kerfed (or routed) on the backside, the panel edges are returned forming a pan and clips are attached to the return legs creating a cassette that is then used as a building panel.
R-Value A building materials measured ability to resist heat flow.


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Saddle A flat strip of wood or metal projecting above the floor between the jambs of a door, a threshold.
Sag Rod A metal rod that supports a girt or purlin and keeps them from sagging.
Sandwich Wall A wall system installed in the field made up of an exposed fastener liner panel, rigid insulation and an exposed fastener exterior panel without use of a subgirt. This wall system is attached to the exterior face of the building girts.
Saw-Tooth Roof A roof composed of a series of alternating vertical blank sections and sloping window sections to obtain more daylight.
SCR Unit A piece of power plant equipment that converts nitrogen oxides into diatomic nitrogen and water. These units reduce pollutant NO by 70-95%.
Screw Flange A flange rollformed into a metal panel that allows concealed clip attachment to the building substrate or subgirt or purlin.
Scrubber A group of air pollution control devices typically used on fossil fuel power plants. Scrubbers can be designed to remove carbon dioxide, unwanted pollutants or acid gases from gaseous emissions.
Scupper A punched and flashed drainage outlet in a wall or parapet.
SDI Steel Deck Institute.
Seam A lap or area of juncture for two separate sheets (of metal or formed panels).
Secondary Gutter Backup This system recognizes the limitations of single-line barrier systems; and, therefore a secondary drainage system is added behind that system and made integral to the system.
Seismic Related to the design requirements in earthquake zones.
Self-Drilling Screw A mechanical screw that is designed to drill a hole and tap its threads in a single operation.
Self-Tapping Screw A mechanical screw that taps its threads, but requires hole predrilling.
Shear (1) The tendency of a portion of a body on one side of a section to slide by the portion on the other side of the section.

(2) To cut metal.

Sheet Metal Worker A tradesman that fabricates and install sheet metal parts.
Shim A sub-piece used to maintain distance (or tolerance).
Shingle An individual piece of roof covering to be installed in rows and with overlapping roof edges (or tabs).
Shoe (1) The bearing material at end of a girt, girder or stringer.

(2) That thing on your foot.

Shop Drawings Working drawings prepared for use on the jobsite and in the fab shop.
Shoring A temporary buttress-like support to prevent the collapse of a building being altered or of a structure adjoining a new building.
Siding (Wall Panels) The finish covering of the outside wall of a frame building.
Siding, Drop Siding with tongue and groove joints, frequently applied horizontally and used on buildings that require no sheathing.
Sill (1) The lowest member of a structure frame, resting on the foundation and supporting the uprights of the frame.

(2) The member forming the lower side of an opening at a window or door.

Simple Beam A beam freely supported at both ends, theoretically with no end restraint.
Single-Line Barrier Wall A building envelope that acts as an all-in-one barrier layer to keep the elements out, retain conditioned air and resist the forces of wind and air.
Single-Ply Roofing A flexible membrane type roofing (i.e., EPDM, TPO).
Siphon Break A groove designed to arrest capillary action on two adjacent surfaces. Siphon breaks are rollformed into some metal profiles.
Skirting The horizontal belt of trim (or panels) or finish located immediately above the foundation of a structure. Also known as skirt boards.
Skylight A roof accessory designed to admit light into the structure. Skylights are normally mounted on a curbed, framed opening. Translucent panels perform similar function and are normally installed in line with the metal panels.
Slider A window that operates horizontally.
Slitting The process by which wide metal coil is cut into narrow coil widths.
Soffit The underside of staircase, cornice, beam, eave or arch and generally finished with a metal or vinyl panel.
Soldier Column An independent column added in a sidewall to support girts in a long bay building, façade or canopy.
Sole Plate A small plate at the end of a girder that bears on the masonry plate.
Span The clear distance between vertical supports when referring to girts, beams, girders, or purlins.
Spandrel (Spandril) The area between the top of a window or door and the sill of a window or door at the story above.
Spandrel Glass Annealed glass that is opaque (and sometimes reflective) and installed to prevent exterior viewing of unattractive construction elements.
Spandrel Panel A wall panel that covers the spandrel.
Spangle The result of unrestricted growth of zinc crystals during the steel galvanizing process.
Specifications A statement of particulars that prescribes building materials and construction methods, and spelling out the quality of work for a project.
Specific Performance Performance in accordance with the terms of a legal construction contract.
Spiking Piece A strip of wood or metal attached to the top of a purlin to which sheathing in attached.
Spire A tapering roof surmounting a tower (i.e., a steeple).
Splash Block A formed piece, usually plastic or cement, placed on the ground at the opening of a downspout to divert the flow and pressure of water away from a building and to limit the possibility of erosion at a building perimeter.
Splice A longitudinal connection between the parts of a continuous member.
Spline A device for joining two pieces of material edge-to-edge. The spline is held in place by means of silicone or mechanical attachment.
Square A unit of area in the building industry equivalent to 100 square feet of surface.
Stack System A structural curtainwall system in which floors interlock with expansion joints.
Stainless Steel A steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium. Stainless steel alloys often include nickel and molybdenum, as well.
Stair Rise The vertical distance from the top on one stair tread to the top of the one next above.
Stanchion An upright bar between the mullions of a window.
Standing Seam Roofing SSR is a roofing system with formed “standing seam ribs” on repeating cycles rollformed in narrow panels (12″-24″ in width). SSR is attached by means of concealed clips or by direct attachment through a screw flange.
Stays (1) A brace or support used to steady a wall.

(2) A long rod running between opposite walls of a power boiler to strengthen them against internal pressure.

STC /STL The sound transmission class is the measure of sound transmission through a building material. The sound transmission loss is a measure of the amount of sound lost when transmitted through a building material or wall / roof system.
Step Flashing Flashing method used where a vertical surface meets a sloping roof plane.
Stick System A structural curtainwall system consisting of units assembled on the site as opposed to a grid (or panelized) system whose units are assembled in a factory.
Stiffener (1) An angle of plate reinforcement for a beam, girt or girder web.

(2) A structural reinforcement attached to the back side of a plate or MCM fabricated panel to provide resistance to wind load and deflection.

Stiffening Rib A rollformed minor or pencil rib in a profile to provide structural strength and to minimize the possibility of oil canning.
Stitch Screw Fasteners used to connect panel sidelaps and to connect flashing to panels.
Stringer The main structural member of a building or bridge section running parallel to the length of the building of bridge.
Strippable Film A film applied to finished or unfinished metal substrates to protect the material during fabrication, transportation and installation. The strippable film must be removed immediately upon material installation.
Structural Engineer An engineer specializing in analysis and design of building structures.
Strut A structural member that keeps two other pieces apart as opposed to a tie that keeps two pieces together.
Studs Structural members placed as supporting elements in a wall or a partition.
Sub-Floor Material laid on joists as a foundation for a finish floor. (i.e. Floor deck)
Subgirt A subgirt is a wall sub-framing member attached to the outstanding ribs of a liner panel (or to the building girts) in a field assembled wall system. The exterior building panel is attached to the subgirts after insulation has been inserted into the liner panel cavity.
Substrate The type of metal strip or coil (i.e., steel, aluminum, zinc) to be specified, painted, fabricated, installed, etc.
Substructure (1) The foundations of a structure, such as the piers and abutments.

(2) The subgirts and purlins in a wall or roof system.

Summer A heavy beam crossing a ceiling from girt-to-girt and supporting the joists of the floor above.
Surety Bond A bond guaranteeing completion of a project.
Survey Construction site physical characteristics examination.
Sustainability Design and construction that minimizes impacts on the environment by incorporating ecological and energy-related sound building practices including the conservation of natural resources.
Swage Bolt An anchor bolt with depressions in its shank to increase its holding power.
Sway Frames Light trusses used in secondary structural systems.
Swedge (Swedging) A fabricated offset of a panel or part end to ease endlapping or mating of the panels or parts. Sometimes referred to as swaging.
Swinging Stage Two-point secured suspended scaffolding from which wall panels and curtainwall are typically installed. Also known as two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds.


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Tenon A projecting member, produced by cutting away the material around it, for insertion into a cavity to make a joint.
Tensile Strength The force per unit of the original cross sectional area (of an unstretched specimen) which is applied at the time of rupture of the specimen.
Tension Forces acting on a body which tends to elongate it.
Tension Leveling Process used to remove distortion(s) from metal and minimize the potential for oil canning in the finished part.
Termite Shield A non-corroding metal shield placed on a foundation wall or around pipes to prevent passage of termites into a building.
Terneplate Steel coated with an alloy of lead and tin.
Thermal Break Method to reduce or prevent heat transfer from the inside to the outside.
Threshold A strip of metal or wood, beveled on each edge, above the finish floor under outside doors.
Thermoplastic The tendency of some materials to soften when they reach their original cure temperature.
Thermosetting The tendency of some materials to remain in their firm, cured state even upon reaching their original cure temperature.
Thru-Wall Flashing A flashing piece that extends completely through a wall. This flashing is used in conjunction with counter-flashings to prevent possible water penetration from moving through wall levels or into roofing (or roof deck) sections.
Tie A structural member that tends to lengthen under stress.
Tie Plate A plate for fixing structural members in proper location.
Tie Rod A diagonal brace between structural units such as beams or columns.
Tier Building A multistory commercial building.
Tilt-Up Wall Preformed cast concrete wall panels that are tiled into place on the jobsite.
Tolerance Allowable manufacturing deviation from the normal.
Top Plate The top horizontal member of a framed wall.
Torque The twisting or turning action (energy) required to turn a part (screws, bolts, etc.).
Traveler (1) A movable erection platform.

(2) A curtain (or draft curtain) that can be pulled across an opening.

Tread The horizontal part of a stair; the part that is walked on.
Tread-Plate A sheet or plate product having a raised or figured pattern on one surface to increase walking traction.
Tributary Area The area that contributes load to a specific structural member.
Trombe Wall A sun facing wall separated from the outdoors by glass and airspace only.
Truss An assembly of structural roofing elements fastened together for mutual support and to prevent sagging. A principal support for a roof.
Turnkey Project A project contract where the general contractor or construction manager will (take responsibility for) design, engineer, deliver and commission the project building.


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Underlayment A material used under roofing systems to provide an additional weather barrier.
Underwriter’s Laboratory Testing and certification laboratory for building materials.
Uniform Load Loads that cover an area uniformly such that the amount of load per unit of area is the same.
Uplift Wind load on a building that causes a load in the upward direction.
Urban Heat Island Effect Cities are built with the prevalent use of energy-absorbing, dark building materials and dark pavements and coupled with a lack of vegetation that creates a microclimate where ambient temperatures are much higher than the surrounding areas. In some cities, the increase in temperature is 10° to 15° F.
USACOE The US Army Corps of Engineers are the design engineers for US Army and US Air Force construction projects.
USGBC US Green Building Council; oversees the LEED program.
U-Value -Heat Transmission Coefficient the amount of heat expressed in BTU’s transmitted in 1 hour through 1 square foot of a building section for each degree temperature difference between the air on the inside and the air on the outside of the building section.


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Value Engineering A project technical review designed to reduce construction costs without compromising quality of construction, aesthetics or intended use.
Valley The internal angle formed by the junction of two sloping sides of a roof. A valley gutter receives and redirects water flow from the sloping roofs on both sides.
Vapor Barrier A material that retards the flow of moisture through the walls of a structure or a container.
Vent A minor opening to permit passage of air through a space in a building.
Vented Perforated or lanced metal panels for use as soffits or interior liners panels.
Vent Flue An enclosed passage for escape of air or gas.
Ventilator A fabricated device (typically installed on the roof) designed to ventilate the interior of the building.
Vinyl Plastisol A PVC type paint coating that is generally used in applications where high abrasion resistance is required. Not typically used as an architectural coating system.
Vomitory Entrances or exits to a theater, amphitheater or stadium.


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Wainscoting The facing material applied to the lower part of an interior wall, such as below a chair rail.
Wall, Bearing A wall capable of supporting a vertical load.
Wall, Non-Bearing A wall not capable of supporting a vertical load.
Warranty The assurance that something is true. The promise that work was done as represented and materials are supplied as specified.
Washcoat Same as backer except not closely controlled for color, gloss, etc.
Water Penetration Water that passes through the seams or joints of a wall panel or roof system or curtainwall system. Tested per ASTM E331.
Weatherstripping A strip of material to seal window or door joints.
Web The part of a channel, beam, girder or column between the flanges.
Weep Hole A hole for drainage, as through a retaining wall or interior of a curtainwall.
Wet Seal A wall panel system that uses a wet (elastomeric) sealant to seal the joints to protect the wall system and the building interior from the elements.
Wind Bracing Bracing required to resist wind stresses.
Wind Load A load represented by the pressure on a structure at a given wind speed. A load caused by the wind blowing in a horizontal direction.
Window Stile An upright of a window frame that guides the sash.
Window Stool The inside front-molded horizontal shelf of a window sill.


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Yield Point The yield point of metal is that point in loading below which the metal will return to its original shape or position when the load is removed.


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Zoning Government regulations concerning land use.
“Z” Section A secondary structural part.


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