Terms and Distinctions

architectural designer: Certain credentials are required to use the word architect. When you see this title for a professional, question whether residential designer would be more appropriate.

baluster: One of the short vertical pieces, sometimes vase-shape, used to support a stair handrail.
balustrade: An entire railing system or low wall, including a top rail, its balusters, and sometimes a bottom rail.
banister: A handrail for a staircase.
handrail: A bar passing from one support to another along a stairway to provide a handhold.
rail: Same as handrail; may also be rails and their supports that create an enclosure or line of division, as a balcony rail.

bay window: A series of windows assembled in a polygon.
bow window: A series of windows assembled in an arc.

beaded: Use as an adjective to describe a characteristic of a material. Do not use bead. Beaded is more descriptive. Also, be as specific as possible in describing the kind of material. For example: beaded board, beaded ceiling paneling, beaded ceiling material, or beaded-board paneling.

cement: The powder that makes concrete.
concrete: The rocklike substance that makes roads and sidewalks.

commercial or restaurant range: Either may be used to describe a range designed specifically for restaurant use.

An architectural member that projects from within a wall and supports a weight; especially one that is stepped upward and outward from a vertical surface.

engineered wood: This refers to products that are made of wood components combined with adhesives to form structural members that maximize the properties of the wood. Some examples: plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), structural composite panels, glued laminated (glulam) timbers, parallam strand lumber, and wood I-joists.

finial: An ornament usually decorated with a leaf pattern that forms an upper extremity (as of a pinnacle or gable) especially in Gothic architecture.

keystone: The wedge-shape stone at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place.

lintel: A piece of wood or stone that lies across the top of a door or window and holds the weight of the structure above it.

low-E (low-emissivity) glass:Allows light to penetrate but blocks heat; this keeps heat in on cold days and keeps heat out on hot days.

mansard: A roof having two slopes on all sides with the lower slope steeper than the upper one. A mansard roof gives extra space without requiring construction of an entire floor.

mullion: A vertical member between windows.
muntin: A secondary framing member (vertical, horizontal, or slanted) that divides window panes in the same sash.

An upright post at the foot of a straight stairway or at a landing; also an upright post about which the steps of a circular staircase wind.

parapet: A low wall or railing at the edge of a platform, roof, or bridge. Also a wall of earth or stone to protect soldiers.

pediment: A triangular area on the face of a building below the roof, above an entrance, etc. It is a feature of classic architecture

professional-grade, professional-duty, professional-quality, or professional-caliber range: Any may be used to describe a high-performance range designed specifically for residential use.
pro-look or pro-style range: Either may be used to describe a range that is not high performance but is designed to look like it is—in most cases it would be made of stainless steel.

quoin: Large squared stones or blocks that form the solid exterior angle of a building. They are both decorative and structural because they usually differ in jointing, color, texture, or size from the masonry of the adjoining walls. Most are toothed and set in a regular pattern of alternating lengths. Also the exterior angle itself.

R-value: Ability of material to resist the flow of heat through it. The higher the number, the better it insulates. In text: R-7, R-22, R-30.

A professional person certified by the Remodelors Council of the National Association of Home Builders.
remodeler: The common term for someone involved in reworking a building or home.

Sheetrock: This is a trademarked term for drywall, wallboard, plasterboard, or gypsum board. In general, do not use unless you mean this specific product. Usually it is best to use a generic term unless the word is in a direct quote.
drywall, wallboard, gypsum board, plasterboard: These are all acceptable generic terms for the materials used to construct interior walls. The materials are applied in large sheets and do not require a water additive to apply.

This is a trademarked term for surfacing compound. In general, do not use unless you mean this particular product. The same caution applies to the use of spackle as a verb. It means to apply Spackle brand filler to a wall.
surfacing compound: This is the generic term for the filler used to cover cracks or other imperfections in a surface before painting.

skylight: a fixed window; use roof window for operable units.

tongue and groove:
Not tongue in groove. Each plank or panel has a tongue and a groove so each piece may slide into the next. The technique is tongue-and-groove construction; it creates tongue-and-groove flooring, tongue-and-groove wainscoting, etc.



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