Glossary of Terms – General

Term Definition
AIA   American Institute of Architects:
– The Largest organization of recognized architects in the United States.
ASTM  ASTM International, formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials, is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services
Beam   A piece of timber, steel, or other material placed horizontally to support a load
over an opening from post to post (column to column).

Any characteristic part of a building (wall, column, etc.) which supports part of the weight
of the structure. A wall is often spoken of as a “bearing-wall” whenever it supports weight
other than itself.
BTU   British Thermal unit. A measure of heat used to describe the capacity of furnaces,
water heaters and heating units.
Cantilevered   That portion of a structure which projects beyond its own support is cantilevered.
Column A vertical wood, steel, stone or concrete shaft, pillar or support, free-standing,
supporting the portion of the structure above it.
Combustible Having a flash point of 80-150 degrees F.
Countersink To drive a nail or screw flush or just below the surface.
Ease Of Cleaning Most dependent on the porosity of the surface which provides voids for dirt entrapment,
presence of surface coatings, uniform coverage of the coating, and toughness of the surface
coating to stand-up to wear and maintenance routines.
EPA Environmental Protection Agency.
Estimate A preliminary cost figure prepared by contractors or other to give a job owner and/or architect
a rough idea of the cost of a completed building
Footing   The spreading course or courses at the base or bottom of a foundation wall, pier or column.
Foundation   The structural portion of a building or wall below the first floor construction, including the footings.
Framing   The rough timberwork of a structure including the walls, floors, roof, ceiling and the beams and studs
which make up these various parts.
Abrasion Tester
An abrasion tester which uses a leather-covered wheel on a rotating stage and an apparatus
which deposits grit onto the sample and removes it each revolution. No standards exist in the U
S which specify limits for abrasion resistance with this tester. Because weight loss is one of the
measurements made with the tester, very soft materials can fair well, because they pick up the grit
and do not appear to lose weight. On harder materials, this tester represents the actual foot traffic
wear mechanism very well; this was concluded by an independent research effort in Europe
Jamb The side of a doorway, door frame or window.
Joist   A small timber to which the boards of a floor or the laths of a ceiling are nailed. 
Joists rest on the walls or on girders.
Level   A surface or line with all points at the same elevation. Horizontally straight.
Light Reflectivity   The characteristics of a material which determines the degree or amount of light which will be reflected
from its surface from any given angle.
Organic   Having been living at one time (like petroleum, crude oil, coal, wood, etc.) or derived from
living materials and/or containing carbon and hydrogen atoms; primarily relates to plastics
being derived from petroleum.
Oxidation The combination of a substance with oxygen.
Rated Panel
Panel products designed and engineered to meet performance criteria for specific end-use applications.
Pot Life   The amount of time an adhesive remains useable in the container once it has been mixed or opened.
Normally used in reference to products which are mixed together such as epoxy adhesives or
portland-based underlayments and patches.
Ramp   An inclined plane connecting two different levels and used instead of steps, elevators or conveyors.
Residential Flooring Flooring designed for use in home settings.  
Resiliency   The ability of a material to resume it’s former shape after mechanical deformation.
Resilient Floor   A nontextile floor surfacing material made in sheet or tile form or formed in place.
Materials include but are not limited to asphalt, cork, linoleum, rubber, vinyl, vinyl composition,
and poured polymeric systems.
Section   A drawing showing in a vertical plane the internal heights and details of the various parts of a building.
Specifications   The detailed selections of the architect, covering all of the material and labor methods to be used in
erecting a building. Usually prescribe types of material, sources, and often lists method of application
or installation.
Studs   The small vertical timbers (usually 2″ x 4″ or 2″ x 6″) used in partitions and exterior frame walls to which
the weatherboarding and lath are nailed.
Terrazzo   A type of mosaic flooring made by embedding small pieces of marble, granite, glass or onyx
in freshly placed mortar.  The surface is usually hardened, ground, and polished.
Trim   The finishing details finally added to a house interior or exterior such as window and door casing.
Truss   A framework, resting on a bearing wall or support at each end, used for supporting a roof or some
other load.
TSP   Tri Sodium Phosphate. Commonly used to remove surface contaminates from substrates.
VOC Volatile Organic Compounds
Updated on June 16, 2022