Glossary of Architectural Features Found on Commercial Buildings

When refurbishing metalwork, it is wise to know the terminology used, so this glossary of architectural features found on commercial buildings may be useful.

Architrave: A moulding framing a window or other opening.

Armature: Metal arms supporting the brackets that hold up a sign on a shop front or other commercial building.

Awning: Fabric or other material attached to a metal frame placed over windows and entrances of shops to protect the public and shopfront from the weather.

Baluster: An ornamental vertical post, also called a spindle, supporting a rail and is usually found on stairways.

Balustrade: The railing system found on stairs, balconies and porches consisting of a rail and balusters.

Canopy: A metal framework clad with fabric, glass, metal or other materials that is attached to a building overhanging entrances or walkways offering protection from the elements.

Cladding: An outer layer attached to an elevation or any other substrate to defend against weathering or for decorative purposes. It is often metal, but can be made of other substances. Specialised cladding installed over windows is known as window capping.

Console Bracket: A decorative feature used on shop fronts to highlight the separation of one outlet from another.

Cornice: A horizontal section above the fascia signifying the top of the shop front and the beginning of the premises on the floor above it. It is also used the mark the edge of a roof and an exterior wall.

Corrugated Metal: Metal sheets of aluminium or galvanised steel found on many industrial buildings with parallel ridges moulded into it for strength.

Curtain Walling: A thin, non-structural outer covering on a building consisting of framework (which is usually aluminium) and filled in with panels often made of glass, metal or stone.

Display Window: Metal framework above the bulkhead and below the transom surrounding large sections of glass used to display the products on sale inside a shop as well as letting daylight into it.

Dunnage: Structural support for HVAC, generators and other mechanical equipment on a roof of a commercial building.

Eave: The sloping edge of a roof overhanging the exterior walls, sometimes showing exposed rafters.

Elevation: The exterior upright face of a building as well as an architectural scale drawing of a façade. The main elevation will usually encompass an entranceway.

Façade: The main face of a structure usually found at the front of a building and often with more decorative details than other elevations.

Fanlight: A decorative or plain glass panel placed above an entrance door to a retail outlet. Some have a hinge at the bottom and can be opened inwards for ventilation. These are known as ‘hopper’ fanlights.

Fascia: A horizontal board either below the cornice or attached to the cornice and architrave with signage on it to label the business.

Finish: The characteristics of a top coat including colour, gloss level and durability. Finish may also refer to other types of materials used as a veneer.

Frame: The metallic structure surrounding windows and doors that is attached to the façade of a building.

Grille: A metal grid placed over an opening such as a window or door for security and decoration.

Head: The top part of a window frame placed horizontally above the glazed opening.

HVAC: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems include wall mounted mechanisms and the associated conduits.

Jamb: The vertical parts of a window frame that are at the side of the opening attached to the head and sill.

Lintel: The horizontal support found across the top of a window or door.

Lobby: A small recess outside a shop leading towards the entrance. Traditional shops typically have tiled floors and panelled walls sometimes with a showcase used for advertising goods.

Mullions: The structural divisions between panes of glass found in window frames.

Reveal: The edge of a wall found at the side of an opening for a window or door between the frame and the outside of the wall. This surface reveals the thickness of the wall.

Roller Shutter: A security cover consisting of a number of horizontal slats that are joined together. These doors roll up into a box over a window or door. They are usually made of metal and protect apertures from break-ins and the elements.

Signage: A graphic display in the form of letters, symbols and or logos used to advertise a business. Signage is usually found on fascias.

Sill: The flat, horizontal part at the bottom of a window frame. These are often metal or wood, but can also be made out of stone in older buildings.

Soffit: The exposed underside of an architectural structure particularly roofs and ceilings, but soffits are also found under arches and balconies.

Shop Front: The street level façade of a retail outlet providing access into the interior. The shop front framework encompasses doors and windows.

Substrate: The solid base layer such as stone or metal on to which another substance may be overlaid, for example paint.

Suspended Ceiling: Also known as a ‘false’ or ‘drop’ ceiling. This is a secondary horizontal layer hung below the interior roof space. A metal grid is suspended from metal wires with tiles placed within it.

If you require more information regarding this glossary of architectural features found on commercial buildings please contact us. We are happy to provide quotes for re-spraying any of the metalwork defined above.