If you need to reference the definitions of any term referring to architectural aluminium and related products, we’ve compiled this glossary of the most relevant terms to help you find the details you may need. This info will also help you to understand certain concepts that we have mentioned across our other articles on this site.
Architectural aluminium fixtures are used in the construction of the majority of modern buildings, both commercial and residential. There is a wide range of fixtures available, in different styles, systems, colours, sizes and configurations. Our product range at Pro Aluminium includes aluminium windows, glass doors, shopfronts, curtain walling, facades, cladding, balustrades, office partitioning, glass enclosures and more.
So we offer you a quick reference guide with some common industry terms listed alphabetically below (for more detailed info, you can refer to our architectural fixtures pages).
Glossary of Terms
Aluminium alloy – Aluminium which contains alloying elements, where aluminium predominates by mass over each of the other elements and where the aluminium content is not greater than 99,00%.
Aluminium profile – Also called aluminium extrusion, this is the technique used to transform aluminium alloy into objects with a definitive cross-sectional profile for a wide range of uses.
Anodization – Anodization is the process of artificially increasing the thickness of the (natural) oxide coating by electrolytic means. This provides extra protection through films that can vary in thickness from a few microns to over 100 µ.
Balance – A balance is a device in single- and double-hung windows that uses a spring mechanism to help you with the weight of the sash as you open and close your window. Balances sit inside the window frame so they are somewhat hidden.
Bay windows – A window built to project outwards from an outside wall.
Butt glazing – The installation of glass products where the vertical glass edges are without structural supporting mullions.
Casement windows – A casement window, also called a projected window consisting of one or more sash hinged to open from the side (adjacent to the jambs), which project outward or inward from the plane of the window in the vertical plane.
Caulk – Used to seal-off seams and crevices of glass units thus making them watertight and airtight.
Cladding – Cladding is the application of one material over another to provide a skin or layer. In construction, cladding is used to provide a degree of thermal insulation and weather resistance, and to improve the appearance of buildings. Cladding can be made out of a wide range of materials, aluminium being among the most popular.
Clad sheet – Sheet consisting of an aluminium core to which a thin layer of aluminium or another metal is metallurgically bonded on one side or on both sides, typically by rolling.
Coating / Finishes – Greater thickness, density and hardness of factory-produced finishes. They may be clear (natural) or coloured. Colour is electrolytically deposited or integral. Pre-anodic chemical treatments clean and prepare the aluminium for the anodic finish.
Coefficient of expansion – A value denoting the rate at which a material expands with rising temperature.
Coextrusion – Profiles extruded from two or more concentric streams of compounds. The separate streams may be compounded to provide different characteristics such as strength or weathering.
Composite panels – Composite panels are factory engineered panels used mainly for exterior cladding, partitioning, load bearing walls and roofing elements in a wide range of non-residential buildings. These versatile products are also known as ‘sandwich’ panels due to the physical interaction of the two materials.
Corrosion – The deterioration of metal by chemical or electro-chemical reaction resulting from exposure to weathering, moisture, chemicals or other agents or media.
Cottage pane windows – A cottage window is a double-hung window — i.e., a window with two sashes sliding up and down, hung with one atop the other in the same frame — in which the upper sash is smaller (shorter) than the lower one. The upper sash often contains smaller lights divided by muntins (often known as a “divided light pattern” or “grille”), although in some cases both sashes may be divided. Cottage windows are especially characteristic of bungalow or Craftsman-style houses.
Curtain walling – A curtain wall system is an outer covering of a building in which the outer walls are non-structural, utilised to keep the weather out and the occupants in. Since the curtain wall is non-structural, it can be made of lightweight materials, thereby reducing construction costs. When glass is used as the curtain wall, an advantage is that natural light can penetrate deeper within the building. The curtain wall façade does not carry any structural load from the building other than its own dead load weight.
Door jamb – An upright piece forming the side of a door opening.
Double volume windows – A window spanning across two floors.
Durability – The capability of maintaining the serviceability of a product, component, assembly or construction over a time.
Energy ratings – Performance ratings. National Fenestration Rating Council (HVRC) measuring windows on their U-Factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, Visible Transmittance, Air Leakage and Condensation Resistance.
Entrance door – A door used for a main entrance such as a french door usually measuring around 1.2 m in width.
Extruded profile – Profile brought to final dimensions by extruding.
Façade – The front of a building.
Fenestration – An industry specific term, referring to a building’s design, construction, and arrangement of windows, doors, storefront glass, or curtain walls. Interestingly, in reference to shipping, it is the practise of placing holes in the rudder of a ship to reduce the work required to move the rudder while preserving its ability to steer the ship.
Fixed door – One or more non-operable assembled leaves or sliding door panels within a door frame and threshold/sill.
Folding-sliding door – also known as folding-stacking doors, stacking doors, concertina doors or accordion doors. They allow exceptionally large openings. They simultaneously slide and fold out of the way and have multiple panels (between 3 and 10 panels depending on the entire width of the opening) which fold upon one another when opened, all stacking away neatly and compactly.
French door – A door, usually one pair, of light construction with glass panes extending for most of its length. Dual hinged doors that open from the middle can swing either in or out and have no centre post when opened.
Gasket – Preformed shapes (strips, grommets, etc.) of rubber or rubber-like composition, used to fill and seal a joint or opening, either alone or in conjunction with a supplemental application of a sealant.
Grid – A grid is the framework of spaced bars that form a pattern in a window.
Hardware – Window hardware is all the devices, fittings, or assemblies that are used to operate a window. Window hardware may include catches, cords, fasteners, hinges, handles, locks, pivots, pulls, pulleys, and sash weights.
Heat gain – Heat gain refers to the transfer of heat into your home through a variety of sources. The primary source of heat is the sun, and the absorption of heat by your structure increases dramatically during the summer months as solar radiation intensifies.
Interior window casing / Exterior window casing – Casing is a type of moulding used as trim for the perimeter of windows and doors. Just as their names state, interior window casing is installed on the interior walls of a house to frame the window on the inside for aesthetic purposes, and exterior window casing is the trim or moulding that frames the window on the exterior of the house.
Jamb – Jambs are the main vertical components that form the sides of a window. A head or head jamb is the vertical component that sits at the very top of the window frame. The window sash seats against it.
Jamb liner – A jamb liner is a strip that goes on the sides of a window frame that provides a snug fit for the window sash.
Leaf – A part of a side-hinged door system, glazed or unglazed, surrounded by a frame. Leaves can be fixed in place (inoperable) or moveable (operable).
Lift – A lift is a handle on a single- or double-hung window that is attached to the bottom of the lower sash to help open and shut the window. Not all windows have a lift.
Louvres – each of a set of angled slats fixed or hung at regular intervals in a door, shutter, or screen to allow air or light to pass through.
Mullion – A vertical bar between the panes of glass in a window.
Muntins for windows – Muntins are the actual bars that create a grid pattern in windows. They are permanently stuck to the interior and exterior of the window.
Office partition – Dividers made out of glass panels and aluminium frames used to divide modern open-plan office spaces.
Passive door – One or more hinged leaves or sliding door panels that are normally held inactive by latching or locking hardware, but can become active on the release of the latching or locking hardware.
Patio doors – Traditionally a large glass sliding door leading to a patio. Panels made from glass with aluminium frames. Slides horizontally to open and close. Runs on smooth-gliding adjustable rollers and is fully weather-sealed. Available in two or three panels with one panel always fixed.
Patio enclosure – An enclosure located in a backyard or pool area, that incorporates fencing or a solarium style design with a glass and aluminium overhang or roof, or a partially covered enclosure that allows for light to enter but keeps some portions of the enclosure in shade. A sunroom installed over an exterior surface such as a deck or patio slab.
Powder coated – Covering aluminium with a polyester or epoxy powder, which is then heated to fuse into a protective layer.
Projected windows – A window fitted with one or more sashes opening on pivoted arms or hinges that project away from the wall. Refers to casements, awnings, and hoppers.
Rail – A rail is the horizontal component that runs at the bottom of the lower sash and the top of the upper sash.
Recycled aluminium – Is the process by which scrap aluminium can be reused in products after its initial production. The process involves simply re-melting the metal, which is far less expensive and energy-intensive than creating new aluminium
Retrofit windows – A replacement window designed to be installed over a pre-existing window frame.
R-value – A measure of the resistance of a glazing material or fenestration assembly to heat flow. It is the inverse of the U-factor (R = 1/U) and is expressed in units of hr-sq ft.-°F/Btu. A high R-value window has a greater resistance to heat flow and a higher insulating value than one with a low R-value.
Sash (lower and upper sash) – A sash is the part of the window unit inside yet separate from the frame. It is the part of the window you open and shut or it can also remain stationary. On a typical single-hung window, the lower or bottom sash is the one that can be opened or shut while the upper sash on a single-hung window doesn’t move. On a double hung window, you can have two sashes that are functional. The sash consists of the styles, rails, bars, and muntins.
Sash lock – A sash lock is the locking device which interacts with the sash to keep the window from rattling. In a double-hung window, it fixes both sashes to a locked position.
Screen – The principal objective of screening louvres is to limit visibility by obstructing line of sight from certain vantage points. This is achieved by virtue of its design or orientation. Generally each run of louvre has a continuous appearance to blend in with the building.
Shopfront – A storefront or shopfront is the facade or entryway of a retail store located on the ground floor or street level of a commercial building, typically including one or more display windows. A storefront functions to attract visual attention to a business and its merchandise.
Side hung windows – Windows that are hinged on the side and open towards the outside.
Skylight – A roof window that gives light and ventilation.
Sliding glass door – A door fitted with one or more panels that move horizontally on a track and / or in grooves. Moving action is usually of rolling type (rather than sliding type). Also called gliding door, rolling glass door, and patio sliding door.
Sliding windows – Windows that are designed for spaces that do not want windows projecting from the wall. The window is designed to have one or two window sashes sliding horizontally within the frame.
Spacer – A material, (aluminium, stainless steel, foam or thermoplastic) separating two panes of glass in an insulating glass panel.
Stacked – Two or more windows arranged vertically.
Stile – While rails are the components that run horizontally at the top and bottom of a sash, stiles are the components that run vertically on the sides of a sash.
Stool – The window stool is the part of the window commonly called the window sill. However, a stool and a sill are two different things. The sill of the window is the bottom horizontal portion of the window. The stool is the more visible piece of wood, metal or stone attached to the window sill that you might sit your plants on.
Storm door – An additional, non-thermal door placed in front of an exterior door for additional protection for weather elements.
Storm window – A second window placed inside or outside of a window to protect against bad weather and to offer increased insulation.
Structural integrity – A structure’s uncompromised ability to safely resist the required loads.
Sustainable design – Also called environmental design, environmentally sustainable design, environmentally conscious design, etc., is the philosophy of designing physical objects and services to comply with the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability.
Top hung windows – Aluminium top hung windows are constructed using an outer frame and a hinged “sash”. In a top hung window the hinge is on the top of the outer frame, thereby allowing the bottom to swing out secured by high quality steel friction stays.
U values – Thermal transmittance is the rate of transfer of heat through matter. The thermal transmittance of a material or an assembly is expressed as a U-value. Although the concept of U-value is universal, U-values can be expressed in different units.
View window – A large window usually in the front of a store for the display of merchandise.
Weather stripping – Weather stripping is a strip of resilient material designed to seal the sash and frame members in order to reduce air and water infiltration.
Weatherseal – Also weather stripping, is a strip of material that covers the joint of a door or window and the sill, casing, or threshold so as to exclude rain, snow, and cold air.
Weep hole – The individual openings provided in the window sill that allow water or condensation to escape.
Window apron – An apron is a decorative trim installed against the wall immediately beneath the stool of a window. It accentuates the look of the window inside the house; almost like a piece of moulding.
Window frame – The framework that surrounds and supports the entire window system – comprising the head, jamb and sill. It is what makes up the perimeter of the window.
Wind load – the force on a structure arising from the impact of wind on it.
Window pane – A window pane is the plate of glass that fills the sash. When you hear the terms single-pane, double-pane, triple-pane, or even quadruple-pane, it refers to how many plates of glass are built into the window for added insulation. You will also hear these terms interchanged with double-glazed, triple-glazed, or quadruple-glazed. Just know those terms mean the same thing.
Window sill – A window sill is the horizontal component forming the bottom of a window frame in the interior of the house or building.
We hope you have found this information useful, and trust it will help you make your decisions with more clarity and confidence. You can learn more about architectural aluminium fixtures by clicking on these links below.