8 Terms Your Lead Architect Thinks You Should Know

terms Oct 15, 2020


You make it through architectural school and land a job in a firm (congrats!), but that means your boss now thinks you know all these terms that you kind of know but don’t really know.

So we’ve put together this list of 8 terms your lead architect thinks you should know, so that you don’t have to keep guessing literally each time you hear one. (You’re welcome.)


1.     Glazing

Unfortunately, not related to donuts. But that’s okay.

When you hear glazing, think a pane of glass.


2.     Fire-rated

Means something has passed testing that says it won’t burn down immediately.

Fire rating is a code requirement, which you want to uphold so that people aren’t hurt and you aren’t sued. (Win-win.)

Just make sure the fire-rated product you’re considering is sturdy enough for the demands of the project.


3.     Control joint

Imagine a wall with a crack running haphazardly across. A mess.

Now imagine intentionally cutting a clean notch which prevents haphazard cracks.

That notch is a control joint.


4.    Waterproofing

Not necessarily hard to imagine what it does. But what exactly is it?

The word waterproofing is usually thinking of either a rubber-like sheet or a liquid that eventually cures. In both cases, waterproofing is a layer that goes over a substrate and under a main surface such as flooring.


5.    Substrate

Yes, the word we just used and didn’t define. (See, we’re looking out for you.)

A substrate is basically a layer that something is applied to or installed into.

Anything from paint to screws to entire flooring systems need a substrate.


6.    Stucco

Pretty much a synonym for plaster.

(Okay, but what’s plaster?)

It’s a dense paste made by mixing finely ground rock (like sand), a binding material (like cement), and water. Then the stucco or plaster is troweled onto a metal mesh called a lath and dries to become a hard surface.


7.    CMU

Stands for concrete masonry unit. You’ll see this one everywhere.

A CMU is a block of concrete that’s mortared and stacked up with other CMUs to make a wall.


8.    Thermoplastic

Maybe not mentioned on the regular, but still scientific-sounding enough for confusion.

Something is thermoplastic if it can be heated to the point of pliability, cooled to the point of setting, and if this process can be repeated several times.

Shampoo bottles and TPO roofing membranes are both thermoplastics.


Yes, there’s a comically large number of terms to learn out there, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either. So keep it up!