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Maintain Your Church - Church terms
Category: Architecture and Buildings > Church building maintenance
Date & country: 16/01/2008, UK
Words: 293

Polycarbonate sheet
Clear plastic sheet, sometimes used to protect stained or leaded-glass windows. Not an ideal solution, as it can accelerate the decay of the lead cames and painted decoration, unless properly ventilated. Related Words: Cames; Leaded glass; Stained glass

Polychrome, polychromy
A term used to describe a building constructed of stone or brick of more than one colour, especially when the colours are used to decorative effect.

Poppy head
In a crocketted feature (door or window opening, pinnacle or gable), the carved decoration at the top of the feature. Related Words: Crockets; Gable, gabled; Pinnacle

In classical architecture, a projection from the body of a building consisting of a row of columns supporting an entablature and often a pediment. Related Words: Classical; Column; Entablature; Pediment

Portland cement
See cement. Related Words: Cement, cementitious

Glazier's putty is a mixture of whiting (crushed chalk) with linseed oil, used to fix glass panes into a window frame. Lime putty is the product of slaking quicklime, after storing it under water for some time. Related Words: Lime mortar, render, limewashing

Quantity surveyor
A building professional who can take an architect's drawings and specification, determine the quantities of materials needed to complete a building, and assess the cost of the materials and work needed to finish the building.

In describing windows, quarries are small rectangular or diamond-shaped panes of obscure glass, set in cames to form a whole window, or part of a window. Related Words: Cames

Quinquennial inspection
An inspection of a building made by an architect or building surveyor, every five years, to specify repairs needed, and to recommend the degree of urgency of particular work. Related Words: Architect; Building surveyor

The stones at the corners of a building. In Georgian buildings they are often emphasised by making them project from the wall face, and chamfering all their exposed edges, except the corner itself. This treatment is a form of rustication. Related Words: Chamfer; Georgian; Rustication

One of the supports of a roof, running from the ridge to a wallhead in a gabled roof, and from the ridges to the wallhead in a hipped roof. The principal rafters are the sloping members at the outer edges of the roof trusses. They support horizontal members known as purlins, which in turn provide support for the common rafters. The sarking or batte …

Rainwater goods
A generic name for all the components of a rainwater disposal system - gutters, hoppers, swan-necks, downpipes, drainpipe shoes, and gullies, and their fittings. Related Words: Down pipe; Drainpipe shoe; Gully; Gutter ; Hopper head; Internal downpipe

Reconstituted stone
A building block made of fragments of ground-up natural stone, held together with cement. In some cases only the outer face of the block is made in this way, the remainder being concrete.

Reinforced concrete
See Concrete Related Words: Concrete

A continuous coating applied to masonry, brickwork or blockwork, either for protection, or for cosmetic reasons. The commonest types of render are smooth (sometimes marked to resemble stone), harling and drydash. All three types can be made with lime or cement as a binding material. Generally speaking lime renders are to be preferred to cement ones …

Retaining wall
A wall built to hold back earth, either to secure a raised site, or to prevent material falling on to a site from above.

The sides of a window or door opening

A semicircular-section gutter running along the edge of a roof, used to collect rainwater. Connected to downpipes to convey the water to ground level. Related Words: Down pipe; Gutter

Ridge, ridging
The line at which two roof-slopes (skews) meet at the highest point. Ridging is the material used to cover a ridge, though some sloping ridges have no cover. Ridging may be made of lead, aluminium, zinc, cast-iron, terra-cotta, fireclay, or stone. Sometimes ornamental details are incorporated in ridging material. Related Words: Aluminium; Cast iron …

Rising main
Main cold-water pipe rising up through a building to a water tank

See bull-nosed Related Words: Bullnosed

A style of architecture characterised by the use of round arches for window and doorheads, and for vaults. Early Romanesque buildings date from the 12th and early 13th centuries, and the style was revived in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Related Words: Arch

A building trade term for a person or firm specialising in roof repairs and construction.

Rose window
A circular window with divisions radiating from the centre. In Scotland commonly a feature associated with United Presbyterian churches. See also wheel window. Related Words: Wheel window

Rosemary tiles
Small red or pink clay tiles used for roofing. They have projections on one edge which can be hung on battens fastened to the rafters. Sometimes referred to as plain tiles. Related Words: Batten; Rafter

Round, in the
Used of sculpture in which the subject is carved as a fully solid object, not attached at the rear to a background.

Rubble, ruble
A term used to describe all masonry which is not finely-jointed and laid in regular courses (Ashlar). Commonly encountered types of rubble are coursed, random, and snecked. In coursed and snecked rubble the stones are dressed square, and in random rubble the stones are more irregular, the spaces between them being filled with small stones known as …

A term used in classical architecture to describe the emphasis of regular masonry by forming the edges of individual stones. In 18th century buildings the quoins are frequently emphasised by chamfering. The lower parts of classical buildings often have the horizontal joints channelled. There are numerous other ways of applying rustication, too comp …

A stone forming part of the side of a window or door opening.

Sacrificial flashing
Lead flashing at the foot of a slate slope where it meets a lead roof or gutter, to take the wear of the water running off the roof Related Words: Gutter ; Lead

Saddle bar
A horizontal metal bar set across a window opening filled with stained or leaded glass. Copper wires soldered to the cames are used to tie the window to the bar, thus supporting the leadwork of the window. Related Words: Cames; Copper; Leaded glass; Stained glass

Saddleback tower
A tower which terminates in a small pitched roof. Related Words: Pitched roof

A common type of building stone. Most sandstones are 'freestones', that is, they can be cut into blocks without any very obvious grain. Some sandstones are soft, and decay rapidly, others can be very hard. Cream-coloured sandstones were formed under water, and many of the red sandstones show evidence of having been formed of windblown material. Whe …

In Scottish slated roof construction, the timber boarding to which the slates are nailed.

Sash and case window
The commonest form of 'traditional' window in Scotland, in which two sections of glazing are mounted into frames (sashes) which can slide past each other in a case. The weight of each sash is counterbalanced by a weight (sash weight, linked to it by a cord running over a pulley, so that when opened the sashes stay in place. Each sash weight runs up …

Services engineer
See Mechanical and Electrical Engineer. Related Words: Mechanical and electrical engineer

Skew, skewput
The term skew has two meanings in the building trades: 1. One slope (pitch) of a roof, and 2. The upper edge of one side of a gable, especially the top, sloping course of an exposed gable head. A skewput is the bottom stone of a skew. In late-18th and early-19th century churches the skewputs are sometimes made with carved scrolls, or simply rounded …

The spreading of mortar over the face of a wall, adjacent to the joints in the masonry. In a wall made of hard, non-porous stone, slaistering with lime mortar can help rainwater to evaporate, rather than penetrating to the inner face of the wall. Related Words: Joint; Lime mortar, render, limewashing; Masonry; Mortar

A building trades craftsman or firm specialising in the repair and construction of slate roofs. Not all roofers are skilled in slating, and vice versa. Related Words: Roofer

Slate is a rock formed by subjecting fine soil to heat and pressure. It can be split into fairly thin layers. There were historically many kinds and colours of slates used for roofing churches. The commonest were West Highland, or Scotch slates, from Argyll, bluish grey in colour, and Welsh slates, thinner, and usually grey or purplish. Greenish sl …

Snecked rubble is a form of wall construction in which squared and often finely-dressed stones are laid in an irregular manner. The coursing is broken up by smaller stones called snecks. The surface of stones in a snecked-rubble wall is often stugged.

A projecting board mounted along the line of a roof skew so as to slow down snow sliding down the skew. Related Words: Skew, skewput

Where there is no main drainage, rainwater from a roof can be channelled into a hole filled with coarse gravel, from which the water can gradually soak into the surrounding soil. This is known as a Soakaway.

The underside of an arch or door or window opening.

Soil pipe
A vertical pipe linking a water-closet or urinal into a sewer. It will extend above the eaves of the building, and have an open top, sometimes with a ventilating cap.

In law, the solum of a building is the area it covers, measured from the outer edges of its foundations. It is sometimes used to describe the damp-proofing of the surface of the ground under the floor of a building

Used to describe the decay of stone, concrete or brick by the splitting off of layers of material. In reinforced concrete this is usually due to the rusting of reinforcement. In brick it is often due to frost. Related Words: Brick; Concrete

The roughly triangular space between arches, or between an arch, its abutment, and a built edge above. Related Words: Abutment; Arch

Spire, spirelet
A pyramidal extension from a tower, usually four or eight-sided. A spirelet is a small spire.

Stained glass
Panels made of glass of different colours to which painted decoration has been applied. The pieces of glass are joined together by cames. The lines of the lead cames are known as lead lines. If the glass is not painted, the panel is said to be made of leaded glass. Related Words: Cames; Lead; Leaded glass

Stainless steel
See steel.

A form of iron containing a small proportion of carbon and other elements. The carbon hardens and toughens the material, which is widely used in structural engineering. Steel is also used to make gates and railings, corrugated 'iron', nails, protective grilles, and in plastic-coated form is used as a roof covering. Stainless steel is an alloy of ir …

Often used as an equivalent term to spire, but also specifically used as part of the term 'crown steeple', and to refer to the classically-inspired vertical features built from the mid-18th to the mid-19th century. Related Words: Classical; Crown steeple; Spire, spirelet

Stone slab roof
A way of protecting the top of a vaulted roof. Carefully-cut slabs of stone are laid so that alternate sloping courses overlap each other, and the slabs in each course also overlap each other, as in a slate or tile roof. Related Words: Slates

Stone slate roof
A roof covered with split stone, laid as for true slate. Stone slates are thicker than true slates Related Words: Slates

String course
A band of stone or brick which projects from the face of a wall. String courses may be stepped up and down. They may be plain or moulded. They can be purely decorative, but can also help to shed water from the face of the wall.

Structural engineer
An engineer whose responsibility is to calculate or assess the strength and stability of building structures, working alongside architects. Related Words: Architect

Used to describe a flat stone surface which has had regularly-spaced small indentations made on it.

As the term suggests, a roof covering an offshoot from the main body of a building.

Swan neck
An angled section of pipe, usually linking a rhone to a downpipe. Related Words: Down pipe; Rainwater goods; Rhone

Tabernacle (tin)
A name given to a corrugated-iron clad church building. The word tabernacle is also used in Catholic churches for a chamber with a door, used for the Reservation of the Host.

The coating of a section of a wall with an impervious material to prevent water penetrating it.

Terne coated steel
Steel coated with an alloy of tin and lead, used as a roofing material. Related Words: Lead; Steel

Terra cotta
Used of fired clay pieces with a fine red surface, made at a high temperature so that they are dense and impervious to water. In church buildings terra cotta ware would be most commonly used for roof ridging and finials. Related Words: Ridge, ridging

Tiles are pieces of roofing material, regular in size and shape so as to allow a roof to be covered evenly and rapidly. Tiles may be made of fired clay or of concrete. Clay tiles may be flat (rosemary tiles), of an S-shaped section (pantiles), or of some special section. They are usually fixed on battens. Concrete tiles may be flat, and diamond-sha …

Toughened glass
Glass treated to be resistant to impact. It is designed to break up into tiny fragments, rather than to splinter.

The pattern of stone, wood or iron strips used to subdivide a large window opening into smaller sections. Tracery is used to describe the pattern of major subdivisions of a window.

A projection from the main body of a church. In a fully-developed Latin cross-plan church there are two transepts ('north and south') forming the arms of the cross. In some buildings intended to be cruciform the long nave was never built. In many post-Reformation churches the 'transepts' are projections built primarily to house side galleries. Rela …

A cross-member in the subdivision of a window opening.

A wooden or metal flat frame, usually made of triangular elements. In church building a series of trusses, with rafters and purlins, forms the supporting structure of the roof. Related Words: Rafter

The masonry or brickwork inside a pediment, or the head of an arch, sometimes filled with sculpture. Related Words: Arch; Pediment

An extension of a part of a wall above the edge of the roof. A flat roof will frequently have upstands round its edge.

Ultra-high-density polyvinyl chloride, a rigid plastic material (polymer) with sufficient strength and weather resistance to be used for external building work. The main applications of uPVC are in window and door construction, in forming fascias, and in the making of rainwater goods. Related Words: Fascia; Rainwater goods

In architecture, an urn-shaped solid object, usually fixed to a wall-head, or to a gable at its apex or at a skewput, to give a richness to a building. Related Words: Gable, gabled; Skew, skewput

Valley, valley gutter
A valley is the term used to describe where two roofs meet at the lower line, either on a slope, or horizontally. The line of intersection is a weak point in any roof system, and potentially a point where water can penetrate the building. Valley gutters are often formed in lead. They need regular monitoring. They should be kept clear of leaves and …

An arched cover for an enclosed space. The simplest form of vault is supported on each side by a continuous wall, and is known as a barrel vault. Most barrel vaults are round-arched, but a few are pointed-arched. In more complex vaults there is a framework of dressed-stone ribs, acting as a frame, with rubble filling the spaces between the ribs. So …

In building conservation terms, plants growing, in an unintended way, on a building. Seeds carried by the wind, or by birds, can germinate in small pockets of soil in gutters, in open joints, or in valleys. Their growth can often damage masonry directly, or allow water to penetrate a building. Moss on slate or tile roofs can encourage rot in sarkin …

Venetian window
Actually three windows, a taller round-headed window, flanked by shorter flat-headed ones. Sometimes the outer windows are blind

A window or ventilating opening with curved sides, meeting at a sharp point at the top and bottom.

Wooden panelling lining the lower part of an internal wall.

Wall plate
A beam, usually of timber, resting on a wallhead, on which the lower ends of the roof-trusses rest Related Words: Truss

Wall ties
In a cavity wall, the metal strips which link the inner and outer walls Related Words: Cavity wall

The top of a masonry wall. On the inside this can sometimes be seen from the roofspace. Related Words: Masonry

Water gate
A channel, usually lead-lined formed between a skew and the roofing material (slate etc). Related Words: Lead; Skew, skewput; Slates

A wire lattice in which the horizontal and vertical wires are welded together where the meet. Weldmesh can be powder-coated with resin, and used to provide almost invisible protection to stained and leaded glass windows. Related Words: Leaded glass; Stained glass

Wet dash
As opposed to dry dash, a render in which the particles of aggregate are covered in the binding material, with the mixture dashed on to the wall surface. Related Words: Aggregate; Dry dash; Render

Wet rot
A fungal infection of timber which results in the decay of its cohesive structure. As the term suggests, wet rot needs, to flourish, a continuous and copious supply of water. It is generally more localised than dry rot.

Wheel window
A circular window with the glazed area divided into segments by radiating 'spokes'. Almost the same as a rose window Related Words: Rose window

A hard stone, formed by molten or semi-molten volcanic rock welling up through the surface rock. Whinstone is usually dark in colour, and cannot be dressed to a fine finish. When used in church buildings it is usually set in a framework of sandstone dressings. Related Words: Sandstone

Window protection
Material used to protect windows from damage, by wind and by vandalism. The materials used are very varied, but fall into two classes: grilles and sheet materials. From a conservation point of view, grilles are generally to be preferred.

Part of a building subsidiary to its main body.Related Words: Aisle

Wrought iron
A form of iron containing little carbon, but having then layers of slag between fibres of metallic iron. It is resistant to corrosion, and is tough, rather than brittle. Used to make gates, railings, ironmongery and nails. Common in buildings built before the 1930s, but now difficult to obtain, and expensive.Related Words: Ironmongery

A softish grey metal, used in three ways in church buildings: 1. in pure sheet form to make ridging for slate roofs, or as a roof covering in its own right. 2. In pure rolled sections, to make glazing bars for small-paned glazing. 3. As a coating - galvanising - for wrought-iron or steel, Typical applications are to coat 'corrugated iron', gates …