Window and Door Terminology

Some terms that every home owner should be aware of when deciding to purchase new or replacement windows or doors for their home.

  • Air Chambers

    Small honeycomb spaces within the sash and frame which help to insulate and strengthen the window
  • Air Infiltration

    The amount of air that passes between a window sash and frame. In windows it is measured in terms of cubic feet or air per minute, per square foot of area. The lower the number, the less air the window lets pass through.
  • Air Latch

    Latch mechanism on the interior face of the sash that retains the window in a partially open position for ventilation.
  • Angled Exterior

    A sloped extension from the frame that adds an aesthetically-pleasing dimension to the exterior of the window.
  • Argon Gas

    Argon is a safe, odorless, colorless, non-toxic, non-flammable inert gas that is commonly used in place of air between the glass panes of an insulated Low-E glass unit to reduce temperature transfer.
  • Astragal

    The center member of a double door, which is attached to the fixed or inactive door panel.
  • Awning Window

    A window unit in which the bottom of the sash swings outward for ventilation.
  • Balance System

    Device for holding vertically sliding sash in any desired position through the use of a spring or weight to counterbalance the weight of the sash.
  • Bay Window

    A composite of three windows, usually made up of a large center fixed unit and two flanking units at 30, 45 or 90 degree angles to the wall.
  • Beveled Exterior

    An angled extension from the frame that adds an aesthetically-pleasing dimension to the exterior of the window.
  • Block Frame Window

    Used when replacing the wood sash of an old double hung wood window.
  • Bow Window

    A composite of four or more window units in a radial or bow formation.
  • Brickmold

    A type of external casing which frames windows and doors.
  • Butyl

    A rubber material that seals the glass to the spacer, creating an airtight and watertight IG unit. Butyl has the lowest gas permeability of all rubbers.
  • Cam Lock and Keeper

    The mechanisms which pull the sash together when placed in the locked position.
  • Casement Window

    A window unit in which the single sash cranks outward, to the right or left.
  • Casing

    Molding of various widths, thickness and shapes applied to the framework of window and door units.
  • Check Rail

    On a double-hung window, the bottom rail of the upper sash and the upper rail of the lower sash, where the lock is mounted.
  • Circlehead

    A generic term referring to any of a variety of window units with one or more curved frame members, often used over another window or door opening.
  • Cladding

    Any material locked to the outside faces of doors and windows to provide a durable, low-maintenance exterior surface.
  • Clerestory Window

    A venting or fixed window above other windows or doors on an upper outside wall of a room.
  • Condensation Resistance Factor

    A measure of the effectiveness of a window or glazing system to reduce the potential for condensation. The higher the condensation resistance factor, the more efficient the window and glazing system.
  • Conduction

    Energy transfer from one material to another by direct contact.
  • Convection

    Heat transfer by currents that flow from a warm surface to a colder one.
  • Dormer

    A space which protrudes from the roof of a house, usually including one or more windows.
  • Double-hung window

    A window unit that has two operable sashes which move vertically in the frame.
  • Drip cap

    A molding placed on the top of the head brickmold or casing of a window frame.
  • Double or dual glazing

    Use of two panes of glass in a window to increase energy efficiency and provide other performance benefits.
  • Extrusion

    A form produced by forcing material through a die. Most window frames are clad with extruded vinyl or aluminum.
  • Fenestration

    An architectural term referring to the arrangement of windows in a wall. From the Latin word, "fenestra," meaning window.
  • Fixed window

    Non-venting or non-operable window. Also known as picture window.
  • Flashing

    A thin strip of metal or synthetic material that diverts water away from a window or skylight.
  • Flush Fin

    A replacement window with flush fin is used when replacing an existing aluminum sliding window. This is the most commonly used replacement window type.
  • Foam Spacer

    Foam material placed in the airspace of the insulating glass in a window to enhance the appearance and improve the performance of the window.
  • Frame

    The enclosure in which window sash or door panels are mounted.
  • French hinged door

    Hinged door(s) which have wider panel members around the glass.
  • French sliding door

    A sliding door which has wider panel members around the glass, giving the appearance of a French hinged door.
  • Glazing

    Glass in a window or door; the act or process of fitting with glass.
  • Glazing bead

    A plastic or wood strip applied to the window sash around the perimeter of the glass.
  • Glazing stop

    The part of the sash or door panel which holds the glass in place.
  • Grille

    A term referring to windowpane dividers or muntins, usually a type of assembly which may be detached for cleaning.
  • Insulating glass

    A combination of two or more panes of glass with a hermetically sealed air space between the panes of glass. This space may or may not be filled with an inert gas, such as argon.
  • Jamb

    The main vertical members forming the sides of a window or door frame.
  • Jamb liner

    In a modern double-hung window, the track installed inside the jambs on which the window sashes slide.
  • Knocked down

    Unassembled window or door unit.
  • Lift

    A handle or grip installed on the bottom rail of the lower sash of a double-hung window to make it easier to raise or lower the sash.
  • Low-E glass

    A common term used to refer to glass which has low emissivity due to a film or metallic coating on the glass or suspended between the two lights of glass to restrict the passage of radiant heat.
  • Masonry opening

    The space in a masonry wall left open for windows or door.
  • Mortise

    A slot or rectangular cavity cut into a piece of wood to receive another part.
  • Mortise-and-tenon

    A strong wood joint made by fitting together a mortise in one board and a matching projecting member (tenon) in the other.
  • Mullion

    A wood or metal part used to structurally join two window or door units.
  • Nail-on

    Windows with nail-on frames are for new construction.
  • Panel

    Usually refers to the separate panel or panels in a door frame.
  • Picture Window

    Non-venting or non-operable window. Also know as a fixed window.
  • Rail

    The top and bottom horizontal members of the framework of a window sash.
  • Pane

    A framed sheet of glass within a window.
  • Window Sash

    A single assembly of stiles and rails made into a frame for holding glass.
  • Sash balance

    A system of weights, cords and/or coiled springs which assist in raising double-hung sash and tend to keep the sash in any placed position by counterbalancing the weight of the sash.
  • Sash cord

    In double-hung windows, the rope or chain which attaches the sash to the counter balance.
  • Sash lift

    A protruding handle screwed to the inside bottom rail of the lower sash on a double-hung window.
  • Sash weights

    In older double-hung windows, the concealed cast-iron weights which are used to counterbalance the sash.
  • Seat board

    A flat board cut to fit the contour of a bow or bay window and installed between the sills and the flat wall surface, providing a seat or shelf space.
  • Shims

    Wood wedges (often wood shingles) used to secure the window or door unit in the rough or masonry opening in a square, level and plumb position during and after installation.
  • Sidelights

    Narrow fixed units mulled or joined to door units to give a more open appearance.
  • Sill

    The main horizontal member forming the bottom of the frame of a window or door.
  • Simulated divided light

    A method of constructing windows in which muntins are affixed to the inside and outside of a panel of insulating glass to simulate the look of true divided light.
  • Single glazing

    Use of single panes of glass in a window. Not as energy-efficient as double glazing.
  • Single-hung Window

    A double-hung type of window in which the top sash is fixed or inoperable.
  • Stile

    The main vertical members of the framework of a sash.
  • Stool

    An interior trim piece on a window which extends the sill and acts as a narrow shelf.
  • Stop

    A molding used to hold, position or separate window parts.
  • Tempered glass

    Glass manufactured to withstand greater than normal forces on its surface. When it breaks, it shatters into small pieces to reduce hazard. Standard on all doors and large fixed windows.
  • Thermal break

    The addition of a thermal insulating material between two thermally conductive materials.
  • Transom

    A small window that fits over the top of a door or window, primarily for additional light and aesthetic value.
  • True Divided Light

    A term which refers to windows in which multiple individual panes of glass or lights are assembled in the sash using muntins.
  • U Value

    Rate of heat flow-value through the complete heat barrier, from room air to outside air. The lower the U-value, the better the insulating value.
  • Unison lock

    A casement locking system which secures the window at two locking points by operation of one handle.
  • Vapor Barrier

    A watertight material used to prevent the passage of moisture into or through floors, walls and ceilings.
  • Vent Unit/ End Vent

    A window or door unit that opens or operates.