Glossary: S


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TermDefinition
SabinMeasure of sound absorption of a surface, equivalent to 1 sq. ft. of a perfectly absorptive surface.
SaddleA ridge in a roof deck that divides two sloping parts, diverting water toward roof drains.
SafingFire stop material in the space between floor slab and curtain wall in multi-story construction.
Safing OffInstallation of fire safety insulation around floor perimeters, between floor slab and spandrel panels. Insulation helps retain integrity of fire resistance ratings.
SandstoneA sedimentary rock formed from sand.
Sanitary SewageWaste material containing human excrement and other liquid wastes.
Sanitary SewerA sewer that receives sanitary sewage without the infusion of other water such as rain, surface water, or other clear water drainage.
SapwoodThe wood near the outside of the log just under the bark.
SBCCISouthern Building Code Congress International, nonprofit organization that publishes the Standard Building Code.
ScabSmall piece or block of wood that bridges several members or provides a connection or fastening between them.
Scratch CoatThe first coat of gypsum plaster that is applied to the lath.
ScreedA tool used to strike off the surface of freshly poured concrete so it is flush with the top of the form.
ScreedingThe process of striking off the surface of freshly poured concrete with a screed so it is flush with the top of the form.
ScupperAn outlet in a parapet wall for the drainage of overflow water from the roof to the outside of a building.
ScuttleAn opening through the ceiling and roof to provide access to the roof. It is covered with a waterproof cover. Also referred to as a roof hatch.
SealantA mastic used to seal joints and seams.
SealerA material used to seal the surface of a material against moisture.
SeasoningRemoving moisture from green wood.
Seated ConnectionsConnections that join structural steel members with metal connectors, such as an angle upon which one member, such as a beam, rests.
Section Modulus (S)Numerical relationship, expressed in in.3, of the resistance to stress of a member. It is equal to the moment of inertia divided by the perpendicular distance from the neutral axis to the extremity of the member.
Security GlassGlass panels assembled with multiple layers of glass and plastic to produce a panel that will resist impact.
Sedimentary RockRock formed from the deposit of sedimentary materials on the bottom of a body of water or on the surface of the earth.
SegregationThe tendency of large aggregate to separate from the sand-cement mortar in the concrete mix.
Seismic AreaA geographic area where earthquake activity may occur.
Seismic LoadForces produced on a structural mass by the movements caused by an earthquake.
SemitransparentCoatings that allow some of the texture and color of the substrate to show through.
Sensible HeatHeat that causes a detectable change in temperature.
Septic TankA watertight tank into which sewage is run and where it remains for a period of time to permit hydrolysis and gasification of the contents, which then flow from the tank and are absorbed in the soil.
Service EntranceThe point at which power is supplied to a building and where electrical service equipment, such as the service switch, meter overcurrent devices, and raceways, are located.
Service EquipmentThe equipment needed to control and cut off the power supply to a building, such as switches and circuit breakers.
Service TemperatureThe maximum temperature at which a plastic can be used without altering its properties.
ShadowingAn undesirable condition where the joint finish shows through the surface decoration.
Shaft WallFire-resistant wall that isolates the elevator, stairwell and vertical mechanical chase in high-rise construction. This wall must withstand the fluctuating (positive and negative) air-pressure loads created by elevators or air distribution systems.
ShalesClays that have been subjected to high pressures, causing them to become relatively hard.
shared-party-wallA wall built on the dividing line between two adjoining parcels, in which each owner has an equal share of ownership.
ShearForce that tends to slide or rupture one part of a body from another part of the body or from attached objects.
Shear PanelA floor, wall, or roof designed to serve as a deep beam to assist in stabilizing a building against deformation by lateral forces.
Shear Plate ConnectorA circular metal connector recessed into a wood member that is to be bolted to a steel member.
Shear StressThe result of forces acting parallel to an area but in opposite directions, causing one portion of the material to “slide” past another.
Shear StudsMetal studs welded to a steel frame that protrude up in the cast-in-place concrete deck.
SheathingPlywood, gypsum, wood fiber, expanded plastic or composition boards encasing walls, ceilings, floors and roofs of framed buildings. May be structural or non-structural, thermal-insulating or non-insulating, fire-resistant or combustible.
SheaveA pully over which the elevator wire hoisting rope runs.
SheetingWood, metal, or concrete members used to hold up the face of an excavation.
SHEETROCKLeading brand of gypsum panel for interior wall and ceiling surfaces, developed and improved by United States Gypsum Company. There is only one SHEETROCK brand Gypsum Panel.
Shop DrawingsRelated to steel construction, working drawings giving the information needed to fabricate structural steel members.
ShoringTemporary member placed to support part of a building during construction, repair or alteration; also may support the walls of an excavation.
Shrinkage LimitRelated to soils, the water content at which the soil volume is at its minimum.
Siamese ConnectionA connection outside a building to which firefighters connect an alternate water supply to boost the water used by the fire suppression system.
SillHorizontal member at the bottom of a door or window frames to provide support and closure.
Sill PlateHorizontal member laid directly on a foundation on which the framework of a building is erected.
SiltFine sand with particles smaller than 0.002 inches (0.05 mm) and larger than 0.00008 inches (0.002 mm).
Single-Ply RoofingA roofing membrane composed of a sheet of water-proof material secured to the roof deck.
SinteringA process that fuses iron-ore dust with coke and fluxes into a clinker.
Site InvestigationAn investigation and testing of the surface and subsoil of the site to record information needed to design the foundation and the structure.
Site PlanA drawing of a construction site, showing the location of the building, contours of the land, and other features.
Site-Cast ConcreteConcrete poured and cured in its final position.
SkylightA roof opening that is covered with a watertight transparent cover.
SlabFlat (although sometimes ribbed on the underside) reinforced concrete element of a building that provides the base for the floor or roofing materials.
Slab-On-GradeA concrete slab poured and hardened directly on the surface of the earth.
SlagA molten mass composed of fluxes and impurities removed from iron ore in the furnace.
SlakeThe process of adding water to quicklime, hydrating it and forming lime putty.
Slip FormA form designed to move upward as concrete is poured in it.
SlumpA measure of the consistency of freshly mixed concrete, mortar, or stucco.
Slump TestA test to ascertain the slum of concrete samples.
SlurryA liquid mixture of water, bentonite clay, or Portland cement.
Slurry WallA wall built of a slurry used to hold up the sides of an area to be excavated.
SmeltingA process in which iron ore is heated, separating the iron from the impurities.
Smoke BarriersContinuous membranes used to resist the passage of smoke.
Smoke Developed RatingA relative numerical classification of the fumes developed by a burning material.
SoffitUndersurface of a projection or opening; bottom of a cornice between the fascia board and the outside of the building; underside of a stair, floor or lintel.
Soft-Mud ProcessA process used to make bricks when the clay contains moisture in excess of 15 percent.
SoftwoodA botanical group of trees that have needles and are evergreen.
Soil AnchorsMetal shafts grouted into holes drilled into the sides of an excavation to stabilize it.
Soil StackA vertical plumbing pipe into which waste flows through waste pipes from each fixture.
Soil VentThat portion of a soil stack above the highest fixture waste connection to it.
Solar EnergyRadiant energy originating form the sun.
Solar ScreenA device used to divert solar energy form windows.
Sole PlateSee Plate.
Solid Clay MasonryA unit whose core does not exceed 15 percent of the gross cross-sectional area of the unit.
SolventsLiquids used in paint and other finishing materials that give the coating workability and that evaporate, permitting the finish material to harden.
Sound AbsorptionConversion of acoustic or sound energy to another form of energy, usually heat.
Sound Insulation, IsolationUse of building materials or constructions that will reduce or resist the transmission of sound.
Sound IntensityAmount of sound power per unit area.
Sound Pressure Level (SPL)Expressed in decibels, the SPL is 20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the sound pressure to a reference pressure of 20 micropascals. See Decibel.
Sound Transmission Class (STC)Single-number rating for evaluating the effectiveness of a construction in isolating audible airborne sound transmission across 16 frequencies. Higher numbers indicate more effectiveness. Tested per ASTM E90.
SpanDistance between supports, usually a beam or joist.
Span RatingNumber indicating the distance a sheet of plywood or other material can span between supports.
Spandrel BeamHorizontal member, spanning between exterior columns, that supports the floor or roof.
Spandrel WallExterior wall panel, usually between columns, that extends from the window opening on one floor to one on the next floor.
Special UnitsConcrete masonry units that are designed and made for a special use.
Specific AdhesionBonding dense materials using the attraction of unlike electrical charges.
Specific GravityThe ratio of the weight of one cubic foot of a material to the weight of one cubic foot of water.
SpecificationsA written document in which the scope of the work, materials to be used, installation procedures, and quality of workmanship are detailed.
Speed of SoundVaries with atmospheric pressure and temperature, but is the same at all frequencies. For most architectural work, the speed of sound should be taken as 1,130 ft./second.
SpireA tall pyramidal roof built upon a tower or steeple.
Split Ring ConnectorA ring-shaped metal insert placed in circular recesses cut in joining wood members that are held together with a bolt or lag screw.
Spoil BankAn area where soil from the excavation is stored.
Spread FoundationA foundation that distributes the load over a large area.
Spreading RateThe area over which a paint can be spread expressed in square feet per gallon.
SquareIn roofing, 100 square feet of roofing material.
StabilizersAdditives used to stabilize plastic by helping it resist heat, loss of strength, and the effect of radiation on the bonds between the molecular chains.
StainA solution of coloring matter in a vehicle used to enhance the grain of wood during the finishing operation.
Stained-Glass WindowA window made of small colored glass pieces joined with leaded canes.
Standing SeamThe vertical seam formed when two sheets of metal roofing are joined.
Static LoadsAny load that does not change in magnitude or position with time.
SteamWater in a vapor state.
Steam SeparatorA device used to remove moisture from steam after it flows from the boiler.
Steam TrapA device used to allow the passage of condensate while preventing the passage of steam.
SteelA malleable alloy of iron and a small carefully controlled carbon content.
Steep-Slope RoofsRoof with sufficient slope to permit rapid runoff of rain.
SteepleA towerlike ornamental construction, usually square or hexagonal, placed on the roof of a building and topped with a spire.
Stiff-Mud ProcessA process used to make bricks from clay that has 12 to 15 percent moisture.
StiffnessResistance to bending or flexing.
StileVertical outside member in a piece of mill work, as a door or sash.
StirrupHanger to support the end of the joist at the beam.
StoneRock selected or processed by shaping to size for building or other use.
StopStrip of wood fastened to the jambs and head of a door or window frame against which the door or window closes.
StrainUnit deformation in a body that results from stress.
Strain HardeningIncreasing the strength of a metal by cold-rolling.
Strand-Casting MachineA machine that casts molten steel into a continuous strand of metal that hardens and is cut into required lengths.
StressUnit resistance of a body to an outside force that tends to deform the body by tension, compression or shear.
Stress-Rated LumberLumber that has its modulus of elasticity determined by actual tests.
Stressed-Skin PanelsAn assembly with high-strength facing panels separated by wood spacing strips and bonded firmly to them.
StringerHeavy horizontal timber supporting other members of the frame in a wood or brick structure; a support also for steps.
Structural Clay Facing TileHollow clay units used in bearing and non-bearing walls that have cores exceeding 25 percent of the gross cross sectional area.
Structural Sandwich ConstructionA wood construction consisting of a high-strength facing material bonded to and acting integrally with a low-density core material.
Structure-borne SoundSound energy imparted directly to and transmitted by solid materials, such as building structures.
StrutSlender structural element that resists compressive forces acting lengthwise.
StuccoA Portland cement plaster used as the finish material on building exteriors.
StudVertical load-bearing or non-load bearing framing member.
SubfloorRough or structural floor placed directly on the floor joists or beams to which the finished floor is applied. As with resilient flooring, an underlayment may be required between subfloor and finished floor.
SubstrateUnderlying material to which a finish is applied or by which it is supported.
Suction RateThe weight of water absorbed when a brick is partially immersed in water for one minute expressed in grams per minute or ounces per minute.
Suction, Clay MasonryThe rate at which clay masonry units absorb moisture.
SuperplasticizerAn admixture used with concrete to make the wet concrete very fluid without adding additional water.
Supply AirConditioned air entering a space from a heating, ventilating, or air-conditioning (HVAC) unit.
Surface Burning CharacteristicRating of interior and surface finish material providing indexes for flame spread and smoke developed, based on testing conducted according to TOP.
Surface Burning RatingThe rating of interior and surface finish material providing indexes for flame spread and smoke.
Surface ClaysClays obtained by open-pit mining.
Surface EffectThe effect caused by the entrainment of secondary air against or parallel to a wall or ceiling when an outlet discharges air against or parallel to the wall or ceiling.
Suspended CeilingA finish ceiling hung from the overhead by a series of wires.
Switch, Bypass IsolationA manually operated switch used in connection with a transfer switch to provide a means of directly connecting load conductors to a power source and for disconnecting the transfer switch.
Switch, General-UseA switch used for general electrical control.
Switch, General-Use SnapA general-use switch built so it can be installed in a device box or on the box cover.
Switch, IsolatingA switch used to isolate an electric circuit from the source of power.
Switch, Motor-ControlA switch used to interrupt the maximum operating overload current of a motor.
Switch, TransferA device used to transfer one or more conductors from one power source to another.
SwitchboardA large single panel or an assembly of panels with switches, overcurrent protection devices, and buses that are mounted on the face or both sides of the panel.
SwitchesDevices to open and close an electric circuit or to change the connection within a circuit.
Synthetic FibersFibers formed by chemical reactions.
Synthetic MaterialsMaterials formed by the artificial building up of simple compounds.