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ARCH 2614/5614 Lecture notes

Jonathan Ochshorn

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Schedules and interior finishes

The following is based largely on the United States National CAD Standard, V5, Uniform Drawing System, Module 3 — Schedules. Cornell students can access this document following instructions here.

A schedule has a minimum of four parts: heading (title); mark (identifies the particular item); item description; and distinguishing feature (defining characteristics—there may be several such columns), with this general form:


A schedule cannot have only two columns: this would correspond to some sort of list, such as a legend, or a key. A schedule contains at least three columns and often more.

If the schedule is very wide, with multiple columns of data, it is sometimes useful to repeat the "mark" column on the right side, as shown below


A "Notes" column is often useful, when there are lots of distinguishing features, none of which warrants its own column. This column may refer to a legend shown next to the schedule, or may reference other drawings or spec items. In general, it's better to use some sort of "key letter or number" instead of writing out each note—this saves space and makes the schedule easier to read:

    1, 3

Notes Legend

  1. Tempered glass in bottom panel

  2. Aluminum backsplash

  3. See detail 2A5.45

Schedules often need to be a bit more complex, so that an item description or distinguishing feature may well be subdivided into two or more columns:


Many different types of schedules can be created for any particular project. The list provided in the National CAD Standard includes things like:

and many others.

We will only examine three common schedule types: room finish; door and frame; and window.

Room finish schedule

For each room or space in a building, the various floor, wall, and ceiling finishes can be tabulated in a schedule. Examples of floor finishes include carpet, resilient tile, or wood; wall finishes include things like gypsum board (painted), plaster, or wood paneling; ceilings can be made from things like suspended acoustical tile or gypsum board.

typical room
Floor, walls, and ceiling in a room (adapted from this image source)

The most common way to distinguish between the various wall surfaces in a typical room is to subdivide the "walls" category into four columns representing north, east, south, and west elevations. Where the building isn't exactly oriented to these cardinal directions, a "plan north" is established on the site plan. Where room geometries are too complex or random to use such a system, you're on your own" figure out something clear and logical for your project.

Where finished ceiling heights vary, it is often convenient to include a "height" column under "ceilings," rather than having the ceiling installer figure out such things by looking through sections. Where the ceiling geometry is more complex, it may be necessary to refer to reflected ceiling plans, elevations, or sections to communicate that information. Each project is different, and the drawings, schedules, and specifications should respond to the unique characteristics of each project.

101Office411, 211vinyl68'-2"8
103Office411, 211wood18'-0" 

Room Finish Schedule Legend

  1. Gypsum board, painted

  2. Vinyl wall covering

  3. Wood paneling

  4. Carpet

  5. Ceramic tile

  6. Suspended Acoustic Tile

  7. See room elevations for panel location

  8. See reflected ceiling plan for grid location

Room finish schedule, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Room finish schedule, Lincoln Hall, Cornell

Door and frame schedule

There are many ways to identify and describe doors in a project. Each door may be identified with a symbol including keys to its size, type, and material. Alternatively, doors can be identified by the rooms they provide entry to, or they can be individually identified with a door number, or they can be identified with a door type. For any of these models, a schedule can be designed that refers to the chosen mode of designation. Often, there are many variations within a particular "theme," and the schedule can organize these variations without creating redundant elevations or details for each minor variation. For example, an ordinary steel door and frame can have a variant in which a glazing panel is included, or a louver (to allow air to pass through), etc.

Doors and frames are typically identified separately, although often within a combined schedule. So, for example, one might have a wooden door in a steel frame—the separate columns for "door" and "frame" organize this information. Details for both doors and frames are also referenced in the schedule, and usually drawn close by. There are two primary types of drawings used: First, door and frame elevations (abbreviated as "EL" in the schedule) show the overall shape and dimensions, although the height and width may be shown as variables on the drawing so that the actual values can be tabulated in the schedule. This allows a single elevation to serve for more than one door or frame variation. Second, detail sections of the various frame types cut at the head, sill, and jamb are drawn—these details are then referenced from the schedule.

hollow metal frame hollow metal frame
Typical hollow metal door frame (Image sources: left and right)

The fire rating label column is used to identify those door-frame assemblies that require some fire-resistance rating. For example, the Underwriters Laboratiry (UL) labels doors with letter codes: A = 3 hours; B = 1-1/2 hours; and so on. See this chart for examples.

The labels are fixed to the edge of each rated door so that the fire rating can be verified in the field.

Hardware includes knobs, latches, locksets, hinges, and so forth. It turns out that this is a rather tricky thing to specify, and architects often utilize the services of hardware manufacturers to help out with such specifications. The column for "Keyside Rm No" indicates which of the two spaces on either side of a given door is the "key" side. In many cases, this is obvious (e.g., a room facing a corridor), but in other instances, it might not be clear. This is also something that is increasingly being added within parametric building models (BIM) for doors and frames—so that the schedule can be created automatically from such "intelligent" drawings.

Finally, the "notes" column allows the architect to indicate special conditions that are important, but not prevalent enough to warrant a separate column or a separate door/frame type.


The door and frame elevations are usually quite simple, and often are not explicitly dimensioned.

door and frame elevation examples
Examples of door and frame elevations

Examples of head, jamb, and sill frame details.

Door schedule, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Door and frame schedule, Lincoln Hall, Cornell.

Door types 6 and 7, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Door types 6 and 7, Lincoln Hall, Cornell.

Door frame types 1, 2, and 3, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Door frame types 1, 2, and 3, Lincoln Hall, Cornell.

Detail showing door frame head detail, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Detail showing door frame head detail, Lincoln Hall, Cornell.

For additional information, see the National CAD Standard - V5, Uniform Drawing System, Module 4 (Drafting Conventions), Section 4.3 Sheet Types.

Window schedule

Unlike doors, which are identified (keyed in) on floor plans, windows are more commonly identified on building elevations.


windows identified in elevation
Example of building elevation showing marks for windows (adapted from this image source)

Lincoln Hall example:
For this project, there was no window schedule. Instead, window designations were marked on the building elevations, and those elevations were redrawn on a "window" detail sheet along with head, sill, and jamb details.

Building elevation Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Building elevation showing windows and marks, Lincoln Hall, Cornell

Detail of building elevation Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Detail of building elevation showing windows, Lincoln Hall, Cornell

Window elevation on detail sheet, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Window elevation on window detail sheet, Lincoln Hall, Cornell

Detail showing sill for window WS3, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Detail showing sill for window W3, Lincoln Hall, Cornell (the designation WS refers to "window sill")

Detail showing sill for window WS8, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Detail showing sill for window W8, Lincoln Hall, Cornell (the designation WS refers to "window sill")

Partition types

Partitions types are not usually defined in a schedule. Instead, typical partition details are organized and numbered on a drawing sheet; these numbers are then keyed into the partitions shown on plans.

Plan showing partition types, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Plan showing partition types, Lincoln Hall, Cornell

Detail showing partition type 5, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Detail showing partition type 5, Lincoln Hall, Cornell

Detail showing partition type 6, Lincoln Hall, Cornell
Detail showing partition type 6, Lincoln Hall, Cornell

Interior finishes

Finishes are the visible surfaces (and the materials constituting those surfaces) of floors, walls, and ceilings inside buildings. They can be the same as the building structure, layered directly on top of the structure, or suspended/fastened to/from the structure, as shown schematically below:

conceptual models of interior finish strategies


Floor finishes include the following: wood, carpet, resilient flooring (vinyl, rubber, linoleum), tile (ceramic, quarry), and other materials (e.g., terazzo, stone, metal).

Substrates for floors

The primary substrates for floors are wood (plywood, OSB) and concrete, depending on the structural system of the building, as shown below. Depending on the substrate and the finish material, flooring is generally either adhered (glued) to the substrate, or nailed.

substrates for flooring

Raised access flooring

Floor finishes can be raised above the structural deck or slab, providing a plenum for running conduit, pipes, and HVAC systems, as shown in the images below:

raised access flooring


Linoleum is a resilient flooring product made from ground cork in linseed oil binder over a burlap backing. It was popular in the 1950s (I took the photo below of our classic linoleum floor at about that time), went out of favor, and is now experiencing a resurgence of interest as a "sustainable" material.

1950s linoleum floor


Terrazzo is a kind of concrete finish, essentially consisting of fancy aggregate (including recycled glass in epoxy resin) that is ground to reveal the aggregate pattern. Divider strips are used to separate different aggregate or matrix colors, and to serve as control joints.


Gypsum board is the primary wall finish material, having effectively superseded plaster.

Plaster walls

Traditional portland cement plaster (called "stucco" when used outdoors) consists of lime, silica, alumina, and iron (ground from limestone, clay, sand): see notes from concrete. A plaster wall may be formed in three layers: the scratch coat comes first, and engages lath embedded or fastened to the wall structure. This layer really is scratched, so that the next layer, the brown coat, can adhere better. The final (and thinnest) layer is the finish coat, bringing the total thickness to about 3/4" or 1". A scratch coat can be omitted if the next two layers are applied over a gypsum board lath. Modern lath is expanding metal; older lath consisted of parallel strips of wood.

Gypsum board

Also called drywall, or "sheetrock," (but don't use the latter term, as it is proprietary), gypsum is itself a gray-white mineral compound made of calcium sulfate and water (20% weight is water). When crushed, dried, and ground, it is Plaster of Paris; when mixed with water (and other things) and sandwiched between paper, it is gypsum board.

The boards come in 4' x 8' modules like plywood, but when installed professionally are generally obtained in longer sizes to reduce the number of joints that need to be taped and spackled. The panels are screwed into wood or metal studs (nails were formerly used for wooden studs); edges and corners are made straight and strong by applying various types of "beads" made of metal or plastics and then spackling over them.

Typical gypsum board thickness is 1/2" or 5/8", but other thicknesses may be required where fire-resistant rated assemblies are called for. In the latter case, the gypsum board type is also somewhat different from the standard product, with a more fire-resistant paper used, and fiberglass fibers embedded in the gypsum matrix to improve the performance of the board in a fire.

gypsum board constructiongypsum board construction

As shown in the image above (left), electric and other systems can be run in the stud wall, penetrating as needed in switch or outlet boxes which are then covered with face plates. Screw holes and panel joints are covered with spackling compound in 3 layers; a paper tape is used over joints (and inside corners) to prevent the spackling compound from cracking. Once spackled, the surface is primed and painted. Panels can also be bent to some extent; depending on the radius desired, multiple layers of 1/4" board may need to be used; for large radii, 1/2" thickness can be used. The right image is a project for Disney in Anaheim, CA, designed by Frank Gehry (both photos by J. Ochshorn).


Ceilings can simply be the underside of the structural slab or deck, but more commonly are covered with a finish material. For wood structures, gypsum board can be screwed into joists in much the same way that it is attached to stud walls. In commercial or institutional contexts, where the structure consists of steel or concrete framing, and the mechanical system includes ductwork, it is more common to suspend the ceiling below the structural floor to accommodate such mechanical, electrical, and plumbing items, as shown schematically below.

acoustic tile suspended ceiling

Typical acoustic panels come in various modules (1' x 1'; 2' x 2', 2' x 4', etc.) and are set into grids of painted steel that are hung from the structure above using wires or bars. Note that drywall can be suspended in much the same way.

acoustic tile suspended ceiling

It is interesting to note that plaster ceilings were also suspended in certain contexts, using the same sort of hangers we associate with more modern gypsum board systems. The images below show Cornell's Willard Straight Hall (left, photo by J. Ochshorn), a steel-framed structure, and an explanatory detail from the 1932 edition of Architectural Graphic Standards.

willard straight hall plaster hung groined vaultarch graphic standards detail showing hung plaster vault

More conventional gypsum board ceilings are routinely hung using steel studs screwed together and fastened to the structure, as can be seen in the following two images showing renovations in the ILR Conference Building (first) and in Goldwin Smith Hall (second), both at Cornell (photos by J. Ochshorn, 2015):

suspended gypsum board -- drywall -- ceiling

suspended gypsum board -- drywall -- ceiling

Many of the attributes of a suspended ceiling can be created with means other than commercially-supplied systems: the image below shows how architecture students fashioned a suspended ceiling system from recycled cans for Cornell's Green Dragon Cafe in the late 1960s (photo by J. Ochshorn).

Green Dragon Cafe, Cornell College of AA&P


The image below (photo by J. Ochshorn) shows the use of paint in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts at Cornell University, designed by Stirling and Wilford.

Schwartz Center by Stirling showing use of paint Note that paint is the ultimate finish material; both gypsum board and paint are classified as "finishes" even though the gypsum board is not literally seen (as it is covered with paint). The importance of paint cannot be overestimated. Here is Mark Wigley ("Untitled: The Housing of Gender," Sexuality & Space, Beatriz Colomina, editor, Princeton Architectural Press, 1992) on Gottfried Semper's attitude towards such layered construction:

"Semper's whole argument turns on the status of a coat of paint. He produces a history of paint within which the addition of a coat of paint to the surface of building is the way in which the original textile tradition was maintained in the age of solid construction. In this way, architecture, the 'mother art,' gives birth to the art of painting. This simulated textile, the painted text, becomes at once the new social language, the contemporary system of communication, and the new means by which space is constructed. Architecture is literally a layer of paint which sustains the masquerade in the face of the new solidity because it is 'the subtlest, most perfect means to do away with reality, for while it dressed the material, it was itself immaterial.'"

Paint as a finish can transform the appearance of a space, as in J.O. Mahoney's 1960s painting of the Green Dragon Cafe at Cornell.
J.O. Mahoney Green Dragon Cafe murals, Sibley Hall, Cornell University

And perhaps the most astounding use of paint (actually, fresco, whereby paint is applied directly to damp plaster) to transform a space is this:

image source