- The ribbed vault requires less buttressing than the barrel vault which exerts pressure along its entire length and thus needs strong buttressing. Since the weight of the rib vault is concentrated only at the corners of the bay, the structure can be buttressed at intervals freeing more space for windows.
- As the vaults became more complex, so did their supports. One such support is the cluster or compound pier. These are larger columnar supports at either side of the nave to which clusters of colonnettes are attached.
- In the Gothic period, builders developed the flying buttress, an exterior structure composed of thin half-arches, or flyers.
- The piers channel the downward thrusts of the pointed arch, minimizing the lateral or sideways thrust against the walls.
- The features described combined what is called a skeletal structure. The main architectural supports form a skeleton to which non-supporting elements, such as walls, are attached.
- Stained glass window is translucent colored glass cut to form a window design. The pieces are joined together; the units are framed by an iron armature and fastened within the tracery, or ornamental stonework.