Staircase Terminology

Staircase Terminology


 

This glossary of staircase terminology details the most common and basic terms used in staircase construction and balustrading installation and is by all means not exhaustive.

 

staircase terminology

Glossary of Staircase Terms

  • Baluster/Spindle – the vertical member, plain or decorative, that acts as the infill between the handrail and baserail (or tread if cut string).
  • Balustrading – the overall name for the complete assembly of handrails, baserails, newels, spindles and caps.
  • Bullnose Step – usually at the bottom of the stairs with one or both ends of the step having a quarter circle design.
  • Closed Stringer – a stringer with the face housed/trenched to accommodate treads and risers so their profile cannot be seen.
  • Continuous Handrail – using straight lengths of handrail connected to handrail fittings and ramps, the handrail flows over the tops of newel turnings creating a continuous run of handrail.
  • Curtail Step – a decorative shaped step at the bottom of the stairs usually accommodating the volute and volute newel turning of the Continuous Handrail System.
  • Cut or Open Stringer – a stringer with the upper edge cut away to the shape of the treads and risers so that their profile can be seen from the side.
  • Fascia – A skirtboard on the outside wall of the staircase or balcony.
  • Floating stairs – A flight of stairs is said to be “floating” if there is nothing underneath. The risers are typically missing as well to emphasize the open effect. There may be only one stringer or the stringers otherwise minimized. Where building codes allow, there may not even be handrails.
  • Headroom – The headroom of a set of stairs is the vertical distance above the stairs from a line drawn from nosing to nosing to the finished upper construction.
  • Landing – A landing is the area of a floor near the top or bottom step of a stair. An intermediate landing is a small platform that is built as part of the stair between main floor levels and is typically used to allow stairs to hange directions, or to allow the user a rest. As intermediate landings consume floor space they can be expensive to build. However, changing the direction of the stairs allows stairs to fit where they would not otherwise, or provides privacy to the upper level as visitors downstairs cannot simply look up the stairs to the upper level due to the change in direction.
  • Left Hand/Right Hand – the side of the stair as it is ascending.
  • Newel Post or Post – accommodates the strings, handrails and treads/risers of stairs.
  • Nosing – the edge of the tread projecting beyond the face of the riser and the face of a cut string.
  • Pitch – the angle between the pitch line and the horizontal.
  • Pitch Line – the notional line connecting the nosings of all treads in a flight of stairs.
  • Rake – the pitch of the stairs.
  • Rise, total – the vertical distance between finish floors.
  • Rise, unit – the vertical distance from one step to another.
  • Riser – the board that forms the face of the step.
  • Run, total – the total horizontal distance that the staircase covers.
  • Run, unit – the horizontal distance between the faces.
  • Staircase – the entire structure relating to a stair, comprising steps, treads, risers, strings, balustrading, landings etc.
  • Stairway/Stairwell – the space/void provided for the stairs.
  • Starting Step – the first riser and tread at the bottom of a stair or the flight of stairs.
  • Step – the tread and riser combined.
  • Stringer Margin – the distance between the top of the string and the pitch line measured at 90° to the pitch line.
  • Tread – the top or horizontal surface of a step.
  • Wall Newel Post/Post – a newel post or post cut through the center lengthwise, to be used where handrail terminates at a wall.
  • Wall Rail – a handrail attached to a full or half wall following the pitch or incline of a closed stair.
  • Wall Stringer – the stringer of a staircase fixed flush with a wall.
  • Winders – are radiating steps narrower at one end that are used to change the direction of a stairs through 90° or 180°.