Content Updated on: August 16, 2022 by Carpenter

There are various components or parts of a staircase which have their own functions. This glossary of staircase related terminology is by no means exhaustive but does detail the most common and basic terms used in staircase construction and balustrading installation.
This article illustrates and describes the basic names of stairs parts and terms common to stairs.  Each components of a staircase and their details is discussed in this article.

Staircase Terminology

Without further ado, let’s get straight into our main point. So here are some of the common staircase terminology (well, some not so common).
Some are pretty much understandable while you might wonder where others came from. Here’s the list of terminology used in stairs.

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 collective 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 String

A string 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 String

A string with the upper edge cut away to the shape of the treads and risers so that their profile can be seen from the side.

Some More Terminologies

Going

The going of a flight of stairs is the horizontal distance between the face of the first and last risers. The individual going of a step is measured from face of riser to face of riser and for domestic use should be a minimum of 220mm.

Newel

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.

OAS

OAS refers to the width of the Staircase or Width Overall Strings.

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

Rake implies the pitch of the stairs.

Rise

The rise of a flight is the vertical distance between the floors or landings connected by the flight. The individual rise is the vertical measurement from top of tread to top of tread.

Riser

The board that forms the face of the step. The maximum individual rise for domestic flights is 220mm.

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.

Also read: Staircase Dimensions | stair dimensions

Stelten

Stelten is the Handrail Fixing we use on our Staircases. Stelten is Short for Steel Tenon

Step

The tread and riser combined.

String 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.

Volute

The detail like a Scroll at the entry of a handrail, sometimes called a Monkey’s Tail, – New Ascending Volute

Wall String

The string of a staircase fixed flush with a wall.

Winders

Winders are radiating steps narrower at one end that are used to change the direction of a stairs through 90° or 180°.

Wrap Up and Conclusion

So what do you think of these staircase terminology? I’m sure some of them are common and you know them well. But can you say you knew more than 50% of these staircase terminologies?

Do let us know if you find this post useful by showing your love and sharing them with your friends.

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Everything about carpentry! I'm a blogger who love woodwork, home improvement tips and anything to make life cosier.

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