a glossary of some common stair terms, it is intended to be a guide
for better understanding and communications between Staircase and
Millwork and their Customers.
Height - The vertical distance from the finish-floor to
the top of the level railing.
Baluster- A decorative vertical member, used to
fill the open area between the railing and the floor or tread, adding
safety, support and stability to the balustrade.
Balustrade - A rail system which includes handrail,
newels and balusters.
Base Collar - A forged trim collar used at the
base of forged balusters.
Bending Mould- A form, moulded to the outside profile
of the rail, that is used to cradle bending rail as it is being
bent to the shape of the stair or balcony.
Bending Rail - A rail profile made up of thin vertical
strips, or plys, which have been moulded with a tongue and groove
bead to create an alignment of the plys. Bending rail offers the
ability to glue and bend handrail to a radius to match most curved
Bent Riser - The riser included in a starting step,
curved on one or both ends to form a decorative first step in a
Blocking - Solid wood pieces installed during framing
to aid in the secure installation of handrail brackets, rosettes,
half newels, etc.
Box Newel - A large square newel, usually hollow,
used in a Post-to-Post balustrade system.
Box Stair - A stair where the carriages/skirt boards
house the treads and risers forming a box-like unit. Box stairs
are typically pre-assembled and delivered to the job site as one
Cap - That part of a fitting which widens in order
to sit on top of a pin top newel. Caps are found in a variety of
different Over-the-Post fittings.
Carriage - A supporting member running the length
of the stairway on which treads, risers, and balustrade are mounted.
Also called Rough Stringers or Rough Horses.
Circular Stair - See Spiral Stair.
Clamp Nail - A steel spline that is used to join
the components that make up fittings. Clamp nails can also be used
to attach fittings to handrail.
Cove Moulding - A concave shaped moulding used
to cover the joint formed where the face of the riser meets the
underside of the tread. On an open stair the cove moulding is continued
under the return nosing.
Curved Stair - A stair that winds or curves it's
way from one floor to the next. It may be constructed having one
turn of direction, or a series of turns.
Double Mitered Return Tread - A tread that has
mitered return nosing applied to both ends, used in a double open
Epoxy - Type of adhesive recommended to install
forged balusters and collars.
Fillet - A thin moulding that is fitted into plowed
handrail and shoe rail between the balusters.
Fitting - A combination of components that are
profiled to match handrail patterns and permit directional and vertical
changes with handrail in Over-the-Post balustrades.
Glue Block- A structural wood block, square or
triangular, glued to the underside of a step.
Gooseneck - A rail fitting used to accommodate
transitions in height and/or direction at intermediate and balcony
Half Newel - A newel cut directly through the center
lengthwise, to be used where handrail terminates at a wall.
Header - A floor framing member that runs across
the well opening. The top riser of the stair is attached to the
Landing Tread - A structural moulding, used on
all landings and balconies, to create a transition between the stair
and the finished floor.
Level Quarterturn - A rail fitting that permits
level handrail to turn
Level Rail - Railing used on a balcony or a landing.
Mitered Return Tread - A tread which has a piece
of return nosing applied to either the left or right side for use
in an open stair.
Mitered Riser - A riser with a mitered edge for
attaching to the skirtboard or decorative bracket.
Nosing - The rounded edge of a tread.
Open Stair - A stair where the treads and risers
are exposed from
one or both sides.
Opening Cap - A rail fitting used where level rail
starts on top of an Over-the-Post newel.
Over Easing - A rail fitting used to transition
from sloped rail to level rail without the use of a gooseneck.
Over-the-Post - A balustrade system which utilizes
fittings to go over newels for an unbroken, continuous handrail.
Partial Open Stair - A stair that has an open balustrade
that extends only a portion of the way up the stair before running
into a structural wall.
Pin Top Baluster - A baluster with a round top
that is installed by drilling holes into the bottom of the rail.
Pin Top Newel - An Over-the-Post newel that has
a pin turned on the top to fit into tie cap of a fitting.
Pitch Block - A block of wood that is cut to form
a right triangle using the rise and run dimensions of the stair.
Plain Tread - A tread that is square on both sides
and nosed on the front.
Plow - A recess moulded in the bottom of handrail
and in the top of shoe rail to receive the square top or bottom
of a baluster.
Post-to-Post - A balustrade system where handrail
is cut and attached between square top newels.
Rail Bolt - A two-ended threaded steel fastener
with nut and washer that is used to join handrail to fittings, newels
Rail Plug - A round wood plug used to fill holes
drilled in newels and rails, allowing screws or rail bolts to be
Rake - The angle of ascent, or slope, of a stairway.
This is determined by the rise and run.
Rake Collar - A forged collar used on a slope to
trim the baluster.
Rake Rail - Ascending handrail of a balustrade
- follows the pitch or rise of the stair.
Return Nosing - A moulding used to trim the end
of a tread on the open side of a stair.
Reversible Tread - A mitered return tread with
return nosing applied to one side of a two-faced tread.
Rise - The vertical distance from the top of one
tread to the top of the next tread.
Riser - The vertical finished component of a stair
filling the space between the treads.
Rosette - A decorative and anchoring wall plate
used to terminate handrail into a wall.
Run - The horizontal distance from the face of
one riser to the face of the next riser.
Shoe Moulding - A convex shaped moulding, usually
used where the first riser meets the finished floor.
Shoe Rail - A plowed, lineal moulding designed
to receive the bottom square of a baluster.
Skirtboard - A finished trim board used on either
open or dosed sides of the stair as a decorative accent.
Codes - Building codes that state that a sphere of a certain
size cannot pass: (1) between balusters, or (2) through the triangle
formed by the tread, riser and the bottom of shoe rail in a stair
with shoe rail used on an open tread.
Spiral Stair - A stair where the treads form a
circle around a center point as the stair ascends from one floor
to the next.
Square Top Baluster - Balusters that have square
(unturned) tops, usually installed with plowed rail or sub rail.
Starting Easing - A straight rail fitting used
to start an Over-the-Post system without the use of a starting step.
Starting Newel - The vertical post used to start
a balustrade system.
Starting Step - A decorative first step of a stair,
generally designed with a tread and riser which lengthen the step
beyond the width of the basic stair.
Straight Stair - A stairway with no turns or intermediate
Subfloor Rise - The measurement taken from the
top of the subfloor of the lower level to the top of the subfloor
of the upper level. The total rise of a stair, measured before finish
materials are applied.
Take-Off - Material list of required stair components
for a specific stair.
Tandem Cap - A rail fitting used where level rail
passes over a pin top newel.
Tangent Point - The point at which a straight line
touches a curve.
Template - A paper marking pattern used to locate
holes for the correct placement of balusters and newels in the bottom
of starting fittings and in the top of the starting tread.
Total Rise - The total vertical distance from finish-floor
Total Run - The total horizontal distance covered
by the entire stairway.
Tread - The horizontal component of a stair on
which one steps.
Tread Bracket - A decorative piece mitered to the
riser and fastened on the side of an open skirtboard.
Tread Nosing - The rounded edge of a tread.
Tread Overhang - The portion of the tread which
protrudes beyond the face of the riser. The width of the overhang
is added to the tread run to obtain tread width.
Turnout - A curved rail fitting used as one option
to start an Over-the-Post balustrade system.
Up Easing - A rail fitting which curves, permitting
the handrail to change the slope of the rail system. Up easings
are normally used at the top and bottom of Over-the-Post stair runs.
Up easings are a component part of all starting fittings and goosenecks.
Volute - A rail fitting that scrolls left or right
used as one option to start an Over-the-Post balustrade system.
Walk Line - The line along which most people walk
as they proceed up a stair. Its location is critical to tread depth
in winding and/or circular stairs.
Wall Rail - Rail affixed to the wall, usually by
means of mounting brackets. It may be the primary handrail for a
dosed stair or the supplementary handrail to a balustrade system.
Wall Rail Bracket - A metal bracket that is used
to fasten wall rail to the wall.
Winder Stair - A stair that makes a directional
change without the use of a platform.
Winder Tread - A non rectangular tread used in
combination to make directional changes in winder stairs.