Staircase Construction and Balustrading Installation


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.

Stair Terminology

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 decoratively 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.

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 = 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 – 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.

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

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