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Open Stair 
A staircase not boxed in by walls on one or both sides.

Open Riser
A staircase that does not have full risers, rather it has an open space between the treads.

Rail 
The part of a rail system designed to be the grasped by hand to provide stability and support.

Rail Fittings 
Small pieces of rail used to twist  and lift railings, and balloon rail widths.  Fittings are used to change elevations of the rail, and used for an over-the-post system for a continuous handrail appearance and to turn rails.
 
Rise 
The vertical measurement from the top of one tread to the top of the next tread.

Riser 
The vertical component of a step which, along with the stringers, supports the treads.

Ships Ladder
An inclined set of small steps, including mounted handrails; more generous incline than other types of ladders for easier usability.

Spiral Staircase
A stairway which is mounted on a central pole.

Spindle
A common term used to refer to a baluster.

Stair Direction
Either right-or-left-hand. Determined by the turn a stairway makes when facing it from the bottom, as if you were walking up the stair. 

Starting Newel
The newel used at the bottom/start of a stairway.

Stringers
The supporting members which run the length of the staircase or "string" the stair together. The treads and risers are mounted to the stringers.

Stringer Brackets
Decorative pieces fastened to the outside of a stringer below the tread or tread end.

Tandem Cap or Two-opening Cap
A straight level handrail fitting with a newel cap. Tandem caps generally are used on newels in long stretches of balcony handrail.

Tread Return Nosing, Mitered
The applied radius end, put on end of an open tread to cover end grain.

Turnout
A handrail fitting used on a starting newel which curves away from the stairway.

Up Easing
A handrail fitting which joins two handrails or fittings at different angles in a graceful, pleasing manner.

Volute
A handrail fitting used on a starting newel which turns away from the stairway in a circular fashion.

Wall Rail
A handrail which is mounted on a wall and supported by wall rail brackets rather than newels or balusters.

Winder Stair
A stair with winder treads.

Winder Tread
Pie-shaped treads that accommodate the stair to angle or turn a corner.



Baluster
A narrow vertical member which helps support the handrail.


Balustrade System 
A collective term which refers to the balusters and handrail on a particular stairway.

Bowed Tread
A tread that bows/curves out in front.  A quality bowed tread would also bow the riser beneath it.  Typically, bowed treads start at the beginning of the stair and may bow one to three treads.  Bowed treads may be used on the entire stair.

Box Newel
A large, square newel that is not turned on a lathe.  Also may be refereed to as a “trimmed” newel.

Boxed Stair
A stairway which is fully enclosed by walls and routed stringers on both sides. 

Brackets           
See Stringer Bracket and Wall Rail Bracket

Bull-nose
Radius edge, usually referred to on tread or landings treads. Also referred to as “Nosing.”

Cap
The part of the fitting which widens in order to sit on a newel. Also referred to as “Rail Cap,” or “Fitting Cap.”

Curved Stair
A stair that curves vs. having angles at corners.

Cove Molding
A trim piece that is typically installed under treads, landing tread, and wall cap.

Flared Stair 
A stair that curves out at the start.

Freestanding Stair
A stairway which is not supported by walls. Open underneath.

Gooseneck Fitting
A fitting consisting of an up-easing, a vertical rail drop, and a level piece of rail. It is used to raise the rail height.

Horizontal Balustrade
Railing  which runs horizontally along a landing, balcony, or floor.

Landing 
A level platform, typically used when a stair makes a turn. Typically found on a “Landing” stair.  built from framing material.

Landing Tread
Narrow tread nosing situated above the top riser or along the upper edge of a balcony or landing. This gives the appearance of a tread at the top of the stairway. 

Level Quarter Turn
A level handrail fitting which turns by 90 degrees.

Library Ladder
A vertical or inclined set of small steps, typically mounted on a bar and moveable.


Newel
The major support for a balustrade system. Newels are typically larger in diameter than balusters and are located at the bottom and top of a stairway or at a turn in the handrail. 

Nosing
The portion of a tread or landing tread which protrudes beyond the face of the riser.

 

 

Straight Staircase

L Shaped Staircase


Stair Shapes


Curved Staircase

Custom Staircases and Railings

Stair Components

Remodeling and Home Design

Below are explanations of different components that make up a staircase and railings. We will always explain any technical terms and make sure you are being quoted the best and most practical products for your staircase or railing project.