What are the components of a stairway?

Stairway Compnents


Baluster: A vertical member used between railing and tread or floor. Balusters provide support, safety and stability to the balustrade.

Balustrade: The name for a complete assembled rail system.

Bow newel: A large square newel that is hollow inside, used at starting steps or in post to post balustrades.

Box stair: A stair where the stringers house the treads and risers, forming a box like unit.

Skirt Bracket: Generally referred to as a tread or stringer bracket; this is a scroll shaped ornament fastened to an open stringer.

Newel Cap: The round portion of a fitting which flares, permitting the fitting to set onto the top of a newel post. Cap fittings are used in an over the post balustrade system.

Easing: That portion of a fitting which curves upward or downward, permitting the handrail to deviate from the rake of the staircase. Easing create a smooth transition, so that the hand can glide across the rail as it changes direction.

Fillet: A thin molding that is fitted into plowed handrail and shoe rail between balusters.

Gooseneck: A fitting used where the rake rail must rise vertically to meet a balcony or landing. Goosenecks can also facilitate directional changes.

Hand rail: The rail used as a hand hold or support in balustrade systems.

Landing newel: The longer newel post used at landing and balconies where the rake rail changes direction or pitch and then continues on. The length of the newel is governed by the number of risers at the point of vertical transition.

Landing tread: A nosed and rabbeted tread like molding used to form a finished surface at landing and balconies.

Level quarter turn: A fitting that permits level handrail to turn 90 or 135 degrees, available with or without cap.

Newel: A vertical post used to start a post to post balustrade, also used at points of vertical and directional change. Newel posts provide the majority of the structural rigidity of a balustrade system.

Open stair: A staircase where the stringer has been cut out so that the stair treads are exposed on one or both sides of the staircase.

Over the post: A balustrade system which uses fittings on top of newel posts, creating an uninterrupted handrail.

Plow: The channel in the bottom of a handrail and the top of a shoe rail that receives square balusters. A plow is finished with fillet.

Post to post: A balustrade system where handrail is fitted between newel posts. The flow of the handrail is interrupted by the decorative top of the newel post.

Rail fitting: Fittings are carved components whose profile matches a specific handrail. Fittings are assembled in various configurations to effect directional and elevation changes in over the post and post to post balustrades.

Rake: The angle or pitch of a stairs ascent to an upper level. The rake is established by the rise and run of the staircase.

Rake rail: Hand rail used on the ascending portion of a balustrade which matches the pitch or rise of the staircase.

Riser: The vertical component of a staircase that faces each step between stringer and tread, upon which the tread rests.

Rosette: A decorative wall plate, larger than the handrail profile, which may be round or oval. Rosettes serve as a decorative handrail anchor when handrail dead ends at a wall.

Shoe rail: A flat molding with a linear channel which receives square bottom balusters for assembly. The channel between balusters is then finished with fillet.

Starting easing: A fitting that starts a balustrade and introduces the user to the upward travel of the stair.

Starting newel: The vertical post used to start a post to post balustrade.

Starting step: A decorative first step of a staircase. Generally includes a tread and riser which is larger in length and depth than the basic stair. Design options include bull nosed, quarter circle and half circle patterns.

Stringer: A side member of a stair that provides structural support and a finished face. It is generally machined to receive the risers and treads for box stairs. In open staircases, the risers are mitered so that finished end treads rest on the mitered riser.

Tread: The horizontal component of a staircase upon which you walk.

Volute: An ornamental handrail fitting used to grace the opening of a staircase. A volute is carved to turn away from the opening in a nautilus like shape, resting on a volute newel and four or five balusters.

Wall rail: Handrail fastened directly to the wall with a mounting bracket. In a box staircase it may be the primary handrail. In a full balustrade a wall rail would be supplementary.