Staircase Terminology

This summery of staircase terminology is the most common and basic terms
used in staircase construction and balustrading installation.


Vertical components that are plain or decorative,
that act as the infill between the handrail, base rail or
tread if cut string


The overall collective name for the complete assembly
of handrails, base rails, newel posts and spindles

Cut or Open String

A string with the upper edge cut in a way
so it shapes the treads and risers so that their profile can be
seen from the side

Closed String

A string with the face housed or trenched to
accommodate treads and risers so their outline cannot be viewed

Wall String

The string of a staircase that is fixed flush with a wall

Continuous Handrail

Using straight lengths of handrail
connected to handrail fittings and ramps, the one length of handrail flows over
the tops of newel post turnings creating a continuous run of handrail.

Newel Post

Accommodates the strings, handrails, treads and risers
of the staircase


The top or horizontal surface of a step


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 the top of the tread to the top of the tread


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


This is where the tread and riser is combined

Bullnose Step

Usually at the bottom of the staircase with either one or
both ends of the step having a quarter circle design

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


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


The nosing is the edge of the tread projecting beyond the face of
the riser and the face of a cut string

Pitch Line

The notional line connecting the nosings of all
treads in a flight of stairs.


The pitch is the angle between the pitch line and the horizontal


The space that is provided for the stairs


The entire structure relating to a stair, comprising steps, treads, risers, strings, balustrades, landings etc