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

  • Spindle

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

  • Balustrade

    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.

  • Tread

    The top or horizontal surface of a step.

  • 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 the top of the tread to the top of the tread.

  • Riser

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

  • Step

    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.

  • 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.

  • Nosing

    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.

  • Pitch

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

  • Stairway/Stairwell

    The space that is provided for the stairs.

  • Staircase

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