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Staircase Terminology


Alot of our customers have never purchased a staircase before and we know that it can be a daunting task. In reality, it can be really simple once you have got over the initial ‘language barrier’. That’s why we have put together this simple guide to help you through and help you to get acquainted with the ins and out of staircase terminology. Click on the 3D model here for a quick, at a glance, guide to the names of the major components of a staircase. I’d suggest looking through the annotations for a simple view of each major component of the flight. Pan, rotate and zoom until your heart is content.


Want a little more information or clarification? Let’s walk through a staircase step by step:


Staircase Carcass

This is the main trunk of your staircase minus balustrade (Discussed a little lower). It consists of Strings either side of your Treads and Risers.



This is the vertical, structural element that runs perpendicular to, and houses, the treads and risers. This can be shaped to follow the ‘sawtooth’ of the treads and risers to create what is known as a cut string.



The part of the stairway that you step on. You would normally also have a nosing on this that slightly overlaps the riser.



The individual going is the term for the measurement from face of riser to face of riser.



The vertical portion between each tread. When this is missing it is called an Open Plan Staircase.



An Individual Rise is the vertical measurement from top of tread to top of tread. Your Total Rise is measured from finished floor to finished floor.

Staircase Terminology - Stair Carcass


Staircase Balustrade

Your balustrade is the guarding for the flight to ensure safe use. This is normally made up of Newel Posts at the top and bottom of your stair run to anchor the handrail. You would then have Spindles that sit in the grooves of both the Handrail and a Baserail sitting on the String.


Newel Post

A large post that anchors your balustrade. This is also the main source of central support for any turns in a staircase. You can also get half newels that are used where your balustrade is ending in a wall. Visually this creates the effect of the newel being embedded in the wall and creates a generally neater finish.



Handrails can be continuous or newel to newel. Continuous create the effect of a single, unbroken rail traversing the staircase. This requires multiple components (Such as quarter turns and goosenecks) to produce this effect and it typically more expensive. Newel to newel systems consist of handrails entering newel posts that project above.



This sits on your string and has a groove which is used to accept the spindles. Should you want a cut string staircase there would be no need for a baserail as the spindles enter the treads.



This is normally a constituent of continuous handrails (though not exclusively). This is a spiral handrail found at the bottom of a flight and requires a d­step or curtail.

Staircase Terminology - Balustrade


That’s great, but…


Is there anything that we haven’t covered here and have questions about? Whether it be about Staircase Terminology or anything else, not a problem! Give us a call on 01782 832555 or email us. You can always chat with one of our experienced advisors during office hours and we will be more than happy to talk you through any technical issues or walk you through our staircase design process.