Staircase Terminology | Help and Guides | StairBox

Staircase Terminology

stairbox technical team

Purchasing a brand new staircase can be a daunting task, but once you’ve got over the initial language barrier, it can be very simple. That’s why we’ve put together this simple guide to the major components of a staircase.

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

staircase carcass components

Staircase Carcass

This is the main trunk of your staircase, minus the balustrade. 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.

A feature tread which curves 90 degrees and returns into the front face of the newel post. These can be curved on one or two sides and combined with a curtail tread. Ideal if you’re tight on space as the newel post is moved back to the second riser.

A feature tread which sweeps out beyond the width of the flight, curving 180 degrees and returning into side face of the newel post. These can be curved on one or two sides and combined with a bullnose tread.

staircase balustrade components

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 d-step or curtail.

open plan oak staircase