Stairs Glossary

Apron
A smaller, decorative piece of wood , usually 3 1/2” wide, attached to landing and balcony walls.

Baluster
Closely spaced vertical supports for railing.

Balustrade
A railing with supporting balusters.

Box Newel
A square newel used in a post-to-post balustrade system.

Box Stair
A stairway which has walls on both sides.

Brackets (also referred to as stringer brackets)
Decorative pieces fastened to the outside of a stringer.

Bull Nose Tread
A tread that has one or both sides finished in a radius. Often used as a starting step and often requires a curved riser beneath.

Fillet
Strips, generally flat, which fill the plow between square top balusters on plowed handrail and shoe rail.

Fitting
General term for short transition pieces in handrails where there is a quick change in the direction of the handrail.

Gooseneck (also called easings)
A handrail fitting or easement consisting of an up-easing, a vertical rail. It is used at a landing or balcony to raise the rake handrail to the height of the balcony handrail.

Level Quarter Turn
A level handrail fitting which turns by 90 degrees.

Level Rail
Handrail which runs level along a landing or balcony.

Newel Post
The major support of a staircase. Newels are larger in diameter than balusters and are located at the bottom and top of a stairway or at a turn in the handrail.

Nosing
A narrow bull nose tread situated over the top riser and along the edge of a balcony to give the appearance of a tread at the top of the stairway.

Open Stair
A stairway with a wall on one or no sides.

Opening Cap
A handrail fitting at the start of a level balustrade system (also known as an end cap).

Over Easing
A handrail fitting which connects a rake handrail with a level handrail without the use of a gooseneck.

Over-the-Post
A stair system which uses fittings to go over newel posts for a continuous handrail.

Plate Rail
The bottom, flat part of a rail assembly that sits on the floor or caps a pony wall (better known as shoe rail).

Plow
The routed portion of a handrail or shoe rail used for the inserting of square balusters.

Post-To-Post
Staircase in which the handrail is not continuous. The handrail is lagged into the face of a square-top newel.

Rail Bolt
A bolt used to attach two pieces of rail.

Rake
The angle of ascent of a stairway.

Rise
The vertical measurement from the top of one tread to the top of the next tread.

Rosette
A small, decorative piece of wood placed between the end of a handrail and a wall.

Shoe Rail
The bottom member of a balustrade system acting as the attachment point for the balusters on or near the floor line.

Starting Easing
A handrail fitting which is used at the bottom of a stairway with a starting newel.

Starting Newel
The newel used at the bottom of a stairway.

Stringer
One of the enclosed sides of a stair supporting the treads and risers.

Tread
The horizontal component of a step upon which one walks.

Turnout
A handrail fitting used on a starting newel which curves away from the stairway. This is a small curve. Can be a left or a right.

Volute
A handrail fitting used on a starting newel with balusters that turn away from the stairway in a circular fashion. Can be a left or a right.

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