Designer Staircases

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Staircase Anatomy Key Terms

To be better equipped to build your staircase, it’s important to understand a few key terms used by most staircase builders:

  1. Balusters: The vertical structure that supports the handrails.
  2. Balustrade: A balustrade is the combined framework of a handrail and balusters. This provides protection or a barrier to protect the user from falling from a stair. 
  3. Flight: Is a group of steps without any platform, landing or break in their direction.
  4. Going: The going is the horizontal distance between two steps. This is measured from the nosing on one step to the nosing on the next…. Or from the face of riser to riser of the subsequent steps.
  5. Handrail: Is the handhold that follows the contour of the nosing line of the staircase and is fixed on the top of the balusters.
  6. Wall Rail: Is the handhold that is mounted from a wall on brackets. This does not usually incorporate balusters.
  7. Floor to FloorThe vertical distance from the lower floor to the next floor up.
  8. Landing: The level platform between two flights and facilitates the change in of direction of the staircase.
  9. Newel Post: A vertical component that is placed at the ends or middle of a staircase flight They can support stringers and handrails. These provide rigidity to the handrails and balustrades.
  10. Bottom Rail: The bottom member of a balustrade panel that supports the balusters.
  11. Facia or Buildup: The void trim that completes the detail between the bottom plate and the floor or plasterboard.
  12. Nosing: The front or side overhangs of the tread which extend past the riser or stringer.
  13. Pitch or Slope: The angle which the line of nosing of the stair aligns with the horizontal.
  14. Rise: The rise is the vertical distance from the top of one to the next subsequent tread.
  15. Riser: The riser is the vertical member that infills between the treads.
  16. Run: The total length of the stair in a horizontal plane, including the landings.
  17. Step: Comprised of a tread and a riser, this is the part of the stair which permits ascending or descending from one floor to another.
  18. String or Stringers: The side or middle supports in a stair that support the treads and risers. They run along the slope of a stair.
  19. Closed Stringer: A staircase design that does not allow you to see the tread and riser outline from the side.
  20. Sawtooth Stringer: A staircase design that allows you to see the tread and riser outline from the side.
  21. Mono Stringer: A staircase design that involves a central or off-center spine to support the treads
  22. Sofit: The underside lining or area of the stair.
  23. Tread: The tread is the part of the staircase that a person’s foot would walk on when using the staircase.
  24. Winders: 2 or 3 Tapering or triangular shaped section of treads used to change the direction of a stair.

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