A Guide to The Various Parts of a Staircase

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Staircase parts explained by Whitty & Sons

A Guide to The Various Parts of a Staircase

Staircase parts – learn to speak the lingo!

Thinking of commissioning a master craftsman to design you a bespoke staircase? Would you like to discuss your design without having to point at things you don’t know the name of and refer to them as ‘that bit there’? 

If so, our guide to staircase parts and their names could be just what you need to help you articulate!

Of course you don’t need to study this list before commissioning us. We design staircases every day for people who don’t know their nosing from their pitch line and it doesn’t impact their experience of buying a staircase one bit.

If you do choose to learn our language, read on for our glossary of the most common staircase parts.

Handrails and banister related staircase parts

Handrails and banister related staircase parts

Balustrading – used to describe every part that goes into creating the section of outer staircase that you hold onto, including the handrails, base rails, newels, spindles and caps. Once all of these parts are assembled, they create balustrading.

Handrail – possibly the one part of the staircase that most people could name, the handrail is just that, a continuous rail for you to hold with your hands as you use the stairs.

Spindle – a vertical rail that runs between the handrail and baserail, in modern staircases sometimes replaced with sheets of toughened glass

Stelten – short for steel tenon, the stelten is the piece that fixes the handrail to the other wooden parts of the staircase

Volute – otherwise known as a monkey’s tail, a volute is the flourish sometimes seen at the end of a handrail, in the form of a spiral, much like a curled tail

Stair terms

Bullnose Step – A bottom stair with a quarter circle design at one or both sides

Curtail Step – a more decoratively shaped bottom stair than a bullnose step, a curtail step is usually found on a staircase with a volute

Tread – the surface of the step / the part that you walk on

Riser – the vertical face of the step, at 90 degrees from each tread

Step – the combination of the riser and the tread

Going – the distance from the face of one riser to the next is the going of the step. The distance from the face of the first riser to the last is the going of the staircase. The going is, the horizontal depth of either step or staircase

Newel – accommodates the strings, handrails and treads/risers of stairs.

Nosing – the edge of the tread that sticks out beyond the face of the riser

Pitch Line – the angle created by connecting the nosings of every tread

Pitch – the angle between the pitch line and the horizontal, of either one step or the entire staircase

Rake – the pitch of the stairs

Rise – the vertical distance from the top of the stairs to the bottom. If the staircase wasn’t there and you measured the drop from one floor to the other, this distance would be the rise

Winders – steps that go round a corner and are therefore narrower at one end than the other

You should be aware that this is by no means a complete glossary of terms – a staircase is a more complex design than you may realise. This does however give you a solid introduction to the main terms you will hear us use. So now that you understand the various parts of a staircase you’ll have no trouble discussing your project with us.

If you’d like to begin your own staircase project give the leading staircase joiners at Whitty & Sons a call on 07734589286 and take a look at our staircase services for inspiration.  



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