Stair Parts Names Explained: The Definitive Guide
There is more to a staircase than you may think.
While staircases can vary in design and style, understanding the basic stair parts is essential for knowing how to properly navigate them.
Whether you’re building or repairing a stairway in your home (or for a client); being familiar with these stair parts will help ensure that it is safe and functional.
Let’s cover what you need to know about the parts of a staircase:
What is a tread?
A stair tread is the horizontal surface of a step. It is what you typically think of as the “top” or “front” part of a step. Treads can be made from various materials, such as wood, stone, toughened glass or metal.
What is a riser?
A stair riser is the vertical surface between each stair tread. It acts as the “backbone” of a step and supports the weight of individuals walking on the stairs. Risers can also be made from different materials such as wood or metal to match or contrast the look of the treads.
(So together, the tread and the riser make up the step)
What is a stringer?
Stringers are the structural supports for stair treads and risers. They are typically made from wood or metal and can be positioned at the sides, rear, or underside of staircases to support the stair treads and risers.
(The graphic above shows some of the most important parts to know about)
What is a Base Rail?
A base rail, also known as a bottom track, though not always used, runs up a staircase on top of the string and along the landing. Spindles or panels are fixed into the base rail and, in the case of spindles, spaced by an infill slip which can be cut to the desired size by the fitter.
What is a Handrail?
A handrail is a horizontal or slightly inclined rail that provides support to individuals using a stairway. Handrails are required on stairways with four or more risers and can be located on both sides of the stairway for added safety. Hand rail can be attached to a wall with brackets or placed on top of stair spindles (or panels) which are fixed into the bottom of the handrail and spaced by no more than 99mm using infill slip. Stair Handrails should be smooth and free of any sharp edges or protrusions that could cause injuries.
What is a Spindle?
A Spindle is a vertical support that helps to secure a handrail in place on a stairway. Stair Spindles are typically made from materials like wood or metal and come in many different styles and designs to suit various configurations and aesthetics. Stair spindles used for the inclining part of the stairs are known as rake spindles and are often slightly shorter than those used for the landing, known as landing spindles.
Spindles can also be referred to as balusters or banisters.
What is a Newel Post?
A newel is a large post that supports the handrail on a stairway. Stair Newels are typically located at the bottom and top of stairways, as well as at turns or landings in the stairway. Newels used at a turn on the staircase are often designed as Double Newels. This refers to the design aesthetic which allows for the handrail to meet the newel at two different levels above and below the turn of the stairs.
Half Newels are also popular, used where the handrail ends at a wall. This gives continuity of design by matching the other full newels in the staircase while avoiding a full size newel protruding from the wall.
What is a Newel Cap?
A Newel Cap or finial is a decorative detail that is typically found on the top of newel posts. Newel caps come in many different shapes and designs, such as ball, acorn, pyramid or flat. And, can be made from various materials, including wood, metal, or stone.
What is a volute?
A volute is a spiral-shaped decorative detail, often known as a monkey’s tail, which is sometimes found on stairways, stair railings, and balustrades. Volutes are usually made from wood, metal, or stone and can be used to add visual interest and elegance to stairway designs.
What is a Gooseneck?
A gooseneck is a curved section of handrail used to raise the rake handrail (sloped section) to the height of the landing handrail. Goosenecks are characterised by their curved, S-shaped design, which helps to provide additional stability for stair users. Goosenecks can be made from various materials, including wood, metal, or concrete.
What are Winders?
Winders are stair treads that have been cut at an angle to accommodate stairway turns and landings. Winders can be made from various materials, such as wood or metal, and are typically installed in stairways with irregular layouts or configurations.
What is a Landing?
A stair landing is a flat, horizontal surface that forms a transition between stairways and other areas of a building. They are typically located at the top and bottom of stairways, as well as at turns or changes in direction.
Further Common Questions on Stairs – Explained & Answerd
What angle should a stairs be?
There is no single standard angle for stairways, as different stair configurations can be safe and functional at various incline angles. Regulations however, dictate that staircases should have an incline of between 33 (public spaces) and 42 (private homes) degrees to ensure that they are easy to navigate and reduce the risk of falls or accidents. Factors like the size and weight of individuals using a stairs may also influence the ideal angle for your stairway.
How do I measure stair treads?
Measuring stair treads is done by measuring from the front edge of one step to the front edge of the next step, this is called the Going. Current guidelines recommend the optimum going between 250mm (private staircase) and 300mm (public staircase) and the optimum rise between 175mm (private) and 150mm (public).
To ensure a comfortable walking surface the sum of twice the rise plus the going should be between 550 and 700mm, the optimum being 600mm. If you’re installing new stair treads, be sure to take accurate measurements so that they fit properly and provide adequate coverage.
What is the standard stair width?
There is no definitive answer to this question as stair width can vary depending on the intended purpose and user traffic of a stairway. In general, however it is recommended that stairways have a width of at least 800mm in private settings, to accommodate two people walking side-by-side.
This ensures that there is enough space for people to comfortably navigate the stairway without feeling cramped or crowded. Wider stairways may be necessary in high-traffic areas or for stairways that will be used by disabled people.
Final Words on Stair Parts
There’s a lot of terminology when it comes to stair parts. However, with the above information, you are well equipped to develop your stairs in the most secure and stylish manner.
If you would like help with your stair parts, please get in contact with us.