As we discussed during our staircase remodeling project, the first step in updating, remodeling, or fixing any staircase is understanding the parts. And while every staircase is different, the terminology used to discuss the parts of a staircase is the same. So, whether you have a traditional straight-run staircase or a more complex curved staircase, this guide will help you identify and understand the parts of your stairs.
Table of Contents
Parts of a Staircase (Terms Explained)
The tread is the horizontal surface of a step, and the riser is the vertical portion between each tread. Treads can be made from wood, carpet, tile, stone, or any other material, and risers are typically made from wood or painted drywall.
Risers are the vertical portions of stairs between each tread. They can be made from wood, painted drywall, or any other material, and they support the weight of people walking on the stairs.
Stair nosing is the overhang of the tread that protrudes past the riser. In many cases, stair nosing is required by building code to help prevent slips and falls.
A newel is a large, central post that is typically located at the bottom of a staircase or at turns in the stairway. Newel posts help to support the handrail and provide an anchor for the stringers.
Banisters or Handrail
The handrail is the horizontal railing that runs along the side of a staircase. In most cases, the handrail is required by building code to help prevent slips and falls.
Balusters are the vertical posts that support the handrail and help to keep people from falling off the edge of the stairs. Balusters can be made from wood, metal, or any other material.
A landing is where a staircase changes in direction, usually resulting in a flat area of flooring. In some commercial building codes, landings are required to provide people a place to rest between large amounts of stairs.
Shoe rail or Base rail
The base rail is the lower horizontal railing that runs along the side of a staircase. In most cases, the base rail is required by building code to help prevent slips and falls.
A stringer is a structural member that supports the treads and risers of a staircase. Most staircases have two stringers, one on each side, that are connected at the top by a beam called a header.
There you have it! These are the parts of a staircase. Learning the terminology will not only help you communicate better with contractors but also give you a better understanding of how your staircase is constructed. And if you’re planning a remodeling project, it’s always good to know as much as possible about the existing structure before making any changes.
Wondering about any other parts of a staircase? Let us know in the comments below!