Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

This glossary of staircase-related terminology is by no means exhaustive, but it does detail the most common and basic terms used in staircase construction and balustrading installation.
All | B C F G H I L N O P R S T U W
There are currently 52 names in this directory
Turned, carved or otherwise vertical sections placed between the handrail and the stair tread or string. Also known as spindles.

The collective name for the complete assembly of handrails, baserails, newels, spindles, infill and newel caps.

The baserail sits on top of the string to receive the balusters.

Bullnose Step
Sits at the bottom of the stairs with one or both ends of the step having a quarter circle design.

Closed String
A string with the face housed/trenched to accommodate treads and risers, so their profile cannot be seen.

Continuous Handrail
Using straight lengths of handrail connected to handrail fittings and ramps, the handrail flows over the tops of newel turnings creating a continuous run of handrail.

Curtail Step
A decorative-shaped step at the bottom of the stairs usually accommodating the volute and volute newel turning of the Continuous Handrail System.

Cut String
A string with the upper edge cut away to the shape of the treads and risers so that their profile can be seen from the side.

Flights of Stairs
An uninterrupted series of steps reaching from one landing to the next.

Floor to Floor Height
The total rise of a staircase, measured from the top of the finished lower floor to the top of the finished upper floor.

Decorative vertical grooves sometimes routed into the wood surface of spindles or newel posts.

Staircase which is not supported by walls. Open underneath.

Glue Blocks
Blocks of wood attached to the underside of the stair at the junction of the riser and tread. These secure the risers and treads together and are used to prevent movement and so minimise squeaks.

the going of a flight of stairs is the horizontal distance between the face of the first and last risers. The individual going of a step is measured from face of riser to face of riser and for domestic use should be a minimum of 220mm.

A handrail fitting consisting of an up-ramp, and a vertical turn. It is used at a landing or balcony to raise the rake handrail to the height of the balcony handrail.

Gradient of a staircase
The ratio between the going (horizontal) and the rise (vertical); the angle of inclination.

A protective rail designed to prevent people or objects from falling into an open stairwell. A moulded rail following the pitch, or rake of the staircase – also forms the top/upper edge of the balustrading.

The vertical distance from the lowest point of the ceiling above the stair to the tread nosing. This is relevant to comply with current Building Regulations. A Headroom of 2m is required at all points on and off a staircase and as you pass down a staircase.

Infill Strips
A thin wooden strip that fills the grooved space between spindles in both the baserail and underside of the handrail. (Sometimes call fillet).

A resting place, or wide step anywhere within the staircase or top of a flight of stairs. Landings are often used to change the direction of a stair. This is an item associated with but not supplied with the staircase.

Newel Base
Structural support that forms the lower section into which a newel turning is attached.

Newel Cap
The ornamental top of the newel post. Often carve shaped or turned.

Newel Post
Accommodates the strings, handrails and treads/risers of stairs.

The edge of the tread projecting beyond the face of the riser.

Open Risers
A staircase designed with only the horizontal surfaces of the treads fixed to the stair strings. The vertical space between treads is open but limited to less than 100mm by a timer half-riser.

The angle between the pitch line and the horizontal. (or gradient of a staircase).

Pitch Line
The notional line connecting the nosing of all treads in a flight of stairs.

Perfectly vertical, perpendicular to the floor.

Rail System/Railings
The balustrade. Used to describe a complete rail system consisting of the handrail, spindles and baserail.

The pitch of the stairs.

The rise of a flight is the vertical distance between the floors or landings connected by the flight. The individual rise is the vertical measurement from the top of the tread to the top of the tread.

The board that forms the face of the step. The maximum individual rise for domestic flights is 220mm.

Routed string
A string that has been routed out for the insertion of treads, risers and wedges.

The horizontal distance covered by the entire staircase. Technically it's the distance from the trimmer face to the front of the first steps nosing

The visible sloping under-surface between stair strings.

Turned, carved or otherwise vertical sections placed between the handrail and the stair tread or string. Also known as balusters.

Stair Direction
Either right or left hand. Determined by the turn a staircase makes when facing it from the bottom.

The entire structure relating to a stair, comprising steps, treads, risers, strings, balustrading, landings, etc.

The space/void provided for the stairs.

The tread and riser combined.

The inclined boards in which the treads and risers are enclosed.

Top Nosing
narrow tread nosing situated above the top riser or along the upper edge of a balcony. This gives the appearance of a tread at the top of the staircase.

The top or horizontal surface of a step.

Trimmer Joists
These are used to construct a well suitable for the opening of the staircase. These are held together with screws or joist hangers. This is an item associated with but not supplied with the staircase.

Up Easing or Up-Ramp
A handrail fitting that joins two handrails or fittings at different angles in a graceful, pleasing manner.

Wall Rail
A handrail that is mounted onto a wall and supported by wall brackets rather than newels or balusters.

Wall Rail Brackets
Metal support for wall rail.

Wall String
The string of a staircase fixed flush with a wall.

Tapered pieces of wood, coated in glue and used to hold treads and risers tightly into a routed string.

Well Opening
The opening on the upper floor (lower floor ceiling) for placement of a staircase. From Trimmer to Trimmer

Winder Tread
Tread with a greater run on one side than the other. Used on helical or winder staircases.

These are radiating steps narrower at one end that are used to change the direction of stairs, typically through 90° or 180°.
Timber Stairs, Essex, Suffolk, Halstead
Timber Stairs, Essex, Suffolk, Halstead
Timber Stairs, Essex, Suffolk, Halstead

We are really pleased with the design and the way they look. The oak is lovely


You are a great little company and similar organisations could learn a big lesson from the way you do things.


It was such a pleasure dealing with your company


I asked if it could be delivered in a couple of weeks and immediately I was given a date which was adhered to (a rarity these days)


The stairs obviously fitted perfectly and exceeded our expectations with regards to quality and finish especially considering they were so reasonably priced.


Thank you so much for what can only be described as a first class service from start to finish.