Staircase Glossary of Terms

The humble staircase can open up a wealth of terminology that can cause confusion.

The diagram below highlights the core components of a staircase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key components

Strings: A span of timber to which treads and risers are attached to support a flight or run of stairs

Tread: The horizontal part of the stair that is stepped on.

Risers: The vertical part of the stair (where no risers are present this would be referred to as "open risers").  The number of steps in a staircase is counted by the number of risers, not the number of treads.

Balustrade:  A row of balusters (spindles) topped by a handrail serving as a safety guarding and along the edge of a staircase.

Handrail: Following the staircase to support and guide during ascending or descending a staircase and an element to grasp in case of a fall

Newel: A large baluster or post acting as a structural element to anchor the balustrade to the floor or stair.

Spandrel: The triangular space underneath a staircase (when there is not another flight underneath).

Winder: A stair that is narrower on one side to enable a turn in the staircase.  A series of winders form a circular or spiral stairway. When three steps are used to turn a 90° corner, the middle step is called a kite winder as a kite-shaped quadrilateral.

Apron: A facia covering the ends of rough strings, carriage pieces, and the joists of landings.

Other key terms:

Flight:  An uninterrupted series of steps.

Rise: The height of an individual step (i.e. this differes from the hight of a riser as it refers to the height that must be stepped)

Going:  The depth of an individual step

Pitch: The slope of the staircase measured as the ratio between the rise and going

Walkline:  The path that an individual would follow up or down a staircase

 

For information on designing timber staircases download the BWF Stair Scheme Design Guide

To find an accredited supplier of timber staircases click here

Need help with timber staircases, why not email your question to bwf@bwf.org.uk or call our technical helpline on 0844 209 2610

 

 

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