Stair Terms

Stair Construction

Stairs Term Volute
A volute is a stair part that is installed at the starting step in a set of stairs.
The volute forms a spiral handrail at the beginning of the handrail
Stairs Term Goose Neck
Goose neck is a stair part that is part of the handrail. The goose neck is
normally used a stair landing that makes a turn and requires a two or three
step up in the handrail.
Stairs Term Riser
The stair riser is the vertical part of a set of
stairs. The riser is the kick board and is
normally between 7 1/2 inch and 8 inch in
Stairs Term Rise
The rise in a set of stairs is the total sum of
the risers in a set of stairs. If a set of stairs
has 16 risers and each riser is 7 1/2
inches, the total rise of the set of stairs will
be a height of 120 inches
Stairs Term Newel Post
A newel post is the larger post that the handrail is attached. Normally there
will be a starting newel post and intermediate newel posts in a set of stairs.
Stairs Term Tread
The stair tread is the horizontal part of a
set of stairs and is the step. The
stair tread
is normally twelve inches in width or depth.
Stairs Term Run
The run of a set of stairs is the sum of the length of all the stair treads.
Normally the tread cut on a stair stringer is 10 inches. If a set of stairs has
15 treads, the stair run will be 150 inches.
Stairs Term Stringer
Stair Stringer refers to the pieces of lumber
that is cut out to form the actual stairs. The
stringers are normally cut out of 2 x 12's. A
normal set of residential stairs should have
at least three stringers. There are building
codes that dictate the min and max heights
and widths of risers and treads
Stair Terms
Stairs Terms
Category Construction Glossary
Balcony - For stairs with an open concept
upper floor or landing, the upper floor is
functionally a balcony. For a straight flight of
stairs, the balcony may be long enough to
require multiple newels to support the length
of railing. In modern homes, it is common to
have hardwood floors on the first floor and
carpet on the second. The homeowner
should consider using hardwood nosing in
place of carpet. Should the carpet be
subsequently replaced with hardwood, the
balcony balustrade may have to be removed
to add the nosing.
Flight - A flight is an uninterrupted series of steps.
Floating stairs - A flight of stairs is said to be "floating" if there is nothing
underneath. The risers are typically missing as well to emphasize the open
effect. There may be only one stringer or the stringers otherwise minimized.
Where building codes allow, there may not even be handrails.
Landing or platform - A landing is the area
of a floor near the top or bottom step of a
stair. An intermediate landing is a small
platform that is built as part of the stair
between main floor levels and is typically
used to allow stairs to change directions, or
to allow the user a rest. As intermediate
landings consume floor space they can be
expensive to build. However, changing the
direction of the stairs allows stairs to fit
where they would not otherwise, or provides
privacy to the upper level as visitors
downstairs cannot simply look up the stairs
to the upper level due to the change in
Runner - Carpetting that runs down the middle of the stairs. Runners may
be directly stapled or nailed to the stairs, or may be secured by
specialized bar that holds the carpet in place where the tread meets the
Spandrel - If there is not another flight of stairs immediately underneath,
the triangular space underneath the stairs is called a "spandrel". It is
frequently used as a closet.
Staircase - This term is often reserved for the stairs themselves: the
steps, railings and landings; though often it is used interchangeably with
"stairs" and "stairway". In the UK, however, the term "staircase" denotes
what in the U.S. is called "stairway", but usually includes the casing - the
walls, bannisters and underside of the stairs or roof above.
Stairway - This term is often reserved for the entire stairwell and
staircase in combination; though often it is used interchangeably with
"stairs" and "staircase".