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Glossary Of Staircase Terms - A To H

If you are planning on building or buying a staircase it is important that you understand the terminology that contractors and material suppliers will use.

Detailed information on how to construct a staircase.

Staircase Repair

Tread Repair Or Replacement


angle blocks installed between treads and risers

Angle Blocks

Triangular blocks of wood attached with construction adhesive and screws to the underside of the stairs at the junction where the riser meets the tread and/or where the stringer meets a riser or tread.



Small vertical members that are used to support a handrail.



The entire assembly that supports the handrail. It consists of newels, balusters and the handrail.

bracketed stringer

Bracketed Stringer

A stringer that is not notched but has a special metal bracket attached to the inside in order to support the step treads.

cleat stringer

Cleat Stringer

A stringer that is not notched but has wood cleats screwed to the inside to support the step treads.

closed riser

Closed Riser

A style of staircase which uses material to hide the stringers between the treads.

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Dado Stringer

A stringer that has channels mortised on the inside faces to accept the stair treads and /or risers.

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Dovetailed Baluster

Balusters that are attached to stair treads using a dovetail joint. This is an older method of construction.

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Filleted Balustrade

A balustrade consisting of spaces filled with short pieces of wood between balusters.





An ornamental projection on a newel as an example.

folding attic stairs

Folding Attic Stairs

Stairs that mount hidden in a ceiling panel and conveniently pull down to allow access to the attic.

stair railing gooseneck


The upper most section of a curved staircase fitting. Usually used to describe the end piece of a railing.



The part of either a balustrade or wall rail that is grasped by the hand.

stair stringer hangerboard

Hanger Board

A 3/4 inch thick piece of plywood used on interior stairs as a method to secure the stringers to the upper floor joists.

staircase headroom


The vertical distance between the bottom most material of a staircase opening and the highest stair tread.

hollow newel mounting hardware

Hollow Newel

A newel post attached to the sub-floor with a threaded rod.

housed stringer

Housed Stringer

A method of staircase construction where the stringers have tapered mortises routed into the face of the stringers. Treads and risers fit into the mortises and are secured with wedges.

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