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Glossary Of Staircase Terms - I To Q

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

staircase kickboard

The 2x4 wood member located at the base of the staircase stringers which are notched to accept the member.


ladder staircase

The designation for a staircase in which the slope exceeds acceptable rise and run requirements.

staircase landing

A horizontal platform located between the upper and lower floors. Generally utilized to accomplish a change of staircase direction.

L-shaped stairs

A staircase that makes a 90 degree turn.

Mortised Stringer

mortised stinger

A stringer in which recesses have been cut to accept treads and sometimes risers.


staircase newel posts

A large vertical member to which the handrail is attached. Newels supply the structural support for the balustrade. Primarily used on staircases that do not have walls surrounding them.


strair tread nosing

The part of the tread that overhangs the face of the previous steps riser.

Notched Stringer

notched stringer

A stringer that has been cut out in saw-tooth pattern to support treads and possibly risers.

Open Riser

open riser staircase

A staircase in which the vertical space between stair treads is left open.

Over-the-post Railing

over the post railing

A balustrade in which a continuous handrail is attached to the tops of newel posts.

Pinned Baluster

pinned balusters

Manufactured balusters with wood dowels (pins) protruding from the base that are designed to fit into holes bored into the treads.

Pitch Block

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A triangular piece of wood with sides equal to the rise, run, and slope of the stairs. It is used as a drill guide when constructing the underside of a handrail.

Platform Stairs

platform stairs

Stairs built without the use of stringers for low decks and patios.

Post-to-Post Railing

post to post railing

A balustrade that has the handrail cut to fit between newel posts.

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