GLOSSARY OF STAIR TERMS
SCROLL BRACKET - A decorative accent piece sometimes mounted to the side of a stringer at each corner where a tread and riser intersect with the stringer.
SELF-SUPPORT STAIR - A stair that is supported by it's own structure rather than being supported by a wall underneath. Self-support stairs require more labor and material than non self-support stairs.
SHOE - Decorative trim molding placed on the floor around the riser of a starter tread.
SKIRTBOARD - A board that is placed between a wall and a carpenter built stair and follows the pitch of the stair. Also referred to as mop boards.
SPECIES - A specific type of wood such as Red Oak or Maple.
SPINDLE - See BALUSTER.
SPIRAL STAIR - A stair that is made completely of winder treads with a very tight circular radius. Spiral stairs appear to corkscrew their way around a center post. Sprial stairs take up a very small footprint so they are popular where a stair is needed but cannot take up a lot of room (like in
SQUARE-TOP BALUSTER - Refers to the top section of a baluster that has a square block at the top and terminates into the plowed groove in the bottom of the hand rail. The remaining space in the plow between the balusters is filled with fillet. The alternative is a pin- top baluster.
STACKED STAIR - A stair configuration in which the lower section of the stair travels up to a double landing, then turns 180º and travels the rest of the way up to the next floor. It is referred to as a stacked stair because there is a common wall shared by both the lower and upper sections that
causes the ends of the open treads of the upper section to slightly hang over the lower section.
STAIRWELL - The space into which the stair is to be built. The term is derived from the opening(s) in the floor(s) where stairs will be built to travel from the basement to a second or third floor, thus creating the appearance of a deep "well".
STARTER POST - The newel post that sits at the base of the stair on or at the starter tread.
STARTER TREAD - The first tread at the bottom of a stair. Starter treads are often more elaborate than the rest of the treads.
STEP DOWN - A tread and riser combination that allows safe passage between rooms at different elevations, such as a hallway to a sunken family room.
STRAIGHT STAIR - A stair configuration that does not change direction at a landing or winder tread, but rather travels in a straight line between floors.
STRINGER - The vertical boards at the outside edges of the stair that carry the treads and risers from one floor to the next. There are two types of stringers: closed and open.
TANDEM CAP - A type of hand rail fitting used on over-the-post rail systems. It sits on top of a newel post and connects sections of hand rail on both sides of the tandem cap.
TREAD - The part of the stair on which you walk. Also commonly know as the steps.
TREAD RETURN - A piece of wood added to the end of an open tread which returns back around the outside edge of the stringer rather than leaving a plain, cut edge on the end of the tread. Tread returns have the same molded profile nosing as the front of the tread. Tread returns are not used on closed
stairs or open stairs with curbed open stringers.
T-SHAPED STAIR - A stair configuration with two lower sections that meet at a landing and then continue to the floor above using a common upper section. Common usage is a kitchen stair and foyer stair that join together at the landing. Referred to as T-Shaped due to the resemblance of the stair
to the capital letter "T" when viewed from an aerial perspective. There are, however, variations on T-Shaped stairs.
TURNOUT - A type of hand rail fitting used at the base of a stair. This fitting flares outward from the linear path of the hand rail above and rests on the top of a newel post that is mounted on a bottom round tread. It is similar to a volute but less ornate.
UP EASE - A type of hand rail fitting used to make a vertical transition in the pitch of the stair, usually at the intersection of hand rail into a newel post.
U-SHAPED STAIR - A stair configuration in which the lower section of the stair travels up to a double landing, then turns 180º and travels the rest of the way up to the next floor. It is referred to as a U-Shaped stair because, unlike a stacked stair, there is not a common wall but rather the upper
section is offset from the lower section creating a U-Shape when viewed from an aerial persepective.
VOLUTE - A type of hand rail fitting used at the base of a stair. This fitting flares outward from the linear path of the hand rail above and rests on the top of a newel post that is mounted on top of a bottom round tread. It is similar to a turnout, but more ornate.
WALL RAIL - A section of hand rail with a basic profile (that meets all local code jurisdictions) that is mounted to a wall using brackets. They are most commonly used on sections of stairs that are between two walls. Wall rails do not have balusters.
WALL RAIL BRACKET - Brackets used to mount wall rails to the wall. They are available in a variety of finishes.
WALL-SIDE STRINGER - A closed stringer that is placed against a wall. The alternative is an open stringer.
WINDER STAIR - See 45º STAIR or DOUBLE 45º STAIR.
WINDER TREAD - A type of tread used in a 45º or double 45º stair. These treads are short at one end and long at the other end. This type of tread allows the stair to change directions without the need for a landing. Also referred to as a pie tread.
Y-SHAPED STAIR - A stair configuration with two upper sections that angle toward each other to meet at a landing and then continue to the floor below using a common lower section. Referred to as Y-Shaped due to the resemblance of the stair to the letter "Y" when viewed from an aerial perspective.