GLOSSARY OF STAIR TERMS
45º STAIR - A stair that changes direction at a 45º angle to either the Left or the right. Requires a winder tread (sometimes referred to as 'pie' tread due to it's shape).
BALUSTER - The narrow vertical pieces of a stair's rail system that connect the hand rail to either the plate or tread. Balusters are normally wood or iron and are available in a number of different profiles. Balusters are spaced no more than four inches apart from one another.
BALCONY - A horizontally level rail system overlooking a lower floor below. Usually found at the top of a stair at the 2nd floor overlooking the foyer or family room below.
BOTTOM ROUND - A type of starter tread with rounded ends (or ears) that extend beyond the width of the stair. Can be single ended or double ended.
BREAK-TO-OPEN - Occurs when a stair changes from closed to open in the middle of the stair. Refers to the section where the wall ends.
CAD DRAWING - CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. A CAD Drawing is a two dimensional line art drawing of your stair. We send this to you to be approved prior to your project being manufactured.
CAP & RAIL SYSTEM - This type of rail system is used with carpenter built stairs where the stair company is not employed to make the actual treads, risers & stringers. The cap is a piece of plate mounted to the top of a knee wall. The balusters and hand rail are then built onto the plate.
Cap & rail projects often include skirtboards. The alternative to a cap & rail system is a full stair
CARPENTER BUILT STAIR - A stair built by the framers using framing lumber. These stairs are usually carpeted over and, therefore, use cheaper building materials. Carpenter built stairs often use cap & rail systems with skirtboards.
CARPET RUNNER - A continuous length of carpet, often decorative, that is installed down the center walkline of a full stair. Carpet runners help prevent slipping and wear.
CEILING PLATE - A length of plate mounted to the ceiling where a stair breaks-to-open at a point that requires the hand rail to terminate into the ceiling rather than the end of the wall. The ceiling plate is used to receive the tops of the balusters as well as the hand rail.
CHAMFER - Breaking the corner(s) of a normally square part, such as a newel post for example, by routing the corner(s) at a 45º angle to create a narrow flat face where the corner used to be.
CLOSED STRINGER - A stringer whose outside edge is placed against a wall (wall-side stringer).
CIRCULAR STAIR - An elaborate stair configuration with a broad, curved radius.
CODE RAIL - A continuous rail, required by code, that travels from the bottom of the stair to the top without any interfering object (such as a newel post or wall) blocking a person's hand from being able to travel the full length of the rail without having to remove one's hand to regrip in another
location. When the grip width of the hand rail exceeds local jurisdiction codes, a code rail must also be installed. There are many variations of code rail and each stair is evaluated independently. Please contact our office if you need more information regarding code rail.
COVE - Decorative trim molding placed under the tread nosing and against the riser. Cove has a curved inside radius.
CURBED STRINGER - A type of open stringer into which the treads and risers terminate and the balusters rest on top of the stringer. The alternative to curbed open stringers is mitered open stringers. See definition for more information on mitered stringers.
CURVED BOTTOM - A curved radius section at the base of a non-circular stair. The entire section curves in the same direction, versus a double flair in which each side of the stair curves in mirrored directions outward.
DOUBLE 45º STAIR - A stair that changes direction twice at a 45º angle to either the left or the right & requires winder treads (sometimes referred to as 'pie' treads due to their shape).
DOUBLE CIRCULAR STAIRS - A stair configuration using mirrored sets of circular stairs.
DOUBLE LANDING - The intermediate landing platform on Stacked or U-Shaped stairs. Referred to as "double" because they are double the width of standard landings used on L-Shaped stairs, for example. Double landings are only built by the framers whereas standard landings can be built by
either the framer or stair builder.
EASING - A type of hand rail fitting that accomodates pitch changes in the stair.
ELLIPTICAL BOTTOM ROUND - A bottom round with an elliptical shape.
ELLIPTICAL TREAD - Standard treads with an elliptical shape.
END CAP - A type of hand rail fitting that fits on top of a starter post. Used in similar fashion to a volute or turn out, but does not require a starter tread such as a bottom round because an end cap does not turn to the left or right, but instead continues in the same linear path of the hand rail
on the stair.
FASCIA - Trim piece placed against the wall directly underneath of the plate on balcony sections.
FILLET - Small rectangular pieces of wood used to fill in the plowed groove between the balusters on the top of the plate and/or on the bottom of the hand rail. If using square-top balusters, fillet is required on the bottom of the rail. This differs from pin-top balusters in that pin-top balusters
fit into holes drilled into the bottom of the rail.
FINIAL - The decorative top of a newel post.
FITTING - Small specialty pieces of hand rail used for changes in rail pitch or direction. Fittings are made to match the profile of the hand rail being used. Volutes, turnouts, easings & tandem caps are some types of fittings.
FLAIR - A curved radius section at the base of a stair that slowly curves outward as it gets closer to the first tread from the floor. A double flair has mirrored curved radiuses.
FLUTES - Vertical grooves routed into newel posts and balusters to add a decorative patterned element.
FULL STAIR - A stair project in which the stair builder manufactures the entire staircase, including the treads, risers and stringers. The alternative is a cap & rail system (see definition).