A new staircase will provide a wonderful focus point to your house or business, whether it’s a basic yet elegant straight flight, lovely oak spirals, or the most intricate sweeping helix design. However, because the terminology can be difficult at times, I’ve put together a step-by-step tutorial to your new stairwell.
The tread and riser make up the tread and riser of a staircase step.
Stair Tread: The section of the staircase that is trodden on is known as the tread. It’s made to the same standards (thickness) as any other type of flooring. The “depth” of the tread is measured from the step’s outside edge to the vertical “riser” between steps. From one side to the other, the “width” is measured.
The riser is the vertical segment of the stairwell between each tread. This might be left out for a “open” stair impression, depending on building codes.
Stair Nosing is a protrusion of the tread’s edge over the riser beneath it. If it’s there, it signifies that the overall “run” length of the stairs isn’t just the sum of the tread lengths; the treads really overlap each other somewhat horizontally.
Where the stairs are open on one or both sides, the first step above the lower floor may be broader and rounder than the subsequent steps. The handrail includes a horizontal spiral called a “volute” that supports the top of the balusters, and the balusters often form a semicircle around the perimeter of the rounded part. Starting steps, in addition to their aesthetic appeal, allow the balusters to provide a larger, more secure basis for the handrail’s termination. Even with a stout post, handrails that merely finish at a post at the foot of the steps might be less stable. When both sides of the stairwell are open, a double Bullnose can be employed.
Staircase The structural part that supports the treads and risers is known as a stringer or string. The treads are normally supported by two stringers, one on each side of the stairwell; however, the treads can be supported in a variety of ways. The risers and treads are occasionally notched to fit into the stringers. Stringers on open-sided stairs are frequently left open, allowing the treads to be seen from the side. These stringers are referred to as “cut” stringers. The stringers on the closed side of the stairs are closed, with the tread support routed into the stringer.
Staircase Winders: A staircase winder is a set of stairs with one side smaller than the other. They’re utilised to change the direction of stairwells that don’t have any landings. A spiral or circular stairway is formed by a succession of winders. When three steps are used to turn a 90 degree corner, the middle step is referred to as a kite winder since it is designed like a kite.
Stair Trim: Trim (such as quarter-round or baseboard trim) is used to conceal the reveal where the tread and riser meet, as well as where walls meet floors. Between the lower level and the first riser, shoe moulding might be employed. Because the last riser above the lower level is rounded, trimming a starting step presents a unique issue. For this purpose, flexible plastic trim is available; nonetheless, hardwood mouldings are still employed, which are either carved from a single piece of rounded wood or bent using laminations. Scotia is a concave moulding that runs between the riser and the tread above it, beneath the nosing.
The term “flight” refers to a continuous set of steps.
If there is nothing underlying a set of steps, it is considered to be “floating.” To highlight the open impression, the risers are usually absent as well. Only one stringer may be present, or the stringers may be reduced in number. There may not even be railings where construction codes allow.
Staircase Landing or Platform: The portion of a floor around the top or bottom step of a stair is known as a landing. A short platform erected as part of the stair between main floor levels, an intermediate landing is often used to allow staircases to reverse directions or to provide the user a break. Because intermediate landings take up floor area, they can be costly to construct. Changing the orientation of the stairs, on the other hand, allows steps to fit where they wouldn’t otherwise, and offers privacy to the higher level by preventing people from seeing up the stairs to the upper level.
Carpeting that runs down the centre of the steps is known as a stair runner. Runners can be stapled or attached directly to the stairwell, or they can be held in place by a specific bar that secures the carpet where the tread meets the riser.
Spandrel: The triangular gap beneath the steps is called a “spandrel” if there isn’t another flight of stairs immediately beneath it. It’s typically utilised as a storage space. Staircase: This phrase refers to the actual stairs, including the steps, railings, and landings, yet it is sometimes interchanged with “stairs” and “stairway.”
Stairway: This phrase is frequently used interchangeably with “stairs” and “staircase” to refer to the complete stairwell and staircase in combination.
Spiral stairs are a type of stair that winds around a central pole. On the outside side of spiral stairs, there is usually simply a handrail, while on the inner side, there is only the centre pole. A squared spiral stair starts with a square stairway and then stretches the steps and handrail to the same size, resulting in uneven steps (larger where they extend into a corner of the square). The steps and railing are equal and screw-symmetrically positioned in a pure spiral staircase, which presupposes a circular stairwell. A narrow spiral staircase with a centre pole makes excellent use of floor space. From a mathematical standpoint, the name “spiral” is mistakenly used to a staircase since a mathematical spiral lies in a single plane and travels towards or away from a central point. A spiral staircase, by mathematical definition, would be of minimal utility because it would provide no elevation change. Helix is the right mathematical name for motion in which the locus maintains a constant distance from a fixed line while travelling in a circular motion around it. The existence or absence of a central pole has no bearing on the nomenclature used in the structure’s design. Spiral staircases in mediaeval times were usually formed of stone and wrapped in a clockwise direction (from the ascendor’s point of view) to put assaulting swordsmen, who were mostly right-handed, at a disadvantage. Because of the imbalance, the right-handed swordsman is forced to engage the middle pike, limiting his mobility in comparison to the defender facing down the steps.
Helical Staircases: Helical staircases, often known as circular steps, lack a centre pole and feature handrails on all sides. When opposed to spiral stairs, helical staircases have a more consistent tread width. An elliptical or oval platform can also be used to create a helical staircase. With two separate helical steps in the same vertical area, a double helix is feasible, enabling one person to ascend and the other to descend without ever meeting if they pick distinct helixes. Fire escapes are typically functionally double helixes, with two independent steps intertwined and sharing the same floor area, despite having landings and straight lines of stairs. This is sometimes used to justify the legal necessity for two separate fire exits. The number of turns on both spiral and helical staircases can be used to distinguish them. A “quarter-turn” stair places the user in a 90-degree angle from their starting position. Half-turn, three-quarter-turn, and full-turn stairs are also available. Depending on the height, a continuous spiral can make several rotations. Old stone towers within castles, churches, and lighthouses are commonly found with multi-turn spiral stairs.
Staircases: Staircases come in a variety of kit and “off the shelf” styles. These ready-made staircases, on the other hand, will never fit as well as a real custom staircase, which has been properly planned and built by artisans to fit into a specific place. It is necessary to do a comprehensive on-site survey prior to building a bespoke staircase. Boss Stairs will send a professional surveyor and a staircase designer to the job site to collect precise measurements and offer advise on the many design possibilities. The design or layout, the materials to be utilised in the building of the staircase, and the kind and style of railing system are all alternatives. We’d start by deciding on a layout and plan, which is often governed by the amount of room available. Then decide on the sort of wood that will be utilised for the flight. We recommend Oak stairs, Walnut stairs, Ash stairs, Sapele stairs, or Mahogany steps for a hardwood flight. To create a contemporary aesthetic, utilise contrasting woods, such as Walnut treads with Oak or even painted risers. There’s also the option of using a straight or cut string, as well as the type and style of railing system to utilise, which might include typical wooden spindles and newel posts, a glass balustrade, or even wrought iron. Wooden spindles come in a variety of styles, while wrought ironwork comes in an unlimited variety of patterns. Finally, we’d decide if any further features, such as particular starting steps or volutes, should be used. Back at the office, the designer will create a computer-aided design (CAD) plan and offer a precise cost estimate. These prices will include the cost of manufacturing and supplying the item, as well as any installation and/or finishing that may be necessary.
The Balustrade: The balustrade is a system of rails and balusters that keeps people from going down the edge of a staircase.
The angled member for hand gripping, as opposed to the vertical balusters that hold it up for steps that are open on one side; there is often a railing on both sides, sometimes only on one side, or none at all, and on large staircases there is often also one in the centre, or even more. The phrase “bannister” can refer to only the handrail, the handrail and the balusters, or just the balusters.
The Volute is a railing end part for the Bullnose step that spirals inward. Depending on which side of the stairwell the railing is on as one faces up the steps, a volute is considered to be right or left-handed.
A turnout is a quarter-turn rounded termination to the railing, rather than a complete spiral volute.
Gooseneck: A gooseneck is a vertical handrail that connects a sloping handrail to a taller railing on a balcony or landing.
A rosette can be used to trim the handrail where it stops in the wall and a half-newel is not utilised.
Wall brackets are used to install wall railings directly to the wall. Such rails flare to a horizontal railing at the foot of the steps, and this horizontal piece is known as a “beginning easing.” The horizontal part of the railing at the top of the steps is known as a “over easing.”
A metal core is commonly used in wood handrails to offer added strength and rigidity, particularly when the rail must bend against the grain of the wood. “Core rail” is an old word for the metal core.
The vertical poles that support the railing are known as balusters or spindles. Guards or spindles are other names for them. Treads frequently necessitate the use of two balusters. The second baluster is higher and closer to the riser than the first. The second baluster’s additional height is usually in the centre of the ornamental features on the baluster. The bottom decorative components will line with the tread, while the top decorative elements will align with the railing angle.
A big baluster or post used to anchor the railing is known as a newel. It extends below the floor and subfloor to the bottom of the floor joists and is attached directly to the floor joist since it is a structural element. Where a railing meets the wall, a half-newel can be utilised. It appears like part of the newel is lodged in the wall. A newel may extend below the landing creating a decorative newel drop on open landings.
Baserail or Shoerail: A base rail is used in systems where the balusters do not begin at the treads. This eliminates the second baluster problem by allowing identical balusters.
Fillet: A ornamental filler piece on the balcony railing’s floor between the balusters.
Handrails can be continuous (also known as over-the-post) or post-to-post (or more accurately “newel-to-newel”). Multiple newels and tandem caps to cover the newels may be used for continuous railings on long balconies. Quarter-turn caps are located at the corners. The newels protrude over the handrails in post-to-post systems. The tangent technique is a more traditional style of hand railing that is still in use. It provides for continuous ascending and twisting rails and easings, and is a version of the Cylindrical style of layout. It was defined in the 18th century by architect Peter Nicholson’s concepts.
Each step’s rise height or rise is measured from the top of one tread to the top of the next. It is not the riser’s physical height; the latter does not include the tread’s thickness. For each step taken on the stairs, a person would travel this distance vertically.
Tread Depth: From the edge of the nosing to the vertical riser, the tread depth is measured.
In plan view, the going is measured from the edge of the nosing to the edge of the nosing. With each step forward, a person taking the stairs would cover this distance.
Total Run or Total Going: The horizontal distance between the first and last risers is known as the total run or total going of the stairs. Due to the nosing overlapping between treads, it is frequently not merely the total of the individual tread lengths.
The entire rise of the stairs refers to the distance between floors (or landings) that the flight of steps spans.
The whole ascent divided by the complete run is the slope or pitch of the stairwell (not the individual riser and treads due to the nosing). The rake of the stairs is another name for it. The pitch line is an imaginary line that runs along the tip of the treads’ nosing. Stair pitch is measured in degrees from the horizontal in the United Kingdom.
Headroom is the distance between the nosing of a tread and the ceiling above it.
The inner radius of the curve on curved stairs might result in very thin treads. The “walk line” is an imaginary line that extends a short distance from the inner edge and along which people are expected to walk. The distance will be specified by the building code. The minimum tread size at the walk line will thereafter be specified by building rules. To avoid any misunderstanding, the number of risers in a set of stairs is always the same as the number of treads.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that it provided you with some food for thought.