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A Glossary Of Industrial Staircase Terms

With so many staircase options available today, it can be hard to keep all of the technical terminology straight.  What’s the difference between a baluster and balustrade? Are their fillets in staircases? What’s a winder? If you’ve asked these questions and have trouble with staircase terms, this guide is for you.  Read on for our top glossary terms for industrial staircases!


Baluster:  A baluster is a single post that connects the handrail to the floor.  It adds both support and stability of the hand rail. Balusters can be simple or ornate and are commonly used in both interior and exterior applications.


Balustrade:  A balustrade does differ from a baluster, although many people use the words interchangeably.  While the difference is slight, there is a distinct difference. A balustrade is a complete set of balusters and railing rather than the individual posts.


Box Newel:  A hollow square used to set balusters and secure them to railings and the flooring.  It’s important to create deep enough box newels for appropriate short – if they’re too shallow, the balusters may not provide the support the railing system needs.


Cap:  Caps are used to secure the hand railing to the balustrade.  Much like a box newel, the cap must be correctly shaped and sized to securely fit on the balustrade.


Fillet:  Fillets are used at both the top and bottom of a baluster for added support.  The thin moulding is slatted between balusters to hold each of the balusters in place in the railing system.


Glue Block:  A sturdy block of wood glued to the under part of a step for additional support.  Without a glue block, there would be little support on the tread, which is the flat part of the staircase upon which you step (see Tread below).


Hand Rail:  The part of the assembled railing system that you hold on to for support while walking up and down the staircase.  


Landing:  Landings are small platforms between flights of stairs.  They’re often used for additional decoration and can be functional by changing the direction of your stairs.


Newel:  Newels are used to start and end the assembled balustrade and can be found periodically throughout the balustrade.  Newels are used for added support and style.


Risers:  Risers are the front facing panels in the staircase system – they’re what the stair sits on and provides additional support.  A glue block sits behind the risers to improve support and safety. Like Stringers as you’ll read below, Risers aren’t needed for optimal support.  Many modern staircases simply do without Risers.


Stringer:  A stringer is essentially the side of the stair and is multi-functional.  They’re used for added weight support and improved style. Stringers also aren’t a requirement.  Many modern stairs go without stringers to create modern and open staircase design.


Tread:  The flat part of the stairs that you step on – when you think of the term ‘stairs,’ you’re more than likely thinking of the tread.  Treads need to be assembled correctly to prevent injury and accidents.


S&A Stairs

We know that the many terms involving staircases can be extremely confusing, and if you’re about to start a new staircase project, it’s important to get a basic understanding of the different terms out there.  At S&A Stairs, we want to partner with you from the initial planning of your project to the final installation – we know that we can be the best partner for your project.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this simple guide around staircase terminology – if you have any questions about your staircase options or want to schedule an initial consultation, contact us today!