Whether you are planning on remodeling an existing staircase or building a brand new one, you’ll want to be familiar with the terminology and be able to recognize and identify each component needed for your particular design. For most, “baluster” and “gooseneck” don’t come up in common conversation, but with a little knowledge and practice, you can be well versed in stair part terminology in no time. A little familiarity with terms and the ability to identify common stair parts will save you the embarrassment of confused looks and frustration.
There are two main groups of stair parts. The parts that make up the actual step that you walk on and the collective parts of the railing system. The first collection comprises of risers, treads, stringers, and the starter step.
The starter step is the decorative first step of a staircase. The tread and riser make up this step. The starter step in usually wider than the width of the basic stair. When choosing your starting step it is important to know which newel post you intend to mount on it. The standard sized starting step is usually used with an over the post balustrade system and most often utilizes a volute. The larger starting step is often used in conjunction with a box newel to really set your stairway apart from the crowd.
The tread is the part of the stair that is actually stepped on. It typically looks like a normal piece of flooring. Here you can find a great selection of treads in almost every size and wood type. Quality stair treads and risers create the foundation of any stairway. They get the greatest amount of use and abuse. To ensure the life and durability of your stairs, choose stair treads that are solid wood. If they are "return" stair treads, make sure that the return is glued and biscuited to the tread prior to hand sanding.
Risers are the vertical components of the stairs that allows for the step to rise. They are essential in adding necessary strength to the stairs and make up the foundation upon which the treads are laid.
Lastly, the stringers are the structural part that supports the treads and risers. Stringers can be found on either side of the stairs. Stringers are not always an essential part to a staircase as treads may be supported many other ways.
Article by Amber Burkhart
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