Everyone has seen stairs, knows what they are, and almost everyone has used them a time or two, but recognizing a staircase is much different than knowing the important parts that make up that staircase. So, let’s break it down.
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.
The tread is the part of the stair that is actually stepped on. It typically looks like a normal piece of flooring.
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.
The last part of the first collection are the stringers. 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.
The second group, the railing system, is the group of stair parts that collectively build and create the balustrades. These parts are essential. They offer safety and stability when ascending or descending your staircase.
The handrail, also known as a banister or stair railing, is designed to offer support and stability.
The balusters, sometimes referred to as spindles, are the vertical posts that hold up the handrail. They are used between railing and tread to help support the staircase.
Newel posts are the large structural posts that are used to secure the handrails. Newel posts can be shaped into a variety of designs adding individualized style to your staircase. Half-Newels are used where a railing ends in the wall. This gives the illusion that the newel is inserted within the wall.
Box newels are large four sided newels with a hollow inside that are used in post to post stairway systems. In a Post to Post system, handrail fittings are not usually necessary. By contrast, in an Over the post stairway system, fittings are almost always used. If you do not have space to use a box newel on your stairway, you can consider using turned newels.
Finials are the decorative cap added to the top of a newel post. This is often seen at the end of the balustrade.
Article by Amber Burkhart
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