Real wood treads add beauty and durability to your stairway. Unlike carpet, which are often made from man-made materials, treads come from a renewable source. Why not add the beauty of real wood treads and risers to your home? Risers are the "kick plates" of a stairway. In the past, risers were often painted wood, but in recent times, more and more builders are offering quality stained risers to match the treads. Starting steps are the first step in a stairway. They are usually rounded on one or both sides to accommodate either a box newel or a turned newel post and a fitting called a volute. The volute is usually circled by 5 balusters to complete this classic look.