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Staircase Terminology

a guide to what’s what in stairs.

Closed staircase

a staircase which has both treads and risers.

Open staircase

a staircase which has no risers creating an opening between each tread.


the side part of the staircase which houses or supports the tread and risers.

Cut stringer

a Stringer which is cut to the underside of the tread and riser profile. Creates a very different look with the tread overhanging the outside of the stringer. Against a wall these care called “concealed” stringers.


the flat platform area on a staircase which is generally used in the change of direction. A landing is the preferred method of changing direction.


winders are basically angled steps used where the staircase changes direction. With space being very tight in a lot of designs these days winders are used more and more in place of landings. Staircom strongly recommends the use of landings instead of winders where possible.


treads are the part of the staircases that you place your foot on as you walk up or down the staircase. They can have a bullnosed or square shape on the front edge.


risers are the piece of material that runs vertically between each tread – this forms what we refer to as a closed staircase.

Newel Posts

newel posts are used to support the staircase and to form the ends of balustrade sections. There are many different sizes and profiles to choose from to create the look you want.


the piece of timber which sits on top of your balustrade section that you run your hand on when walking up or down a staircase. Handrails are available in different materials and profiles.


a handrail which is fixed to the wall next to a staircase with “L” shaped brackets creating a clearance between the plaster wall and the handrail.


balusters are what fill the gap between the underside of the hand rail and the stringer to form the balustrade. Balusters are available in timber and steel and come in many different shapes, sizes and designs.

Bullnose step

a Bullnose step is a feature step generally at the bottom of the staircase which can have a curve to one or both sides. These feature steps may also have square corners.