The graphic and photograph below give you the most commonly used terms in staircase construction.
If you want to discuss your staircase you will find it useful to have a basic knowledge of these.

staircase teminology

The Balustrade

The balustrade assembly is a safety guard for the staircase. It usually consists of ‘Newel Posts’ at the top and bottom of the stair run. The posts anchor the ‘Handrail’ which gains additional support from the spindles.


A large post used to anchor the balustrade assembly. A half – newel may be used where a railing ends at a wall. It has the visual effect that the newel post is embedded in the wall.


Handrails can be continuous (running over the newel post) or post to post (newel to newel).

Newel Cap

Newel Cap A decorative cap on top of the newel.


Volute A handrail for bullnose steps that is shaped like a spiral.

staircase terminology diagram

Staircase Carcass

The carcass is the main body of the staircase before any balustrade is fitted.

String / Stringer

The structural members that support the treads and risers


The part of the stair that is stepped on.


The vertical portion between each tread of the stairs.


The vertical measurement from the top of one tread to the top of another tread.


The measurement from the face of the riser to the riser.


The part of the tread that overlaps the riser.