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The Anatomy of A Staircase.


 While the treads and handrails are part of the staircase we can all name , do you know your newel post from your spandrel? Does it really matter anyway? Well if you are planning to renovate or install a new staircase being able to communicate your ideas to your contractor, designer or parts supplier using the correct lingo may be very helpful. 



A & T Carpentry teach you about the parts and Anatomy of the Staircase!


A quick crash course into the finer points of your staircase…

1.   Treads

Stair tread installationThe tread is the flat, horizontal part of the staircase that you place your feet on when ascending and descending. Treads come in a variety of materials, including wood, glass  and metal. You can also add carpeting or anti-slip materials to your treads but if you have spent a small fortune on a solid wooden staircase you are likely to want to show it off!



2.   Risers

The riser is  the vertical part of the stairs that appear in between the treads.  The  height of each step is known as the rise. You don’t place your feet on your staircase  risers, and in some cases such as as spiral staircases, your stairs may not have risers at all.  This is called an open riser.

3. Feature Step

The first step of your staircase, also known as a curtail or bullnose step, can be made into a real feature step that’s wider than the rest. Sometimes one or both ends are in the shape of a scroll and is  known as a scroll step. The lowest step will usually hold the bottom newel post too.

Bull nose step staircase






4.   Stringers

 Staircase stringer installationWhile the treads and risers are part of the steps the stringers are the parts of the staircase  on either side of the treads and risers, holding them firmly in place.  Strings come in several different types, among them are outer closed strings, meaning you cannot see the sides of your steps, and outer open strings, which allow you to easily see the stairs’ profile. The inner string is the inside face of the string and a wall string attaches to the wall!



5. Under stair Doors

You’ve seen Harry Potter? Right?  A door underneath the stairs!  The space underneath the stringers can be used for storage or even another room!

Anatomy of a stiarcase

6. Spandrel

The spandrel is the triangle panel that covers the underside of the stringer to create storage space.

staircase spandrel A&T Carpentry

7. Hand Rail

The handrail is supported by the balusters or spindles and can also be made from wood, metal or glass. It finishes at either end, and is supported by the newel posts.  This is the part of the staircase you hold onto as you climb up and down the stairs.

A & T Carpentry Staircase design 

8. Base Rail

The base rail sits on top of the string and runs in parallel to the hand rail. It is where the bottom of the spindles or balusters are fixed in place. 

White Oak Staircase Base rail 

9. Spindles or Baluster

Parts of a staircase

The spindles, or balusters are the vertical struts between the base rail and the hand rail.  They can be designed and made in a variety of materials and are often very decorative.  

10. Newel Posts 

These are the vertical posts that the handrail ends in at the bottom and top of the staircase and where the handrail changes direction.  They are the main supports for the handrail. A smaller post is, called the half newel is used when the handrail finishes into a wall or column.

11. Newel Cap

This is the decorative cap that sits on top of the newel post. These can be brought in a wide variety of style and materials and can even be ornately carved to complement the styl of the staircase and surrounding decor.


A & T Carpentry would love to hear about your project.  Why not tell them about your new staircase installation or renovation plans.  They are always on hand to offer free friendly advice and a competitive quotation.