A smaller, decorative piece of wood, usually 3 1/2″ wide, attached to landing and balcony walls. (click here for picture).


A vertical spindle or turning that is installed on a tread (step) to help support the handrail; there are usually 2 or 3 per tread. (click here for picture).

Balustrade System

A term referring to all the parts (newels, balusters, and handrails) of a particular stairway.

Box Newel

A square newel used in a post-to-post balustrade system.

Box Stair

A stairway which has walls on both sides.

Brackets (also referred to as stringer brackets)

Decorative pieces fastened to the outside of a stringer.

Bull Nose Tread

A tread that has one or both sides finished in a radius. Often used as a starting step and often requires a curved riser beneath.

Circular Stairway

A curved stairway which is mounted on stringers rather than a central pole.


Strips, generally flat, which fill the plow between square top balusters on plowed handrail and shoe rail.


A handrail fitting or easement consisting of an up-easing, a vertical rail. It is used at a landing or balcony to raise the rake handrail to the height of the balcony handrail.

Landing Newel

A newel situated at a landing or balcony.

Level Quarter Turn

A level handrail fitting which turns by 90 degrees.

Level Rail

Handrail which runs level along a landing or balcony.

Newel Post

The major support of a staircase. Newels are larger in diameter than balusters and are located at the bottom and top of a stairway or at a turn in the handrail. (click here for picture)


A narrow bullnose tread situated over the top riser and along the edge of a balcony to give the appearance of a tread at the top of the stairway.

Opening Cap

A handrail fitting at the start of a level balustrade system (also known as an end cap).

Open Stair

A stairway with a wall on one or no sides.

Over Easing

A handrail fitting which connects a rake handrail with a level handrail without the use of a gooseneck.


A stair system which uses fittings to go over newel posts for a continuous handrail. (click here for picture)

Plate Rail

The bottom, flat part of a rail assembly that sits on the floor or caps a pony wall (better known as shoe rail).


The routed portion of a handrail or shoe rail used for the inserting of square balusters. The gaps left between balusters are covered with fillet.


Staircase in which the handrail is not continuous. The handrail is lagged into the face of a square-top newel. (click here for picture)

Rail Bolt

A bolt used to attach two pieces of rail.

Rail Fittings

Fittings are used in an over-the-post system for a continuous handrail appearance through turns and changes in elevation.


The angle of ascent of a stairway. This is determined by the rise and run.

Return, Mitered

Tread nosing applied to the outside of an open tread to cover end grain.


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


A small, decorative piece of wood placed between the end of a handrail and a wall.


The front to back depth of a stair step.

Shoe Rail

A piece of wood running along the floor or on top of a pony wall which is plowed for the insertion of balusters and fillet.

Skirt Board

A piece of decorative wood attached to the wall (open and/or wall side). (click here for picture)

Spiral Stairway

A curved stairway which is mounted on a central pole rather than on stringers.

Stair Direction

Either right-or-left-hand. Determined by what side is open when facing it from the bottom.

Starting Easing

A handrail fitting which is used at the bottom of a stairway with a starting newel.

Starting Newel

The newel used at the bottom of a stairway.


The supporting members which run the length of the stairway on which treads, risers, and balustrade are mounted.

Tandem Cap

A straight level handrail fitting with a newel cap. Tandem caps generally are used on newels in long stretches of balcony handrail.


The horizontal component of a step upon which one walks.

Tread Cap

A short piece of tread at the edge of the stair tread to simulate full wood steps when carpet comes down the middle of the steps (click here for picture)

Tread, Pie

Tread with a greater run on one side than the other (“pie” shape). Winder treads are used on Circular, Spiral staircases.


A handrail fitting used on a starting newel which curves away from the stairway. This is a small curve. It can be a left or a right.

Up Easing

A handrail fitting which joins two handrails or fittings at different angles in a graceful, pleasing manner.


A handrail fitting used on a starting newel with balusters that turn away from the stairway in a circular fashion. This also needs a bull nose starting step. Can be a left or a right.

Wall Rail

A handrail which is mounted on a wall and supported by wall rail brackets only.

Wall Rail Brackets

Metal or brass supports for wall rail.