Stairs are an essential component of any building, providing access to different levels and ensuring a smooth transition between them. While we often take stairs for granted, there are several technical terms associated with them that are important to understand. In this article, we will break down the key terms used in stairs, allowing you to have a better grasp of their functionality and design.
The term ‘steps’ refers to the individual horizontal surfaces that we walk on when using stairs. Steps are typically made of materials such as wood, concrete, or metal and are designed to provide a secure foothold as we ascend or descend.
The tread is the part of the step that we step on. It is the horizontal surface where our feet rest when using the stairs. Treads come in various shapes and sizes, and their design plays a crucial role in ensuring safety and comfort.
The riser is the vertical component between two consecutive treads. It is the height between each step and plays a vital role in determining the overall height of the staircase. Risers can be open (with gaps between them) or closed (solid or covered).
A flight refers to a series of steps that are connected without interruption. It is the uninterrupted section of stairs between landings or floors. Flights can be straight, curved, or spiral, depending on the design and layout of the building.
A landing is a level platform or area between two flights of stairs. It provides a resting point and allows for changes in direction or elevation. Landings are typically larger than steps and offer a space for people to pause or change direction.
The nosing is the front edge of the tread that extends slightly beyond the riser. It helps improve visibility and provides additional space for the foot. The nosing can vary in shape, depending on the design and safety requirements.
A scotia is a concave molding used to trim the bottom edge of a flight of stairs. It adds aesthetic appeal and serves to protect the edge of the stair tread. Scotia moldings are often made of wood or other decorative materials.
8. Line of Nosing
The line of nosing refers to an imaginary line along the front edge of the nosing of each step. It helps ensure consistency in the design and alignment of the stairs, providing a visually pleasing and uniform appearance.
A flier is a triangular-shaped step typically found at the beginning or end of a flight of stairs. It helps to transition from one floor level to another, especially when there is a significant change in height or direction.
Winders are steps that are wider on one side and narrower on the other. They are used to change the direction of the stairs without the need for a landing. Winders can be challenging to navigate and require extra caution.
11. Going of Step
The going of a step refers to the horizontal distance between two consecutive steps. It is an important measurement that determines the comfort and safety of using the stairs.
12. Rise of Steps
The rise of steps refers to the vertical distance between two consecutive steps. It is another crucial measurement that affects the overall comfort and usability of the staircase.
The soffit refers to the underside of a staircase. It is often finished with materials such as wood, plaster, or metal, and adds a decorative element to the overall staircase design.
The pitch of a staircase is the angle at which it rises. It is usually expressed as a ratio, such as 1:2 or 1:3. The pitch of a staircase determines how steep or shallow the stairs will be.
The slope of a staircase is similar to the pitch, but it is typically used to describe outdoor stairs or ramps. The slope is an important factor in ensuring accessibility and safety.
Strings, also known as stringers, are the inclined members on either side of a staircase that support the treads and risers. They play a crucial role in the structural integrity of the staircase.
17. Hand Rails
Handrails are the horizontal or sloping railings that provide support and guidance when using the stairs. They are essential for safety, especially for those with mobility issues.
A baluster is a vertical post or rod that supports the handrail. They are typically spaced evenly along the length of the handrail and provide additional safety and stability.
The balustrade refers to the entire system of balusters, handrails, and other components that form the protective barrier along the edge of a staircase or balcony.
The newel is an essential component of a staircase. It refers to the upright post or column that provides structural support to the handrail. Newels are typically located at the bottom and top of a flight of stairs, as well as at intermediate landings.
21. Head Room
Headroom is a crucial consideration when designing or installing a staircase. It refers to the vertical clearance above the stairs. In other words, it is the distance between the nosing of the treads and the ceiling or any obstruction above. Headroom ensures that there is enough space for individuals to comfortably walk up and down the stairs without hitting their heads.
Headway is another important term related to staircases. It refers to the horizontal distance between the edge of the nosing of the treads and any obstruction, such as a wall or railing. Headway is crucial for maintaining a safe and unobstructed path for individuals using the stairs.
Spandrel is a term commonly used in staircase design and construction. It refers to the triangular space between the outer stringer or wall and the underside of the stairs. Spandrels are often filled with decorative elements or materials to enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the staircase.
Understanding these technical terms will not only enhance your knowledge of stairs but also enable you to communicate effectively with architects, contractors, and other professionals involved in the design and construction of staircases. Next time you use a staircase, take a moment to appreciate the intricacies of its design and the technical terms that bring it to life.