Stair Part Definitions and Terminology

Stair Part Definitions and Terminology

Stair parts have many different names, which can confuse first-time stair part buyers who are trying to renovate their current staircase, or for those that are browsing to get ideas for their staircase in a new home. We at StairPartPros understand the possible confusion one would have about these products. That is why we have created this helpful guide for you to better understand what each product is, and how they are an essential part of a complete staircase.


Handrails are what people use to assist them up or down a staircase. They are typically made from wood and can vary in style, along with curvature.


Balusters, also known as pickets or spindles, are mounted shafts that support the handrail on either side of a staircase. They can be made out of iron or wood, and come in a multitude of styles.


Also known as a central pole or support column, a newel is the main support of the handrail, either at the end of the handrail or underneath the handrail. They come in a variety of styles and wood species and are typically solid.

Box Newel

A box newel is different in that most are hollow compared to normal newels. Box newels get the name due to the box shape that they have. They come in a variety of sizes and wood species.


The tread is the horizontal portion of a staircase that the person steps on to go up or down the stair. They can be made of wood or metal, with carpet being common in residential buildings.


The riser is the near vertical backboard that is between each tread. They connect the treads together and allows for a closed look, as well as increased rigidity. They typically match the tread's wood species and would be covered with carpet as well, if applicable.


A board on the side of a staircase, a skirtboard is a non-structural trim piece to add a clean, luxurious look to a staircase.

Handrail Fittings

Handrail Fittings are pieces of pre-made wood handrails bent in specific ways to connect two straight or bending handrails. Includes up-easing, over easing, gooseneck, quarter turn, volute, and others.


Shoerails are the "handrails" for shoes on the lower portion of a staircase. It is a channel that allows shoes from balusters to sit flush in. They typically match the handrail's wood species for a uniformed look. Shoerails are not required, however.


Shoes are decorative pieces that the baluster goes through, which covers the hole at the bottom of the baluster. Typically only paired with iron balusters, and can be placed inside a shoerail.

Advanced definitions and terminology

Looking for a more detailed guide to all of the terminology in the star business? Look no further.