Stone Staircase Glossary

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If you’re considering a natural stone staircase, we are here to help. One of the first things to try to understand is the vocabulary, or terminology, that is used in the design and construction of a staircase system. There’s certainly no need to get too deep into the woods here in terms of technical minutiae. Nevertheless, it’s important to be at least somewhat conversant on the topic and it’s “language” as you begin doing your research. So here is a very brief stone staircase glossary or perhaps a bit of stone staircase terminology.

Stone Staircase Glossary

We believe it might be easiest to group some of these terms and elements together like they would be grouped, as much as is possible, in an actual stone staircase. That said, let’s put the six elements below together since they are typically very closely placed in an actual system.

  • Treads –  the simplest description possible is that treads are what your feet are stepping on as you walk up and down the staircase.
  • Risers –  again, applying the simplest definitions, risers are the vertical pieces between the treads. Think of them as closest to your toes going up the stairs and closest to your heels coming down the stairs.
  • Nosings –  are the often times rounded outside and forward edge of the tread.
  • Stringers –  are what the treads and risers are attached to on each side of a step.
  • Steps – are, in an easy manner of speaking, the combination of treads, riser, nosings, and stringers.
  • Flights – flights of steps are a section of stairs from one level to another. There can be multiple flights in the system.

We hope that the groupings above make a certain amount of sense and that five below will also:

  • Balusters – are the vertical posts holding up the banisters.
  • Banisters – also known as the railing or handrail, are supported by the balusters.
  • Newels – are larger than the balusters and play a major structural role.
  • Finials – are decorative pieces that many times sit on top of newels.
  • Balustrades – are the pieces above: balusters, banisters, newels, and finials assembled.

Three more should begin to finish up this simple, but we hope informative, stone staircase glossary.

  • Balconies – are upper areas on higher floors that look down over the stairs and landings. Also known as galleries.
  • Half Landings – think of these as large treads that might change the flow or direction of the stairs.
  • Landings – are usually the area at the bottom of the staircase.

The purpose of this post was not to be a comprehensive tome, but to provide enough information in terms of terminology to make the reader conversant in this language by providing a  Stone Staircase Glossary for easy reference. Please email us at for a more in depth conversation with one of our experts. Check out more on Natural Stone Custom Elements. Thanks for reading!

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