Basic Stair Building Vocabulary

Here are a couple of useful terms that stair builders use in the construction industry. Keep something in mind here, carpenters who work on the East Coast of the United States, often refer to certain types of stair building materials or operations with other words.

What is a stairwell? The stairwell is the opening in the floor where the stairs will pass through from one level to the next one.

What is a staircase landing? The staircase landing is any area that is larger than the treads and is located at different levels of the stairway. Most stairway landings are usually not smaller than 36″ x 36″.

What is a tread? A tread he has the horizontal section of the stairway that most people step on to walk up and down the staircase. Otherwise known as the stair step.

What is a riser? This is the vertical section of the stairway that separates each stair treads.

What is a stringer? The stringer is the structural supporting member that the stair treads and risers attach to. Some carpenters also refer to stair stringers in a stair horses.

What is the minimum stairway width? It depends on the use, but 36 inches is usually the minimum stairway with for most building departments. Always check with them before building.

I hope that this improves your stair building vocabulary and gives you a better idea of the words that carpenters and construction workers use while building stairways or making repairs to them.

I remember back when I thought it was difficult to build certain parts of a home, including the staircase, but with a little help from a few books, websites and of course some of these amazing articles, I have faith that you can learn everything I have and more.