A staircase is a series of stairs arranged in such a way as to connect the different floors of a building. Stairs are designed to provide easy and quick access to different floors.

A ladder is an enclosure that contains the entire ladder.

components of stairs
components of stairs

Terminology Used During Stair Design

Below are some of the commonly used technical terms for staircase design.

1. Steps

It is a part of the ladder that allows climbing or descending from one floor to another. It is made up of a walk and a rise. A ladder is made up of a set of steps.

2. Speed

It is the upper horizontal part of a ladder on which the foot is placed while ascending or descending the ladder.

3. riser

It is the vertical part of a step that provides support to the walk.

4. Growth

It is the perpendicular distance between two consecutive moving faces.


5. flight

It is a series of steps without any platform or direction to descend or break.

6. Landing

It is a platform provided between two flights. A landing that extends to the full width of a ladder is known as a half-spaced landing and a space that extends only half of a ladder is called a quarter-spaced landing. A landing facilitates a change of direction and provides an opportunity to rest during the use of the ladder.

7. to be

It is the horizontal distance between two consecutive rising faces.

8. nosing

This is the outer projecting edge of a tread. It is generally rounded to give a more pleasing look and to make the ladder easier to navigate.

9. winders

They are taping steps used to change the direction of a ladder.

10. Scotia

It is the molding provided under the nosing to improve the height of the step, and to provide strength to the nosing.

1 1 Roof

It is under a ladder.

12. line of nosing

It is an imaginary line parallel to the strings and tangent to the nosing. It is useful in the manufacture of hand rails, providing the line with which the lower surface of the hand rail should coincide.

13. pitch or slope

This is the angle the stair nosing line makes with the horizontal.

strings or stringers
strings or stringers

14. strings or stringers

These are the sloping members that support the steps in a staircase. They walk along the slope of the ladder.

15. newell post

The Newell post is a vertical member that is placed on the ends of the flights to connect the ends of the wires and hand rails.

16. pole pole

It is a vertical member of wood or metal, which supports the hand rail.

Head Room and Pitch or Slope
Head Room and Pitch or Slope

17. witness box

The combined structure of a railing and a baluster is known as a balustrade. This provides safety for the user of the ladder.

18. hand rail

It is usually a round or molded member of wood or metal following the contour of the nosing line, and fixed at the top of the balusters.

19. head room

It is the minimum apparent vertical distance between the tread and the upper structure (ie the roof etc.).

20. running

This is the total length of the ladder in the horizontal plane including the landing.

21. header

It is the horizontal structural member supporting the stair stringer or landing.

Er. Mukesh Kumar

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Er. Mukesh Kumar is Editor in Chief and Co-Funder at ProCivilEngineer.com Civil Engineering Website. Mukesh Kumar is a Bachelor in Civil Engineering From MIT. He has work experience in Highway Construction, Bridge Construction, Railway Steel Girder work, Under box culvert construction, Retaining wall construction. He was a lecturer in a Engineering college for more than 6 years.