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Parts of a Staircase (Illustrated Diagram)

Photos of staircase and its parts.

Key staircase dimensions:

  • Handrail height:  34″
  • Tread: 10″
  • Riser: 7.75″
  • Nosing: .5″ to 1″
  • Stair width: 36″

Above is our custom illustrated chart showcasing the different parts of a staircase.

Below are descriptions of each part. See our types of staircases diagrams for more information.


The baluster are the spindles that hold up the handrail. The baluster also contributes to overall design of the staircase. You can have highly ornate balusters or simple/plain.

a) Ornate baluster

Ornate wooden staircase baluster

Example of a ornate wooden staircase baluster.

b) Plain staircase baluster

Staircase with plain baluster

Example of a staircase with plain square balusters.

c) Metal baluster

Staircase with metal baluster

Example of a staircase with a metal baluster.

d) Staircase without a baluster

Some staircases don’t have balusters. Instead they have solid sides, often glass. Here’s an example.

Glass staircase

Example of a staircase without a baluster. This has a solid side made of glass.

2. Handrail

The handrail is the part that forms the top of the railing. If the staircase has balusters, it sits on the balusters.

Most are made from wood or metal. Some are wide (5 to 6 inches) while others narrow (2 inches).

34″ is the standard minimum height.

3. Stringers

The stringer is the portion that supports or ties-together the steps. It’s on the side of the steps. There are 2 stringers on a staircase.

For staircases that are against the wall, there’s an open stringer which is exposed and a closed stringer which is the wall or is built into the wall.

4. Tread

The tread is the top or flat step surface. This is what you step on ascending or descending the staircase.

For homes, the tread is made of wood usually, but can be metal or even glass.

As for the surface itself, hardwood, carpet, laminate, tile or even concrete is used.

Some staircases include runners which is a strip of carpet down the center of the stairs which also flows down the center of the treads.

Standard tread depth (i.e. from riser to end of tread) is 10″.

5. Riser

The riser is the portion of the staircase that rises vertically. It’s the face of the steps. It’s usually made of the same material as the tread.

Standard riser height for residential home staircases is 7.75″.

6. Nosing

While not indicated in our above staircase illustration, it’s the lip of the tread that extends beyond the top of the riser. It’s typically 1/2″ to 1″ long.

7. Stair Width

Most building codes stipulate that stairs be no less than 36″ wide.

8. Newel

The newel is the main post at bottom and top that lends main support for the handrail banister.

IMPORTANT:  While we set out staircase dimensions above, it is important you check with your the building code applicable to your jurisdiction for precise staircase dimensions.