Glossary of Terms

While browsing our site, you may come across terms that are unfamiliar to you. If that’s the case, look no further – we’ve compiled an alphabetized list of terms that you may want or need to know about doors, railings and other structures.

ABRASIVE: A hard, gritty material most often used in polishing or grinding. Abrasives create a non-slip surface when implanted in metal.

A trade name coined by the Aluminum Company of America which refers to its anodized finishes in aluminum; the finishes can be clear or color-impregnated.

ANCHOR: A tool used to fasten one component to another construction or a supporting unit.

ANCHORAGE: A method of securing an object to a base; to be secure.

ANGLED STAIR: (1) A stair where sequential flights are placed at an angle that is not a traditional 180 degree angle. (2) A stair where sequential flights are placed at an angle that is not a traditional 180 degree angle, with a platform between each flight.

ANNEAL: To heat, then slowly cool glass or metal in order to diminish internal stress and strengthen the material.

ANODIC COATING: The finish achieved by anodizing.

ANODIZE: To apply an oxide coating on a metal (typically aluminum) through electrolytic means in which the processed metal acts as the anode.

ARC WELDING: A process in which metal parts are fused together, using heat from an electric arc between either two electrodes or an electrode and metal.

AS FABRICATED: (1) A term which refers to the external texture and appearance on metal mill products as a result of the forming process. (2) A term which refers to the surface appearance of a manufactured metal product before deformities are removed.

BALUSTER: A closely-aligned pillar, column or other upright unit which helps to support a the handrail on a railing. Also known as a Picket, Spacer Bar or Paling.

BALUSTRADE: A railing which is held up by balusters; it is generally an architectural feature.

BAR: A section of rolled, stretched or extruded metal; can be square, rectangular, round, or hexagonal.

BAR SIZE SECTION: A hot-rolled zee, tee or channel in which the largest cross-dimension is less than 76.2 mm or 3 inches.

BEND LINE: The point at which a structure’s direction changes.

BEVEL: See: Pitch.

BLOW HOLE: Voids, holes or pores found in casting; often occur because of trapped gas.

BONDERIZE: To chemically treat a metal (typically steel) with a phosphate solution in order to strengthen the metal and prevent corrosion.

BOTTOM RAIL: The lower unit of a railing system which supports any present panels or balusters.

BRACKET: A projecting member attached to another member’s surface, for the purpose of support and strengthening.

BRAKING: Mechanically bending, folding, or forming sheet material, using a brake such as a folding brake or press brake.

BRAZING: To join metal parts together through heat by soldering with a brazing alloy such as copper, nickel or zinc at a high temperature.

BUFFING: (1) To polish. (2) A process which creates a luminous, polished finish by way of power-operated fabric tools covered in an abrasive wax compound.

BULLNOSE STEP: Typically the first step at the bottom of a flight of stairs in which either one or both ends of the step have a semi-circular shape.

BURNISHING: (1) To polish metal by rubbing. (2) To create a smooth, luminous surface on a metal piece by rubbing the metal with tough pads, or by rocking the metal in a drum containing small metal balls.

BUTT JOINTING: A joint formed by two adjacent surfaces placed precisely together with no overlap.

CANTILEVER: A projecting beam or support beam attached at only one point and which extends past the support structure.

CAP: A device used to plug or close off the end of a post, tubular rail, the top of a tubular newel or a pipe.

CAP RAIL: See: handrail

CARBON STEEL: (1) Steel which is mainly composed of the alloying element, carbon. (2) A type of steel whose characteristics are reliant on the percentage of carbon present.

CARBURIZING: A process in which one heats metal (typically iron or steel) in a carbon-rich environment in order to harden the surface of the metal. Commonly refereed to as “Case Hardening”.

CARRIER ANGLE: a metal angle secured to stair stringers or carriers, the purpose of which is to support the end of a tread or riser. Also known as a “Pitch Block”

CARRIER BAR: A flat bar used to support the stair treads or riser in a method similar to carrier angles.

CARRIERS: Refers to carrier angles or bars; used to support stair treads or risers.

CASTING: A process in which liquified metal is poured into a mold, creating an object or product.

CAST IRON: (1) An alloy of iron and carbon. (2) An firm, brittle and non-malleable metal that cannot be bent or changed. (3) a metal commonly used both decoratively and for functional purposes due to its strength and high resistance to corrosion.

CAUSTIC DIPPING: The process of submerging metal into a caustic solution (e.g. sodium hydroxide) for cleaning functions.

CAUSTIC ETCH: A intricate matte texture created by treating aluminum alloy with an alkaline solution, such as sodium hydroxide; also referred to as a “frosted finish”.

CEMENT, QUICK SETTING: A fast drying cement used to secure railing pillars into sleeves or holes.

CHAMFER: To cut away or reduce to a symmetrical sloping edge; to reduce to a sharp edge.

CIRCULAR STAIR: A stair named for its circular form; it contains a single center of curvature. Also referred to as a spiral stair.

CLIP: A small device, often made of metal, used to secure an element in place.

CLOSURE BAR: A flat metal bar which is used to seal any gaps between the stringer and the wall.

COLD-FINISHED STEEL: Steel which has been cold-drawn or cold-rolled through dies. Once complete, the steel should have a better surface finish and other improved elements.

COLD ROLLING: A metal forming process in which metal is passed through heavy rollers; during this process no heat is used, and the metal is formed at a temperature below its recrystallization temperature (hence the term cold-rolling).

COLUMN: A structural element which is subject to axial compression loading.

CONSTRUCTION JOINT: A discontinuity in a concrete structure; typically indicates where construction stopped and then started up again.

COPE: To sand, file or cut away a part of one member. A method used to form a perfect fit for a joint, or to allow room for another member.

CORROSION: A process in which metals decay; colloquially, this is known as rusting.

COUNTERBORING: To enlarge a hole, by means of boring, drilling or turning, so that a fastener (bolt head, nut, etc.) can fit into the hole.

COUNTERSINKING: To enlarge the edge of a hole, typically by beveling, so that a fastener (crew, bolt, nail, etc.) will sink into the hole to become flush with (or below) the surface. Also refers to tools used to countersink holes.

COVER FLANGE: See: Escutcheon

CURVED STAIR: A stair with two or more curved centers; it may be helical, spiral, elliptical, or oval, but it does not have a center pole.

DECKING: A strong, lightweight sheet-metal platform often used for supporting roofs or floors.

DEFLECTION: A bending or sagging deformation of a structural component.

DRAINAGE HOLE: See: Vent Hole.

DRAWING: A metalworking process in which metal is pulled through dies to modify finish and mechanical properties.

DRAWINGS: Technical drawings which depict architectural and structural plans, often used by architects or engineers.

DRIFT PIN: A rounded and tapered pin which is used to enlarge, shape, or align holes in pieces of metal.

DROP: Referring to stairs, this is a type of fitting which closes the bottom part of a tubular newel.

DURANODIC: An Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa Inc.) trade name for hard anodic coatings.

EASEMENT: The curved member of a handrail.

ELASTIC LIMIT: The maximum extent to which an object or material may be put under stress without undergoing permanent deformation.

EMBED: To mold into concrete.

EMBOSSED: To impress a raised pattern or design onto a piece of sheet material.

ESCUTCHEON: A piece of metal used for protection and/or decoration typically around the base of a post, or at the point where a rail ends against a wall. Also referred to as a cover flange.

EXPANSION JOINT: A joint designed to allow movement of connecting parts due to heat-induced expansion or contraction, eliminating the risk of moment transfer.

EXTRUSION: A process of producing long, straight metal pieces in which heated metal is forced through an opening in a die.

FABRICATE: To construct, assemble, form or produce metal products.

A stringer which is exposed on one side while supporting treads and riser ends on the other side.

FACTOR OF SAFETY: A safety factor; the ratio of the minimum ultimate stress or minimum yield stress.


FATIGUE: Structural failure which is the result of repeated or fluctuating stress applications, with no single stress application being strong enough to result in failure on its own.

FERROUS METAL: A metal which is primarily composed of iron.

FIELD CHECK: To confirm that existing dimensions match those that are drawn before beginning the fabrication process.

FIELD JOINT: A connection between adjoining parts or members, created during installation, and typically made via welding or through the use of an internal mechanical connector

FILL (STAIRS): The process of placing concrete, terrazzo, or another substance with characteristics of cement over a metal construction to create a tread or platform on a wearing surface

FINIAL: A decorative item placed atop a railing post, fence, or newel; commonly known as an Urn.

FIXED METAL STAIR: A series of three (or more) steps in one (or more) flights which are permanently stable; used to create ambulatory access between two or more building floors.

FLAT: A rectangular bar which has a width that is greater than its thickness.

FLIGHT: A continuous series of steps between a floor and a landing area, or between two floors.

FLIGHT HEADER: Refer to Header, Flight

FLIGHT RISE: The vertical distance between floors or a landing platform connected by a series of stairs.

The horizontal spacing between the face of the first riser and the face of the last riser.

FLOOR PLATE: A steel plate which has a raised pattern that renders a non-slip wearing surface; often referred to as a tread plate (when made of aluminum).

FLUSH BOLT: A bolt or rod mounted flush in a door to lock the door in place.

Two conjoined pipes (or tubes) which have the same outer diameter.

FORGING: The process of shaping metal through the use of heat and force (typically, heating and hammering).

FORMING: Using other means besides forging, casting or machining to shape metal. This process is typically done via mechanical action.

GAGE: See: Gauge.

An electrochemical reaction that takes place when an electrolyte comes into contact with disparate metals, often creating a corrosive effect (depending upon the differing metal properties and metal areas exposed to the reaction).

GALVANIZING: To process of coating a metal with zinc.

(1) A measure which indicates the thickness of a metal, or the diameter of a wire. (2) The distance measured between adjacent lines of fasteners or holes, recorded in inches.

GENUINE WROUGHT IRON: A material with low carbon content, generally used to create decorative structures; a material designed to resist corrosion.

GRAB RAIL (GRAB BAR): A rail purposefully situated for safety needs and for convenience.

GRINDING: The process of removing metal through the use of abrasive movement.

GRIT: An abrasive, granular substance (such as silicon carbide or aluminum oxide) typically used for grinding, sanding or polishing rough surfaces. Conversely, is can also be used to roughen slick surfaces (such as metal) and create a non-slip texture.

GRIT NUMBER: Denotes to size of the abrasive grain used to polish or grind metal materials; grit numbers range from course to fine.

GUARDRAIL SYSTEM: A rail which serves the purpose of protecting pedestrians who are on, or are close to the outer edge of a staircase landing, platform, or accessible roof; also refer to Railing System.

GUSSET: Part of a metal plate used to build or fortify a line or angular joint between two or more pieces of metal.

HAMMERING: Peening done by machine or by hand, in either hot or cold environments, which dents metal surfaces in an artistic fashion. This is also known as the Swedish Look.

HAND OF SPIRAL STAIR: This term is used to refer to a stair’s turn direction. Right-hand indicates that the stair will turn counter-clockwise while the user is going upward. Left-hand indicates that the stair will turn clockwise.

HANDRAIL: This a mostly horizontal member that is grasped by the hand as it slopes upward or downward. The member could be attached to a rail, known as a top member or a top rail; it could also be mounted on the wall or connected to a different part of the building. It runs parallel to the pitch of the stairs.

This is a device that is attached to the near wall, to a post or to some other surface, and it gives the handrail support. If the bracket is a lefthand model, it is situated on the user’s lefthand side during ascension. The opposite is true for a righthand model.

HANGER: A tension member that carries the main load, supporting the stair framing device.

HARD ANODIC COATING: This coating goes over aluminum, and it is applied through proprietary anodizing, without using pigments or dyes. It protects against abrasion or corrosion, and it is made in shades of gray, bronze or black.

HEADER, FLIGHT: This horizontal member is utilized in stair construction projects, and it is connected at platform or floor level, offering support to the ends of the stringers.

HEADER, PLATFORM: This horizontal member does not carry stringers, but it does support the stair platform.

HEADING: This is the overall process of enlarging – also known as “upsetting” – a metal piece at the very end.

HEADROOM: This is the minimum distance, vertically, from the top of a stair or platform to the underside of the ceiling, the soffit or another type of overhead construction. It is measured from the tread’s outer edge.

Steel that has a chemical composition that has been developed purposefully to give it more impressive mechanical properties; sometimes, a greater overall resistance to corrosion can be achieved than is possible with traditional carbon structural steels.

HOT DIP GALVANIZING: Applying a layer of protective coating over common ferrous metals, which is achieved through dipping the metal sheet into molten zinc.

HOT ROLLED: This refers to the process of shaping by pushing a heated billet through a set of rollers.

HOT WORKING: Forming metal sheets or pieces when the temperature of the metal is greater than that metal’s recrystallization temperature.

I.P.S.: This simply stands for “iron pipe size.” It refers to the pipe’s inside-diameter.

KALCOLOR: The name that is most often listed by Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation when referring to a hard anodic coating.

KICK PLATE: (1) The protective plate that is connected to the face of the door, on the lower section. (2) The vertical plate that forms a small, low curb – or a lip – on the edge of the floor or the platform; it could also be located at the open end or even the back edge of the stair.

KNOB: This is a curved fitting at the end of a handrail that is used for ornamental purposes.

KNOCKED DOWN: This term is used to refer to a product that has been shipped before being assembled, which then has to be assembled when it reaches the job site.

LAMB’S TONGUE: This is another style of curved fitting at the end of a handrail that is used for ornamental purposes.

LANDING: The level, flat section of the staircase that is located at the end of the flight of stairs.

LAP SEAM: The joint that is created when two metal sheets overlap; these sheets may be joined together through welding, riveting, brazing or soldering.

LAY OUT: A configuration done to scale of a particular structure.

LATERAL SCROLL: This is a fitting that curves horizontally, terminating a handrail.

LINTEL: A structural member, running horizontally, that spans the head of a wall opening, supporting the wall.

MALLEABLE IRON: A type of iron cast in sand and annealed. It flexes slightly when cold. Malleable Iron is used in construction projects where resilience and shock resistance are critical. It can be welded without cracking with the same process as steel welding.

MECHANICAL COATING: A process of coating ferrous material with zinc. During tumbling, zinc powder or flakes are added along with glass pellets. The pellets pound the zinc into the surface of the metal to give it a protective coating.

Any type of railing member connection other than adhesive bonds or welding.

MECHANICAL PROPERTIES: The measurement of how a particular material responds to forces that would bend, compress or otherwise interact with it. Ductility, elasticity, strength and stiffness are all examples of mechanical properties.

METALLIZE: The process of adding a metal coating via powder or molten metal to another type of material, including other metals.

MID RAIL: The middle rail.

MILL FINISH: The finished surface of a product after the process of rolling, extruding or drawing, prior to the addition of another finish.

MILL SCALE: The surface of steel after heating or hot rolling. Characterized by a scaly surface caused by oxidation.

MOCKUP: A temporary assembly of a construction made either full size or to scale for testing purposes. Mockups are used to study construction details and techniques as well as the performance of the final product.

MOLD: A hollow form used to contain molten metal, which then hardens into a casting.

NEWEL: The square or rectangular post that supports the end of a railing or acts as the joint and support between two railings.

NON-FERROUS: Metal that lacks an iron component.

NOSING: The lip of a stair tread that extends out beyond the riser of the stair below it.

See: Carrier Bar, Carrier Angle

PAN TREAD (STAIRS): See: Pan Type, Tread

PANEL: A construction of railing between the posts and top and bottom rails. Used to hasten installation and add interest to the finished rail.

PARALLEL STAIR: Flights of stairs leading from one platform to the next and doubling back parallel to the initial flight. Most stairwells are parallel stairs.

PATTERN: The form that is used to create a mold. See Also: Mold.

PERFORATING: The act of drilling or punching holes into a sheet of metal, either singularly or in a pattern for decorative or utilitarian purposes.

PERFORMANCE: The ability of a piece of metal to conform to the established requirements.

PERMANENT: The opposite of temporary; the ability for a piece to function indefinitely without repair or change.

PERMANENT SET: When a load is applied to a structure, it may deform under pressure. The permanent set is the amount of deformation it retains after the removal of the pressure.

PHOSPHATIZING: Immersing a piece of metal into a solution of phosphoric acid. This process is used to create a coating that is resistant to corrosion as well as better able to retain paint.

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES: The properties of a given material which serve to set it apart from other types of matter. Some properties include density, conductivity, thermal expansion and specific gravity.

PICKET: The upright members that support a handrail. Also known as balusters.

PICKET CASTING: The ornamentation attached to a picket for decoration.

PICKET RAILING: A railing made up of posts, pickets and a top rail at minimum. Adorned railings may include bottom rails and other additions.

PICKLING: A type of coating which, when applied to a metal, cleans it chemically and provides a strong and non-reactive oxide film.

PIPE RAILING: A type of railing made out of pipe.

PIPE, ROUND: A round segment of metal with a hollow in the middle, measured and identified by the diameter of the hollow interior.

PITCH: A measurement of how steep a given slope is, given by degrees or percent most usually.

PITCH BLOCK: See: Carrier Angle.

PITCH DIMENSION (STAIRS): A measurement of the distance between the top and bottom risers of a given flight of stairs, parallel to the slope of the flight. See Also: Nose to Nose Dimension.

PITTING: Small defects in the surface of a metal, usually corrosion taking the form of small depressions or pits.

PLATE: A flat sheet of metal at least .180″ thick and at least 8″ wide.

PLATFORM (STAIRS): The landing at the top of a flight of stairs or between two flights of stairs. Characterized by a width greater than the tread and a position parallel to the stringer.

PLATFORM HEADER: See: Header, Platform.

POCKET: An opening in the structure of a stair that supports a post, bracket or other piece of structural metal.

POST (RAILING): The vertical members of a railing that support the horizontal beams and pickets.

PRE-ASSEMBLED STAIR: A staircase that is assembled at the plant rather than provided as components for later assembly.

PRE-ERECTED STAIR: A staircase designed for use in buildings of multiple stories. These staircases are made to be self-supporting, stackable and connectable.

PRIMER: A coating added to a surface prior to painting or finishing.

PRIMER PAINT: A type of paint applied to a metal specifically to hinder corrosion and to provide a surface for paint to adhere to.

PUNCHING: The use of a significant amount of force to push a die through a piece of metal, forming a hole.

QUENCHING: Quenching is the process whereby heated metals are cooled through contact with a cool substance – this substance may be a solid, liquid, or gas, or some combination of the three – so that the metal in question may be adequately tempered and/or hardened.

RAIL: A rail is the individual component of a railing system. It may be positioned either horizontally, vertically, or at an incline. For clarification and elaboration, see RAILING SYSTEM, STAIR RAIL SYSTEM, WALL HANDRAIL, and HANDRAIL.

RAILING: See Railing System.

RAILING SYSTEM: A safety device composed of a handrail and its support base, an interconnected latticework of individual rails, panels, or both. Rails may be either vertical, horizontal, or inclined, or else set in some combination of the three. Located at the edge of platforms or other structures which present a potential slip / fall hazard. See also: Guard Rail System and Stair Rail System.

RAKE: Slope, incline or angle. Measured and denoted in percent, rise/run, and/or a degree figure. See Also: PITCH.

RAKE DIMENSION: Unique to flights / sets of stairs, this term is interchangeable with the expression “nose to nose dimension.” In either case, it is defined as the distance between the bases of a flight’s top and bottom risers. It is measured in parallel with the slope of the individual flight / set of stairs. See Also PITCH DIMENSION.

RAMP RAIL SYSTEM: This is a railing system specifically designed for and integrated into the sides of ramps and ramp-like structures.

RESIDUAL DEFLECTION: When a load or burden of some type is placed upon a metal structure, it can often leave that structure warped, bowed, or otherwise deformed, even after the burden itself is removed. This enduring defect and the extent to which it exists, if any, is known as “residual deflection”. See Also: PERMANENT SET.

RETURN: This is the technical term given to the one-hundred eighty degree bend in an individual rail. Such rails are usually found on platforms and/or railing terminals.

RISE: Also known as FLIGHT RISE, this is the vertical distance between two platforms and/or floors connected by one or more flights of stairs.

RISER: This is the technical definition for the vertical (or in some cases inclined) face or platform which connects the individual horizontal platforms known as treads. Together, these two systems comprise what we commonly know and refer to as “stairs” or “steps.” Using the bottom / first step as a reference, these risers begin at the back edge of one tread / step and rise – hence the name – to the front or “nosing” edge of the tread / step above. Also called “closed risers.”

RISERS, OPEN: In contrast to the above entry, open risers are steps / stairs without a connecting riser – horizontal stepping platforms with open space in between.

RISER FLIGHT: This is the vertical distance between the tops of two consecutive treads.

RUN: Can refer to a TREAD RUN, which is the horizontal distance between consecutive risers in closed systems and consecutive “nosers” in open ones, or a FLIGHT RUN, which is the horizontal distance between the faces of the top and bottom risers in a flight of stairs.

SADDLE: The raised member beneath a door, also known as the Threshold.

SAFETY NOSING: A type of nosing for a stair that is treated with a special abrasive surface. This surface gives it additional friction for higher traction.

SAFETY TREAD: A type of stair where the entire top flat surface is covered with an abrasive material that increases friction and decreases risk of slipping and injury.

SAND BLASTING: A process used to remove scale and encrustations from a material, or to clean or texture that material. The process involves a high pressure stream of sand directed at the material. The abrasive sand wears away scale and imperfections.

SANITARY COVE: A projection in the interior corner of a stair between the riser and the tread. This projection is placed to provide an angle or curve from which dirt and debris can be removed more easily. This improves stair cleaning.

SCISSOR STAIR: A type of stair layout where there are two stairs adjacent and parallel to each other, but facing in opposite directions. The 180-degree rotation gives more floor access with smaller amounts of stairs.

SCREEN: A type of panel made from a wire mesh or a perforated sheet, used to allow access for light and air but to restrict vision.

SCROLL: A type of decorative spiral or form that works as a railing insert. This is rarely functional and is mostly a matter of aesthetic decoration.

SHEET: A long, thin, flat piece of metal. This metal is rolled out into its current shape, with milled or cut edges. A sheet of metal is less than .229″ thick.

SKIP’S LADDER: A type of staircase with a steep angle. It is more angled than a vertical ladder, but steeper than a traditional staircase. These stairs are used in ships to make connections between two different decks. The angle of a ship’s ladder is between 50 and 77 degrees off the deck. These stairs are never used as public stairways due to their steep angle.

SHOP DRAWING: A drawing of a potential produced used to work, prepared by the fabricator. Not as intricate or accurate as a blueprint.

SIDE MOUNT: A method for mounting a railing to a vertical surface, such as a wall, fascia or stringer face. Also used to refer to that mounting itself. A side mount is also known as a fascia bracket or a fascia flange.

SLAG: A crust of reside that is formed when metal is heated to a melting point. Slag appears during melting or in welding.

SLEEVE: A section of metal tube larger in diameter than another tube or component. A sleeve is used to splice two sections of pipe or tubing. Sleeves are also embedded in concrete or masonry in order to provide an anchor point and pocket for a later installation.

SLIP JOINT: A joint that does not remain fixed in place. Rather, it allows the joining parts to move.

SLOPE: The inclination of a given surface as given by the rise divided by the run. Slope can also be given in angle or in percent. See also: Pitch.

SOFFIT: In stair construction, a soffit is the underside of the stair. It is also a name for the material that is applied to the underside of an exposed stair in construction or after finishing.

SPECIFICATIONS: The document which lists all requirements that a particular construction must adhere to, including measurements and standards.

SPINDLE: A cylindrical picket with ends that have been tapered inward to have a diameter smaller than the middle section.

SPIRAL STAIR: A type of staircase layout with a closed form and a circular plan. Each stair is a uniform shape spaced around a central supporting column.

SPIRAL STAIR (LIMITED ACCESS): A type of spiral stair that has a low limit on occupant load and a small area, typically under 600 square feet.

SPIRAL STAIR (PRIMARY ACCESS): A type of spiral stair that has a normal or high limit on occupant load, typically at or below 50. Larger than a limited access spiral stair.

SPLICE PLATE: A metal plate used to secure two (or more) members together.

SPRAYING: Using air pressure or hydraulic pressure to apply a coating of paint, sealant or other material to a metal, as in spray paint.

SQUARES: A type of metal bar with a square cross-section, usually with rounded corners and occasionally with sharp corners.

STAIR: A series of platforms connected to support struts and railings that connect two or more floors of a structure, or that connect two levels within the same floor of a given structure.

STAIR LIFT: A series of uninterrupted steps leading from one location to another.

STAIR-RAIL SYSTEM: The system of railings positioned along the sides of a stair and landing to prevent falling and add safety.

STAIR RUN: One singular set of stairs leading between floors, platforms and a combination of the two.

STAIRWAY: See: Stair.

STAIRWELL: The vertical space in which a stair is built, regardless of the form of the stair. Also used to identify the open space between flights of stairs in a series.

STEP: Each individual combination of stair riser and stair tread, with the tread above the riser.

STEP RISE: The height of a given riser in a staircase, typically uniform through the entire flight.

STIFFENER: An additional member added to reinforce a single member, preventing or strictly limiting deformation.

STORY HEIGHT: The distance between one floor and the next in a finished building. This distance is measured vertically.

STRAIGHT RUN STAIR: A run of stairs that extends straight in a single line between two floors. This run may be constant steps or they may be interrupted by platforms.

STRING: This term is generally not used. See Also: Stringer.

STRINGER: The structural member that supports a flight of stairs. This member is inclined and may include horizontal sections at either end and platforms in the middle.

STRINGER (BOXED): A type of stringer that has a hollow cross section, typically either a square or rectangle.

STRINGER (CENTER): A type of stringer that is located in the center of a staircase rather than at either edge, supporting treads and risers.

STRINGER (CLOSED): See: Stringer (Boxed).

STRINGER (FACE): A type of stringer that is located at the edge of a staircase, supporting one end of the treads and risers, and is otherwise exposed.

STRINGER (OPEN): A portion of building structure used as a stringer.

STRINGER (PLATE): A single flat plate that is used as a stringer.

A type of stringer, or segment of a stringer, that supports a platform in a run of stairs.

STRINGER (TUBE): A stringer that has a cross-section that is tubular or circular.

STRINGER (WALL): A stringer that is set into a wall and does not support a railing.

STRIP: A long, flat, thin piece of metal. This metal is as thin as a sheet (.229″ or less thick) and no more than 12″ wide.

STRUT: A vertical segment of structural metal used as a support for the frame of a stair. It operates as a column and resists axial forces.

SUB-PLATFORM: The metal floor of a platform that is used to support a fill, which becomes the actual surface of the platform.

SUB-TREAD: A recessed section of metal that is designed to hold a fill, which itself provides the tread of a stair.

A type of metal surfacing texture that is caused by machine or hand hammering. See Also: Hammering.

TACK WELD: Small spot welding that holds a given set of metal parts in place while they are assembled, or a series of small welds used where a single continuous weld is not required to secure the pieces together. Not as strong as a continuous weld.

TEMPERING: The process of heating glass, metal or another material to a temperature close to, but not surpassing the transformation stage. This heating is followed by controlled cooling in order to control the hardness, strength and other properties of the material.

TEMPLATE: A pattern that can be used as a guideline for cutting, welding or otherwise fabricating an assembly. A template may also be a detailed layout pattern with all necessary fabrication details provided.

TENSILE STRENGTH: When a piece of metal is under tension, it can only support a certain amount of pressure. This pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) is the tensile strength of that part.

THRESHOLD: The piece of a door frame that rests on the floor and stretches between the jambs of the door frame itself.

TOE BOARD, TOE PLATE: Alternate names for Kick Plate. A Kick Plate is a reinforcing metal placed at foot level on a door or step in order to prevent damage to the underlying door.

TOLERANCE: The tolerance of a given part is the amount of variance allowed in the fabrication process. As long as the part is within a given range of values for a dimension or specification, it is within tolerance.

TOP RAIL: The top bar or rail of a given rail system. Also called a cap rail.

TRAFFIC RAIL SYSTEM: A type of railing system specifically engineered to control the general movement and flow of a group of people. These rails have unique specifications depending on their intended use.

TRANSFER RAIL SYSTEM: A type of railing that is designed to support the weight of a person to assist in moving their weight. Typically found in showers, tubs and toilet areas.

TRAVEL AREA: The part of a stair that is most typically used during normal operation, as opposed to the areas where people do not normally step.

TREAD: The flat upper surface of a step.

TREAD ANGLE: See: Carrier Angle.

TREAD BAR: See: Carrier Bar.

TREAD DEPTH: The length of a given tread run plus the amount of projection over the riser, if any.

TREAD, GRATING TYPE: A type of stair tread made out of metal grating.

TREAD LENGTH: The width of a tread as measured perpendicular to the typical direction of travel, such as wall to wall.

TREAD PAN: A pan created out of sheet metal and designed to hold fill. When filled, this pan becomes a tread or tread and riser combination.

TREAD, PLATE TYPE: A type of tread or tread and riser that is created out of plate metal.

TREAD RUN: The distance between two risers on a stair or, on an open riser stair, the distance between nosings, as measured horizontally.

TREAD WIDTH: The measurement of the tread run including the amount of projection of the nosing, if any.

TUBING: A section of metal that has a round, rectangular or other cross section and is hollow in form. Tubing is measured in terms of outer dimension and thickness of the tube walls.

UPSETTING: A type of forging process where the cross section of a bar or rod of metal is thickened in a small area.

URNS: The ornamental decoration on top of a railing post.

VENT HOLE: A hole, duct or passageway used to relieve built up pressure of gas, air or liquid. The vent hole is often required during the fabrication process, particularly when the item must be coated through immersion or galvanization. Sometime called a drainage hole.

VERTICAL BARRIER: A temporary or permanent wall or railing constructed or placed along the exposed sides of a stairway or other raised space to prevent people or materials from falling.

VOLUTE (STAIRS): A spiral, twisted, or horizontal scrolled ornamentation used to end a stair handrail.

An anchoring bracket.

WALL HANDRAIL: A rail anchored on at least one end to a wall. In stair construction, the handrail may be used to physically support those using the stairs and to prevent falling. While also used in walkways, platforms, ramps and other areas, in stair construction the rail is usually attached at the top of the stairway.

WALL RAIL: See: Wall Handrail

WALL RETURN: Found at the end of a wall handrail, a bend or curve that turns the rail back toward the wall to which it is attached.

WEATHERING STEEL: This is a group of high-strength steel alloys. Developed to provide a light weight, durable-use option with a high resistance to corrosion, the steel does not require painting and will form an attractive rust-like appearance after several years of exposure to the elements.

WEEPHOLE: A small opening or openings placed in the outer walls of masonry construction to allow for the drainage of water or other fluids.

WELDING: The use of heat and pressure to join two or more metals, alloys, or parts into a whole.

WELDING ROD: A metal rod or wire with the correct mass and density to be used as filler or joining material during arc or gas fusion welding.

WINDER: Often used to create winder stairs, individual winder treads or platforms can come in many shapes but are defined by being less wide on one end than the other.

WIRE MESH: See: Screen.

WORKING DRAWING: See: Shop Drawing.

WROUGHT IRON: (1) A low-carbon iron alloy that is both tough and highly malleable. The nearly pure iron contains some elements of filament slag and is suitable for forging or rolling while molten. (2) A type of metal work made from mild, commercial quality steel that is often used for ornamentation.