Whether you’re enlisting a professional to design or revamp an existing staircase or you prefer to take on the job yourself, the key to success in the project is relying on top-quality custom stair parts. Your stairs present a great opportunity to express your personal style at an affordable price point, and there are more than enough colors, materials, textures and design options out there for you to find something you simply can’t live without.

Since the first step in a well-designed staircase is securing the right parts, here’s an overview of some simple stair part terms you need to know to get started.

Treads, Risers & Stringers

The treads, risers and stringers are the main components of a basic stair system. The “tread” is the flat, horizontal part that your feet actually step on, while the term “riser” refers to the vertical piece that is affixed to the tread to create a step. The “stringers” are what appear on the outside of the tread and riser to hold the two components together. While these pieces can be made from virtually any type of wood variety, some of the more common choices include:

• Ash
• Birch
• hard maple
• Walnut
• Hickory
• Santos mahogany

Many people opt to try and match the wood for their staircase with the wood that’s already used in their floors. Some choose to forgo wood entirely and go with wrought-iron, which tends to give off a more industrial look and feel.

Balusters & Newel Posts

The “balusters” and “newel posts” are the long, vertical parts of the staircase that connect the hand railing to the stairs themselves. The newel posts are the strong, vertical posts found at either end of a staircase, while the balusters are typically narrower vertical posts found in between the newel posts. Both newel posts and balusters come in an array of designs and can be used to enhance your home’s aesthetic appeal.


This one’s a bit more obvious – the “handrail” is simply the part of the staircase you use for support when traveling up and down them. More often than not, the handrail is made from wood, and it is typically flat or rounded to create a comfortable, natural-feeling handhold. You can also find especially elegant or ornate handrails without too much trouble, which can give your home a striking, luxurious look and feel.

Now that you have a general sense of the anatomy of a staircase, you’re ready to start looking for designs and materials that appeal to your aesthetic preferences. To get started, shop StairMaterials.com today.