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Stairparts Home


Here we have a few hints for design and fixing stair parts. We can give some general tips on fixing stair parts but it is very difficult to give full fitting instructions as each installation in different. Below is a Glossary of stair part terms which may be of help. We are also happy to give advice over the phone.

First some legal stuff, stair balustrading in a new-build or extension is subject to building regulations as shown below.


On stairs, the handrail must be at least 900mm from the front edge (nosing) of the steps. On domestic landings, the handrail must be at least 900mm from floor level. In commercial or communal areas, stair height remains 900mm rising to 1100mm on landings.


On a landing, the maximum length of handrail between newel posts is 4metres.


It should not be possible to pass a 100mm diameter sphere through any part of the balustrading. This means, as a rough guide you should allow two spindles per step on the stairs and seven spindles per linear metre on the landing. To the best of our knowledge this information was correct at the time of publication. However, we take no responsibility for the accuracy of this information and you most consult you local planning or building control officer for guidance.

We can help put together a 'kit' of parts to fit any staircase and landing project. If you're not sure exactly what stair parts are needed for your project, let us have details of your stairs, a simple plan with dimensions and a few photos, we can help produce a list of stair parts required.


Many clients will use a tradesman to fit stair parts, however, it is not beyond the scope of a competent D.I.Y.er to fit stair parts to a very high standard. Most of the examples shown on our gallery page are self-fitted.

The starting point is fitting the Newel posts.

For a new installation the newels would be supplied fitted to the staircase, this can be done either as full newels or newels bases with the top part to be fitted later, after all the heavy work of fixing the stairs is completed. Consulting with your staircase manufacturer will help here.

When updating an old staircase, fitting newel posts can get a little complicated, the bottom newel of the stairs can usually be completely removed and replaced with a full newel. The upper newel posts are usually fixed in a position so that they are holding up the stairs; it is rare that these newels can be removed completely. The normal way of dealing with this problem is to cut the newel around 200mm above floor level and replace the upper part with a drop-in newel of your chosen design.

Sadly this will leave you with an original newel base 'on show'. If the finished project is to be painted, this is not a problem, however if the project calls for a polished finish and timber has been changed, say from Pine to Oak, it can be difficult to cover up the original bases.

Over the years we have developed several methods of dealing with the original bases and, depending on the design and location of the stairs we are very happy to help at the planning stage to offer help in dealing with this problem.

Some staircase designs will need a special newel post in order to deal with changes of direction, the most common being the quarter turn newel, used when the stairs turn through 90 degrees and rise up one step. 'Kite winder' and 'pulpit ends' also require special newel posts all of which can be accommodated from our range of newel posts.

After the newel posts are fitted the next stage is the handrails.

With the advent of modern glues, most joiners these days would screw and glue the handrail to the newel posts.

At the bottom the rail is screwed from the underside, and the screw hole is then covered by the fillet. This gives a totally invisible fixing.

At the top, or on a level landing, the rail is fixed by screwing through the newel posts; the screw hole is counter bored 12mm and plugged with a cross grain plug, which gives an almost invisible fixing.

An alternative to screwing hand rails to the newel post is to use traditional handrail bolts, we are happy to supply these along with full instructions for their use.

We offer a full range of continuous hand rail components; this system removes the need for finials on the newel posts, allowing your hand to run the full length of the stairs and landing without letting go. An added benefit is that it is almost impossible to hang coats on the newel at the foot of the stairs!

A continuous hand rail can be designed to fit most staircase designs and we are happy to offer any help in choosing the correct components.

Fitting spindles is the final job.

Once the hand rail and newels are fixed, a base rail is usually screwed to the string of the stair and along the floor of the landing. Spindles are fixed into a groove on the under side of the hand rail and the top of the base rail. Fillet spacers are provided to be cut to length to fit in the groove between the spindles and bead of glue is all that is required to fix the spindles.

An exception to fitting base rail to the stair string is a cut string stair, see below, in this case, the spindles are dowelled into the tread of the stairs. One thing to remember on cut string stairs is that the back spindle on each step must be longer in order to follow the shape of the stairs.

The final job after fitting is to polish or paint your stair parts, this is very much a personal choice and not our area of expertise. One word of caution however, wire wool must never ever be used when polishing Oak. Iron, water and Oak will make a purple dye which cannot be removed from oak.


Half space landing layout.

Pulpit end layout.

APRON - The decorative timber covering the floor joists around the stair opening.

BASE RAIL - A special moulding screwed to the string or landing floor which is used to fix the spindles in place.

BALUSTRADE - The whole structure which provides protection against falling from different levels around a building.

BULLNOSE STEP - The bottom step of a staircase with a rounded, 'D' shaped projection from the side of the staircase on one or both sides. Can also be a double bullnose with two bullnose steps on top of each other.

CONTINUOUS HANDRAIL - A handrail system which is fixed 'over the newel posts' and allows the hand to flow, uninterrupted from the bottom to the end of the whole balustrade.
Horizontal bend A continuous component that allows the handrail to turn horizontally through 90 degrees.
Horizontal bend cap A continuous component that allows the handrail to turn horizontally through 90 degrees with a newel below.
Goose neck A continuous component that allows the the handrail to change from raking up the stairs to horizontal on a landing.
Opening cap A continuous component that starts the handrail on the top of a newel and goes along a landing or, combined with an upeasing, to go up the stairs.
Over easing A continuous component that allows the handrail to go from raking to horizontal.
Running cap A continuous component that allows an intermediate newel on a long length of straight handrail.
Snail end A continuous component that ends the handrail without the use of a newel, more commonly on a wall mounted handrail.
Upeasing A continuous component that allows the handrail to go from horizontal to upward raking and on occasion from raking to vertical.
Volute A continuous component that forms a curve above a bullnose step.

FILLET - Strips of timber which are a snug fit in the hand and base rail grooves which is used to fix the spindles in place.

FINIAL (NEWEL CAP) - The decorative top to the newel posts.

GOING - The horizontal depth of each stair, also the horizontal length of the whole staircase.

HANDRAIL - The top rail of the balustrade which you run your hand along.

HANDRAIL BOLT - A special fixing used to join handrails to continuous components and also to newel posts. click here to see how these are used.

HALF SPACE LANDING - A very common feature which is a square landing at the bottom,in the middle or at the top of a main staircase, requires a special newel type.

KITE WINDER - A space saving feature made up of several triangular steps turning around a single newel post, requires a special newel type.

LANDING - The floor space running along the staircase opening, can be just a fraction of a metre or several metres long.
Often turning through 90 degrees and returning over the staircase or can link two staircases over several floors.
NEWEL POST The large vertical post supporting the handrail at the ends and at each change of direction of the handrail.
Full newel The most common newel post, a complete newel including the base, turned section and a finial of choice in one piece.
Drop-in newel A newel type used when the base is already in place, either in a new installation or in a refurbishment project.
Quarter turn newel A special newel type used on a half space landing, available as full and drop-in type.
Pin top newel Pin top newels are used for continuous handrail projects.
Half newel A modern newel type used to terminate the balustrade where it meets a wall.
Volute newel A special newel type used to support a volute handrail.
Newel base The bottom, square section of a newel post which is joined to the structure of the staircase and floor.
PATTRESS A round, moulded piece of timber which is used as a more traditional method of terminating the hand rail at a wall.

POST TO POST - The most common handrail system in which straight sections of handrail are fixed between newel posts.

PULPIT END - If a half space landing occurs at the bottom of the stairs it can be open to the hallway forming a pulpit end.

RAKE - The sloping parts of a staircase, the angle of the slope is the raking angle.

RAMPED & WREATHED - The most upmarket handrail system, the handrail flows around corners with no sharp corners.

RISE - The vertical dimension of each step or of the full staircase.

RISER - The vertical piece at the back of each step.

STEP - Each step is made up of a tread and a riser.

STRING - The upright timber at the edge of the staircase to which the treads and risers are fixed.

CUT STRING - An upmarket string which allows the treads and risers to project beyond the outer face of the string.

TREAD - The horizontal part of the step.

A few useful links to staircase manufacturers and stair parts fitters.

R J joinery staircase manufacturers and joiners

Yorkshire Cottage Joinery stair parts fitter and joiner

Wood & Laycock staircase manufacturers and joiners

Westcliffe Joiners geometric staircase manufacturers and joiners


Email: info@davedalby.com

Tel: 01924 410381