Glossary of Terminology

As with every complex industry, there is terminology and vocabulary that maybe unfamiliar. That is why we have compiled this glossary of terminology to help inform everyone about what we do.

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Commonly Used Fabrication & Welding Terminology

A rough substance commonly utilized for refining or honing. Abrasives offer better grip when embedded in metal.
A trade name coined by the Aluminum Company of America referring to its anodized aluminum finishes.
A tool employed to securely attach one component to another structure or support unit.
A technique for fastening an object to a base.
Angled Stair
(1) A stair with sequential flights at a non-traditional angle. (2) A stair with angled flights and platforms between them.
To heat and gradually cool glass or metal to relieve internal stress and enhance material strength.
Anodic Coating
The result of anodizing, creating a coated finish.
To apply an oxide coating on a metal, often aluminum, using electrolytic methods with the metal as the anode.
Arc Welding
A method of fusing metal parts using heat from an electric arc between electrodes or an electrode and metal.
As Fabricated
(1) Refers to external texture on metal mill products from forming. (2) Surface appearance of metal products prior to refinement.
A vertical support that helps hold up a handrail. Typically made from wood, metal, or stone and spaced evenly along a staircase or walkway.
A railing supported by uprights (Balusters) spaced at regular intervals. Used on stairways, balconies, and decks.
A section of metal formed by rolling, stretching, or extrusion.
Bar Size Section
Hot-rolled zee, tee, or channel with largest dimension under 76.2 mm (3 inches).
Base Rail
The lower rail of a balustrade, supporting the balusters or spindles.
Belly Stair
A Belly Stair features a concave curve on the front edge of each tread. This type of staircase is commonly found in residential settings and adds a unique visual element to the design.
Bend Line
The point where a structure's direction changes.
An angled or rounded edge at the corner of surfaces.
Blow Hole
Voids, pores, or holes in castings.
To treat metal, often steel, with a phosphate solution for strength and corrosion prevention.
Bottom Rail
Lower railing unit supporting panels or balusters.
A projecting support member attached to another surface for reinforcement.
Mechanical bending, folding, or forming of sheet material using a brake like a press brake.
Joining metal parts using heat and brazing alloy, such as copper or nickel, at high temperature.
(1) Polishing. (2) Luminous finish using abrasive wax tools.
Bullnose Step
A stair with the leading edge of the tread projecting beyond the riser, often used in public places.
(1) Polishing metal by rubbing. (2) Smoothing metal surface by rubbing with abrasive pads.
Butt Jointing
Joint formed by aligning adjacent surfaces without overlap.
Projecting beam attached at one point extending beyond support structure.
Device to plug end of post, rail, or pipe.
Cap Rail
The upper rail of a balustrade, supporting the balusters or spindles.
Carbon Steel
(1) Steel primarily composed of carbon. (2) Steel type determined by carbon percentage.
Hardening metal surface by heating in carbon-rich environment. Also called "Case Hardening".
Carrier Angle
Metal angle supporting tread or riser on stair stringer. Also known as "Pitch Block".
Carrier Bar
Flat bar supporting stair treads or risers, similar to carrier angles.
Refers to carrier angles or bars.
Cast Iron
(1) Iron-carbon alloy. (2) Strong, brittle, non-malleable metal used decoratively and functionally.
Creating object by pouring liquified metal into mold.
Caustic Dipping
Submerging metal in caustic solution for cleaning.
Caustic Etch
Matte texture created by treating aluminum alloy with alkaline solution.
Cement, Quick Setting
Fast-drying cement for securing railing pillars into sleeves or holes.
To cut or reduce to symmetrical sloping edge.
Circular Stair
Stair with circular form.
Small metal device for securing elements.
Closure Bar
Flat metal bar sealing gaps between stringer and wall.
Cold Rolling
Forming process passing metal through rollers.
Cold-Finished Steel
Steel cold-drawn or cold-rolled for improved surface finish.
Structural element subject to axial compression.
Construction Joint
Discontinuity in concrete structure.
Sanding, filing, or cutting away part of member for joint fit or room for another member.
Process of metal decay.
Enlarging hole for fastener to fit in.
Enlarging edge of hole for flush fastener installation.
A horizontal member at the bottom of a stair stringer, providing support to the treads and risers and serving as a nailing surface for the riser. Can also describe the curved end of a Bullnose Starting Step.
Curved Stair
Stair with two or more curved centers.
A lightweight, sturdy sheet-metal platform commonly used for supporting roofs or floors.
The bending or sagging deformation of a structural component due to applied forces.
Double Return Stair
A double return stair features a landing where the staircase turns and heads in the opposite direction. This design adds a unique architectural element and can be used in larger spaces.
A metalworking process involving pulling metal through dies to modify properties and finish.
Technical depictions of architectural and structural plans used by architects and engineers.
Drift Pin
A tapered pin used to shape, enlarge, or align holes in metal pieces.
A fitting used in stairs that closes the bottom of a tubular newel.
An Aluminum Company of America trade name for hard anodic coatings on aluminum.
The curved section of a handrail.
The radiused edge where two members meet at an angle, often used on stair stringers, handrails, or newel posts.
Eastern Stringer
A staircase with stringers (supports) on the inside of the treads and risers.
Elastic Limit
The maximum stress a material can undergo without experiencing permanent deformation.
Elliptical Stair
An Elliptical Stair is characterized by its elliptical or oval shape. This grand and sweeping staircase design is often used in elaborate architectural settings.
To encase or fix within concrete.
To create a raised pattern or design on a sheet material.
A protective or decorative metal piece, often around the base of a post or where a rail ends against a wall.
Expansion Joint
A joint allowing movement of connected parts due to temperature-induced expansion or contraction.
A process creating long metal pieces by forcing heated metal through a die opening.
To construct, assemble, or produce metal products.
Face Stringer
A visible stringer supporting treads and riser ends on one side.
Factor of Safety
A safety margin that ensures a structure can handle more load than expected.
Fascia Mount
A type of mounting, often referred to as side mount.
Structural failure due to repeated or fluctuating stress applications.
Ferrous Metal
Metal primarily composed of iron.
Field Check
Verifying that existing dimensions match those on drawings before fabrication.
Field Joint
A connection created during installation, typically made through welding or mechanical connectors.
Fill (Stairs)
Applying concrete or similar material to create a tread or platform on a wearing surface.
An ornamental element used to decorate a balustrade, typically at the top of the balustrade where the handrail meets the newel post.
Fixed Metal Stair
A stable series of steps permanently fixed in place.
A rectangular bar with greater width than thickness.
A continuous series of steps between floors or landings.
Flight Header
A horizontal member supporting stringers at platform or floor level.
Flight Rise
The vertical distance between floors connected by stairs.
Flight Run
The horizontal spacing between the first and last risers in a flight of stairs.
Floor Plate
A steel plate with a raised pattern for a non-slip surface.
Flush Bolt
A bolt or rod flush-mounted in a door to lock it in place.
Flush Fitting
Two pipes with the same outer diameter joined together.
Shaping metal using heat and force, often involving hammering.
Shaping metal through mechanical action, excluding forging, casting, or machining.
Galvanic Corrosion
Corrosion caused by an electrochemical reaction between dissimilar metals.
Coating metal with zinc to prevent corrosion.
(1) A measure of metal thickness or wire diameter. (2) Distance between adjacent fasteners or holes.
Genuine Wrought Iron
A low-carbon material used for decorative structures.
Geometrical Stair
A geometrical stair, whether straight or curved, lacks intermediate landings. It's a continuous staircase design that can span multiple levels without breaks.
A handrail fitting connecting the handrail to the newel post at a higher or lower elevation.
Grab Rail (Grab Bar)
A rail placed for safety and convenience.
Removing metal by abrasive action.
An abrasive substance used for grinding, sanding, or creating a non-slip texture on surfaces.
Grit Number
A measure of abrasive grain size used in polishing or grinding metal materials.
Guardrail System
A railing protecting pedestrians on stair landings or accessible roofs.
A metal plate reinforcing a joint between two or more pieces of metal.
Half Newel
A smaller newel typically used at the termination of a balustrade at a wall.
Half Turn Stair
A Half Turn Stair turns 180 degrees, reversing its direction completely. This type of staircase is employed in larger spaces compared to quarter-turn stairs.
Using force to create artistic dents in metal surfaces.
Hand of Spiral Stair
The direction a spiral stair turns.
A horizontal railing on one or both sides of a staircase, providing support for ascending and descending. Made from various materials like wood, metal, or stone.
Handrail Bracket
A support attached to a wall, post, or surface for a handrail.
A tension member supporting stair framing.
Hard Anodic Coating
A protective coating applied to aluminum surfaces.
Header, Flight
A horizontal member supporting stringers at platform or floor level.
Header, Platform
A horizontal member supporting stair platforms.
Enlarging a metal piece's end through an upsetting process.
The minimum vertical distance from stair or platform to overhead construction.
High-Strength Low-Alloy Steel
Steel with enhanced mechanical properties due to chemical composition.
Hot Dip Galvanizing
Coating metal with zinc by dipping it into molten zinc.
Hot Rolled
Shaping metal by passing a heated billet through rollers.
Hot Working
Shaping metal at temperatures above its recrystallization temperature.
Iron Pipe Size, indicating pipe inside diameter.
Intermediate Landing
A resting platform located between flights of stairs. It is generally required by the building code when a staircase exceeds a certain height or length.
Kick Plate
Protective or ornamental plate at the bottom of a door or platform.
Kite Winder
A kite winder staircase changes direction using a series of wedge-shaped treads that facilitate a smooth turn. The shape resembles a kite, hence the name.
Curved fitting at end of handrail for ornamental purposes.
Knocked Down
Products shipped unassembled for on-site assembly.
Lamb’s Tongue
Curved fitting at end of handrail for ornamental purposes.
A flat surface at the top or bottom of a staircase where people can rest or change direction. Landings are typically located at the top and bottom of a staircase and may also be located in the middle of a staircase if the direction changes.
Lap Seam
A joint created when two metal sheets overlap.
Lateral Scroll
A horizontally curving fitting for handrails.
Lay Out
To create a scale configuration of a structure.
A horizontal structural member supporting a wall opening.
Malleable Iron
Iron cast in sand and annealed, flexible even when cold.
Mechanical Coating
Applying a metal coating through mechanical means.
Mechanical Connections
Connections in railings apart from adhesive bonds or welding.
Mechanical Properties
Properties describing how a material responds to forces.
Adding a metal coating to another material.
Mid Rail
The middle rail of a railing.
Mill Finish
The appearance of a product after rolling, extruding, or drawing, before additional finishing.
Mill Scale
Surface formed on steel after heating or hot rolling, characterized by scaly oxidation.
A scaled or full-size assembly for testing construction details and techniques.
A hollow form used to shape molten metal into a casting.
Mono Stringer
A staircase with a single 'beam-like' stringer supporting treads from below, creating a floating appearance.
An upright post supporting the handrail of a staircase, spaced at regular intervals along the handrail.
Newel Drop
An ornamental, downward projection of a Newel Post.
Metals lacking an iron component.
The projecting edge of a step that extends beyond the body of the step itself, aiding safe descent.
Open Riser Stair
An Open Riser Stair is a staircase style where the risers (vertical boards between steps) are intentionally left open, revealing the treads (horizontal boards people step on). This design is often seen in modern or contemporary architecture.
Over Easing
A handrail with a curve extending beyond a 90-degree angle.
A section of wood or metal forming part of a balustrade, spaced evenly along the handrail.
Parallel Stair
Stairs that lead from one platform to another, running parallel to the initial flight.
A mold used to create a casting.
Creating holes in metal, singularly or in a pattern, for decoration or utility.
A material's ability to meet established requirements.
Not temporary.
Permanent Set
Deformation retained by a structure after removal of an applied load.
Immersing metal in phosphoric acid solution to create a protective coating.
Physical Properties
Inherent properties of a material, including density, conductivity, and specific gravity.
Vertical members supporting a handrail, also known as balusters.
Picket Casting
Decorative element attached to a picket for adornment.
Picket Railing
Railing made up of posts, pickets, and a top rail.
Chemically cleaning and coating metal to prevent corrosion.
Pipe Railing
Railing constructed from pipes.
Pipe, Round
A circular metal segment with a hollow interior.
Measurement of the steepness of a slope in degrees or percent.
Pitch Dimension (Stairs)
Measurement of distance between top and bottom risers parallel to the slope.
Small corrosion-induced depressions on metal surfaces.
A flat sheet of metal at least 0.180" thick and 8" wide.
Platform (Stairs)
Landing at the top of a flight or between flights, wider than the tread, parallel to the stringer.
Plowed Handrail
A handrail with a groove or channel along its length to accept balusters or house a wire cable.
An opening in a stair structure for attaching components.
Post (Railing)
Vertical supports for horizontal beams and pickets in a railing.
Pre-Assembled Stair
Staircase assembled before shipping.
Pre-Erected Stair
Self-supporting, stackable staircases for multi-story buildings.
Coating applied to a surface before painting or finishing.
Primer Paint
Paint applied to metal to prevent corrosion and provide a surface for paint adhesion.
Forcing a die through metal to create a hole.
Quarter Turn Stair
A Quarter Turn Stair is a staircase that makes a 90-degree turn, changing its direction by a right angle. This design is particularly useful in confined spaces where a traditional straight staircase would be impractical.
Rapid cooling of heated metal to temper or harden it.
A single component of a railing system that can be positioned horizontally, vertically, or at an incline. It provides structural support and serves as a safety barrier.
Railing System
A safety installation consisting of handrails, support bases, interconnected rails, panels, or other elements. These elements can be vertical, horizontal, inclined, or a combination, and are placed at the edge of platforms or structures to prevent falls.
Refers to the slope, incline, or angle of a surface. Often measured in degrees, percent, or rise/run ratio.
Rake Dimension
Also known as "nose to nose dimension," it's the distance between the bases of top and bottom risers in a set of stairs. Measured parallel to the slope of the stairs.
Ramp Rail System
A railing system designed specifically for the sides of ramps or ramp-like structures to provide safety and support.
Residual Deflection
The deformation that remains in a metal structure even after a load has been removed. It refers to the lasting distortion caused by a load.
The 180-degree bend in an individual rail, often found at platforms or railing terminals.
The vertical distance between two floors or platforms connected by a set of stairs.
The vertical part of a step that connects it to the next step above or below. Risers can be made from various materials, typically matching the steps' material.
Riser Flight
The vertical distance between the tops of two consecutive treads in a staircase.
Risers, Open
Steps without connecting risers, leaving open space between the treads.
A decorative element finishing the end of a handrail or newel post, sometimes adding strength to joints.
In stair terminology, it refers to the horizontal distance between risers in closed systems or the horizontal distance between the "nosers" in open systems.
A raised member beneath a door, also known as a threshold.
Safety Nosing
A nosing treatment on a stair that features an abrasive surface, providing higher traction and safety.
Safety Tread
A type of stair tread featuring an abrasive material covering the entire top surface for improved friction and slip resistance.
Sand Blasting
A process that uses high-pressure sand to remove scale and imperfections from metal surfaces, cleaning or texturing them.
Sanitary Cove
A projection in the interior corner of a stair between the riser and tread, designed for easier cleaning.
Scissor Stair
A type of staircase layout with a steep angle, often found on ships to connect different decks.
A panel made from wire mesh or perforated sheet metal that allows light and air to pass through while restricting visibility.
An ornamental element used to decorate a balustrade, often located at the top where the handrail meets the newel post.
A thin, flat piece of metal, typically less than .229" thick, with milled or cut edges.
Shop Drawing
A drawing created by the fabricator, illustrating the intended construction details of a product.
Side Mount
A method for attaching a railing to a vertical surface like a wall, stringer, or fascia.
Skirt Board
A board installed along the side of a staircase to cover gaps between treads and risers, providing a finished look.
Slip Joint
A type of joint that allows movement between conjoined parts, rather than keeping them fixed in place.
The inclination of a surface, often measured as the rise divided by the run, expressed in degrees or percent.
The underside of a staircase or any exposed area beneath a structure.
A document detailing requirements, standards, and measurements for a construction project.
A slender, vertical member forming part of a balustrade. Spaced at regular intervals along the handrail.
Spiral Stair
A Spiral Stair winds around a central pole, allowing for vertical movement in a relatively compact space. These stairs are popular in locations where traditional staircases wouldn't fit, and they often exhibit an aesthetic charm.
Spiral Stair (Limited Access)
A spiral staircase with a lower limit on occupant load and smaller area, typically under 600 square feet.
Spiral Stair (Primary Access)
A spiral staircase with a normal or high limit on occupant load, typically at or below 50, and larger than limited access stairs.
Splice Plate
A metal plate used to join and reinforce two or more members together.
The application of paint, sealant, or other coatings using air or hydraulic pressure.
Metal bars with square cross-sections, often with rounded or sharp corners.
A series of interconnected platforms, steps, and railings that facilitate vertical movement between floors or levels.
Stair Lift
A mechanical device used to transport people up and down stairs, often for those with mobility issues.
Stair Run
A single set of stairs leading between two floors or platforms.
Stair-Rail System
A system of railings designed to provide safety and support along stairs and landings.
A set of stairs that connects two different levels within a building. Staircases can be straight, curved, or spiral in shape and can be made from a variety of different materials.
A type of staircase that is typically used to access an upper level of a building, such as a second floor or attic. Stairways typically have a handrail on one side to help people ascend and descend safely.
The vertical space containing a stair, or the open space between flights of stairs in a series.
Starter Step
The first step up from a floor or landing, wider for stability when starting the descent.
One unit of a staircase, the combination of a stair riser and tread typically around 10 inches (25 cm) high. Steps are usually made from the same material as the staircase itself and are connected to each other by risers.
Step Rise
The vertical height of a single riser in a staircase, typically consistent across the entire flight.
An additional structural member added to reinforce and prevent deformation of a primary member.
Story Height
The vertical distance between two adjacent floors in a finished building.
Straight Run Stair
A set of stairs that runs straight in a single line between two floors, with or without platforms.
Straight Stair
A Straight Stair is a common staircase design that ascends or descends in a linear fashion, without curves or angles. It's a practical and straightforward choice for many applications.
A structural member supporting the treads and risers of a staircase, often visible from the front or back.
Stringer (Boxed)
A stringer with a hollow cross-section, often square or rectangular.
Stringer (Center)
A stringer located at the center of a staircase, supporting treads and risers.
Stringer (Face)
A stringer positioned at the edge of a staircase, supporting treads and risers and exposed on one side.
Stringer (Open)
A portion of the building structure used as a stringer.
Stringer (Plate)
A single flat plate used as a stringer.
Stringer (Platform)
A stringer or part of a stringer that supports a platform in a set of stairs.
Stringer (Tube)
A stringer with a tubular or circular cross-section.
Stringer (Wall)
A stringer set into a wall, typically not supporting a railing.
Stringer Fascia
A decorative element or board covering the face of a stringer.
A thin, flat piece of metal, typically less than .229" thick and up to 12" wide.
A vertical structural member supporting the frame of a stair or railing, resisting axial forces.
Sub Rail
A horizontal piece supporting the handrail, running along the length of a stairway, made of wood or metal.
The metal floor of a platform used to support a fill, creating the actual platform surface.
A recessed metal section designed to hold a fill, becoming the tread surface of a stair.
Swedish Iron Look
A textured metal surface achieved through hammering, known for its artistic appearance.
Tack Weld
A small spot weld that temporarily holds metal parts in place during assembly.
Tandem Cap
A railing cap placed over two posts when space is limited, sometimes used for decorative purposes.
The process of heating and controlled cooling to adjust the properties of glass, metal, or other materials.
A pattern used as a guide for cutting, welding, or fabricating components accurately.
Tensile Strength
The maximum amount of pressure a piece of metal can withstand under tension before failing.
The piece of a door frame resting on the floor, connecting the jambs of the door frame.
Toe Board, Toe Plate
Also known as Kick Plate, a reinforcing metal at foot level on doors or steps to prevent damage.
The acceptable range of variance in dimensions or specifications during fabrication.
Top Rail
The uppermost bar or rail in a railing system, also called a cap rail.
Traffic Rail System
A railing system designed to control the movement of people in specific areas.
Transfer Rail System
A railing designed to support and assist people in movement, often in bathrooms or similar spaces.
Travel Area
The portion of a stair most frequently used in regular operation.
The flat upper surface of a step in a staircase.
The horizontal part of a step that people walk on. Treads are often made from a non-slip material to prevent slipping.
Tread Depth
The length of a tread run plus any projection over the riser.
Tread Length
The width of a tread measured perpendicular to the direction of travel.
Tread Pan
A metal pan designed to hold fill and become the tread or tread and riser combination.
Tread Run
The horizontal distance between two risers or nosings in a stair.
Tread Width
The measurement of a tread run, including the projection of the nosing.
Tread, Grating Type
A stair tread made from metal grating.
Tread, Plate Type
A stair tread made from plate metal.
A hollow metal section with various cross-sectional shapes, used for structural applications.
Under Stair
The space beneath a staircase, which can be enclosed or left open.
A forging process thickening a metal bar's cross section in a small area.
Ornamental decorations placed on top of railing posts.
Vent Hole
An opening in a structure's walls for draining fluids or relieving built-up pressure.
Vertical Barrier
A wall or railing placed along raised spaces to prevent falls and ensure safety.
A spiral-shaped ornament supporting the handrail of a staircase, often located at the bottom where the handrail meets the newel post.
Volute (Stairs)
A decorative spiral or curved ornamentation used to end a stair handrail.
Walking Line
An imaginary line running vertically up the center of the staircase, aiding in navigation.
Wall Clip or Wall Flange
An anchoring bracket for mounting railings to vertical surfaces.
Wall Handrail
A railing attached to a wall, often providing support and safety for stair users.
Wall Rail
A railing mounted to the wall rather than the floor or stairs, common in staircases and balconies.
Wall Return
The curved portion of a handrail at the end, turning it back toward the wall.
Weathering Steel
A group of corrosion-resistant high-strength steel alloys that develop a rust-like appearance over time.
Weep Hole
A small hole allowing drainage of fluids from masonry construction.
The process of joining metals or parts using heat and pressure.
Welding Rod
A metal rod used as filler material in welding processes.
Well Hole
A cavity or depression in masonry to house fasteners' heads.
Western Stringer
A staircase with stringers (supports) on the outside of the treads and risers.
A tread or platform in a staircase that is narrower at one end than the other.
A winder is a specially shaped tread with one end sloped, typically at a 30 to 35-degree angle. The width of the sloped end is about half the width of the straight edge. Winders are used to create turns in a staircase, demanding meticulous installation due to their unique design.
Wood Plug
A cylindrical piece of wood inserted into a hole to fill gaps or join two pieces of wood together.
Wrought Iron
(1) A malleable iron alloy suitable for forging or rolling. (2) Commercial-quality steel used for ornamental metalwork.
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