Abrasive – Hard granular material of varying fineness, used in grinding and/or polishing, or embedded in metal to provide a nonslip surface.

Alumilite – A trade name used by the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) for its clear or color-impregnated anodized finishes in aluminum.

Anchor – Any device used to secure a building component to adjoining construction or a supporting member.

Anchorage – Method of tying to adjoining construction or supporting member.

Angled Star – A stair in which successive flights are at an angle other than 180 degrees to each other (often 90 degrees), with an intermediate platform between them.

Anneal – To heat above the critical or recrystallization temperature and then cool metal, glass or other materials, to eliminate the effects of cold working, relieve internal stresses or improve electrical, magnetic or other properties; to soften.

Anodic Coating – The surface finish resulting from anodizing. See “Anodize.”

Anodize – To provide a hard, non-corrosive oxide film on the surface of a metal, particularly aluminum, by electrolytic action in which the metal being treated serves as the anode.

Arc – The curved portion of a bend.

Arc Welding – A process for the joining of metal parts by fusion, with the necessary heat being produced by an electric arc struck between an electrode and the metal or two electrodes.

As Fabricated – a) A term referring to the surface appearance and texture or temper produced on metal mill products by the original forming process. b) A term referring to the surface appearance of a fabricated metal product before the removal of any disfigurations caused by the fabrication process.


Baluster – One of a series of closely-spaced upright members which support the handrail. Also referred to as a Picket or Baluster Bar.

Balustrade – A railing which is composed of baluster capped by a handrail, often serving as an architectural feature.

Bar – A round, square, rectangular, hexagonal or similar section of rolled, drawn or extruded metal.

Bar Size Section – A hot-rolled angle, channel, tee or zee having a greatest cross-sectional dimension less than 3″ (76.2mm).

Bend Line – Point of change of direction of a structure.

Bend Radius – Distance from the center of curvature to the centerline axis of the tube or pipe.

Bevel (of stairs) – see Pitch (of stairs).

Blow Hole – A hole or void in a casting, resulting from entrained gases.

Bonderize – Chemical treatment of steel surface with propriety phosphate solution, to provide limited corrosion protection and improved paint base.

Bottom Rail – Lower member of railing system, supporting balusters or panels, if any.

Bracket – Projecting member attached to surface of another member, to support third member.

Braking – Mechanical bending, flanging, folding and forming sheet or plate material, using press brake or folding brake.

Brazing – The joining of metal parts by heating them, and by capillary action, drawing a molten copper-zing or other brazing alloy between them.

Buffing – The process of providing a lustrous finish by means of power-operated soft fabric wheels coated with a wax compound containing fine abrasive particles.

Bullnose Step – Stair tread, usually first tread at flight bottom, with one or both ends having semi-circular or similar shape in plan view.

Burnishing – Developing smooth, lustrous surface of metal part by tumbling in drum containing small steel balls or by rubbing with hard pads.

Butt Joining – Fastening squared edge or end of one member to squared edge, end or face of another member without overlapping.


Cantilever – Portion of member projecting beyond support(s).

Cap – A fitting used to close the end of a pipe or tubular rail or post of the top end of tubular newel.

Cap Rail – See “Handrail.”

Carbon Steel – Steel having either a) no specified minimum content of alloying elements; b) a specified minimum copper content not exceeding 0.40%; or c) maximum specified percentage contents as follows: manganese 1.65%, silicon 0.60%, copper 0.60%.

Carburizing – Producing hard surface layer on steel by heating in carbonaceous medium and subsequent quenching to increase carbon content. Also referred to as “Case-Hardening.”

Carrier Angle – An angle connected to the inside face of a stair stringer to form a supporting ledge for the end of a tread or riser. Also referred to as a “Pitch Block.”

Carrier Bar – A flat bar used in the same way as a carrier angle.

Carriers – A term used for carrier angles or bars used to support treads formed from metal steps and gratings.

Case-Hardening – See “Carburizing.”

Casting – A product formed by pouring molten metal into a mold.

Cast Iron – A hard, brittle, non-malleable metal which can be produced in any shape. It cannot be hammered or bent. It is used for many miscellaneous metal products. Both functional and decorative, it has good resistance to corrosion.

Caustic Dipping – Immersing metal in alkaline solution to chemically clean its surface.

Caustic Etch – A decorative matte texture produced on aluminum alloys by treating in an alkaline solution, generally caustic soda (sodium hydroxide); also know as “frosted finish.”

Cement, Quick Setting – Used in the installation of railing posts set in sleeves or holes.

Chamfer – To bevel a sharp edge.

Chord – Straight distance between the centerline points of any two points of a bend.

Circular Stair – A stair which, in plan view, has an open circular form with a single center of curvature. See also “Spiral Stair.”

Clip -Small fastening device, usually of metal, to hold element or component in place by mechanical action or friction.

Cold-Finished Steel – Carbon steel which has been cleaned and pickled, the rolled or drawn through dies to produce a dimensionally accurate section with improved surface finish and often other improved properties.

Cold Rolling – Bringing metal sheet, plate or bar to final thickness and finishing by passing between heavy rollers without heating.

Collar- see “Escutcheon.”

Column – A structural member which is subjected principally to axial compression loading.

Construction Joint – Discontinuity in structure.

Cope – To cut away a portion of one member, either to form a close-fitting joint with, or provide clearance for, another member.

Corrosion – The decay of metals, usually from oxidation.

Cor-Ten – The trade name used by the United States Steel Corporation for its weathering type of steel. See “Weathering Steel.”

Counterboring – Enlarging entrance of hole for placing bolt head or nut.

Countersinking – Beveling end of hole for receiving conical head of flat-head or oval-head fastener.

Cover Flange – See “Escutcheon.”

Curved Stair – A stair which, in plan view, has two or more centers of curvature, being oval, elliptical or some other compound curved form.


Decking – Light-gauge fluted, ribbed or cellular, sheet-metal platform for supporting floor or roof.

Deflection – Bending or sagging deformation of member.

Degree Of Bend – Angle in degrees to which the bend is formed (e.g. 45 degrees, 90 degrees).

Drainage Hole – See “Vent Hole.”

Drawing – The process of pulling metal in solid form through dies to alter its finish, mechanical properties or cross-sectional shape.

Drawings – Architectural and structural plans, often prepared by architect or engineer. They should indicate by plan, elevation, section and detail the location, quantity, size and extent of product to be furnished.

Drawings, Shop – See “Shop Drawings.”

Drift Pin – Tapered, round rod used to align holes in two or more pieces of metal.

Drop (Stairs) – A fitting used to close the bottom end of a tubular newel.

Duranodic – Trade name used by the Aluminum Company of American (ALCOA) for its hard andodic coatings. See “Hard Anodic Coatings.”


Easement (Stairs) – That curved portion of a handrail which forms a transition in a vertical plane, between horizontal and an inclined section of the handrail.

Elastic Limit – The maximum unit stress which can be applied to a material without causing permanent damage.

Embed – To cast in concrete.

Embossed – Having a raised and/or indented pattern impressed on either one or both surfaces (of a sheet material) by means of patterned rolls or stamping dies.

Escutcheon – Protective or ornamental cover located usually at and around base of post or picket, baluster, or where a rail terminates against a wall. Also referred to as “Cover Flange,” “Collar,” “Wall Clip,” or “Wall Flange.”

Expansion Joint – A control joint designed to allow for differential movement of the joining parts due to thermal expansion and/or contraction, eliminating moment transfer.

Extrusion – a) The process of producing metal shapes by forcing heated metal through an orifice in a die by means of a pressure ram; b) Any item made by this process.


Fabricate – To manufacture, form, assemble or construct metal products.

Factor Of Safety – The ration of minimum yield stress or minimum ultimate stress to design or working stress.

Fascia – a) In general, a horizontal band treatment on a wall, or the edge facing of a projecting element; b) In metal stairs, the exposed facing of the outer edge of a platform or floor; usually similar in detail to the face stringer.

Fascia Mount – See “Side Mount.”

Fatigue – Structural failure of a material caused by repeated or fluctuating application of stresses, none of which individually is sufficient to cause failure.

Ferrous Metal – Metal in which iron in the principal element.

Field Check – Verification of existing dimensions against those shown on drawing prior to fabrication.

Field Joint – A connection between two adjoining members or parts, made at the time of installation.

Field Measure – Survey of existing conditions.

Fill (Stairs) – A cementious material, such as concrete or terrazzo, which is placed over a metal substructure to provide the wearing surface of a tread or platform.

Finial – An ornamental piece on top of railing post, newel or fence. Also referred to as an “Urn.”

Flat – Rectangular bar of width greater than its thickness.

Flight – An uninterrupted series of steps.

Flight Rise – The vertical distance between the floors or platforms connected by a flight.

Flight Run – The horizontal distance between the faces of the first and last risers in a flight.

Floor Plate – Steel plate having a raised pattern to provide non-slip wearing surface; referred to as “Tread Plate” when made of aluminum.

Flush Bolt – A rod or bolt which is mounted flush with the edge or face of the inactive door or a pair, to lock the door to the frame at the head and/or sill. When mounted in the edge, operation is by means of a recessed lever.

Forging – Heating and hammering metal into a desired shape.

Forming – The process of shaping metal by mechanical action other than machining, forging or casting.


Hammering – Hot or cold, machine or hand peening or denting of metal surfaces for artistic effect. Also referred to as “Swedish Look.”

Handrail – Horizontal or sloping member normally grasped by hand. This member may be part of a railing system and often, but not necessarily, top member (top rail); or may be mounted on wall or other building element. When part of stair-rail system, it is a member paralleling the pitch of the flight and is often, but not necessarily, top member. See “Wall Handrail.”

Handrail Bracket – A device attached to a wall, post or other surface to support a handrail.

Hanger (Stairs) – A load-carrying tension member used to support a stair framing member by suspension from floor construction or other support above.

Hard Anodic Coating – A coating on aluminum by a proprietary anodizing process without the use of dyes or pigments. It provides a high resistance to abrasion and corrosion and is produced in various shades of bronze, gray and black.

Header, Flight – A horizontal structural member used in stair construction at a floor or platform level to support the end(s) of one or more stringers.

Header, Platform – A horizontal structural member supporting stair platform construction but carrying no stringers.

Heading – The process of “upsetting” or enlarging the end of a piece of metal.

Headroom – The minimum vertical distance from the top surface of a stair tread or platform to the ceiling, soffit or other overhead obstruction, measured at the outer edge of a tread.

High-Strength, Low-Alloy Steel – Steel having a chemical composition specifically developed to impart higher mechanical property values and, in some cases, greater resistance to atmospheric corrosion than is obtainable from conventional carbon structural steels.

Hot Dip Galvanizing – The process or result of applying a protective coating to ferrous metal by dipping in a bath of molten zinc.

Hot Rolled – Shaped by passing a heated billet between rollers.

Hot Working – The process of forming a metal when its temperature is higher than its recrystallization temperature.


I.D. – Inside DiameterI.P.S. – Iron pipe size: The nominal inside diameter dimension of pipe.


Kalcolor – The trade name used by Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation for its hard anodic coatings. See “Hard Anodic Coating.”

Kick Plate – a) A protective plate fastened to the lower face of faces of a door. b) A vertical plate forming a lip or low curb at the open edge of a stair platform or floor, or at the back edge or open end of a stair tread, on and open riser stair. Also referred to as a “Toe Plate,” or “Toe Board.”

Knob – An ornamental or functional round handle on a door; may be used to actuate a lock or latch.

Knocked Down – A term used in reference to any product that is shipped disassembled, for assembly at the building site. Commonly abbreviated “KD.”


Lamb’s Tongue – An ornamental curved and tapered fitting terminating a handrail.

Landing – Level part of staircase at end of stair flight. See “Platform.”

Lap Seam – Joint formed by overlapping edges of metal sheets or plates and joining them by riveting, welding, soldering or brazing.

Lateral Scroll- A fitting which curves in a horizontal plane, used to terminate a stair handrail. Often ends up as a round plate covering the top of a post.

Lay Out – To scale out configuration of structure.

Lintel – A horizontal structural member spanning a wall opening at its head to support the wall above the opening.


Malleable Iron – A sand cast iron which is annealed and can be bent cold to some degree. It is used in many metal building products where strength and ability to resist shock are essential. It is easily welded without danger or cracking by the same method used for welding steel.

Mayari-R Steel – Trade name used by Bethlehem Steel Corporation for its type of “Weathering Steel.”

Mechanical Coating – The process of applying a protective coating to ferrous metal by hammering zinc powder or flakes into metal surface with glass pellets during tumbling.

Mechanical Connection (Railing) – A connection between railing members made by means other than welding or adhesive bonding.

Mechanical Properties – Properties characterizing response to applied forces, such as strength, stiffness, elasticity and ductility.

Metallize – To apply a coating of metal, usually in a powdered or molten form, on a base metal or other material.

Mid Rail – Rail located between top and bottom rails.

Milll Finish – The original surface finish produced on a metal mill product by rolling, extruding or drawing.

Mill Scale – The scaly, oxidized surface produced on steel by heating and hot rolling.

Minimum Tanget – The minimum length of straight pipe on the end of a bend required by the bending machine to form the bend (see TANGENT).

Mockup – A section of a structure or assembly, built full size or to scale, for purposes of testing its performance, studying its construction details of judging its appearance.

Mold – A form into which molten metal is poured to produce a casting.


Newel – A post member, usually square or rectangular in cross section, supporting the end of a stair railing or serving as a common support for two stair railings.

Non-Ferrous – Metal without any iron content.

Nosing – That part of a stair tread or platform which projects as a square, rounded, or rounded and molded edge beyond the vertical face of the riser below it.


O.D. – Outside Diameter.

Ovality – The distortion or flattening of tube or pipe from its normal round shape caused by the bending process.


Pan Bracket (Stairs) – See “Carrier Angle” or “Carrier Bar.”

Pan Tread (Stairs) – See “Tread, Pan Type.”

Panel – Portion of railing between posts, top rail, and bottom rail.

Pattern – Model for making mold into which molten metal material is poured to produce casting; to produce like image in mold.

Perforating – Punching or drilling an overall pattern of holes or openings in sheet metal.

Performance – Conformance with established criteria.

Permanent – Functioning indefinitely without fundamental or marked change; in contrast to temporary.

Permanent Set – The extent to which a component or structure is permanently deformed by an applied load after removal of the load.

Phosphatizing – The process of producing a phosphate conversion coating on metal by dipping it in a suitable aqueous solution of phosphoric acid, to improve paint adhesion and increase corrosion resistance.

Physical Properties – Material properties, such as specific gravity or density, electrical and thermal conductivities, and coefficient of thermal expansion, serving to characterize and distinguish between different kinds of matter.

Picket- One of a series of closely-spaced upright members which support the handrail in a railings. See “Baluster.”

Picket Casting – Ornamental design attached to a picket.

Picket Railing – Railing consisting of posts, pickets, top rail and, sometimes, bottom rail.

Pickling – The treatment of metal surfaces with a strong oxidizing agent, such as nitric acid, to make them chemically clean and provide a strong, inert oxide film.

Pipe Railing – Railing fabricated of pipe.

Pipe, Round – A hollow round section of metal, the size of which is usually designated by nominal inside diameter.

Pitch Dimension (Stairs) – The distance between the bases of the top and bottom risers in a flight, measured parallel to the slope. Sometimes referred to as the nose to nose dimension.

Pitch Block – See “Carrier Angle.”

Pitting – Localized surface defects in metal, in the form of small depressions or “pits,” usually caused by electrochemical corrosion.

Plate – Flat metal, .180″ thick or over in thickness and over 8″ in width.

Platform (Stairs) – A horizontal surface having a dimension parallel to the stringer greater than a tread width and occurring in a stair at the end of a flight or between flights, either at a floor level or between floors. In the latter case, it is sometimes referred to as an intermediate platform or landing.

Platform Header – See “Header, Platform.”

Pocket – Opening provided in structure to accept post, rail-supporting bracket or structural member.

Post (Railing) – A vertical, supporting member of a railing system.

Primer – Liquid coating applied to surface prior to application of paint or other finish.

Primer Paint – First coat applied to metal to retard corrosion temporarily and to provide satisfactory adhesion of finish coat.

Punching – A process of forcing a punch through the metal into a die, forming a hole in the shape of the punch.


Quenching – The process of cooling heated metal by contact with a liquid, gas or solid, for purposes of hardening or tempering.


Rail – Horizontal, vertical or inclined member of railing system. See “Railing System,” “Handrail,” “Wall Handrail,” “Stair Rail System.”

Railing – See “Railing System.”

Railing System – A framework of horizontal, vertical or inclined members or panels, or some combination of these, supporting a handrail and located at the edge of a stair flight, platform or floor, as a safety barrier. See “Guard Rail System” and “Stair Rail System.”

Rake – See “Pitch”Rake Dimension – See “Pitch Dimension.”

Ramp Rail System – A railing system located along side(s) of a ramp.

Residual Deflection – See “Permanent Set.”Rise – See “Flight Rise.”

Riser – The vertical or inclined face of a step, extending from the back edge of one tread to the outer edge of the tread or lower edge of the nosing next above it.

Riser, Open – A term used to describe a stair having open spaces rather than risers between treads.

Riser Height – The vertical distance between the top surfaces of two successive treads.

Run – See “Flight Run” and “Tread Run.”


Saddle – See “Threshold.”

Safety Nosing – A stair nosing having an abrasive nonslip surface flush with the tread.

Safety Tread – A stair tread which is covered on its top surface with an abrasive or nonslip material.

Sand Blasting – Subjecting to a stream of sand projected at high velocity under air or steam pressure, for the purpose of removing scale or encrusted material or to provide a textured finish.

Sanitary Cove (Stairs) – A small projection formed in the face of a metal rise along its full length to provide an angled or curved transition between the treat surface and the riser face, to facilitate cleaning.

Screen – Perforated panel or wire mesh serving as a panel.

Scroll – Ornamental spiral or convoluted form serving as a decorative railing panel or insert. Either cast or forged.

Sheet – Thin, flat, rolled metal product having mill or cut edges, less than .229″ in thickness.

Shop Drawing – A working drawing usually prepared by the fabricator.

Side Mount – Railing support anchoring post to vertical surface, such as fascia or stringer face.

Slag – The crusty residue resulting from melting or welding metal.

Sleeve – a) A tubular section of sheet metal or other material placed in concrete or masonry to provide either a pocket or opening for the insertion or the penetration of another item. b) An internal tubular splice between abutting sections of pipe, tubing or tube-like members.

Slip Joint – A joint which permits relative sliding movements of the joining parts.

Slope – See “Pitch.”

Square Cut – Cuts made square to the tangent of a bend after the bending operation.

Soffit (Stairs) – Underside of stair in exposed construction. Also, finish material applied to underside of stair.

Specifications – Document providing descriptive or performance requirements and criteria.

Spindle – A tapered round picket, with center part larger in diameter than the ends.

Spiral Stair – A stair with a closed circular form, uniform sector-shaped treads and a supporting center column.

Splice Plate – A plate used for fastening two or more members together.

Spraying – The process of coating metal with pain, another metal or any other material by use of air or hydraulic pressure.

Squares – A term used in reference to square metal bars having either slightly rounded or sharp corners.

Stair – A flight or series of connecting flights extending between two or more floors.

Stair Lift – See “Flight.”

Stair-Rail System – Railing system located along open sides of stair and landing.

Stair Run – One run of stairs between floors, platforms, or floors and platforms.

Stairway – See “Stair.”

Stair Well – The vertical shaft space in a building occupied by a stair; also, the open well space between a series of flights.

Step – The combination of a riser and the tread immediately above it.

Stiffener – A reinforcing member which serves to prevent or limit the deformation of the member to which it is attached.

Straight Run Stair – Stair extending in straight line between two floors and consisting of single flight or series of flights with one or more intermediate platforms.

String – See “Stringer.”

Stringer (Stair) – An inclined structural member supporting a flight of stairs, or a structural member having an inclined section with a horizontal section at one or both ends, supporting a flight and one or two platforms.

Stringer, Boxed – A stringer having a hollow square or rectangular cross section.

Stringer, Center – A stringer located under a flight at its mid-width and supporting the treads, or treads and risers.

Stringer, Closed – See “Stringer, Boxed.”

Stringer, Face – A stringer which supports, on one side, the ends of treads and risers, and is exposed on the other side.

Stringer, Open – A structural channel used as a stringer.

Stringer, Plate – A flat plate used as a stringer.

Stringer, Tube – A stringer made from a metal tube section.

Stringer, Wall – A stringer placed alongside a wall, and usually carrying no railing.

Strip – Flat metal, .229″ or less in thickness and 12″ or less in width.

Strut – A vertical compression member designed to resist axial loads.

Sub-Tread – See “Tread, Pan Type.”

Swedish Iron Look – See “Hammering.”


Tack Weld – a) A small temporary weld applied to metal parts to hold them in correct position while completing an assembly. b) One of a series of small welds applied where a continuous weld is unnecessary.

Tangent – The straight portion of material on either side of the arc of a bend.

Tangent Point – The point at which the bend starts or ends.

Tempering – Heating metal, glass or other material to temperature below transformation stage, subsequently cooling it at a controlled rate to change its hardness, strength, toughness or other property.

Template – a) A pattern used as a guide in fabricating a part. b) A precise detailed layout or patter for providing the necessary fabrication details.

Tensile Strength – The maximum load which can be sustained by metal in tension measured in pounds per square inch.

Threshold – A raised member extending between the jambs of a door frame at the floor.

Toe Board – See “Kick Plate.”

Toe Plate – See “Kick Plate.”

Tolerance – Permissible deviation from a nominal or specified dimension or value.

Top Rail – The top member of a rail system, sometimes called cap rail.

Traffic Rail System – A railing system designed for the control of movement of people, requiring special consideration for given end-use conditions.

Transfer Rail System – Railing system designed for transfer of body weight in such locations as toilets, showers and tub enclosures.

Tread – The horizontal member of a step.

Tread Depth – The tread run plush the projection of the nosing, if any.

Tread, Grating Type – Tread fabricated from metal grating.

Tread Length – The dimension of a tread measured perpendicular to the normal line of travel on a stair.

Tread Pan – A section formed from sheet metal to receive a fill and provide, when filled, either a tread or combination tread and riser.

Tread, Plate Type – A tread, or combination of tread and riser, fabricated from metal plate, floor plate, tread plate or a combination of plates.

Tread Run – The horizontal distance between two consecutive risers or, on an open riser stair, the horizontal distance between nosings or the outer edges of successive treads, all measured perpendicular to the front edges of the nosings or treads.

Tubing – A hollow section of metal having a round, square, rectangular or other cross-sectional form. Size is designated by outside dimension(s) in inches or millimeters, and wall thickness in gauge number, thousandths of an inch or millimeters, or fraction of an inch.


Upsetting – A cold-forging or hot-forging operation by which the cross-sectional area of a bar is increased locally.

Urns- See “Finials.”


Vent Hole – Opening for escape of gas or liquid for relief of pressure, especially required in fabricating when item is to be coated by immersion or hot-dip galvanized. Also referred to as “drainage hole.”

Volute (Stairs) – A spiral or scroll-shaped fitting used to terminate a stair handrail.


Wall Clip or Wall Flange – A bracket used for anchoring.

Wall Handrail – Handrail attached to wall adjacent to stair and paralleling pitch of flight, also used along walkways, ramps and corridors. Also referred to as wall rail.

Wall Rail – See “Wall Handrail.”

Wall Return – A bend at the end of a wall handrail, turning it toward the wall to which it is attached.

Weathering Steel – High-strength, low-alloy steel made especially for application requiring light weight, high strength and resistance to corrosion or approximately five to six times that of low-carbon steel.

Weephole – A small opening provided to permit the drainage of fluid.

Welding – The process of joining two metals or alloys by fusion.

Welding Rod – Metal rod of suitable composition to be used as a source of filler material in arc or gas welding.

Winder – A tread having less width at one end that at the other.

Wire Mesh – See “Screen.”

Working Drawing – See “Shop Drawing.”

Wrinkles – Folds, creases, or waving formed on the inner radius of a bend during the bending process.

Wrought Iron – Fabricated ornamental work, usually made of mild steel of commercial quality. Also see “Genuine Wrought Iron.”


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