Stairs and stairways include all types of complete, pre-fabricated stair systems and staircases. Components include stair treads and nosing, ballusters, handrails, and newels. Stairs and stairways may be designed for commercial settings such as such as banks, offices, and retail stores; industrial applications such as warehouses, factories, and professional garages; and residential uses such as houses and apartment buildings. Specifications include depth, height and width. Materials of construction are also important to consider when selecting stairs and stairways. Choices include aluminum, iron, glass, plastic, steel, stainless steel, and galvanized steel. Wooden stairs and stairways are also available.
Stairs and stairways include curved, floating, L-shaped, spiral, helical, and straight designs as well as fire escapes. Curved staircases feature a set of stairs and a walk line with a gradual curve. Floating staircases are flights of stairs that do not contain raisers, thus allowing for an open effect. They are available in curved, spiral, or straight designs. L-shaped staircases contain at least one landing to break the staircase's rise in height. Spiral or helical staircases wrap around a centralized pole or point. Straight stairs are staircases with a straight walk line. Fire escapes are emergency exits that are mounted to the exterior walls of buildings or structures. These stairs and stairways provide personnel with a way to escape in the event of fire.
Although stairs and stairways are complete, pre-fabricated products, some applications require an analysis of stair components. Stair treads are made of metal or plastic and are designed to prevent people from slipping on greasy, oily, icy, muddy, or debris-covered surfaces. Stair nosing is the part of the stair tread that extends beyond the riser or apron, the part of the step which supports the tread. Balusters are upright, vertical columns that support a stairway or staircase. Handrails are grasped with the hand for support and guidance. Most are waist-high and supported by the stair balustrade. Newels, the main supports for stair balustrades, are larger in diameter than balusters. They may be located at the top and bottom of stairs and stairways, or at a turn in the handrail.