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Floating Stairs Glossary of Terms

Switchback Stringer Floating Stairs

Viewrail FLIGHT is a floating stair system with a language all its own. All that jargon and industry terminology can be daunting, but we’re here to help! Refer to this helpful guide of floating stairs shop-talk, and we’ll have you speaking our language in no time.

Baserail – This refers to a popular glass railing mounting option that holds and supports the glass from the bottom. This railing system is a frameless glass option and can be mounted to the side facia or surface of your flooring.

Blocking – Refers to the use of short pieces or blocks of dimensional lumber to fill, space, join, or reinforce members of wood-framed construction. These pieces of dimensional lumber are usually short off-cuts or defective, warped pieces.

Ceiling Height – This measurement refers to the height of a finished ceiling from the finished floor.

Column – A steel beam that helps to support the weight of a FLIGHT stringer configuration.

Existing Landing – This refers to a landing platform that is already existing, such as in a remodel project. It stays in place and the FLIGHT system’s stringer connects into this structure’s framing.

Finished Floor – A finished floor or floor covering is the decorative layer of the floor that you walk on. Floor covering is usually the more precise term, since it tends to cover another structural layer of flooring.

Fixed Angle Bracket – This piece of metal is custom cut and bent specifically to the degree of your FLIGHT floating stair system. Each stringer may require a different bracket degree. The bracket is then connected to the stringer tube via a flow drilled, bolting process.

FLIGHT – This term encompasses the complete floating stair system. This includes your stringer, mounting plates, brackets, treads, and associated hardware.

FLIGHT Plan – The FLIGHT Plan is our comprehensive program designed to help you get a floating staircase in your home. The FLIGHT Plan involves a design stage, a technical confirmation stage, and an engineering stage to ensure that you get the look you desire and a staircase that will elegantly complement your space.

FLIGHT Tech – A critical step in the FLIGHT Plan is our FLIGHT Tech process, where our experienced team of professionals will reach out to help you measure your project and confirm your measurements for custom engineering.

Floor Opening – This measurement refers to any hole or opening in the floor that falls below where the stain system will be. For example, stacking stairs or layered flights of stairs qualify as having a floor opening.

Footer Plate – This is mild steel or 304 SS plate, depending on your system, that is used to mount to the bottom of the stringer tube to the finished floor, subfloor, or lower wall of your site. This plate is connected to the stringer tube itself with a 6 point mechanical joint.

Gauge – Gauge is an industry term referring to the wall-thickness of a given piece of metal tubing. Our Viewrail FLIGHT floating stair systems typically feature stringers made from 7 gauge mild or stainless steel, but the gauge may change due to specific engineering requirements.

Handrail – A handrail is designed to be grasped by the hand to provide stability or support, and it is typically supported by posts or mounted directly to walls. Handrails are generally used while ascending or descending stairways and escalators in order to prevent injurious falls.

Header – A header is the piece of frame at the top of the stairs. It’s supported by jack studs (often called “trimmers”) at each end. These trimmers transfer the load of the header down to the bottom plate and to the framing beneath.

Header Plate – Depending on your system, this is a mild steel or 304 SS plate that is used to mount to the top of the stringer tube to the header of your site. The plate is connected to the stringer tube itself with a 6 point mechanical joint.

Header Thickness – This measurement refers to the depth or thickness of your header beams. For example, triple stacked 2×12 header beams would be 4 1/2″ thick.

Header to Wall Measurement – This measurement refers to the dimension between the header and the wall.

Header Vertical Dimension – This measurement refers to the vertical (floor to ceiling) dimension of the header beam in your space.

Horizontal Brace – This steel beam runs between two points of the FLIGHT system. It acts as a joist and provides extra support and connection points for a landing platform.

Hydrophobic Glass – This type of glass is created to repel water. When water falls on it, it will bead and drip off without leaving a mark. We offer a hydrophobic coating on our glass to make it resistant to water stains, and also somewhat resistant to fingerprints. Hydrophobic glass is also easier to clean.

Infill – Railing infill can be rods, glass, cable, vertical rod, or balusters. Each infill has a unique look and its own set of pros and cons.

Landing – Also called a “platform”, this refers to the area of the floor near the top or bottom step of a stair. An intermediate landing is a small platform built as part of the stair between main floor levels. It’s a place where the staircase changes directions, or where people can rest on their way up the stairs.

Landing Platform – Landing platforms are the part of a staircase that you walk upon where the rise of a staircase levels off between finished floors. Similar to our thick stair treads, Viewrail™ specializes in butcher block style thick landing platforms.

Laminated Glass – This type of glass that is made up of two tempered glass panels. It’s an extra-safe option that is used on car windshields and many frameless glass systems.

Lowest Ceiling Point – This measurement refers to the height of a finished ceiling from the tread directly below the edge of the finished ceiling, at the lowest point.

Low Iron Glass – This type of glass is made with low levels of iron so as to remove the green tint that is often present on panels of glass. Low-iron glass is perfectly clear.

Mechanical Joint – This refers to the section of the stringer system that connects one or more stringer tubes and plates to one another. The Viewrail FLIGHT system uses mechanical joints for easy shipping, receiving, and installation.

Mounting Plate – This term specifies the plates at the top or bottom of your stringer. A header plate always refers to the plate found at the top of your floating stairs, while a footer plate refers to the mounting plate found at the bottom.

Nosing – Nosing refers to the tread-like element mounted to your header. Nosing is necessary to meet most code requirements for the length of your run, and provides a clean, finished look to your landing to match your treads and any landing platforms.

Platform – See “Landing”.

Post – Each Viewrail post is custom made for your project. Each post is 2×2” square with custom height and precision milling for your project infill application.

RailingRailing refers to any element of the railing system that will complement your floating stair system. The most common railings used with our floating stairs are stainless steel rods, cable, and glass.

Space Constraint – This measurement refers to any existing limitations to the walkway or path of the stair system. This could be a structural support beam in a basement or a doorway, etc.

Standoff Pin – Standoff pins are a popular, frameless glass railing mounting system. This system requires that holes be drilled through the glass and then the panel be sandwiched between the side facia mounted pins.

Stringer – Stringer is an industry term for the spine or structural components of a staircase. Our floating stair systems are supported by a steel mono stringer, or single stringer. The mono stringer system is our standard option, but we also have a dual stringer option.

Stringer Configuration – This term refers to the type of Viewrail FLIGHT system you’re looking to install. Our current offering includes Straight, Switchback, and 90º Turn configurations.

Straight Preview IconStraight – A Straight FLIGHT system is typically mounted from floor to header, but can also be used from wall-to-wall.
Switchback Preview IconSwitchback – a Switchback FLIGHT system typically incorporates a floor-to-wall-mounted stringer, and a wall-to-wall mounted stringer to turn 180-degrees. These systems are often referred to as hockey sticks or double hockey sticks due to their shape & profile.
90 Degree Turn Preview Icon90º Turn – A 90º Turn FLIGHT system incorporates two stringers to turn 90º corners. Typically, 90º Turn systems mount from the floor to landing platforms or existing structures, and from those structures to the next floor.

Stringer Connection – When one stringer tube connects to another stringer tube through a mechanical joint.

Subfloor – The subfloor is the layer above the joists that acts as a foundation for both the underlayment and surface levels of flooring. A subfloor provides a stable, level surface that new flooring can be easily installed on. Subfloor makes it easier for installers to lay new carpeting, laminate, hardwood, vinyl, or tile — and also makes your floors smoother to walk on.

Support – A support is a section of tubing that is custom-designed to support a landing platform in your Viewrail FLIGHT system. Support can be vertical columns or horizontal braces and are incorporated into systems requiring atypical mounting necessities or space constraints.

Tempered Glass – This type of glass is strong and resilient to cracking and breaking. If it does break, it will shatter into tiny pieces instead of large, dangerous shards. This type of glass is necessary for glass railing.

Torque – Torque or “turning effect” is the rotational equivalent of linear force. Just as a linear force is a push or a pull, torque can be thought of as a twist to an object.

TreadStair Treads are the part of a staircase you actually walk – or tread – upon. At Viewrail we specialize in butcher block style thick wood stair treads.

Tube – This is an industry term referring to hollow sections of metal materials typically used in commercial or residential construction. Our standard floating stair systems are fabricated from 6” x 8” steel tubing, but we can use an 8” x 10” tube where additional reinforcement is necessary, or a 4” x 6” tube for dual stringer applications.

Vedere Glass Railing – This is the product name for our glass railing that utilizes tread caps to create totally hidden fasteners. “Vedere” is the Italian word for “to see.” We felt it was appropriate since the glass lets you see everything around you.

Wall Mounting – A type of system mount where the top of the stringer tube connects to a wall instead of a header beam.

Hopefully you found this glossary helpful, and maybe you even learned a few things! We are here to help you through every step of the FLIGHT process. So, let us know if you have any questions or need any additional explanations or resources. If you’re interested in seeing what FLIGHT could look like in your own home, you can get a quote for FLIGHT here. Or you can talk to one of our FLIGHT experts by calling 1 (574) 742-1030. We look forward to making your new rail, Viewrail.