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  • Pinto Carpentry

New Homeowner's Guide: How to Select Safe Yet Stylish Stair Nosing to Fit Your Needs

Updated: Jun 6

photo of a couple in the midst of renovations on their home staircase
Renovations don't have to be scary, with a little help from some knowledgeable pros

Let’s talk about types of stair nosing and which option is right for your project!  Your stair builder will be able to guide you to make the right choice for your residential or commercial project depending on usage and other environmental factors.  They’ll use their years of stair building and installation experience to guide you to the best fit for safety that still fits into your desired style aesthetics, and make sure everything is currently up to code.

Here are some important basic stair building terms to know before we dive in!

Flight: an uninterrupted series of stairs and steps

Strings: a piece of lumber that attaches to the treads and risers and is used to support the flight of stairs

Treads: the horizontal part of the staircase you step on.

Risers: the vertical part of the stair (if no risers are present such as a cantilever design, it’s referred to as “open risers); you use the number of risers in the staircase to count how many “steps” there are

Nosing: the leading edge at the junction where a riser meets a tread; the protrusion at the edge of the tread, used to improve the safety of a staircase by increasing surface area to reduce risk of losing your footing or missing a step

Rise:  the height of each individual step, meaning the height that must be stepped up or down

Going: the depth measurement of an individual step

Pitch: the slope of the staircase, measured by the ratio between the “rise” and the “going:

Walkline: the path you follow to move up or down the staircase

Note: If you’d like to learn more about styles and types of staircase, check out our previous Carpenter’s Corner blog this month.  We go into more detail about the names of each functional style, which may further help enlighten you as we dive into the topic of Nosings.

What is a nosing? Why does nosing style matter? How do I select the right nosing for stairs?

We understand there is a steep learning curve, pardon the pun, when it comes to stairs, but now that you’re more comfortable with these basic terms, we can get into the details!  There are several types of stair nosing available, each with its own aesthetic and functional purposes.  It’s important to evaluate your needs and accessibility when selecting the one that works best for you.  The team at Pinto Carpentry is here to help you assess which option is safest for your family and clients, so you can rest assured you’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”.

Flush Nose or No-Overhang - This nosing sits flush with the riser, forming a 90 degree angle with zero overhanging protrusion over the vertical face of the riser. It adds a touch of sleek, modern style that gives the illusion of the stair being one continuous shape.  For those who seek a clean, professional appearance , this is a great design choice.

Pencil Round - This style of nosing takes its name from the sides of a #2 pencil, with a flat face featuring rounded corners and no sharp edges.  This is a fantastic option for homeowners who change their style frequently, as it works seamlessly with both the modern and traditional looks. If you’ve got children, elderly residents, or pets, this is the best choice as the edges are not sharp, nor do they protrude as far as other nosings.

Square Edge Nosing - This is a very popular option for both residential and commercial stairs. It provides a very clean and modern look featuring a square edge with an underside return that forms a 90 degree angle with the riser. It does have a slight rounded edge to prevent dents, scratches, and other visual damages. It creates a very dramatic, sharp look with visible definition to each stair.

Half Round Nosing - This nosing employs a semi-circular, curved and rounded edge which protrudes slightly from the front of the stair tread.  This gives the stair slightly more surface area, providing your foot with additional grip and support, making it a safer option. This is also sometimes referred to as “bull-nose” style. You’ll often find this on the landing or bottom stair. It’s less popular in new construction currently, but can be commonly found in older or more traditional styled homes.

Full Round - This nosing features a fully circular, completely smooth semicircle with a profile that protrudes from the front of the stair tread. It is a beautiful, elegant style, but as it protrudes more than other styles, it isn’t as “slip safe” as other choices. You’ll see this most often on a landing, though some build plans opt for this on larger numbers of stairs to create a softer edge look.

When you’re ready to renovate your residential or commercial staircase, we’ll be ready! Call the crew at Pinto Carpentry today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. Our experienced team will measure and custom design a set of stairs to suit your needs and style choices.  Not sure which material to choose for your stairs? With over 20 years of industry experience, our highly skilled and trained professionals will guide you to the best choice for your lifestyle, foot traffic, and budget options. Call us directly at 908-922-1778 to book your appointment, or reach out to us via email or any of our social media channels. At the end of your consultation, you’ll get a personalized estimate reflecting your material choices and budget in mind.  When you’re ready, we’ll add you to our schedule and start your project swiftly. We can’t wait to work with you!

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