Shoe plates, also called shoe rails or landing tread, are the horizontal piece that sits on the floor into which the balusters and posts are attached. They are often the linear continuation of the false tread caps running up the sides of a staircase. Shoe plates and shoe mouldings provide another dimension and the bottom boundary of the balustrade with their accompanying mouldings treads and optional aprons. They come in a variety of sizes and profiles to accommodate numerous situations. They can be as simple as basically a finished board to a detailed profile plowed for balusters and fillet. The width is an important consideration as to whether the shoe plate will butt into the newel post or if it is wider than the post base which can sit on top of it. Read more information about Mouldings and Aprons below.
Mouldings are used throughout the balustrade, as an additional piece to shoe plates to finish the corner between the wall and the floor. There are many different profiles available for uses as varied as box newel post recessed or applied paneling, wainscoting or paneled walls and for aprons.
Aprons are divided into two categories, skirt boards and kick boards. Skirt boards are the horizontal aprons beneath the balustrade on the wall, typically butting to the underside of an overhanging shoe plate. Skirt boards are often 12” in depth when used with open treads meeting with a 6” deep skirt board at the floor level. Although this seems counter-intuitive, because of the large triangle that is removed from the stair skirt board above each step, this variation in depths appears to be more evenly weighted than a 12” deep skirt board at both the stair and floor level balustrade. This does not apply to knee walls because there are no triangular pieces to remove so the skirt boards for stair and floor level should be equal in dimension.
The second category of aprons is the kick board. This is identical to the skirt board but is applied to the enclosing wall of a staircase above the treads and risers. Kick boards not only provide a decorative feature to the closed side of the stairway but also are advantageous in protecting the wall from damage from shoes and vacuums.