If You See These Triangles on Stairs, This Is What It Means

Updated: Jun. 21, 2023

They're stair dust corners, and they're there for a good reason.

Older homes have their quirks and interesting characteristics. Some of these are unique staircase features you don’t often see in modern abodes that may seem decorative but actually have a surprising practical application.

Stair dust corners, or those little triangles that are tucked into stair corners, exist in older homes across the country, but what are they and why were they included on staircases?

What Are Stair Dust Corners, and What Were They Used For?

There are plenty of mysterious old home features that aren’t useful anymore, but those stair triangles are one of the few that retain their utility. Stair dust corners, introduced in the late 19th century to help make sweeping more manageable, are triangle-shaped pieces of metal (usually an alloy metal like brass or nickel) that sit in the back corners of stairs.

Positioning these triangles in the corners of stairs prevents dust clumps from accumulating in those hard-to-reach corners. Thus, triangles on stairs guard against dust—their concave shape borders off the corners, eliminating those tricky angles and making dust easier to sweep away.

Although these compact triangles were initially made of brass or nickel, you can find them made of other materials and designs to match different styles.

Can I Still Find Them Today?

Pvc Clear Dust Corner Guards Via Merchant ResizeVia Merchant

Yep! You might be surprised to know that stair dust corners are still available if you want to add them to your own staircase.

Fun, modern options exist from online retailers like Etsy, so if you want to simplify sweeping your stairs, you’re in luck. Etsy offerings range from these clear PVC dust corners ($9.60) and one-inch black stair corners ($9.11) while House of Antique Hardware offers more vintage-feeling options like these individually polished brass corners ($3.79) and these antiqued-by-hand brass dust corners ($10.19. Plain brass options like Vintage Hardware’s plain design polished brass stair dust corner ($12.50 each) will bring some stylish elegance to your staircase.

Once you find a type of stair dust corner that suits you, installing them should be pretty simple—plastic ones often just wedge into the staircase, while the metal offerings can be installed with a quick swing of a hammer and nail.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published in The Family Handyman