English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What are metal pans and its covers of a staircase and what do they look like as mentioned in the following account?

My boss and I were carrying 160lb sliding glass doors up an unfinished staircase (just metal pans with no covers so you were walking on a surface about 3/4" wide, with water in the bottom because it had been raining.)

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Kris, MrHen, user49727, Matt E. Эллен, MετάEd Oct 7 '13 at 17:22

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references" – MrHen, user49727, Matt E. Эллен
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

imagine if you took the treads (flat surface that you normally walk on) off of a stairway. That would leave just a series of rectangular boxes open at the top- Kind of like a bunch of loaf pans angling up. So they could only step on the edges of the loaf pans which were about 3/4" thick. – Jim May 4 '13 at 21:25
This might be a good question for Home Improvement. – MετάEd Oct 7 '13 at 17:22
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The image below [from weldingweb.com] illustrates one type of stair pan. The narrow raised forward edge probably is the “3/4" wide” rail referred to in the quote, and is what would cause the pan to retain water.

staircase with pans

This staircase would be finished by placing wood or concrete steps (or covers) onto or into each pan.

share|improve this answer
So he is not actually walking on a 3/4" surface like he said since the pans are not open/hollowed out, he is still being supported on the main surface? Maybe the pans he's talking about has taller raised edges? – Theo 8 mins ago – Theo May 4 '13 at 22:26
By “walking on a 3/4" surface” the writer might mean that stepping on the raised front lip could not be avoided. On typical residential stairs, if the toe of my boot is against the riser, the heel is out over the edge of the tread. – jwpat7 May 4 '13 at 22:59
By "walking on a 3/4" surface", I assume the writer is saying that he was trying to step only on the raised edges and not in the pans, which would have gotten his shoes very wet. This isn't what he literally said, but I think it likely is what he meant. – Peter Shor May 5 '13 at 13:47

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.