The design combinations for stair railings are nearly endless. A common railing design uses balusters to form a balustrade. The balusters serve as one of the most important design features of the railing. Different types of balusters can be used to create a unique style and function for the stair railing.
The types of balusters vary depending on the environment, the material used, and the look desired for the staircase. Balusters can be round, square, flat, rectangular, and a variety of custom designed shapes. Common baluster materials include metal, wood, stone, wrought iron, and even concrete.
A baluster style railing is on of the most popular types of railings for stairs. Baluster styles can range from the purely functional vertical steel pickets used in commercial steel stairs or bolted steel stairs to the ornate, hand-carved stone balusters found in ancient cathedrals. A spindle, one of the stair parts names that commonly gets confused with baluster, is a type of long, thin baluster.
Metal balusters come in a wide range of sizes and styles. Usually made of metal tubes, pipes, rods or bars, these balusters are often incorporated into in a multi-line railing design for egress stairs. Metal balusters can be made of steel, aluminum or wrought iron and are often used with wood stairs as architectural elements.
Metal balusters are a great option for industrial applications. Railings with a center mid-rail to meet IBC and OSHA building codes incorporate metal pipe or tube balusters.
Metal balusters are also common in both commercial and residential settings and can be used indoor and out. Hollow tubes and pipes are best for interior stairs, while solid rods or bars are better for exterior stairs. Commercial picket railing is a type of baluster railing.
Wood is one of the most popular materials for balusters. Wood balusters were popularly used in the past and are associated with more traditional, classic staircase designs. Today, wooden balusters can be combined with other materials, like metal or glass, to create a modern, sophisticated look.
Wooden balustrades are often used in more traditionally styled homes and in the interior of commercial buildings. However, they can also be used outdoors if treated and maintained correctly.
Natural stone balusters have been used in staircases across the globe for many centuries. Today, stone balusters are still a popular choice. Both natural stone and precast stone balusters are available in a wide assortment of styles to create a staircase with beauty and style.
From terraces and porches to sweeping stairways, stone balustrades have been incorporated in fine architecture to create enduring elegance. Today, stone balusters are typically used in residences and commercial buildings, like banks and museums. They can be used both indoor and out.
Concrete balusters are usually part of precast concrete balustrade systems. These systems are quite versatile as they available in a wide array of colors, textures and eye-catching designs.
Concrete balusters are normally found outside of homes and commercial buildings. They can be used for porches, front entrances and stairs.
Balusters are the stair parts that most impact how the staircase looks. So, choosing the right baluster shape, style and material is important. Determine how you would like your finished stairway to look. Some balusters will provide a more traditional feel while others will lend a more modern look. Also, take the existing indoor décor or outdoor environment into consideration. Finally, factor in your budget as some materials are more affordable than others.