What is a balustrade? Learn all on this essential scale

It’s like a centuries-old conundrum: What is tall and sturdy and something you rely on every day? If you guess a balustrade, you’d be right, but that’s probably not the first thing that came to your mind. The reason? Although the fictional phrase actually indicates one of the most integral parts of your scale, not many do in reality know what the term includes or all the ways you can customize your balustrade to make it your own. The good news? That ends now, with our quick lesson on everything you need to know on this essential scale.

Read McKendree

What is a balustrade?

Put simply, a stair balustrade is a row of small posts supported and joined together as a unit by a railing. The structure has a long history in ancient architecture, dating back to the 13th and 7th centuries BC, when its resemblance first appeared on murals depicting Assyrian palaces. When the 10th century came, stone, wood or marble balustrades were commonly seen on stairways, balconies, terraces and more.

Which parts make up a balustrade?

Although it sounds super elegant (the phrase is derived from Italian, after all) a balustrade is made up of several common parts of stairs that you may be most familiar with – you may even use many of these phrases interchangeably to refer to your staircase – but now you will be able to speak even better .

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A balustrade consists of the following elements:


A handrail (also called a railing), which is what you care about as you go up or down a staircase. It provides much needed stability and can appear on one or both sides of a residential staircase.


A balustrade refers to the vertical posts on which the handrail is attached. They act almost like a “guard rail”, preventing people (and objects) from falling off the side of the ladder. Balustrades are also often referred to as spindles and can be a great place to add a design element to your staircase to better suit your personality or the style of your home.


The balustrade phrase can include new posts as well. Located at the top and bottom of the staircase, a lug refers to a thicker support piece that holds the handrail and balusters to anchor the staircase to the rest of the house.

1920s spanish colonial in san francisco designed by regan baker design and landscape architect earthquake stairwell a curved blackened steel railing climbs up to the roof, connecting all levels of the house

Laure Joliet

What is a balustrade used for?

In modern architecture and design, balustrades offer the possibility of decorative customization And act as an important safety measure, preventing anyone using a staircase, terrace or balcony from tipping over the edge. Like other structurally important elements of a home or building, balustrades are subject to code requirements, which often determine not only the spacing between the balusters spaces (typically 4 inches or less), but also the height of the railing. itself. Translation: If you are working on a new or old balustrade, we recommend that you review these code provisions before starting so as not to create a beautiful balustrade that will be completely overruled by the current rules and regulations.

How can I customize my balustrade?

Here’s the big news: they’re practically there infinite ways you can customize the elements of your balustrade to better reflect your home decor preferences and architecture. Choose a balustrade style that reflects elements of your décor, such as turned wood for a colonial home or streamlined metal posts for a modern home. Your handrail also offers an opportunity for customization, from traditional stained oak to thick sailor rope in a beach house.

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