There may be components of your house that you may not be aware of the name, until you have to upgrade or replace them. In the case of staircases, balconies, terraces, porches, and other decorative structures, there are such parts called balusters and balustrades, which are often mistaken as being one and the same. But they are two completely different elements of staircases, and this post is aimed at distinguishing the both of them,
What is a baluster?
Also called spindles, balusters are the vertical, vase-adjacent posts or legs situated between a railing for the purpose of adding support for the top rail. The term originates from the Italian word balaustra, which means wild pomegranate flowers. This is because the feature sometimes resembles the curve of the flower’s calyx tube. Typically, balusters are crafted from wood, iron, stone, and other sturdy materials.
What are balusters for?
Contrary to popular belief, balusters don’t just exist as attractive additions to railings. They actually heavily contribute to the railing’s overall structure. For one, balusters support the handrail. They close the gaps between posts, serving as safety barriers by getting rid of the excess space through which people could slip and fall. For two, obviously, balusters deliver additional style and structural flair to the railings. They can be designed however you want, so there is an endless variety of aesthetic possibilities. If you’re looking to match the balusters to the overall vibe of your home, it’s very much possible.
What is a balustrade?
On the other hand, a balustrade is found in many staircases and terraces. A common part of architecture today, it’s a row of small columns topped by a rail. A balustrade basically combines the functions of the handrail with the decorative element of the repetitive balusters. The idea was first derived in Greek and Roman ensembles where columns contributed to the visual harmony and complexity of buildings. Back then, they were called colonnades, and also added support to buildings.
Like balusters, balustrades can be used indoors or outdoors, for staircases and balconies, as well as decorative structures. They can be made of almost any type of material, including wood or glass.
What are balustrades for?
According to Mitchelle Owens, Architectural Digest’s decorative arts and antique editor, balustrades serve many functions. “From reducing the possibility of a person falling off a stairway to cordoning off an area for the purposes of privacy, such as the gilded balustrade that separates the bed in the king’s chamber at Versailles from the rest of the room,” he explained.
Basically, balustrades are designed for both form and function since they serve decorative and practical purposes. In today’s buildings and structures, balustrades are often seen in a variety of shapes and materials, from no-frills wood posts to intricate wrought-iron spindles. If you’re going to add balustrades in your railings at home, you have free rein to experiment with the design and materials. You can match it with the rest of your home, or you can make it unique to be the focal point of your house. The possibilities are endless.
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