Balusters are elements of railings of balconies and staircases that support a handrail or a balustrade. The most widely used decorative balusters are shaped as columns. They are manufactured from wood, metal, stone, marble, steel and glass.
Types of balusters
Wooden balusters are the most common choice for staircase design in wooden houses. Wrought elements are also used, since wrought works go well with wood in the interior.
Nowadays you can buy wooden balusters of various shapes: flat, round or square, spiral-shaped or with whimsical elements. Smooth or intricately carved, they give the stairs an attractive finished look.
Visually, balusters can belong to one of the following categories:
- turned balusters - shaped as solids of revolution and have a elegant look, made in classical style. This is the most simple version of wooden balusters, you can buy them at a very attractive price;
- milled balusters - their decorations include various voluminous elements (screws, braids, etc.) created by machining;
- carved balusters - complex wooden objects, whose finish includes elements made by hand or with the help of special equipment. They are very decorative, and are the most expensive option;
- wrought balusters - decorative railing elements made of metal. The forging method makes it possible to create balusters with a unique design, which will become an exquisite house adornment.
Requirements for balusters
As balusters fulfil a barrier function, they must be made of durable material and be securely fastened onto the base and the handrails. As a rule, the height of a railing from a step surface to the top of a handrail amounts to no less than 90 cm, and the installation gap for balusters in a balustrade of a staircase or a balcony is 10-15 cm. This is the optimal distance that prevents children from getting their heads in between and that won’t make the construction look heavier than it is.
There are no special requirements for materials used for balusters - any wood will provide adequate protection if the railing is properly designed and installed. It is much cheaper to buy wooden balusters made of softwoods than those made of fine wood: beech, oak, walnut, etc. Balusters should be made of the same type of wood as the stairs. Then, when the wood shrinks and its moisture content changes, there will be no tensions in the structure and it will not be subject to additional loads.
Mounting stair balusters
A wooden baluster consists of three parts: a base, handrailing support and a decorative central part. The base and the support are manufactured with extra length, so that the element can be adjusted during installation. The base of the baluster is mounted directly onto the step or the string capping. Handrailing support is fastened in the railing or in the string capping.
Wooden balusters can be fastened in several ways:
- stud fastening — holes are drilled into the sides of a wooden baluster, into which the studs are glued, so that their ends protrude by 6-7cm. The corresponding holes are drilled in the string and the string capping. First, two endmost balusters are installed in the openings, then the others in an even manner. Next, string capping is mounted onto spindles and the handrail is affixed, or the balusters are fastened straight onto the handrailing;
- dowel fastening (wooden spikes) - dowers require larger grooves than studs; otherwise, the installation process is identical to that one described above;
- self-tapping screw fastening - it is a simple way to mount balusters onto the threads of a staircase with a stair carriage. A self-tapping screw is fastened onto a step in such a way, so that it is halfway above the surface. Then a wooden baluster is screwed on.
You can adorn your wooden house with the help of balusters. Decorative elements that match its style will seamlessly fit the design of the façade or the rooms, become an elegant addition and make the construction look light.