Stair Parts Explained: The Baluster

Villa Medicea di Poggio
Villa Medicea di Poggio

So what exactly is a baluster?  Well, the dictionary definition is pretty straight forward:

“A baluster— also called spindle or stair stick—is a moulded shaft, square or of lathe-turned form, a form cut from a rectangular or square plank, one of various forms of spindle in woodwork, made of stone or wood and sometimes of metal,[1] standing on a unifying footing, and supporting the coping of a parapet or the handrail of a staircase.[2″

But balusters are so much more than that.

Your balusters are the workhorses of the handrail system.  They carry any and all loads put on the rails.  They add structural integrity to railing, allowing them not to crumble when you grab hold and not to break down when you need them for support.  Functionally, they are absolutely needed for the structure of a railing system to work.

The history of the baluster is quite interesting as well.  Originally from the french balustre, or the Italian balaustra, meaning pomegranate flower, they came into use as early as 1490 on the terrace and stairs at the Medici villa at Poggio.  Later they were revered by the likes of Michelangelo, who popularized them in the 16th century.

Which makes one wonder, how did stair railing systems work before then?  Probably not too well.

These days balusters are the fruit of the tree when it comes to staircases.  They control the entire look of your stairway, and replacing balusters on your old staircase can make a world of difference.  There is no other part of the staircase that can change the look so dramatically when replaced or repaired.

If you came to this page looking to learn about balusters, cool.  If you came looking to purchase balusters, Vision Stairways and Millwork is the leading retailer of stair parts in the Southeastern United States.  However, we ship all over the world.  And the best part is we give free design consultations and estimates.

If you would like a free consultation or estimate, or want to place an order, fill out our quick contact form to the right of this page and one of our stair experts will be in touch shortly.  You can also give us a call at 1-800-701-5169.


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