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What are Balusters?

10/8/2012 1:01:34 PM | by Anonymous


Also referred to as a spindle or stair stick, a baluster is a carved or molded shaft post that can be in a variety of shapes, usually made out of wood or stone and sometimes metal, standing along with other balusters on a unified footings, used to support handrails and fences. When multiple balusters are used under a handrail or other structures, they are referred to as balustrade. Baluster can not only be used in architectural structures but also as frames used to hold candles, furniture support legs and several other uses. In simpler terms, a baluster is a carved post typically used in architecture, being installed under railings such as staircase or balcony railings, as a form of support for the structure. Not only do these structures serve the purpose of supporting the railings, but they also aid the architectural design of the setting, with a variety of baluster designs available in the market to complement the architecture of a building.


Although the exact period when the balusters came about is not known, the earliest known use of these components dates back to ancient Assyria. Structural elements that strongly resemble modern day balusters exist in the architecture of this city. The use of balusters in ancient Assyria was by the nobility in the architecture of their homes. Several archaeological evidences have been found to suggest the use of baluster since ancient times and that these designs have been popular and ideal for architecture since a very long time. The word baluster is derived from pomegranate flower. This is because the pomegranate flower which has a partially opened shape resembles that of a classical baluster, therefore the name of these structures. The material that is used to make a baluster depends on the application of, and the location of the structure. For example, a baluster made out of wood would not be ideal for an application in a structure that is outdoors and constantly exposed to sun and rain. Wood that is exposed can get deteriorate overtime, unless it has been painted with a protective coating. Other materials that can be used to make a baluster can be cast metal or carved stone.


Depending on their application, balusters can serve both safety and decorative roles. Railings are often required in settings where people may be exposed to danger or at elevated heights such as rooftops and balconies, or even along staircases. These railings are often fitted with balusters which, just like railings can serve decorative and safety functions both at the same time. Although baluster may not support all the weight of the railing and thicker posts may be installed at intervals along the railing, balusters do prevent people from falling over the railing. Along staircases, in the balconies of homes and in several other applications, balusters play a key role as a decorative element. As they are available in several designs, it is important to select a baluster design that compliments the architecture of the home. As balusters do not support the weight of railings, it is possible to remove a single baluster out of a balustrade for replacing or repairing it. Removing a single baluster would not destabilize the railing; however it would make the railing look uneven and unattractive. Replacing damaged baluster may not be an easy task. Therefore, it is always advisable to hire professionals who would take samples and create replicas of the original baluster, and then replacing it without causing any damage to the rest of the structure.


Baluster can be heavily styled or have a very simple form. The more heavily stylized balusters tend to be more expensive than those with simpler designs. The more ornate balusters are commonly used in formal architectural buildings such as museums, to add to the look of the building. Some people tend to use these ornate balusters even in the architecture of their homes, to give the structure a more ornate and grand look. Smaller homes may spot the simpler version of balusters, giving the home a more humble aesthetic.

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