You probably must have already seen a balustrade at some point in your life. You know those long rows of small vase-shaped columns often found in the lining of staircases and terraces? Yeah, that’s a balustrade. The term was first introduced sometime in the 17th century in Italy to signify the bulbous structure of the baluster that was similar to the pomegranate flowers or balaustra. Balustrades have been around for a while now, dating far back to the 13th and 7th centuries BC. From the sculpted murals of Assyrian palaces and the terraces of ancient Chinese buildings to the classic Renaissance architecture, balustrades were found everywhere.
But enough about the past, let’s talk about the present now. Balustrades are still an integral part of home décor, available in many shapes and materials. There are wooden balusters, posts, and wrought-iron spindles serving both aesthetic and practical purposes. Read on to know all about balusters and the kinds of balusters you can incorporate into your home décor:
So, what exactly are Balustrades?
There are just so many technical terms used to describe the railing systems found on decks, staircases, balconies, and porches. Let’s cover the basics first, shall we? Staircases aren’t just a collection of stairs (duh!), there are several other components such as railings, balusters etc. that come into play. You must have noticed those short, stout columns that line the railings and arranged perfectly around the structure in a row. These vase-like columns are called balusters. A collection of such balusters makes up a balustrade. The balustrade consists of several connecting balusters that are evenly spaced and arranged to form a decorative yet solid railing or lining around the stairway. It usually blends with the architectural style of the building and can be designed for both indoors and outdoors structures.
The balustrades form a low screen below an elevated building and are constructed to prevent falls from roofs, high balconies, terraces, and staircases. The classic Renaissance balustrade was broader and very ornamental compared to the minimalistic and durable ones you see nowadays.
And What Are Balusters Made of?
Earlier, balustrades were a lot more traditional, featuring classic hand-molded handrails and broad columns of balusters. Back then the balustrades were made of wood and metal. The balusters inside the house, for example staircase balustrades, were made of wood while the ones outside were of stone. The modern-day balustrades are a lot more durable and solidly structured. For starters, the modern-day balusters are made of cast metal, cast stone, hardwood and softwoods, plaster and Polyurethane/polystyrene. They’re almost unbreakable, water-proof, and last long.
Modern-Day Balustrades and their Uses
Long winding staircases, elevated balconies, high terraces and beautiful broad patios are some of the classic elements that add on to the elegance of any building. Balustrades play a major role in all of these architectural artefacts. Earlier, balustrades were but ornamental and used for isolating a particular part of the building for some privacy. The balusters we see today are narrower and last longer. The wrought-iron spindles or vertical balusters, for instance, are placed close to one another to prevent a child from slipping through and falling. The concrete newel posts are heavier and attached directly to the flooring supporting the top and bottom of the rails.
How Are They Different From Balusters and Banisters?
A baluster is a small vertical base that is placed between the upper and lower horizontal space of the railing. Also referred to as spindle or stair sticks, these columns add on to the aesthetic appeal of the place and also provides support to the entire structure. Multiple balusters arranged in a row form a balustrade. The balustrade is designed in accordance with the basic architectural design of the building.
One of the most notable examples of balustrades is in the Castle of Vélez Blanco built sometime in the 16 th century. This Spanish structure features an intricate marble balustrade lining the terrace and the patio.
Balusters can be found in all kinds of buildings from churches to houses, palaces and concert halls. They’re held in place by the upper and lower elements of the structure, i.e., the floor and the railings. Banisters, on the other hand, refer to balustrades found specifically on the stairways.