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Wood Balusters

H.A. Stiles provides finely crafted wooden balusters in a variety of species for both exterior and interior use.

wooden balustersBalusters are the upright portion of a stairwell, balcony or deck and serve as a decorative and security capacity.   In some cases, these are made of stone, concrete and plaster, but the far more common practice today is in wood and offers considerable variety in form and architectural design.

In a simple and most common form is the interior wood baluster found in most 2 story homes, spanning from the stair tread upward to the handrail of a staircase and spaced per local building code to insure a safe and attractive barrier on the edge of the staircase.  These balusters or spindles can be as simple as wood dowels or square wood moldings, but are usually turned on lathes to offer more detail and appeal.  Wood species well suited for interior application include poplar for paintgrade, maple as stain or paintgrade and oak, which matches the predominant species for interior floors and stair treads. In large scale production, these wood balusters are turned on back-knife or Mattison lathes.  More complicated and custom balusters can be made on CNC lathes.

Exterior balusters are needed on entry stairs, but also have further application around porch rails.  These too can be simple, though often  are more ornate in showcasing a house for curb appeal.   The exterior balusters are frequently  square on top and bottom to aid assembly into the top and bottom rails of porches.  These balusters do not set into the deck or stair tread as it is important to lift them off the decking to avoid collection of moisture and potential decay issues.  Exterior wood balusters are typically larger diameters than interior based on aesthetic appeal.

The woods needed on exterior applications range from pressure treated southern yellow pine for the economical and often square molded versions to naturally decay resistant species that can be turned.  Naturally rot resistant woods include various types of imported mahogany, cedars both domestic and imported in the case of Spanish cedar, redwood, cypress as an excellent domestic wood and some  domestic pines.  The latter was used in earlier homes, though old growth pine and fir had better durability than current timber being harvested, due to densities.  While certain woods last longer than other, maintaining an exterior balusters for the longterm, requires adequate paint finish to protect from moisture as well as minimize the cracking and checking of the wood through sun exposure and cycling of wet and dry conditions.

A  balustrade is made up of the handrail, foot rail and balusters, as a section.  The handrail and foot rail are attached to wood columns or newel posts to secure in position.

To learn more about wooden columns from H.A. Stiles or to determine the best solution for your needs, contact our experienced staff for help in selecting the ideal materials and designs for your application.


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