What is a Baluster?

stack of maple balustersWhat is a Baluster?

A baluster is the vertical component of a stairwell, balcony, or deck. Although balusters can be seen as decorative, they also provide security and safety. The term “wooden spindles” is interchangeable with the term “balusters”. The handrail and foot rail are attached to columns, or more commonly newel posts, to secure into position. In large scale production, these wooden balusters are turned on a back-knife or Mattison lathes. More complicated and custom balusters can be made on CNC and duplicating lathes.

Exterior wooden balusters/spindles are needed on entry stairs and also are used around porch rails.  These too can be simple, though they often are more ornate in for curb appeal.

What is a good interior paint-grade wood for balusters?

The term “paint-grade” typically suggests the cheapest wood, since you will be covering it with a finish. Many think pine ia a good choice, though clear pine is more expensive than many hardwoods and the knots and pitch lines start to show within a few months to a few years, regardless of surface preparation and priming. Poplar is probably the most common paint grade wood for interiors, since it is cost effective, machines well and  takes a finish nicely. In high-traffic areas, soft maple might be a good choice as it is about 40% harder than poplar.

Sprucing Up a Staircase or Porch

You can quickly enhance and change your style with new balusters. You may want to add more curb appeal to your home, modernize an old house, or replicate an old staircase. At H.A. Stiles, we specialize in Remodeling, Reproductions, Repair, and New Construction.  

Installing stair balusters

There are many sources online with tutorials on how to DIY and how to install your own staircase parts, including baluster replacement. Just specify exactly what you are looking to do and read up before attempting to try it yourself.