It is undeniable that stairs are not only a functional structure for movement, but also a stylish decor of the modern mansion. Even a simple summer cottage and fashionable two-level apartment in the new building can’t do without steps, connecting the lower floor with the upper. And so that these steps acquire protection and fortunately complement the interior, they should be decorated with balusters. Moreover, balusters are relevant in the decoration of balconies or cultural and public buildings.
Background to the history: concept and dynamics of popularity
This decorative component of interior has long been known in the art of architecture. “Baluster” is a low and small column that supports the stair railings, balconies and terraces. The stress in the word “baluster” falls on the first syllable. The oldest historical argument confirming that balusters for the stairs date back many centuries is the picture of shaped columns on Assyrian bas-reliefs. People have decorated facades and parks with balusters since the Renaissance.
In the modern form, baluster was invented by the architect Giuliano da Sangallo. He used the balusters to decorate the stairs of Palazzo Medici. However, baluster has gained popularity only since XVI century, which is due to the Renaissance legend – great sculptor and artist Michelangelo. The word “baluster” has a Latin root, even though it is believed to come from Greece. It is curious that in Italian it means “pomegranate flower”, which is really similar to the classic baluster.
Material for the balusters in assortment
Functionally, stair balusters are vertical supports that became a part of design: its shape will correspond to the interior style, chosen by the customer.
Stair balusters can be:
- natural and artificial;
Wooden balusters as an exclusive decor
There are three main wood species, used for the manufacture of balusters:
The advantage of such models is that they are made of eco-friendly, natural material. Besides, hand-made balusters are the masterpieces of art. They create the whole ornaments, becoming a trendy accent in the home interior. Among other things, they can be perfectly combined with wooden and stone staircases. However, you should refrain from the combination with metal.
Stone balusters – tested by time!
Of course, marble is the main material used for the manufacture of stone balusters. Mostly, marble balusters are solid and massive (pictured above). The customer should consider it when creating the architectural solution for the overall design of the room. This material goes great with metal and has a number of advantages:
- moisture resistance;
- high resistance to the temperature drops;
- resistance to mechanical damage.
That’s why stone baluster is successfully used as an element of exterior.
For interior decoration of the small room, you should choose lacy or carved shape of columns so that external massiveness of stone balusters is easier to perceive and leaves more air and space to the rooms. For example, such option is good for the decoration of libraries, museums or theaters.
Metal balusters for any taste
This type of balusters is known for its unusual design solution (pictured below) and impressive shape. They are made of the following metals:
- cast iron;
- stainless steel;
- other alloys.
The advantage of such model is the long service life or material, which is not inferior to stone. Forging also changes the decor: balusters turn out visually airy and delicate, and can be used as a sample of fine taste in the home design. Customers who prefer gothic or baroque style will especially like them. Metal balusters is used in high-tech or modern style and serve as a complement to the metal, glass and stone stairs.
Combination of materials for the balusters
Today, the combination of materials for the balusters, a mix of wooden, metal, glass and stone elements (pictured on the left) is a popular trend. As for the latter, preference is given to the artificial stone. These interesting combinations meet any requirements with the most fashionable and original design solutions.
There are less common option with countless photos, for example:
- plastic balusters;
- concrete balusters;
- styrofoam balusters, etc.
In general, the combination of materials is becoming the most popular technology of manufacturing the balusters.
Installation of balusters: specifics and safety principles
Usually, architect addresses the issue of baluster frequency. However, there are classical canons you should follow during the installation of balusters. For example, the distance between the elements of must not exceed the length of its base. However, too big distance between the balusters is not only aesthetic but also unsafe! Note: families with small children and pets should consider the safety factor of baluster location.
In world practice, baluster is always completed with a column, any supporting structure or, alternatively, pedestal.
Long balusters are safer and more reliable. Besides, the safety of baluster depends on the material of manufacture and auxiliary elements.
Stair railings are usually performed in the same design style as the interior.
To fix the baluster of any shape and material into the board, you should memorize the safety principles:
- adjacent balusters are situated at a distance of no more than 15 cm from each other;
- the recommended height of support is 80-100 cm;
- support is always attached to the board and on the top.
Width (area) of balusters must not be considered as a safety factor, because these parameters don’t fulfill any function but represent only a part of decoration. The method of installation of the baluster depends on the chosen material of manufacture.
Aesthetics of balusters lies in the choice of material
Balusters transform the beautiful railings, landing, stair flight and balcony with the traditions of stairs construction (pictured on the left). Even the beginners can handle this transformation, when it comes to wooden balusters and small stairs. However, wooden balusters are demanding in care. You should regularly pain or refresh them with varnish. Without the owner’s attention, these elements will quickly cover with dust and small defects –from paint peeling to scratches and cracks.
However, despite the simplicity of technology, wooden railings become a real masterpiece only when they are performed by the master (pictured above).
Glass baluster is a very fashionable element of decoration (see the photo of “crystal” staircase above), but under-baluster should be made of other material, which will fit into the declared design and make it look rich and extraordinary.
As a rule, concrete baluster is characterized by a boring shape of flowerpot. Its lower part is convex (pictured at the beginning of article), while the under-baluster looks heavier and more massive than marble. Mini-column, which has an elegant constriction in the center, looks much more interesting.
Today you can choose various balusters at an affordable price. As a rule, the price depends on the material and design solution. Of course, rare handmade samples are the most popular, but their price is high and beats the pocket of the customer. If the price is the most relevant issue for the customer, he/she should not consider the railings made of solid wood. Which material do you find more attractive? Tell us about it in the comments!