Balustrade and Handrail

February 2024
Anton White

If you're diving into the world of outdoor decking and accessories, you might find yourself scratching your head over some jargon. "Balustrade" and "handrail" are two terms that often cause a bit of a mix-up.

But fear not! With years of experience under our belt here at Ovaeda, we're here to demystify these terms for you.

What's the Difference Between a Handrail and a Balustrade?

When it comes to giving your outdoor space a facelift or ensuring safety, understanding the distinction between a handrail and a balustrade is crucial. Let's break it down:

What Is A Balustrade?

Simply put, a balustrade is a collective term for the entire structure that forms the side of a staircase, balcony, or decking area. It consists of a series of posts (balusters) or panels that support a rail at the top.

From our experience, the primary purpose of a balustrade is to provide safety by preventing falls. But that's not all – it also plays a significant role in the aesthetic appeal of your space.

Balustrades can be crafted from various materials, including composite balustrades, traditional metal balustrades, and glass balustrades, each offering a unique look and feel.

balustrades and handrails

After putting various materials to the test, we've found that glass balustrades are increasingly popular for their modern and distinctive appearance.

There are also different rules and regulations that you'll need to follow for installing balustrades as outlined in Document K and BS 6180, such as external balustrade building regulations UK and building regulations for glass balustrades.

What Is A Handrail?

On the other hand, a handrail is specifically the part of the structure that you hold onto for support and guidance as you ascend or descend a staircase or ramp.

Handrails can be a part of a balustrade system or mounted directly onto a wall. They're essential for safety, providing stability and support, especially in outdoor environments where conditions can be slippery or uneven.

According to our research and practical experience, handrails need to meet certain standards in terms of height, materials, and visibility to ensure they serve their purpose effectively.

To learn more about balustrade terminology, be sure to check out our guide on the difference between baluster and banister.


In essence, while a balustrade refers to the entire protective barrier, including the posts and the top rail, a handrail is specifically the part you hold onto.

Whether you're looking to install a new staircase in your garden, a balcony, or just some decking, understanding these differences can help you make informed decisions about what's best for your space.

At Ovaeda, we're passionate about helping you create outdoor spaces that are not only safe but also aesthetically pleasing. If you're pondering over the perfect balustrade or handrail for your outdoor project, be sure to explore our collection of exterior balustrade and composite decking solutions.

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