Banister vs Balustrade

February 2024
Anton White

In outdoor decking and architecture, the distinction between a banister vs balustrade is often blurred, yet understanding this difference is crucial for anyone looking to enhance their outdoor or indoor spaces.

A banister refers specifically to the handrail part of the stairs, while a balustrade encompasses the entire structure, including the handrail, balusters, and sometimes additional elements like the base rail and newel posts.

We delve into these nuances, shedding light on each component's role and how they contribute to the safety and aesthetic appeal of your environment.

What this article covers:

What Is a Balustrade?

A balustrade, in the simplest terms, is a series of posts, known as balusters, capped off with a rail, all working together in harmony to form a protective barrier.

Whether it's perched around your balcony, running alongside your staircase, or encircling your terrace, a balustrade is there to ensure safety while adding a dash of style. From our experience, the choice of material—be it composite balustrades, metal, or glass balustrades—can transform your space from simple to simply stunning.

What Does A Balustrade Do?

A balustrade serves as a crucial safety feature, preventing falls from elevated areas such as staircases, balconies, and terraces. However, its function extends beyond safety; it plays a significant role in defining the aesthetic character of a space.

Whether it complements the architectural style or acts as a focal point, a balustrade can significantly enhance the visual appeal of both outdoor and indoor settings.

Our experience with various projects has shown that the right outdoor balustrade can improve ambient lighting, contribute to a feeling of spaciousness, and potentially increase a property's market value.

Thus, a balustrade is more than a mere protective barrier; it contributes to both the safety and style of an environment.

Because of the role it plays in safety, there are building regulations for glass balustrades as well as external balustrade building regulations UK. Be sure to familiarise yourself with these before installing a balustrade, as outlined by Document K and BS 6180.

What Is the Difference Between a Banister and a Balustrade?

The distinction between a banister and a balustrade is fundamental to understanding the components that make up staircases and railing systems.

A banister refers specifically to the handrail component of a staircase. This is the part of the balustrade and handrail that people hold onto for support when ascending or descending stairs. It's a critical safety feature that runs along the side of the staircase, often mounted on or supported by a series of vertical posts known as balusters.

In contrast, a balustrade is an entire railing system that includes several components: the banister (or handrail), the vertical posts, and often a base rail that runs along the bottom of the balusters, as well as newel posts, which are larger, more robust posts typically found at the beginning and end of the staircase or key structural points such as landings.

difference between baluster and banister

The balustrade can be found not only alongside staircases but also around balconies, terraces, and other elevated areas where fall prevention is necessary.

Understanding the difference between these two terms is crucial for accurate communication, especially during the planning, designing, or renovating phases of a project. Miscommunication can lead to design flaws, safety issues, or aesthetic discrepancies that could compromise the integrity of the space.

Banister Vs Baluster Vs Balustrade

To further clarify, a baluster is a single vertical post within the balustrade system, serving as the structural support for the handrail above and, in some designs, the base rail below.

The banister, or handrail, is the component that runs along the top of the balusters, providing a surface to grasp. The balustrade is the collective term for the complete assembly of these parts, forming a protective and decorative barrier.

This distinction is essential for understanding the roles each element plays in the overall structure and for ensuring that each component is designed and installed correctly to meet safety standards and aesthetic goals.

Baluster Vs Spindle

The terms 'baluster' and 'spindle' are often used interchangeably in the context of staircases and railing systems, but there are subtle differences between the two.

Traditionally, spindles are considered to be a type of baluster with a specific design: they are usually thinner and more ornate, often used in staircases for their decorative appeal.

Balusters, on the other hand, can be more varied in design and size and are used in a broader range of applications, including both staircases and the railings of balconies and terraces.

banister or baluster

The choice between using spindles or balusters often comes down to the desired aesthetic and functional requirements of the railing system.

While spindles can add a delicate, decorative touch to a staircase, balusters may be chosen for their structural robustness and versatility in design. Understanding these nuances is important for making informed decisions that align with the architectural style and safety requirements of the space.


The distinction between a banister and a balustrade is not just a matter of terminology but a fundamental aspect of architectural design that affects both the functionality and aesthetics of a space.

Understanding these differences is crucial for anyone looking to enhance their home or outdoor area, ensuring that the right elements are chosen to match the desired aesthetic and safety requirements.

For those ready to elevate their spaces with the perfect blend of style and security, Ovaeda is here to turn your vision into reality. Explore our range of balustrades and banisters today and take the first step towards transforming your space.

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