What Is a Banister on Stairs?

April 2024
Anton White

In the world of outdoor decking and stair accessories, understanding the components that ensure safety and enhance aesthetics is crucial. Among these, the banister stands out as a key feature, providing support and stability to those navigating the stairs.

But there's more to stair railings than just the banister. What is a balustrade on stairs, you might wonder? A balustrade encompasses the entire railing system, including the handrail, balusters, and sometimes a bottom rail, integral to the structure and design of staircases.

This article delves into the nuances of banisters and balustrades, offering insights into their importance, differences, and the various parts that make up a complete balustrade system, ensuring you're well-informed about enhancing your outdoor area with the right railing solutions.

What this article covers:

What Is a Banister on Stairs?

So, what exactly is a banister? Simply put, it's the part of the stairs you hold onto for support as you ascend or descend.

But, as we've discovered after putting it to the test in various outdoor settings, a banister is more than just a practical feature; it's an opportunity to add style and character to your outdoor area.

Although they all fulfil the same role, there are different types of banisters depending on the design and material you prefer. The method for replacing a banister will sometimes depend on the materials you're working with.

What Is The Difference Between A Banister And Balustrade?

Now, you might be wondering, "Isn't that just a fancy word for a balustrade?" Well, not quite. According to our research, while a banister refers specifically to the handrail and its supporting posts (also known as balusters or spindles), a balustrade encompasses the entire railing system, including the handrail, balusters, and sometimes a bottom rail.

What Are the Different Parts of a Balustrade?


Spindles, or balusters, are the backbone of any balustrade, providing crucial support and stability. These vertical pillars not only hold up the handrail but also add a decorative touch.

Available in a variety of materials like composites, sleek metal, or even transparent glass, spindles can be chosen to complement or contrast with your outdoor décor, depending on the statement you want to make.

Replacing banister spindles is also possible, making it easy to maintain or update your balustrade.


The handrail is perhaps the most interacted-with part of a balustrade, offering a secure grip for navigating the stairs. Running along the top of the balusters, it ensures safety while adding a smooth, finishing touch to the balustrade's design.

In our experience, the choice of material and design for the handrail can significantly influence the overall look and feel of your outdoor staircase, making it a key consideration in your design process.

what is a stair banister

The standard banister height as per building regulations is outlined in Document K in the UK, so we recommend familiarising yourself with these regulations before starting your banister project.

Base Rail

While not always a component of every balustrade, the base rail adds an extra layer of cohesion and stability when present. It mirrors the handrail by running parallel at the base of the balusters, tying the vertical elements together and grounding the design.

The base rail can be a subtle addition that complements the handrail, or it can be a more pronounced feature that adds to the balustrade's visual impact.

Newel Posts

Newel posts are the sturdy pillars that anchor the entire balustrade system. Positioned at critical points such as the beginning, end, and any turns or landings in the staircase, these posts ensure the structural integrity of the balustrade.

Beyond their functional role, newel posts offer an opportunity for dramatic flair or elegant simplicity, depending on the chosen design and material, making them a focal point in the balustrade's overall composition.


The banister and balustrade play pivotal roles in the functionality and aesthetic appeal of outdoor staircases, offering both safety and style.

Understanding the difference between a banister and a balustrade, as well as the components that make up these essential features, can transform a simple staircase into an elegant and secure passage.

Whether it's the sturdy support of balusters or the guiding hand of a well-crafted handrail, each element contributes to the overall design and safety of your outdoor space. If you're looking to elevate your outdoor area with high-quality, stylish solutions for outdoor handrails, explore Ovaeda's range of products designed to meet your every need.

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