Staircase Balustrades

Pear Stairs

Balustrades and Bannisters Available From Pear Stairs

At Pear Stairs you can design balustrades to suit your home or project, mixing and matching materials and shapes to fit your vision. If you want to discuss your plans or ideas, please contact our friendly team on 01938 553311. You can also try out our StairCreator, a free online planning tool that lets you experiment with different designs and produces an instant price estimate.

Both a safety and design feature, the right stair balustrade can truly transform the look of your staircase.

A balustrade is used to line a staircase – adding style. It can also prevent people from falling and injuring themselves – allowing them to use the stairs safely.

Key parts of a Stair Balustrade:

  1. Handrails or Banisters – railing at the top of the balustrade, supported by newel posts
  2. Baserail – railing at the bottom of spindles which supports the steps
  3. Spindles – decorative uprights running between the handrail and base rail
  4. Newel Posts – strong, structural support for the handrail
  5. Newel Caps – decorative top of the newel to enhance the final look
  6. You can find more detail about the different parts of a balustrade below.

Parts Of A Balustrade

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Balustrades; Handrails and Post-To-Post Or Over-The-Post

The term ‘balustrade’ refers to the combination of handrail, spindles (or ‘balusters’), baserail and newels, which together form the railing system that encloses one or both sides of a staircase.              

The handrail is the part of the balustrade that sits on top of the spindles. This is the part that you hold as you climb up and down the stairs.

According to UK building regulations, the minimum acceptable handrail height in a domestic dwelling is 900mm on both stairs and landings.

For a public staircase, the minimum height handrail on a landing is increased to 1100mm, while the minimum handrail height for stairs remains at 900mm.

If desired, the handrail can be continuous, passing over the newel posts (known as an over-the-post system), as opposed to the standard handrail which is interrupted by newel posts and caps (a post-to-post system).

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Spindles and Baserails

The spindles in a balustrade support the handrail and prevent users from falling through the space between the handrail and the stairs.

UK building regulations state that all spindles must be fitted close enough together to prevent a 100mm sphere from being able to pass through any openings in the balustrade. This is to avoid small children becoming trapped.                   

A baserail sits on top of the string (or ‘stringer’) on a closed string staircase and holds the spindles.

The baserail is grooved on the top and bottom to accommodate the base of each spindle, and the top of the string. Where excess space remains between the base of a spindle or the top of the string, infill strips are used to fill the remaining area, ensuring that the string or spindle is wedged tightly into the groove.

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Newel Post, Cap and Base

Newels support the strings, handrails, treads and risers on a staircase, and are themselves comprised of three separate parts: 

The newel base provides the structural support required and is the part into which the newel post is fixed.           

The newel post is the central section of the newel. This connects the newel base and newel cap and supports the baserail and handrail. These in turn support the spindles.             

The newel cap (or ‘finial’) is the ornamental top section of the newel. It can be produced in a number of shapes including flat, pyramid and acorn. You can also get highly decorative, hand-carved designs. Most newel caps are made from wood but metal ones are also available for a more contemporary touch.     

The balustrade enclosing the staircase itself is called the ‘rake balustrade’; one which encloses the edge of a landing is called a ‘return balustrade’.

You may be interested to know that the word balustrade originates from the 17th century French word balustre, which itself originates from the Latin balustra, ‘wild pomegranate flower’, referring to the decorative, curved shafts of early balusters (spindles).

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We would not recommend fitting a baserail that is grooved on the top to an exterior staircase - this could allow rainwater to collect in the grooves, causing the wood to rot. Instead, exterior spindles can be fitted to the baserail using either screws or dowel joints. A cut string staircase doesn’t require a baserail; here, the spindles are fixed directly to the steps using a dowel joint.

As one of the leading staircase and stair parts manufacturers and suppliers in the country, Pear Stairs sells every balustrade component in a range of designs to cater for all tastes.

Balustrade Examples From Pear Stairs

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Grand Oak Staircase

For this stunning European oak balustrade, our client chose a square cut newel design with carved artichoke-style newel caps (finials).

Because the client wanted their stairs to make an impact, they ordered large 70mm turned Heritage spindles, as opposed to the standard 35mm, for a grand, imposing effect.

The handrail is our pear design, unique to Pear Stairs.

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Oak and Metal Staircase

For this central staircase, our client opted for a balustrade of Boston metal spindles with American white oak newels, baserail and handrail.

This staircase incorporates a return balustrade on the left-hand side, finished in the same style as the rake balustrade.

The newels are plain square cut with square caps, while the handrail is a unique pear design.

All wooden components were finished with Fiddes hardwax oil after fitting.

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Stainless Steel and Glass

This display staircase shows what can be achieved by mixing stainless steel elements with glass panelling. The result is ultra-modern, clean and truly stylish.

The handrail and glass clamps are stainless steel, which has been brushed to a satin finish. The panels are made from 10mm toughened glass, featuring pencil polished edges.

To complete the look, redwood newel bases have been drilled to accommodate stainless steel tubing, giving the appearance of a stainless steel newel post.

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