Types of balustrades

Updated February 21, 2017

A balustrade is a railing usually put around a stairwell or balcony to prevent falling. Many different types of balustrades are available to choose from, usually dependent upon the material from which the balustrade is constructed. Before constructing a balustrade, it is a good idea to make yourself familiar with what your choices are before making a decision.


Many balustrades are constructed from steel, which is a durable and versatile material. Steel balustrades can take many different forms. Sometimes, they can be made from rounded or square steel poles. Other times, they can be decorative and ornate, with shapes and designs cut into them. Often, an ornate steel balustrade will have a timber handrail running over the balustrading.


Balustrades often are constructed from wood. Usually, these balustrades are a bit more simple in design than steel balustrades, usually made up of little more than wooden posts beneath a railing. However, the posts can come in many different designs. The balustrades also can be carved into many designs.


Stone balustrades are used mostly in luxury homes or other buildings.Stone balustrades are made in two different ways: carved or cast. Carved stone is more expensive than cast stone. Marble is the highest-quality type of stone available; it is elegant but extremely expensive.


Polymer balustrades are made to look like stone balustrades but are made from a cheaper and lighter material than stone. These rails essentially are synthetic stone, made from a mixture of limestone dust, polymer resin and pigment. They come in a wide variety of designs.


Polyurethane balustrades also are a popular choice. They are lightweight but also extremely durable and cost much less than other railing systems.


Vinyl also makes a decent, low-cost balustrade system. Vinyl is inexpensive, durable and low-maintenance. It is a good choice if you want a decent look but don't want to spend a lot of money.

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About the Author

Justin Mitchell has been a writer since 2009. In 2002, he received a B.A. in theater and writing from the University of Northern Colorado. Mitchell worked as an ESL teacher in Europe and Asia before earning a master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York. He has written for the "New York Daily News" and, among other outlets.