Banister, handrail, railing . . . Odds are that if you don’t work in the railing business, you use these words interchangeably. However, when it comes to installing them in your home or business, you’ll realize they’re different pretty quickly. So what’s the difference between banisters and railings?
The Difference Between Banisters and Railings
Have you ever wondered why we have so many words for handrails? It’s not something that many people think about until it comes time to remodel their home or business. However, knowing the correct terminology can help you ensure you get exactly what you’re looking for. What is the difference between banisters and railings?
What Is a Railing?
That may seem like a silly question, but there actually is a good answer, and you need to know it if you’re having one installed. What we refer to as “railing” in this instance could also be called a handrail, and it’s more or less what it sounds like. A handrail is a piece of material that is mounted diagonally alongside a staircase or ramp, and its purpose is to give you something to hold on to as you ascend or descend. Most building codes require railings to be placed at specific heights and spacings in order to make sure people can access them when they need them the most.
Banisters, Balusters, and Balustrades
Most people think a banister is a handrail that is accessible while you’re using stairs, but that isn’t quite correct. What you might think of as a banister is actually composed of two important but distinct parts:
- A baluster is a vertical piece of aluminum, iron, or other material that positions a banister railing and gives it support so it can be used as a handrail. Most banisters have many balusters, also known as spindles. The purpose of the baluster is to make the handrail as supportive as possible, and also add some decoration to the stairway with additional colors or finishes.
- A banister is a handrail that is supported by the balusters. It is commonly referred to as a handrail, but the presence of balusters allows it to be free-standing, unlike a railing which is typically mounted to the wall.
The combination of a baluster and a banister is known as a balustrade. The balustrade consists of a banister supported by balusters, and it is typically accompanied by a bottom rail, posts, and other decorative touches. Balustrades allow handrails to be free-standing in situations where a wall is not available to mount railing, and they also prevent people from falling or getting injured on the side of the staircase. We use “banister” as a common shorthand for this structure, but it’s actually just one element of the overall package. No wonder it can be a little confusing!
Do I Need a Banister or a Railing?
So now that you know the difference between the two, what does that mean for your building project? If you need to provide a handrail that’s mounted directly to a wall, you’re probably going to be installing railing. If you need to install a handrail that can be free-standing and also prevent people from falling off of the side of a stairway, you will be installing a banister. And if you aren’t sure which you need, it’s a great time to call an expert for help.
Still not sure whether you need a banister or a handrail? At Aluminum Handrail Direct, we’re dedicated to helping every customer get exactly what they need to renovate their home or business. Give us a call, and we’ll help you out.
At Aluminum Handrail Direct, we are committed to providing high-quality aluminum handrails that are durable, maintenance-free, affordable, and attractive. If you have questions about aluminum handrails or if you are searching for a handrail system that fits your needs, call us at 417-409-3179 or 888-518-9890 (toll-free) or visit Aluminum Handrail Direct’s online store today. We offer handrails, wall mounts, mounting screws and anchors, touch-up spray paint, and much more. We look forward to hearing from you!