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Staircase Design: Balusters and Newel Posts (Newels)

staircase parts

Staircase embellishments like balusters and newels help to refine an existing staircase and can even transform it into a showpiece element of the home's decor. Understanding these architectural stair parts and how they fit into the design of a staircase is the first step.

In homes with multiple stories, the staircase is often low on the priority list when it comes to thinking about the home's decor. Stairs are for simply getting from one floor to the next floor, right?

In actuality, there are a number of methods by which homeowners can enhance the drama and beauty of their home's staircase, turning it into an element that complements the existing decor or even transforming the lowly staircase into a showpiece that becomes the focal point for the room. For certain architectural styles such as Georgian, the design of the staircase becomes an important component of the interior design. Decorative elements such as balusters and newel staircase parts make up some of the key ingredients to accomplish this task.

As both a functional and a decorative element, balusters have long been in use in both interior and exterior design. In fact, the earliest known use of balustrades dates back to the ancient Assyrian palaces in the 23rd century BC. Over the ensuing centuries, the design of balusters have varied from stylized vase shapes to intricately carved designs and even to more modern styles. In current design, balusters are often made from high-quality wood that is then stained or painted to achieve harmony with the home's interior color scheme.

In a staircase, the newel posts form the primary element and the vertical support for the balustrade. Newels are designed to complement the balustrade and to add support for the staircase railing; the combination of balusters and newels together can turn an ordinary-looking staircase into a showpiece that defines the interior of the home with its beauty and grace.

While local building codes provide preliminary guidelines as to the required spacing of newel posts and balusters, there are a variety of options that homeowners may select from to achieve a range of different looks for their home's staircase. It's a fairly straightforward task to update an existing staircase with a new balustrade, but the resulting transformation can be dramatic. These simple architectural details help to personalize the home and make it an expression of the homeowner's taste and style.

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