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Balusters vs Spindles: What’s in a Name Anyway?

When it comes to the bits and pieces that hold up the handrail of your staircase, you might have heard them called “balusters” or “spindles.” But, what’s the deal with the different names? Let’s dive into this architectural naming game and see why these stairway stars have more aliases than a secret agent.

Balusters and Spindles: Tomato, Tomahto?

First off, “baluster” and “spindle” are kind of like the stair geek version of potato/potahto. Balusters are those sturdy little posts that support the handrail, while spindles are… well, technically, they’re the same thing but tend to be skinnier and more delicate-looking. Think of balusters as the linebackers and spindles as the wide receivers of the staircase world.

Banisters: The Name Everyone Gets Wrong

An image of a person asking the word banister and thinking in a baluster

Ever heard someone call the whole shebang a “banister”? Yeah, that’s not quite right, but it’s super common. A banister actually refers to the handrail part you hold onto so you don’t slip and fall. But hey, language evolves, and now “banister” is often used to talk about the whole setup, balusters included.

Why So Many Names?

So, why all the different terms? A lot of it comes down to where you’re from and what you’re used to hearing. In some places, “spindle” is the go-to word, especially when talking about the wooden parts of a chair or the decorative bits on your grandma’s rocking chair. “Baluster” might sound a bit fancier or more official, kind of like how some people say “sofa” and others say “couch.”

Back in the day, “baluster” was lifted from the Italian word “balaustra,” which means ‘pomegranate flower.’ Apparently, someone back then thought these architectural pieces looked a bit like the shape of a pomegranate flower. Go figure!

So, What’s the Big Deal?

At the end of the day, whether you call them balusters, spindles, or even mix in a “banister” now and then, it’s all good. What’s cool is recognizing these elements as the unsung heroes of staircases everywhere. They’re not just there for looks – especially custom balusters which can add unique elements to a home; they’re an essential part of making stairs safe and functional. Plus, they add a dash of style and character to your space.

So next time you’re sprinting up the stairs or carefully stepping down, give a little nod to the balusters (or spindles!) that make it all possible. And remember, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not what you call them that matters—it’s what they add to your home.