Factors to look when choosing the material for Balustrade and Handrail

Balustrades and handrail are often confused to be the same things by most homeowners.  It leads to problems when they plan to purchase one for their place. These are two completely different elements of a staircase.

Let’s see how the two are different from each other.

A balustrade  many balusters with a rail on the top along the edge of a staircase, terrace, or balcony. The job of balusters is to support the handrail and the bottom rails. While the handrail is a portion at the side of the stairs that you hold when walking up or down the stairs. Both play a very important function, balustrades are available in various designs have a greater ability to bear weight..

As a builder, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is.

“What materials are used for my Balustrade and Handrail?” Firstly the material is chosen for the thickness as well as the length of the balustrade or handrail. Once this decision has been made what do you do with the balustrade and handrail once it’s been created?

The main issue here is what happens when your Balustrade and Handrail reach or exceeds the allowable stress? For balustrading over roofs the allowable stress is 0.75 kN/mm for top rails and handrails. For balustrading on stair handrail or the platform the allowable stress is slightly less (0.3 kN/mm) but both are equally stressful. For other buildings the stresses can be far higher e.g on concrete slab flooring, steel columns etc.

The most common materials for balustrade and handrail are timber, steel (alloy) and concrete. The balustrade and handrail are commonly combined with balustrade decking which is often a single sheet of timber or a group of timber tiered decking. The timber is fastened to a steel frame by bolts, screws, nails or simply nailed. For many years the most popular method of installation was a “stamped” join which uses a specially shaped hammer to stamp the joins i.e. vertical and horizontal balustrade joints were quite straight i.e.

If you are planning to redo the staircase in your house or office and are confused about the right way to proceed, we are here to help you. Most people tend to get confused about the right material to go with.

Factors to look when choosing the material for the balustrade and handrail.


Safety should always be your prime concern, no matter if all the other factors even fit right. Whether you are installing a balustrade and handrail for a staircase inside the house or on the terrace, safety remains of paramount importance. Professionals are aware of the techniques and designs that are suitable to maintain the aesthetics and safety together. Therefore, do verify if the material enhances the safety before installing.


Aesthetics is another important aspect that cannot be ignored. You wouldn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a material that doesn’t appeal to the naked eye. Glass balustrades are a good option and they considerably enhance the aesthetics of the place. For handrails, people generally go with wooden ones but stainless-steel cables have gotten popular in recent years. The shine they impart coupled with their ability to withstand even the toughest of impact makes them one of the best materials.


The cost factor must always be considered, so that you do not run out of budget. But you should choose the appropriate  material available in the market. Since in all likelihood, it wouldn’t qualify the other aspects mentioned here. Always go with the material for balustrade and handrail which is worth every penny of yours. Glass, for instance, would be a good option. But steel iron, stainless steel, aluminum, and wood are also a lot of varieties available and you could also find one that fits into your budget.

In the last paragraph, what we discussed was the initial cost. A mistake people often make is that they tend to factor in the maintenance and repair costs. Some materials although cheap will require regular maintenance and repair and would prove to be costlier than others in the long run. Factor in this aspect before you make the final call.


You wouldn’t want to be looking for a balustrade and handrail every couple of years, rather be thinking of it as durable. For instance, wood, although appealing isn’t generally durable unless you opt for interior works . This gives you an idea that all the factors here are interrelated and any material cannot be judged based on an individual parameter. Therefore, check the various materials available in the market, compare their pros and cons based on the factors mentioned here, and then select one.

Based on your good judgment and the other factors mentioned here, choose a material for balustrade and handrail that would be the perfect fit for your home or office.

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