Baluster Basics - Big Picture Points
- Baluster Guide
- Baluster Basics
- Baluster FAQs
Big Picture Points - Things to Think About Before you Buy
Know Your Code
The first consideration in choosing deck balusters is always safety. Before starting any deck project you should contact your local building department for any and all applicable code requirements. These vary from state to state and even among municipalities, but typically are:
Baluster spacing: The opening between balusters should be less than 4 inches.
Railing height: Required railing height can also vary from city to city. The most common minimum height requirements are 36 or 42 inches from the deck surface to the top of the railing. Contact your local building department for specifications regarding your project. Many municipalities have updated their requirements in 2009 and 2010.
There’s more than one way to mount a baluster! The manufacturer’s design often dictates how the baluster is installed:
face-mounted on the outside of deck railings with screws
in-between the railings via channels or baluster connectors
Baluster connectors eliminate guesswork and make it easier to install balusters in level configurations or angled, as on stairways. Some rail systems come pre-assembled with the railings and balusters already connected—all you do is connect them to the deck posts.
Installation details are a significant factor, especially if you’re going to do the work yourself. (See more about installation in the “Mounting Matters” section.) Installing new deck balusters is a great weekend project for any do-it-yourselfer. A new railing can completely change the look, feel and function of a deck.
The size, color and style of baluster or railing can have a dramatic impact on the look and feel of your deck, as well as whether or not it blends with the rest of your home and yard. For maximum effect, you want the balusters to be in proportion with the other details of your home and properly spaced with larger building elements like columns.
Is your deck an oasis at the end of the day, a quiet place for rest and reflection? Or is it the center of activity all day long, inviting non-stop interest and interactions with friends and neighbors? Balusters can make all the difference by blocking out the rest of the world, inviting them in, or creating the perfect place in between.
All about the view - or lack of it
Plain and simple, balusters not only control your view from the deck, they also help control what your neighbors can see. Wide balusters provide more privacy for decks with a hot tub, whereas glass panels invite views from all perspectives.
How much time do you really want to spend maintaining the look of your deck and its balusters? Wood balusters require more intricate maintenance than other materials, and glass panels may require treatment to minimize spotting. For some people, creating the perfect setting is well worth the extra maintenance.
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