On a deck railing, balusters are the smaller, vertical pieces that run from your top rail down to your bottom rail in between the thicker posts. Deck balusters are sometimes called spindles or pickets. Balusters come in all shapes and sizes: round, square, flat, and even specially-shaped decorative balusters with unique designs. Deck balusters can be made of a wide range of materials including metal, wood, and glass.
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General Baluster FAQs
What Are Deck Balusters?
Are Balusters And Spindles The Same Thing?
Balusters go by many names: you may hear them referred to as spindles or pickets. Some people will mistakenly call balusters “banisters” or “balustrades,” though these aren’t totally accurate. Banister usually refers to horizontal rails, and a balustrade is a decorative section of railing that includes multiple balusters, plus posts and rails.
At DecksDirect, we’re all about keeping things simple, so we’ll always call balusters by the same name.
Are Metal Balusters Better Than Wood?
Metal balusters are stronger than wood, and will last longer exposed to the outdoor elements on your deck. Beyond that, metal carries a couple more distinct advantages. Metal is easier to mold into decorative shapes, and comes with a wealth of color options to create the exact look you want. Plus, metal balusters will require less regular maintenance than wood.
What’s The Difference Between Steel Balusters And Aluminum Balusters?
When it comes to deck balusters, steel and aluminum carry different pros and cons. Steel is the strongest and sturdiest option. It’s heavier than aluminum, which makes your railing solid, but also adds a bit more difficulty transporting and installing balusters. Steel can weaken slightly in extremely cold temperatures and can rust with regular exposure to moisture, though new coating technology keeps improving steel’s durability.
Aluminum is lighter than steel, while still remaining plenty strong enough to withstand the elements. Aluminum balusters don’t rust - that’s because aluminum doesn’t contain iron. Powder-coated aluminum is extremely durable and low-maintenance, and offers lots of color options.
To figure out what baluster material fits best with your deck’s style and your local climate, give our team a call at 1-888-824-5316 for a free consultation.
Can I Replace Wood Balusters With Metal Balusters In My Existing Deck Railing?
Replacing wood balusters with metal balusters is a great way to make your railing stronger and lower-maintenance, while breaking a full railing replacement into phases. If you have a full wood railing, you can replace your wood balusters with metal ones for a beautiful, contrasting look. Later on, you can upgrade the rest of your railing to metal or another low-maintenance material. Call our team for free deck project planning to learn more about how you can break your deck rail project into smaller, more manageable pieces.
How Far Apart Should Balusters Be?
Deck building codes require the gaps between balusters to be no larger than four inches. Spacing your balusters evenly can take some math. We’ve created a few handy tools to determine how many balusters you need and how far to space them, based on the total length of your railing. Check them out below:
You can read more about the process of figuring out baluster count and spacing in this walkthrough.
How Do I Connect Deck Balusters?
Some railing systems have pre-cut slots in their top and bottom rails for balusters to fit into. Many balusters, though, install via baluster connectors - small pieces that screw into top and bottom rails and create a spot for your balusters to slide into or onto. You can browse square, round, and glass baluster connectors out of our huge in-stock selection.
What’s The Difference Between Rail Install Balusters And Face-Mount Balusters?
Rail-install balusters run directly between your top and bottom rails. Face-mount balusters attach to the inside or outside face of your rails. One advantage of face-mount balusters is that they’re easier to install on existing rails without having to disassemble the whole rail section to fit new balusters in.
Both methods will produce different styles and looks - if you’re not sure which style suits your vision, give us a call at 1-888-824-5316 and our team will guide you through the options.