Even if you might not know exactly what a balustrade is, you most likely encountered one more frequently than you think. Many staircases and terraces have them!
A balustrade is a row of small columns connected by a rail. The term comes from the shapes’ principal posts, called balusters, a name created in 17th-century Italy for the spherical item’s resemblance to a blossoming flower (balaustra in Italian).
What are their functions?
Reducing the probability of a person falling off the stairs.
Sometimes the purpose of the Balustrade is as simple as reducing the falls. When you have one, automatically people passing by will use them to hold themselves while going up or down the stairs.
Separating a room.
Starting with the 17th century, homeowners, even nowadays, prefer to have a sense of a different room within the same area (example: kitchen separated from the dining room). Balustrades helps giving that impression, and at the same time giving the “open concept” feel, since it is, really, a row of miniature columns.
Beautifying the Porch.
Most common reason of the balustrade is for cosmetic purposes. You can easily see the cosmetic differences of the houses that has them or not. They are more common in white colour to emphasize them and most of the time to match the window trim.
Balustrades remain in use, and they will still be in style for the upcoming decades. These days, they come in different shapes, materials and colours, for both practical reasons and decorative.