Banister vs. railing : What’s the difference?

When it comes to renovating your home, you could encounter some unfamiliar terms. A railing and a banister, which at first glance may seem interchangeable, are one such example. What therefore, differentiates these two things from one another?

The term “banister” is commonly used to refer to the extended support that is typically found along staircases. Banisters can be thought of as a synonym for handrails. Meanwhile, the thing that stops you from plunging down the steps is a railing.


Depending on your history, a banister can indicate either a handrail or a stair railing. Usually, people will refer back to the “handrail” example as the most frequent definition. When rushing down the stairs, you frequently hold onto the banisters.

The common stair railing is sometimes called a bannister. Handrails can be supported by a vertical rail called balusters. As a result of the balusters, the handrail will be stronger under any load.

The footrail is a crosspiece that is used to support the foot of the rail, therefore you could hear that term used as well.


The word “baluster” is the origin of the word “banister.” The word balustrade has its roots in the Old English word for a pomegranate, and its derivative, “baluster,” resembles a wild pomegranate (called the balaustion).

The design of the railing at the time was inspired by the look of the flower of the wild pomegranate. That’s what the original plans were founded on, but a lot has changed since then!

Note: You can hire experts for banister rail installation if you are finding it difficult to do by yourself.


A railing prevents you from falling down the edge of the stairway. If you were to use this archaic language, the words banister and balustrade would be synonymous. The term “railing” refers to a structure that supports its entire length, both vertically and horizontally.

Wood, metal, or any other suitable material can be used to construct a railing. Some people may even call a fence a railing because they think it sounds better.


To properly install railings, just mimic the procedures used to construct deck stairs. That means they should be roughly three feet tall, the average height at which people may comfortably reach the bar.

The distance between the rails up top must be sufficient to support a person of average or above-average size. According to protocol, a vertical bar should be installed at every third riser (step). Having it hold up to 200 pounds is a decent rule of thumb.


The features that distinguish a banister from a standard railing are often shared. It’s possible that in some circumstances, even if people use different words, they mean the same thing. If there is confusion, perhaps learning the distinction between the two can help.

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