Frequently Asked Questions
Below are out most commonly asked questions when it comes to railings, balusters, and spindles. If you have further questions, please feel free to send us a message.
What are the parts of a railing?
The average railing consists of four main parts: the post, the top railing, the bottom railing, and the balusters—which are occasionally called spindles. Although these parts may change depending on different styles and systems, you can take a look at our general railing image here to familiarize yourself.
What’s the difference between a baluster and a spindle?
These two terms are often used interchangeably. But though they are similar, a baluster is a square and sturdy piece that rests on a footing, while a spindle is thinner and has a decorative design in the center.
Do I need a railing on my deck?
Typically, the International Residential Code (IRC) requires any deck, porch, or balcony to have a structural railing installed in order to pass a home inspection. For safety precautions, the majority of states require a graspable handrail that is easily accessible on all staircases. Code requirements are entirely dependent on design details and the laws of your local area, which can differ from state to state and even county to county; so be sure to check with your local building department before starting any construction!
Structural building requirements are meant to protect the safety and welfare of other people. Many municipalities require a building permit for the construction of any deck or patio, especially if it is attached to a house or is more than 30 inches off the ground.
What is the standard height for a railing?
Railing heights are typically required to measure 36 or 42 inches from the deck surface to the top of the railing. However, this can be dependent on a number of factors, such as the height of your deck or balcony from the ground, or whether the request is residential or commercial, among many others. You can always be sure to check in with your local building office.
How do I choose a baluster/spindle length?
Baluster length is just one factor that goes into the total height of your installed railing, but with a clear vision and the board size of your choice, the construction plan will fall into place as well as the right length of balusters for your railing.
How far apart should I space my balusters/spindles?
In general, the IRC requires the space between balusters to be less than 4 inches. To accommodate for decorative details, this includes the widest space between spindles—not just the gap between baluster bases. If a building inspector is able to fit a 4 inch sphere through an opening then it will be considered a violation. Again, since codes vary from state to state, you should always check with your municipality before installing or updating a deck and its balusters.
How do I calculate baluster spacing?
The materials are right in front of you. Everything is prepared and ready. But how do you lay them out? Determining the space between balusters is a crucial step in ensuring that your railing will look uniform, meeting the standards of your state and county’s building codes. As previously stated, balusters cannot have a space of 4 inches or more between them. So, in order to evade violation, balusters can be mounted between 3-¾ to 4-½ inches apart from the center of the piece, as the width of the baluster should make up the difference.
How far apart should I space my balusters on the stairs?
Standard 4-inch spacing between balusters applies to stair applications as well. However, due to the angle of the stairs and other determinants, the spacing may be a bit wider. Generally, as opposed to the spacing on a railing, a space between 4-½ to 5-½ inches between balusters on a staircase will meet the requirements.
How far apart should posts be on a deck railing?
Constructors generally recommend that you mount and install posts no more than 8 feet apart from one another. Typically, you’ll see that professionals like to keep posts at a symmetrical 6 feet apart throughout the deck.
How many balusters do I need?
After you decide on your ideal baluster style, mounting method, and railing height, the next step will determine exactly how many balusters you will need to complete your project. Here are a few guidelines to help:
Standard 2×2 balusters/spindles = Estimated 2.5 balusters per linear foot of railing.
For example, if you had 30 linear feet of railing, it would require around 75 2×2 balusters; 30 x 2.5 = 75
Standard 3×3 balusters/spindles = Estimated 2.08 balusters per linear foot of railing.
Again, if you had 30 linear feet of railing, it would require around 63 3×3 balusters; 30 x 2.08 = 63
We also encourage you to use our Baluster/Spindle Calculator
My current deck has wooden balusters/spindles that are old and decaying. Can I remove and replace them?
Of course! The most effective way to restore your deck, in both appearance and safety, is by replacing your old wooden balusters with sturdier ones. To remove your balusters, cut horizontally through the middle of the piece, then gently pull on the top and bottom sections from the railing. If you are installing new face-mount balusters, simply follow the product installation instructions for a safe new look. If you are installing balusters mounted between the rails, then remove the top rail and install per instructions.
Can I use these balusters/spindles on my indoor staircase—or are they just for decks?
Although most of our products are generally created for outdoor use, there are plenty of builders who install them in indoor applications! With vibrant finishes and intricate designs, our products can add just a touch of character for that eye-catching staircase and upper-level railing, all the while remaining steady, safe, and secure.
Can I custom order a special length of baluster?
We generally recommend purchasing a longer length of baluster and simply trimming it down to the desired size. But if this option isn’t as suitable for you, please reach out to us at slspindles.com and we’ll work with you to create any special or custom-made items.
Note: special order items may not be available in all styles or from all manufacturers.
What if I still have more questions?
If you have further questions not answered, or need assistance with ordering, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help you!
We have many short Do It Yourself articles on all of our products. For example, if you are looking for advice on working with our spindles, click here.
Easily determine the perfect space between railing spindles and figure out how many you’ll need with our convenient baluster calculator.
All of our products can be shipped directly to you. Most of our items ship within 3 days. Delivery cost will appear as you add items to your shopping cart.