Seeing sunlight peek through the balusters is lovely, but these vertical bars aren't just for show; they're crucial for safety. If they're not spaced right, your safety might be at risk. Additionally, the balusters require even spacing that meets legal requirements.
This guide will help you understand the basics of calculating baluster spacing so you can do what’s best for your home.
What is the most essential thing about laying out balusters?
The most important thing about laying out balusters is that they should be spaced evenly: The on-center distance between balusters should be even throughout the stairway, which is dictated by the horizontal distance between the face of each riser and the one above or below. The other important thing to know about installing balusters for your stairs and balconies is that the IRC requires a minimum 10-inch run per tread.
Determining the number of balusters for a staircase
Measure the length of your balcony: Take your tape measure and smoothly run it along your entire balcony railing.
Multiply it by that number: Think of three as the grand conductor of baluster spacing. Multiply the balcony's length by three. This handy rule ensures the gaps between balusters will stay within the safety standard of four inches, keeping little ones and wandering objects from taking an unscheduled dip.
Divide and conquer: Divide the number you just calculated by the width of your chosen baluster. You now have the number of balusters needed for a perfectly spaced, code-compliant ensemble.
Calculating balusters for a staircase
To calculate the balusters for your staircase:
Measure the depth of a single tread from back to front. Consider the four-inch sphere rule if you're unsure about baluster spacing. Ensure you use enough balusters on each tread to keep your staircase compliant with the code.
Take note of the total number of treads. Multiply this figure by the required number of balusters per tread. This calculation will give you the total number of balusters needed.
If you require 2 balusters for each tread and you have 20 steps, the total would be 40 balusters (20 steps x 2 = 40). If you require 3 balusters per tread and have 20 steps, you’ll end up with 60 total (20 steps x 3 = 60).
Double this number if you need balusters for both sides of your stairs.
Frequently Asked Questions
My balcony has a unique shape. What do I do?
Break down the odd shape into smaller sections and apply the formula to each part. Just add up the balusters from each section to get the total.
Can I space them further apart if I don't have kids?
Wider gaps can be risky for children, pets, and objects, so stick to the three times the length rule for peace of mind and to pass inspections.
Install your balusters the right way
Whether you prefer classic charm or a modern vibe, evenly-spaced balusters give that final touch, highlighting your home’s unique aesthetic. Contact us to see how to choose the suitable materials for the perfect stair installations.