The Pros and Cons of Wooden Balustrades

wooden staircase with white railingBalustrades are an important safety feature but this doesn’t necessitate them being boring, bland or even predictable in their style, features or the material either. Wood is a common material used in balustrades, both inside a property and externally too. But is it really the best material? Is there an alternative?

The Pros of Wood

  • A Familiar Material –it is a familiar material and for a long time, was the only material used especially for interior balustrades.
  • Natural – it is a natural material and many people like the idea of including a material in their home that is not manufactured or engineered. It is soft and warm to the touch, as it is the eye too.
  • Different Types of Wood – there are different types of wood too and that means you can use different timber to create different effects. Beech is a light, almost honey-coloured wood that is often used in modern installations and designs. Darker woods, such as oak, are often used in traditional designs, its pronounced grain and darker colour more in keeping with the style.
  • Varnish, Stain or Paint – you can leave wood in all its natural glory or you can paint it, stain it or varnish it so that it takes on a different personality and character completely.
  • Different Styles – wood is an easy material for designers to work with and there are many stunning designs and wooden balustrade projects that are stunning. It is a strong material, especially slower growing woods that are denser and far more robust than some faster-growing

BUT What About…

Rot

Wood as we said, is a natural material and whilst this is a plus point for many people it means one thing. As a material, it will degrade.

Wood that is protected with varnish or paint, and that is used in an internal balustrade will not rot quickly, if at all but it will weaken. You may notice patches of damage too, sometimes caused by the spindles become older and weaker.

For outside applications, protecting wood from the weather is essential for keeping it in good shape. It must be varnished and or stained so that there is a waterproof coating on the wood to stop it from rotting.

Pests

Wood is also susceptible to pests, including woodworm. Not a worm but a beetle, the Common Furniture Beetle flies in through an open window, lays its eggs in the wood grain and it is the emerging larvae that do all the damage. Spot tell-tale pinprick holes in wood, whether that is your balustrade or a piece of furniture and your first call should be to a pest controller.

Woodworm is associated with damp wood and thus, could be indicative of a larger problem. But again, it shows that unlike glass balustrades, wood may not last as long.

Maintenance

Wood will need maintaining, whether that is a fresh coat of paint to match the change in décor or a fresh coat of varnish or stain. But it is not just a case of whipping out a paintbrush and layering on a new coat.

The paint and/or varnish will need sanding down, a new coat applied and you will need to wait for it to dry too. A freshly painted or varnished wooden balustrade may look stunning, but it takes time. Other materials need nothing more than a wash down.

Predictable?

In some ways, wood is a predictable material to be used for a balustrade. And it is easy to see why – it is robust and in the main, an affordable product too. In some balustrade projects, wood is a natural choice because it is the material that complements its interior or exterior location.

But there are some that feel that no matter how beautiful, or how bespoke, or well designed the wooden balustrade, there is an air of predictability about it. And thus, if you really want to ring the changes and opt for something quirky and modern, then you may want to cast your search a little wider in terms of choice of material.

What About Glass and Wood?

Now here’s the thing: wood works well with other materials too and at Balustrade Components, we create stunning glass and wood balustrades, ideal for use in and outside of the home or business premises.

It is a stunning combination: the warmth of wood, combining perfectly with the coolness of glass. It is a combination many people opt for so why not take a look?

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