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Your guide to spindles—types, materials, styles, fitting and maintenance

Spindles (also known as a baluster) are vertical posts that connect the base rail and handrail on a staircase. They form part of the balustrade; the collective name for the base rail, handrail, newel post and spindles. Stair spindles (also known as a baluster) are vertical posts that connect the base rail and handrail on a staircase. They form part of the balustrade; the collective name for the base rail, handrail, newel post and spindles.

These stair parts are available in a variety of different styles and materials, which you can discover from our stair spindle range.

You can find out more about base rails, handrails, newel posts and balustrades in our other technical guides.

Click on one of the links below to jump to that section:

Find out what you should know about choosing the right type of spindle specifically for your home.

Discover the different types of spindle materials, including wood, and metal spindles.

Read the different spindle styles available and find out which is most suitable for your home.

Discover the top maintenance tips you should know about spindles to make sure they are long-lasting.

We answer your frequently asked questions for spindles, and other relevant stair parts.

Choosing the right type of spindle

Spindles are often the most decorative part of a staircase and vary in design from traditional wooden stair spindles to contemporary metal designs.

When you’re selecting new stair spindles, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions to ensure you choose the right stair parts for the job.

Is your staircase closed string or cut string?

Closed string staircases enclose the stair treads and risers and the spindles are fixed to a base rail at the bottom and a handrail at the top.

Cut-string staircases leave the stair treads and risers exposed, and the spindle sits directly on the stair tread. For this style, you will need two spindles on each tread. The front spindle should be 900mm long and the back spindle 1100mm.

Find out more about choosing the different spindle styles here.

Does your staircase diminish?

A diminishing staircase is when the handrail going up the stairs hits the ceiling line. As the spindles hit the ceiling line they begin to shorten in size.

What is the overall style of your property?

The style and period of your property may also play a part in your choice of spindle design. If you want to retain the property’s period features, a traditional wooden spindle may be more in keeping with the home than a contemporary metal spindle.

Looking for traditional wooden spindles?

Our Pine spindle recommendation:

Pine Traditional Spindle 41mm x 900mm

Shop our Pine Traditional Spindle 41mm x 900mm

This Pine traditional spindle is part of the Pine range of modern and traditional stair parts. It has a top block length of 178mm, middle turning of 539mm and bottom block of 178mm. Pine stair parts come unfinished but, they can be finished by painting or waxing.

Shop our complete pine spindle range here.

Who lives in your property?

If you have young children, a balustrade with sturdy spindles with a hardwearing finish is probably going to be your preference. Families with young children usually choose spindles over glass panels, which can easily show fingerprints and smears.

According to experts, young professionals generally prefer metal spindles or glass panels. Older homeowners tend to go for a classic contemporary look with a timeless feel, such as natural oak spindles.

Shop our oak spindles here.

What different types of materials are available for spindles?

Metal spindles

The key advantage of metal spindles is that they’re extremely strong and durable and require very little maintenance. They also offer easy installation as some metal spindles have adjustable lengths and come with adjustable brackets.

Common materials for metal spindles include:

  • brushed nickel
  • brushed steel
  • chrome
  • black metal.

Metal is a versatile material that can work well with wood or metal handrails and base rails. The wide variety of styles available means that you can pick a design as ornate or as simple as you want to suit your home and reflect your style.

You can mix and match metal spindles—for example, alternating simple straight spindles with ornate ones—to create a truly unique balustrade. For inspiration, you can view a full range of black metal spindles here.

Looking for modern metal spindles?

Explore our black metal spindle range:

Black metal spindle

Our superb black metal spindles offer sturdy, strong and low maintenance options. Black metal spindles are the perfect way to add a modern and sleek feel to your staircase.

Shop our black metal spindle range.

A simple way to give your staircase a total revamp is to replace timber spindles with iron spindles. Wrought iron contrasts perfectly with wooden stair parts to create a warm and welcoming stairway.

The material is a popular choice with homeowners looking for an industrial look. Architectural interior designer Louisa De Paola shares her recommendations: “Bespoke wrought-iron spindles are a real statement and range in styles, so for a contemporary space I’d specify a simple hairpin design in a matt-black finish. For a classic contemporary home, my favourite would be a sleek art deco design in an antique brass finish.”

You can view our full range of metal spindles here.

Wooden spindles

Wooden stair spindles are a classic choice for staircases, especially in period properties. Wood is strong and durable and easy to paint if you decide to change the look of your wooden staircase.

Some of the most popular options for wooden spindles include:

  • Oak spindles — this hardwood’s distinctive tiger-stripe makes it instantly recognisable
  • Pine spindles — a less expensive alternative to oak that’s very easy to stain or paint
  • Primed wood — this comes prefinished and is the ideal choice if you want to paint your spindles or have spindles with a crisp white finish.

You can find out more about the benefits of each type of material with our guide here.

Looking for oak spindles?

Our Oak Spindle recommendation:

Richard Burbidge Classic Oak Fluted Spindle 41mm x 900mm

Shop our Richard Burbidge Classic Oak Fluted Spindle 41mm x 900mm

This Classic fluted spindle is 900mm x 41mm, and is part of the Classic Richard Burbidge range. The Classic range is unfinished, it can be finished by painting, varnishing or waxing.

Shop the entire Richard Burbidge Classic stair part collection here.

Oak and Chrome

To utilise a mixture of styles, consider combining wood and metal together in your spindle design. The Forge range fuses traditional timber with a solid modern set of modern fittings. This can enhance the staircase aesthetic and create contemporary elements with its spindles.

Looking for contemporary spindles?

Our Oak & Chrome spindle recommendation:

Forge White Oak & Chrome Spindle 900mm

Forge White Oak & Chrome Spindle 900mm | Jackson Woodturners

This Oak & Chrome spindle allows you to mix and match styles to create the perfect look for your home. The wood on this spindle is American White Oak and comes un-finished and the Chrome has a shiny finish.

Shop our modern stair part range here.

What different spindle styles are available?

Square spindles

Square spindles are the simplest spindle design and are a popular choice for contemporary homes, particularly those with a minimalist style. The simplicity of square spindles tends to make them cheaper when compared with other designs, so are a great option if you’re updating your wood staircase on a budget, or if you plan to sell the property and are looking for a style with universal appeal.

This shape works well with the clean lines of chrome, the subtle warmth of oak or crisp white primed wood.

This spindle is part of the Dark Hardwood range of modern and traditional stair parts. Dark Hardwood stair parts come unfinished, and can be finished by varnishing or waxing.

Square spindles are also available in Pine, White Primed, Hemlock, Ash, Walnut and Oak.

Shop the entire range of Square spindles .

Chamfered spindles

Chamfered spindles (also known as stop chamfered spindles) are square at the top and bottom and have a narrower square decorative middle. They are similar in design and style to square spindles. Popular materials include:

  • oak
  • pine
  • white primed wood

The benefit of chamfered spindles is that they suit modern and traditional properties. As they are wooden, you can paint or finish the balusters to achieve the look you want and your preferred style.

Are you looking for a modern hemlock spindle?

Our Hemlock Chamfered spindle recommendation:

Hemlock Stop Chamfered Spindle 41mm x 900mm

Shop our Hemlock Stop Chamfered Spindle 41mm x 900mm

This spindle is part of the Hemlock range of modern and traditional stair parts. Hemlock stair parts come unfinished, and can be finished by painting, varnishing or waxing.

Chamfered spindles also come in Pine, White Primed, Ash, Walnut, and Oak.

Shop the entire Chamfered modern spindle range here.

Twist spindles

There are four types of twist spindles—barley, rope, single twist and double twist.

  • Barley twist spindle — traditional-style spindles where the middle of the spindle looks like the barley twist sweet, hence the name! They are usually made from wood, however, metal spindles are also available.
  • Single twist spindle — wooden square spindles with a simple twist in the middle to add interest. They are a popular choice for older homes and are available in wood and metal.
  • Double twist spindle — square spindles with a double twist in the middle. They are a great choice for bringing a fresh look to a traditional home. The design features two twists in the metal, usually one in the top third and one in the bottom third of the spindle.

Looking for decorative hemlock spindles?

Our Barley Twist spindle recommendation:

Hemlock Barley Twist Spindle 41mm x 900mm

Shop the Hemlock Barley Twist Spindle 41mm x 900mm

Hemlock stair parts come unfinished, and can be finished by painting, varnishing or waxing. Barley Twist spindles also come in Pine and Oak.

Shop the entire Barley Twist pine and oak spindle range here.

Which spindle style is right for your home?

Whether you choose contemporary or traditional spindle styles will largely depend on your property type. But with so many options available, it can be challenging to know where to start, especially if you’re looking to combine traditional and contemporary styles or want to try something completely unique with custom-made spindles.

Discover more information about choosing between contemporary and traditional staircase spindles here on our guide.

Spindle colours

The colour you choose for your staircase spindles will help set the tone for the décor throughout your home and give your visitors the right first impression.

If you’re considering bucking the trend for wooden finish spindles, then you can find out more with our guide on stair spindle colours.

Spindle fitting and maintenance

What parts are required to work with spindles?

Spindles need to be secured between a base rail and a handrail, so once you have made a choice on your spindle design you can select the right handrail and base rail to suit.

You can view a range of handrails here and a range of base rails here.

Wood spindles sit in a grooved track in both the handrail and base rail. The size of the spindle (32mm or 41mm) will determine the size of this groove. Grooved handrails and base rails come with infill (also known as track or filler) which then sits between your spindles.

Metal spindles tend to be used with a solid handrail and base rail.

At either end of the run of spindles there will be a sturdier post, known as a newel post, which supports the entire balustrade. You can read more about newel posts for stairs here.

Do you need a traditional newel post for your staircase?

Our hemlock Newel Post recommendation:

Hemlock Barley Twist Newel Post

Shop the Hemlock Barley Twist Newel Post | Jackson Woodturners

The Hemlock barley twist newel post is part of the Hemlock range of modern and traditional stair parts. We recommend partnering this newel post with the Barley Twist Hemlock spindle.

Shop the entire Newel Post range at Jackson Woodturners here.

Is it best to restore or replace spindles?

Revamping a staircase with damaged spindles can make a huge difference to a home for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Depending on the condition of the existing spindles, there are different degrees of renovation that you may need to carry out. Before you start, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I need to completely renovate all of the spindles?

When tackling a run-down staircase it’s sometimes necessary to replace all of the spindles on the balustrade. Aside from ensuring the staircase is safe and sturdy, this also offers a great opportunity to change the look of the staircase, either by modernising or restoring original features.

Can I simply replace individual damaged spindles?

If only a couple of spindles are damaged, you can replace them individually. There are numerous popular spindle designs ready-made and available to install in place of damaged spindles. However, if you need a more bespoke spindle design, our expert woodturning service can easily replicate your existing spindles.

Can I restore loose spindles rather than replace them?

Loose staircase spindles can not only ruin the overall look of your balustrade but pose a danger to people using the staircase too.

If a spindle has split, you’ll need to replace it. If it’s just come loose at the top or bottom, you’ll simply need to tighten it.

You can tighten a loose baluster relatively easily and avoid the hassle of having to replace the whole thing.

You can read expert advice on How to fix a loose wooden spindle here.

Finishing your spindles

Sanding, painting and varnishing wooden spindles allows you to give your staircase a bespoke finishing touch. Consider using a Hardwax Oil for a hard-wearing and attractive finish on your stair spindles and other stair parts made from materials such as pine and timber.

You can find out more about how you can achieve the look you want for your balusters with our comprehensive guide here.

Looking for a finishing product for your spindles?

Our Treatex Hardwax stair part Oil recommendation:

Treatex oil Clear gloss

Shop the Treatex Clear Hardwax Oil Ultra, Clear Gloss 1L

Suitable for all types of internal joinery including floors, stairs, doors, furniture and kitchen worktops. Just two coats of our Clear Hardwax Oil will protect and enhance wooden surfaces.

Apply two coats with a brush or roller. One coat of Treatex Hardwax Oil Natural can be applied underneath Treatex Hardwax Oil Clear Gloss.

Shop the entire Treatex Hardwax Oil range here.

Spindle spacing and building regulations

Spindles must be properly spaced to achieve an even and consistent look and for building regulation purposes. Building regulations state that gaps between the balusters should not exceed 100mm. A domestic property can have a handrail height of 900mm for both stairs and landings. Commercial properties should be a minimum of 900mm on stairs and 1100mm on landings.

This Spindle Calculation Guide will help ensure that you position the spindles correctly.

Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of a baluster?

The purpose of the balusters, or the spindles, is to support the handrail. They act as a safety feature to eliminate the risk of anyone falling; whilst adding aesthetically pleasing elements to the home.

Discover more about how to identify the different stair parts here.

How do you choose a spindle?

There are several considerations you should make, including the type of material you are wanting to incorporate and the style that would best complement your home.

Read more about choosing the right stair parts here.

How far apart should banister spindles be?

It is important to ensure that each spindle is accurately spaced along the balustrade. This depends on whether you require spindles for the landing, the rake (the stairs), or both; taking into account the width of the stair spindles themselves.

Use our helpful calculator to find out the spacing that is specifc to your home.

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