Most people probably have no idea what a newel post is. This is quite ironic because almost everyone has used a staircase at some time or other in their lives.
Basically, a newel post, sometimes called a central pole, is the large post at the bottom, top, or center of the staircase that helps to support a handrail. Most people probably think that these large posts are mainly cosmetic in nature. While this is also true, a central pole primarily serves as a functional piece rather than a decorative piece.
However, a post does not need to be unattractive simply because it is functional. Newels are often ornate and decorative. In fact, the central pole can be decorated in a style that matches the decor in the rest of the home. Such posts can also be made from a variety of materials including wood or metal. The wood or metal can be left unfinished or the surface can be painted.
Very rarely, a staircase may be created that does not have a newel post. Typically, such staircases are featured in homes with a modern design. These staircases are almost always spiral staircases like the staircase which is located in the Loretto Chapel.
Now that you know what a newel post is, you may also be wondering if there are names for the other parts of a staircase. The answer to that question is yes! The tread of a staircase is the part of the case where you walk while the riser is a name for the piece of the staircase that is vertically connected to each of the treads. The height of the risers is what determines how steep the staircase will be. Usually, risers are between five to seven inches tall.
The vertical posts that connect the treads of the staircase to the handrail are called spindles. Spindles can be decorative and they may be made from metal or from wood. Spindles can also be called balusters depending upon the region of the country where you live. In some cases, several spindles are grouped together at the bottom of the staircase around the newel post. These posts are known as a balustrade.
The cost of a central pole can vary broadly depending upon the type of post as well as the amount of time it takes for the post to be made. For example, if you buy a newel post from a traditional craftsman, you probably will spend quite a bit of money. However, you will also have a very unique and well made central pole to place at the bottom of your staircase.
Caring for your newel post can be very simple or somewhat difficult depending upon how it is crafted. If your post is very ornate, it can take quite a while to properly dust in the nooks and crevices of the post. For this reason, many people opt for a simple but well crafted post. Usually, it is easy to maintain such posts. All that is necessary is to dust the post every so often.
Before purchasing a newel post, it is important to consider your decor and also the amount of time you want to spend dusting or cleaning your staircase. Then, choose the post that best fits your needs and your lifestyle.