There are a number of different materials that are used in balustrades and handrails. If the balustrade is external like fencing a terrace, roof or any open space then the material used is concrete. Concrete can stand up to the weather and will not get destroyed. There are a number of different designs that are used in making balustrades. The balustrades are usually cast in a shape using a mold. This is done so that all the balustrades look alike. A rail is fixed on top of the balustrades.
If the balustrades are to be placed inside a building, like lining a staircase ten different materials can be used. Usually hard word is used on balustrades that line a staircase. The handrail is also made out of wood. Another material that is used in balustrades and handrails is cast iron or wrought iron. Balustrades made from cast iron or wrought iron have a fancy design. The design is selected by the home owner or by the architect. The design depends on the theme of the building.
Polyurethane is also used nowdays to make balustrades and handrails. Cast stone, polymer stone and plaster is also used to make balustrades and handrails. In some buildings marble has also been used to make balustrades. Marble is very expensive and is only used in palatial buildings.
The use of wood has also reduced in making of balustrades and handrails. People have become conscious about saving the environment and therefore the use of wood is frowned upon by some people. The use of polyurethane and polymers has increased. The material is cheap and can be made into very nice designs for balustrades. Most modern buildings have polyurethane balustrades as they match the design of the building.
No one is quite sure about the history of balustrades and who first used them. The most common shape in balustrades has been the oblong shape which resembles an egg. Brass and bronze has also been used in balustrades and handrails. They require cleaning and polishing regularly and are very expensive. Brass is used in handrails as it has a shining golden color.
Some balustrades are painted with a motif to make them look interesting and to break the monotony. There are so many designs that are used in balustrades and some of them are quite simple. They may just be a series of straight pillows made of iron and topped with a wooden handrail. Or they may even have an iron handrail. Wooden balustrades may be carved with a design on them or they may just be a straight plank. People usually have wooden balustrades and handrails on the porch of their house.
The design of the balustrades and handrails depends on the design and architecture of the building or house. People usually do not give much thought to the design of balustrades and it's the architect who selects the design. The wood used in balustrades and handrails has to be well seasoned and should not warp or get misshapen or cracked. Wood has been the material that has been used the most for internal balustrades and hand rails in homes.