The Importance of the Newel Post

A newel post is an important part of a staircase. However, most people probably have no idea what it actually is. This is ironic because almost everyone has used a staircase at some time in their lives.

What Is A Newel Post
It is a post that supports the staircase or handrail. It can be found under the staircase, at a landing, or at the bottom of the staircase. They are often used at the beginning of the hand rail, and are designed to support the staircase.

Newel posts have been around for a long time. In the colonial days, only skilled craftsmen made the posts. Today, they can be handcrafted or they can be mass produced by machine.

Functional or Stylish?
A newel post is primarily designed to be functional. This does not mean that they can not be ornate or attractive while supporting the handrail or the staircase. They can be made from wood or from metal. The wood may be painted, stained, or decorated.

Some modern staircases may not have a newel post. This is very rare however. One famous staircase that does not have newel posts is the spiral staircase at the famous Loretto Chapel in New Mexico.

Staircase Terms
Surprisingly, the parts of a staircase have specific names. For example, the vertical posts which connect to the handrail of the staircase are called spindles. They are sometimes called balusters. A grouping of balusters around the newel at the bottom of the handrail is called a balustrade.
The horizontal surfaces of the staircase where you walk are called threads.

A riser is the piece of the staircase that connects with the treads. The height of the risers determine how steep the staircase will rise. Typically, risers are usually between 5 inches and 7.5 inches tall. This can vary dependent upon the building codes in your area.

Types of Newel Posts
Newels can be square in shape or round in shape. A square shaped post is referred to as a box newel. A rounded shaped post is called a turned newel.

Newels made by traditional Amish craftsmen are considered to be some of the most beautiful ones available. Their price can be expensive because of the cost of the labor as well as the price of the materials. However, they are made from durable wood by skilled crafters. If you purchase such a piece, you can be sure that the post will hold up well and look attractive too.

Some of the less expensive ones may require some maintenance. Depending upon your lifestyle, it may be better to purchase the expensive post rather than getting involved in regular maintenance.

Of course, all newel posts will need to be dusted every so often. One of the best ways to keep your post looking good is to dust and clean them regularly. You can use cleaning products made especially for wood to do this. By doing this regularly, you can ensure that your post will look good and work properly.