People who wish to replace the balustrade on their staircase may find it difficult to source the correct part. This is because many of the public are incorrectly referring to it as a bannister, research shows.

A survey carried out by stair part specialist Jackson Woodturners highlighted that only 15% of the public are aware of the correct term. 

When shown a diagram of a balustrade – a structure made up of a combination of stair parts, including a handrail, base rail, spindles and newel post – 68% of respondents wrongly thought it was called a bannister. A further 8% described it as a railing and 7% referred to it as a handrail.

This suggests online shoppers may struggle to find the parts they are looking to buy, and suppliers unable to attract customers.


Survey Data

This survey data was gathered via Google Surveys
in July 2019 amongst 1,018 members of the UK public.  

‘What do you call this part of the staircase?’ 

  • Bannister – 68.1%
  • Balustrade – 15.3%
  • Railing – 8.4%
  • Handrail – 7.2%
  • ​​​​​​​Support – 0.8%


Lucie Jackson, director at Jackson Woodturners, comments: “In theory, sourcing stair parts online should be very straight forward, however, it’s a whole different matter if customers are searching for the wrong terms. As a result, we have included detailed diagrams on our site, explaining the combination of stair parts needed to construct a balustrade”.

Respondents aged 45 and above expressed far greater knowledge of the terminology than younger respondents. This may show that the correct term is being used less than it used to be. This also explains why 85% of 18-24-year-olds are unaware of the correct name. 

According to the Construction Industrial Training Board (CITB), just over two-fifths of construction workers aged over 45 are set to retire in the next 20 years. This highlights the importance of teaching industry terminology to apprentices, but also making these terms clear to customers. 

Interim chief executive of CITB, William Burton, warns: “Almost one in five workers is set to retire from the construction industry over the next 5-10 years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry – and investing in the training to up-skill our existing workforce – is no longer an option.”