For obvious reasons, a staircase without a balustrade is not a good idea. If you have kids in the house, it's even more important to have this particular safety feature, as children are less steady on their feet than adults are, and they're more prone to accidents.
While balustrades are mainly there to give support while using the stairs by giving you something to grip, they help keep children safe in other ways. An integral part of this is the upright supports, or spindles, which make stairs more enclosed and help protect kids. It's worth spending some time considering how safe the spindles are when you choose a new staircase balustrade, and here's what to look for.
The size of the gaps
One of the biggest dangers for children on stairs is toppling sideways and potentially falling some distance. A balustrade can stop this, but only if the gaps between the spindles are small enough.
While you don't want them to be so close together that there's barely any gap at all, you should think about how small the gap needs to be in order to stop your child falling through. Remember, too, that children might try to squeeze through without realising the danger, so it may need to be a bit smaller than you initially think.
The size of the spindles
As an adult, you can easily reach the rail of a balustrade to support yourself and prevent falls as you go up or down the stairs. For children, however, it's often out of reach, which can make things a bit more precarious.
The spindles can make a useful handhold for kids, giving them something to hang onto while using the stairs. Because of this, you'll want to look for something that's small enough for little hands to grip comfortably, but not too small or it will provide little in the way of sturdy support.
The shape of the spindles
For kids to use the balustrade spindles for support, the spindles also need to be a shape that's easy and comfortable to hold. Rounded ones work well, though squared spindles may offer a little extra grip.
One thing to watch out for is spindles which are highly decorative, as carved lines and curved sections can make things more difficult. If you do want them to look good as well as being functional, however, just make sure there are no decorative sections at the height your child will be gripping the spindles.