The Purpose of a Finial in Architecture

The Purpose of a Finial in Architecture

Finials are far from a new concept, possibly dating back to 711 A.D. It was at this time that huge buildings, known as pagodas, were popular within Asian culture. These structures included highly ornamental stairs going around them that were decorated with finials. We still see them regularly today, and there’s a good chance you have one or two in your home. Since the purpose of a finial in architecture is decorative, they come in many beautiful choices.


Finials can be made out of just about any architectural material, but common options are wood, vinyl, concrete, metal, and iron. Basically, whichever material best tops off the object it is created for.


It may be impossible to list every style of finial because surely there are some we haven’t even seen. Still, common styles are a traditional smooth ball, pineapple-shaped, bishop style, egg-shaped, and many more.

Because the purpose of a finial in architecture is decorative, when choosing ones for your home, try to stick with the type that will go well with the rest of your décor.

How To Use Finials

We most often see architectural finials on our staircase handrail systems, porches, and decks, with wood being the most common material thanks to its classic style and long lifespan.

Although our children like to use them for balance as they swoop down the stairs, the purpose of a finial is to nicely top off the newel post which is the post supporting the stair’s railing system.

On a porch or deck, finials simply make decks and porches more attractive by adding an ornamental look to the posts between and at the end of railings. Using finials takes all posts from straight and functional to interesting and decorative.

In conclusion, your stairs, decks, and porches can survive without finials, but why would you want them to? Dress them up with the right finial made from the highest quality wood for years of beauty, durability, and enjoyment.

Mr. Spindle offers all styles of wood finials, including ball finial post caps and custom-made finials to suit your needs—suitable for both new and restored homes. Contact us and let’s give life to your stairs, porch, and deck.