baluster layout

My business partner and I are having a discussion (insert argument)<g> about a baluster layout on our current job. If you folks can make it through this boring post, I'd be interested in any opinions.
Here goes...... We have two horizontal rails that run into posts, one on each side of a stairway. One run is about 8' long and the opposite run is about 3' long before it hits another post and makes a 90 degree turn. If you are standing at the top of the stairs you can grab both posts. We are using some iron balusters that people around here seem to be fond of lately. They need to lay out in a pattern since there are two different styles with twice as many of one style. It's a three baluster pattern with one basket baluster then two twisted balusters then another basket baluster starting the pattern again. We normally lay them out so that we have symmetry at each end if possible. We may have to start with a basket baluster with a twisted baluster. Whatever works to make the beginning and end of a particular run have the same baluster.
Here's the dilemma. We have the long run laid out to start (and end) with a basket baluster. To get symmetry, the short run needs to start with one twisted baluster so that it will end with a twisted baluster. This does not match the starting baluster of the long run. Since these two rails are directly opposite of each other, I say we should match the layout of the long run. Starting with a basket next to each post and if the short run ends with two twisted balusters (which it does) so be it. When you are at the head of the stairs you will see the same pattern start with a basket next to each starting post. When you are across the room looking through the rails you will see the same style balusters lined up with each other.
My partner however says we should start with a symmetrical layout on either side, whether the start of the pattern matches or not. Just in case you haven't noticed, he's wrong!:-) With his method, he has a basket next to the starting post on the long run and a twisted baluster next to the starting post on the short run. Did I mention that these runs are directly across the from each other? ;-) The short run will end with a twisted baluster (this gives him the symmetry he needs) which also happens to match the other side of the post where the turn is made. With my scenario, at the turn (on the short run) I would have two twisted balusters end the short run, the post and then a single twisted baluster start the pattern after the turn.
So, if anyone can de-code what I've posted here I'm just looking for opinions. Well.... I'm really looking for the validation of MY opinion <g> but if you disagree, I'd like someone to convince me.
Thanks for listening....it's been a long day.:-)
Mike O.
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Not so hard to decode. I agree with your proposed layout. The sight lines you described answered the question. Your partner is wrong, IMHO. john k.
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I'll second the statement below. --dave

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Third option (which I have actually used before).
In one of my former lives I was a steel detailer and did lots of stairs and rails. You are both right. The balusters across from each other should always match if the tread widths are constant across the width. However, when you have an uneven termination and an asymetrical baluster pattern you should try to end with the same shape too. So in your case, you have should make one odd set at the end on one side that ends with basket-twist-basket. The single twist between two baskets will be less obvious than any other method. Try it, your eye will blend out the skip in the pattern.
BW (I hope I'm right)
Mike O. wrote:

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have you asked whoever is paying the bill? He's right.
"Mike O." wrote:

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I build stairs and this *type* of issue is somewhat common. I run into similar issues with panels, Newels, etc. Frankly, I cannot give you a definitive reply for this problem because I would have to see the entire project to decide. However, I do feel that your layout sounds most practical based on the factors. The key point is that I never believe there is a *right* or *wrong* in these situations, but there can be a best or better. Further, I note above that someone suggested to ask the customer. Only in a rare case would I go to the owner for this type of issue. Usually they will add more confusion and in some cases they may think you are unqualified.
Just my two cents......Good Luck!

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On Thu, 19 Oct 2006 06:20:54 -0400, Joe Bemier

I learned many years ago that this would not be a problem to be resolved buy a home owner. However the builder signs the checks and he did settle the issue today. We made the baluster lay-out match and didn't worry with symmetry on the short rail.
If the homeowner decides that this was not the right decision, the builder will have no problem with paying us to "correct" the lay-out.
Oh...and as far as there being a *right* or *wrong* way, my partner's way was clearly wrong!<g>
Mike O.
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