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When Do You Need A Handrail On Steps And What Height Should They Be

When Do You Need A Handrail On Steps And What Height Should They Be?

Your home is regarded as incomplete if you do not have steps. Especially if you have playful kids like mine. Handrails are also referred to as stair rails. They are required at any point since the total number of the rise in the stairs is greater than or equal to 30 inches above the ground. It can also be required if you have four or more risers. Railings could be constructed for outdoor structures such as desks or porch. According to Blackburn & Co Ltd, Fabricators in London, a railing is required for a single (private) home when the stairs are less than 44 inches wide.

So, you might be wondering and asking yourself the question of “When are railings required for stairs? Well, I will answer that real quick and give explanations. The moment you have at least four steps in the stairways, it is advisable you construct standard handrails or railings depending on the type and width of the stairs. According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Home Administration), if the width of your stairway is less than 44 inches, and enclosed on both sides, you need just a railing on the open side. But if both sides are open, you’ll need a standard railing on both sides.

A standard stair railing is between 30 to 34 inches above the edge of each riser. Although your stairs might have a width that falls between 44 and 88 inches, you might want to adopt the use of a handrail on each closed side and a standard railing on each of the open side. Any stairs that exceed 88 inches in width must have an intermediate railing that cuts at least halfway across the total width (cuts at least at 44). For a winding stairway, it must possess a handrail that compensates for any part of the riser with a depth of at least 6 inches.

Stair rails, or handrails as they are sometimes called, are required any time stairs have a total rise of 30 inches or more above the lower ground surface, or if there are four or more risers. This includes outdoor structures such as decks or porch steps. Only one railing is required for private homes or if the stairs are less than 44 inches wide

Standard Height For Your Handrails

Standard exterior stairs or railing should be constructed if it will be connecting patio or deck to the ground, or act as an entry for an exterior door so that people can use them conveniently. There’s a need for you to be aware of the various building codes and also meeting their requirements such as the dimension of the stairs as well as the number of railings etc. generally, for exterior doors, the railing should be at least 36 inches high. Well, most building codes expect the handrails for exterior stairs to be estimated between 34 and 38 inches above the ground. What this signifies is that the ideal way to measure the height of the handrail is from the top of the stair treads (horizontal stepping) to the base.

Also, the space between the railing and the wall known as the railing’s clearance is pertinent. ADA regulations and building codes require 1.5 inches of minimum clearance value when the railings are attached to the wall. The exterior railing requirements are not always the same as the clearance and height requirement of the interior stair rails. All you have to do is ensure you have the code information from the building code office before acquiring materials for the construction of the stairs. You can check here for more information.

Basic Handrail Spacing & Height Specifications

  • Space of railing from wall: (=> 1.5″ )
  • Projection of railing into stairs (<= 4.5″)
  • Height of railing (=> 31.5″ for a one-sided rail, or =>27″ for a two-sided rail) (historic)
  • Railings: the United States for a stair with a side against the wall: 30-38.”
  • Railings: United States handrails for open stairs: 34-38″ above the stairs
  • Railings: Canadian stair handrails above the stairs: 32-36.”

Railing Types

  1. Guardrails: This is a safety railing or barrier constructed along a horizontal surface such as a deck, porch or balcony. Find more details at GUARDRAILS on BALCONIES, DECKS, LANDINGS
  2. Stair rails or Stair guard: This is a safety railing or barrier constructed along the open side (s) of a stairway. More information can be found at STAIR RAILS, STAIR GUARDS
  1. Handrailing or stair railing: This is constructed along either sides or one side of a descending or ascending stairway. The scope is to provide balance and prevent fall offs from the stairs.

Note that the final authority on where and when railings are required on stairs, landings, steps, decks, porch or balconies abides with your local building code official.