What Are the Common Handrail Standards and Requirements?


Quick Answer

Though specifications vary across versions of building codes and according to building use, handrail requirements focus on the rail's location, graspability and strength, explains InspectApedia.com. Most codes specify minimum and maximum handrail heights, distance from walls and diameter.

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What Are the Common Handrail Standards and Requirements?
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Full Answer

Requirements related to handrails are found in the 2012 International Building Code, Chapter 10, Section 1012, according to the International Code Council. The International Building Code specifies a height between 34 and 38 inches above the stair tread or ramp slope. The code also specifies for handrails to have a continuous gripping surface and certain dimensions so they are easily grasped.

The Uniform Building Code railing specifications require at least 1 1/2 inches of space between the handrail and the wall, notes InspectApedia.com. This minimum distance is also required in the International Building Code and the California OSHA Title 8 Building Code. The International Building Code specifies a maximum distance of 4 1/2 inches between the wall and a stairway railing.

Handrails should be provided on both sides of stairways and ramps, states the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. According to ADA standards, all handrails require an extension at least 12 inches beyond the end of the stair or ramp that is horizontal to the surface.

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