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Thread: Handrail

  1. #1
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    Question Handrail

    Is this handrail an issue at where it extends above the second floor area. The handrail was mounted low as the homeowner had it installed having small children in the home.

    I'm thinking that someone could catch an article of clothing on it, or something on it and causing them to lose their balance.

    Any comments appreciated.

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  2. #2
    Tim Moreira's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Rick,

    The hand rail only needs to be on one side, but the right side does not go all the way to the top and neither does the left side. So....both are incorrect IMHO.

    As I see it, it violates IRC 03:

    311.5.6.2 Continuity.
    Handrails for stairways shall be continuous for the full length of the flight, from a point directly above the top riser of the flight to a point directly above lowest riser of the flight. Handrail ends shall be returned or shall terminate in newel posts or safety terminals. Handrails adjacent to a wall shall have a space of not less than 1 1/2 inch (38 mm) between the wall and the handrails.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Yes, the handrail needs to be returned.

    Also, you said it was installed low, which also means it needs to be raised.

    While the owner may have had it installed low for a reason, the safest height is to install it at the required height ... 34" to 38" above the line of the nosings (now it's called 'the plane of the nosings').

    Leaving it low, then having an adult start to lose their balance, then reach for the handrail ... where is that handrail ... WHERE IS THAT HANDRAIL ... *WHERE* *IS* *THAT* *HANDRAIL* ... as they continue to fall because the handrail was not where it was expected to be.

    I would definitely write it up.

    If your client says 'Oh, great idea, I want to leave it at that height!', that is their decision, but in *my* report, the handrail would be written up as being too low.

    You know, so when the attorney comes a calling for 'the surviving spouse' ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
    Tim Moreira's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Opps, my bad.

    I didn't even see the low part (duh ) cause I was looking at both rails.

    The right side was installed with the stairs but it does not even go to the top.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Moreira View Post
    The right side was installed with the stairs but it does not even go to the top.
    Correct, so it does not count as a 'handrail'. It is simply 'the top rail of the guardrail'.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
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    Question Re: Handrail

    Whatever became of Vera Volute?

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Query: would there by any prohibition against installing *two* otherwise correct handrails on the *same* side of the stair with one at a lower height?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Query: would there by any prohibition against installing *two* otherwise correct handrails on the *same* side of the stair with one at a lower height?
    As long as the higher one is between 34" and 38" above the line of the nosings (plane of the nosing), no.

    In fact, the entire stair wall 'could' be moved in below the handrail, as long as it does not project into the stair width by more than the handrail,

    One way to envision this is to visualize the lower part of the wall bumped inward, with the handrail setting on the top of the bumped in part of the wall.

    "Stair width" is, after all, measure 'at and above the handrail height' to a height of the minimum headroom - 6'-8", at which point the wall could lean over up to 90 degrees and become a "ceiling".

    By the way, "stair width" is measured 'wall-to-wall', 'wall-to-railing', or 'railing-to-railing'.

    Which part of the railing? The inside plane of the railing in-fill protection, i.e., to the inside plane of the balusters, glazing, decorative design, etc., ignoring the top rail of the railing, provided that the top rail does not intruded into the handrail space. (I.e., the handrail is at 38" maximum and the guardrail top is at 42", that top cannot intrude over the handrail as it would interfere with being able to grasp the handrail when needed, if needed.)

    In dwelling units, the handrail is allowed to be the top of the guardrail as the guardrail height is not required to be 42" high.

    The 2001 Florida Building Code, as did the South Florida Building Codes, allowed (in dwelling units) the handrail to be the top of the guardrail provided the handrail was not over 42" high. That allowed for a guardrail of 42" in dwelling units and allowed for using the top rail (if of the proper size and shape) to be the handrail. This is no longer allowed, it was dropped in the 2004 Florida Building Code, and is not in the IRC. Thus, the maximum height of a handrail is 38", meaning the maximum height of a guard in dwelling units, where the top rail is the handrail, is 38".

    The guardrail top rail being used as the handrail in dwelling units is why the guardrail on open sides of stairs only needs to be 34" high - the minimum height of a handrail, meaning the guardrail can now be as low as 34" along a stair, the top rail of the guardrail may be the handrail (if of the proper size and shape), and, if the guardrail is higher than 38", the top rail *cannot* be used as a handrail.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  9. #9
    Mike Huppi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    How would you write this up without refering to code on the handrails. They were 2x6 nailed to a 2x2 and the gripable surface was not adequate for safe use. So it did not sound so crappy. And can be understood by the sellers.

    And yes I did write up the non tempered window, so there

    Mike

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    Last edited by Mike Huppi; 05-18-2007 at 06:00 PM. Reason: add

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Handrail

    While a 2x6 may be suitable for use as wall framing, it is not suitable for use as a handrail as it does not give a properly graspable profile/shape which one can grasp when using the stairs, which could lead to a person falling down the stairs, which could lead to their surviving spouse calling me to ask why I did not tell them what I just told you, which would then lead to that surviving spouse's attorney calling you, after I reminded the surviving spouse that, indeed, I had noted this handrail in my report.

    And, by the way, the handrail does not fully extend to the top riser as is required for safety.



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
    Mike Huppi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Thanks Jerry

    Your head must hurt at the end of the night by all the items that you reply to.

    Thanks again

    Mike


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Huppi View Post
    Thanks Jerry. Your head must hurt at the end of the night by all the items that you reply to.
    Naw, over the years we've all made sure it stays big enough to hold pretty much whatever it has to. Plus he retired last year and threw out a bunch of old stuff.

    The handrail does not provide a safe, graspable surface. Additionally, it does not run the required length for the stairs it serves. These deficiencies can lead to falls on the stairs.

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  13. #13
    Mike Huppi's Avatar
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    Cool Re: Handrail

    Here is one I had today this is new construction. The handrails are just a little short if I am reading right

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Handrail

    As best I can tell from those photos ...

    Handrails are not of a proper graspable profile.

    Handrails are too short.

    Handrail brackets are not code compliant.

    Any other photos showing different angles?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
    Mike Huppi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    No I don't have any more.


  16. #16
    Mike Huppi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    As best I can tell from those photos ...

    Handrails are not of a proper graspable profile.

    Handrails are too short.

    Handrail brackets are not code compliant.

    Any other photos showing different angles?

    I did not measure the graspable surface but they did not feel to large, where do you find out if they are code compliant, I have not heard of that or seen anything on that.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Huppi View Post
    I did not measure the graspable surface but they did not feel to large, where do you find out if they are code compliant, I have not heard of that or seen anything on that.

    http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2006%20...C%20SCREEN.pdf

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  18. #18
    Mike Huppi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Thanks for the link it is a very good one to save

    Mike


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Note the shape and configuration of the handrail support brackets on page 3 of that visual guide.

    From the IRC regarding the size and shape of the handrail. (bold and underlining are mine)
    - R311.5.6.3 Handrail grip size. All required handrails shall be of one of the following types or provide equivalent graspability.

    - - 1. Type I. Handrails with a circular cross section shall have an outside diameter of at least 1-
    1/4 inches (32 mm) and not greater than 2 inches (51 mm). If the handrail is not circular it shall have a perimeter dimension of at least 4 inches (102 mm) and not greater than 6-1/4 inches (160 mm) with a maximum cross section of dimension of 2-1/4 inches(57 mm).
    - - 2. Type II. Handrails with a perimeter greater than 61/4 inches (160 mm) shall provide a graspable finger recess area on both sides of the profile. The finger recess shall begin within a distance of 3/4 inch (19 mm) measured vertically from the tallest portion of the profile and achieve a depth of at least 5/16 inch (8 mm) within 7/8 inch (22 mm) below the widest portion of the profile. This required depth shall continue for at least 3/8 inch (10 mm)to a level that is not less than 1-3/4 inches (45 mm) below the tallest portion of the profile. The minimum width of the handrail above the recess shall be 1-1/4 inches (32 mm) to a maximum of 2-3/4 inches (70 mm). Edges shall have a minimum radius of 0.01 inch (0.25 mm).




    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Well...at least it's "continuous" ...

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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Handrail

    While the owner may have had it installed low for a reason, the safest height is to install it at the required height ... 34" to 38" above the line of the nosings (now it's called 'the plane of the nosings').
    This is what I find in the 2006 NC Residential.

    R311.5.6.1 Height.
    Handrail height, measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing, or finish surface
    of ramp slope, shall be not less than 30 inches (762 mm) and not more than 38 inches (965 mm).

    I guess we are getting shorter as a nation?


  22. #22
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Well...at least it's "continuous" ...
    What is that stuff? Bondo?


  23. #23
    John Achin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    I looked at the staircase pdf file, mentioned by Barry. Does anyone understand the exception on photo #38 regarding the 4 3/8" space allowance? I thought it was 4" between balusters no matter what.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Quote Originally Posted by John Achin View Post
    I looked at the staircase pdf file, mentioned by Barry. Does anyone understand the exception on photo #38 regarding the 4 3/8" space allowance? I thought it was 4" between balusters no matter what.
    John,

    4" maximum space for guardrails at landings, balconies, and other 'flat' (as opposed to 'level') walking surfaces.

    4-3/8" maximum space for guardrails along "stairs". The presumption is that the child 'on the stairs' will be older and larger than the child 'on the balcony floor. Makes sense when you consider that an infant crawling along a balcony will tumble down the stairs, no need to have the 4" there.

    However, if the stairs has open risers, the maximum allowed space is still 4". Meaning if the infant crawling along the balcony tumbles down the stairs and stops on a tread, they will not fall through the open riser.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  25. #25
    John Achin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Handrail

    Thanks Jerry, after your reply I read it again and it makes sense.


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