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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    7

    Default Stair handrail return

    I've read everything possible and still can't confirm if a "return" is needed for a handrail for stairs to garage/basement. If it is required, does this mean the handrail needs an additional piece that attaches to the wall at the top and bottom?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,746

    Default Re: Stair handrail return

    The correct answer is "It depends".
    Mostly it depends on what code was in force when the stairs were built.
    How many risers.
    But, using current standards for many areas (2006 IRC), then yes, returns are needed, most of the time.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Stair handrail return

    Thank you. The Code is pretty hard to decifer and I found some DIY articles so I think it will be easy to add the return. We are building a house and our next inspection will be final. Pretty sure we won't pass but I'd like to have a small fix it list. It's a log home and the return will actually attach to a log post next to the wall. I read your posts everytime I get an email but this is the first I've tried with a question. THANK YOU!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,246

    Default Re: Stair handrail return

    I'm not sure have far back the handrail returns go, but it goes back a long way.

    Probably shortly after the first attorney suited up and stood before the judge and said that their client's loose fitting clothing/hand bag got caught on the end of the handrail and that was the cause of their client falling down the stairs, which required mega dollars in medical bills and that their client is now injured for life and has reduced earning capacity and aches and pains their client never had before.

    After the builder settled, their insurance company settled, and the checks were written to the attorneys, everyone probably got together at the next code change meeting and added that return in there.

    The handrail in a dwelling is required to:
    - a) return to the wall, or
    - b) return to the floor, or
    - c) return to a Newel Post

    Each of the above eliminates or greatly reduces the risk of loose clothing/hand bag straps/etc from catching on the exposed end of a handrail.

    That may have even been back in the time when the lawyers wore those silly white wigs.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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