No matter how you call it, stair rails, guardrails, or handrails — some standards must be met when it comes to its height. This height requirement is put forth to ensure the safety of people or workers using these stairs.
The I-Codes in the United States are strict about how high a guardrail or stair railing should be. If there is more than one step on any given ramp, then you need to have an appropriate handrail to keep people from falling off of it and hurting themselves. The height can vary depending on what country they’re located in though: for example, if someone falls down 30 inches (or 48 centimeters) while inside Canada’s borders, we’ll want them to use some kind of protective barriers like a safety gate or something else that will prevent injury but not get their hopes up by creating barriers all around us at every turn!
The requirements for handrail height depend on the code bodies in your country. In Canada, it would be based on the National Building Code (NBC). The table below provides an overview of each body and its respective railing heights:
The U.S., has two sets of rules to choose from- either Americans With Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design or Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations; while Canadians have only one set found under the National Building Code.
|Residential||Commercial||General||Where children are primary users (recommended, not required)||General||Stair Rail System||Residential||Commercial|
|Handrail Height||34″ to 38″||34″ to 38″||28″ with a minimum of 9″ clearance between the child and adult handrail||30″ to 38″||36″ to 38″ — may also serve as guard||34″ and 42″||34″ and 42″|
|Guard Height||36″ minimum||42″ minimum||not specified||42″ — plus or minus 3″||36 to 38″||36″ minimum||42″ minimum|
International Building Code® (IBC®) Standards
For stairs to be IBC-compliant in height:
1014.2 – Handrail height must not be less than 34 inches (854 mm) or more than 38 inches (965 mm).
1015.3 – Guardrail height must not be less than 42 inches (1,067 mm) in height.
OSHA stair requirements suggest that:
1910.23(e)(2) A stair railing shall be of construction similar to a standard railing, but the vertical height shall be not more than 34 inches nor less than 30 inches from an upper surface of top rail to the surface of tread in line with the face of the riser at the forward edge of the tread.