These building codes might not apply in your specific city or county. Make sure that you check with your local building department to verify any of the information below, before actually constructing your stairway hand rail or guardrail.
1. Make sure that the space between your balusters does not exceed 4 inches. The building code used to be 6 inches, but young children were getting their heads stuck in between the balusters so they changed it to 4 inches.
2. The minimum guard rail height for a stairway is 42 inches. This used to be 36 inches, until they had problems with people falling over the lower height guardrails.
3. The unified building codes suggest that your gripable stair hand railing should be between 34 and 38 inches in height. These measurements could vary, depending on which city or county you live in.
4. It's a good idea to extend the lower and upper part of the stair handrail at least 12 inches beyond the first and last step. This provides additional safety for anyone who uses the stairway.
5. If your stairway has more than three risers, most building codes suggest that you have one hand rail. This hand rail could be on either side of the stairway. Again, this provides additional safety for anyone who climbs up and down the stairways.
If you're going to build a stair handrail or guardrail, make sure that you contact your local building department for additional information. Sometimes information like this can save people's lives.