A handrail is a railing which is used to provide stability for the staircase; a handrail also provides safety for people who are going up and down the stairs. For handicapped people, the elderly, or the very young, a stair railing can be of great assistance.
Most stairs have handrails. Whether the stairs are found in a subway tunnel, the entrance to a school, in a business, or in a home, railings will probably be present. In some places, handrails can also be found in public bathroom stalls to help handicapped patrons lower and raise themselves after using the bathroom.
Most people don’t think too much about handrails. Rather, they are taken for granted. Handrails can be made from a variety of materials including metal, stainless steel, iron, wood, and even plastic. Some handrails are quite ornate and others are made to be functional.
In most cases, the design of the handrails and the materials from which it is made will depend upon where the rail will be used. In public places, there are certain regulations that must be met when the handrails are installed.
For example, a handrail must meet certain standards as far as the dimensions go. These regulations specify how wide the handrail can be. This is important as the width of the handrail affects hand placement.
The position of the handrail is also important. For example, a hand rail should not be set up against a wall. This is because a person’s hand will not be able to wrap around the handrail. Rather, a handrail should be set out from the wall and should be securely attached to the staircase or the wall itself depending upon the situation. Handrails should be placed so that the railing is not to low or too high.
If the rail is too high, short adults or children may not be able to safely use the railing. If the railing is set too low, the opposite may be true. In other words, older adults or tall adults may have trouble safely using the railing. In a day care, the railings may be especially low in order to assist the children or there may be several handrails installed.
Handrails should also be securely attached to a surface close to the rail. This is important because railings which come loose could create serious injuries. This is especially true if a person slips and uses the handrailing to steady themselves. For this reason, some places specify the types of screws or brackets which must be used when mounting handrails.
In addition, a railing must be strong and able to bear a certain amount of weight. A railing that breaks, splinters, or cracks after being used or after being exposed to certain types of weather can be very dangerous. This is why wooden stair rails are often used inside instead of outside where the rail will be exposed to the elements.
For more information on the guidelines in your area, check online or talk to a building inspector at your local town hall.