Handrails along the sides of staircases prevent accidents by providing support and serve as visual and tactile guides for people with vision loss. Where possible, use handrails continuously throughout a stair system, along both sides of a staircase and continuing along the sides of all adjoining landings.
Follow these guidelines for handrails used in stairways:
- Handrails should be mounted between 865 and 920 mm, measured vertically from the leading edge of the tread.
- At the top of staircases and ramps and at the bottom of ramps, handrails should extend at least 300 mm parallel to the floor surface.
- At the bottom of staircases, handrails should continue to slope for a distance equal to the depth of one tread and then extend parallel to the floor surface for at least 300 mm.
- The ends of handrails should be returned to the wall or floor, or to a post, to avoid hazards for pedestrians.
- Handrails should have continuous gripping surfaces that aren’t interrupted by construction elements (such as newel posts) or obstructions that can break a hand hold.
- Handrails should be free of any sharp or abrasive elements.
- Handrails should have a circular gripping surface, 30 – 40 mm in diameter.
- There should be a clear space of at least 50 mm between the handrail and the wall. Increase the space to at least 60 mm when the wall has a rough surface.
- The handrail’s colour should contrast to the surrounding wall surface with a colour/brightness contrast of at least 50 per cent. Further information is provided in the section Colour and Brightness Contrast.
These handrail requirements apply to ramps as well as staircases.