When do you need to install a graspable secondary handrail on a residential deck?
A graspable secondary handrail is an important component to consider when planning a deck with stairs. So whether you're constructing a residential composite deck, lumber deck or a deck made from other decking material, you're typically required to install a graspable secondary handrail on one side of the deck's stair railing when there are four or more stair risers present.
Key Residential Stair Handrail Requirements (IRC - International Residential Code)
Stairways having four or more risers, or rising more than 30 inches in height, whichever is less, must have at least one grab rail.
Handrails with a circular cross section shall have an outside diameter of at least 1-1/4 inches and not greater than 2 inches. If the handrail is not circular it shall have a perimeter dimension of at least 4 inches and not greater than 6-1/4 inches with a maximum cross section of dimension of 2-1/4 inches.
The grab rail must terminate at the newel post (top and bottom posts).
Clear space between a handrail and a wall or other surface shall be a minimum of 1-1/2 inches.
The height of handrails must be installed 34 inches - 38 inches from the upper surface of the handrail to the surface of the tread.
Graspable secondary handrails are required by more and more building codes / deck codes in areas across the country. Deckorators® features a secondary handrail system in its deck railing products lineups.
These attractive and highly versatile graspable handrails are ideal for meeting building codes when required. Made of heavy-gauge aluminum and durable PVC, the system includes a variety of different radius elbows and styles of returns to meet every possible installation. The railing is available in three colors (Textured black, Textured White and Weathered Brown) to complement a homes exterior.
As always, check your local building code or ask your building inspector to make sure you or your contractor installs a secondary handrail when required by law.
Check out the American Wood Council's "Design for Code Acceptance" document for complete details. Stair handrail requirements are outlined on page 18.