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Stair Handrails

There are plenty of railings available for the home, but railings are not the same as stair handrails.

Railings are found on balusters on stairways. Decorative wooden railings, whether for balusters or for walls, are often designed to mimic the look of stair railings of 150 years ago.

stair handrails
stair handrails - pinch grip
stair handrails - power grip

Railings vs. Stair Handrails

Decorative wooden railings may match the décor of the house. They may be effective as guardrails, to prevent falling off the side of the stairs. But they are not effective handrails because they do not provide a proper grip to assist climbing the stairs or to hold securely to prevent falling down the stairs.
Functional stair handrails must provide a ‘Power Grip’ where the fingers wrap most of the way around the diameter. Research has demonstrated that a ‘Power Grip’ is five times stronger than the ‘Pinch Grip’ used on an ornate guardrail. Imagine trying to use a hammer if the handle were shaped like a decorative stair railing.

Functional Stair Handrails Specification

  • Have a round profile between 1½” and 2” in diameter to allow hands to wrap around fully and achieve a ‘Power Grip’
  • Extend the length of the entire stairway with no break, to ensure the railing can be gripped at all times. The handrail must be continuous through all slope changes and curves, across landings, and around corners.
  • Mount with brackets that do not impede the movement of the hand along the railing. L-shaped brackets are preferred over brackets that slope on a diagonal.
  • Have a minimum of 1½” between the handrail and the wall
  • Terminate with a 90-degree return to the wall to prevent clothing, bags or emergency fire hoses from becoming hooked on the end
  • Be able to withstand at least 500 lbs. of force in any direction


Stair Handrails Questions

If you have any questions about stair handrails or if you would like to speak to one of our handrail specialists, we invite you to contact us today. It will be our pleasure to answer your questions and help you find the best solution for your unique requirements.

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