Handrails and Guardrails

Handrails and guardrails are frequently outdated in older property. Building standards evolve over time, especially in response to injury, and while it is unlikely there would be any municipal requirement to upgrade the handrails or guardrails unless remodeling or alterations are performed that affect them, we recommend they be upgraded to contemporary standards as a prudent safety item.

Modern building standards call for guardrails at least 42 inches high for any deck, stair, or landing more than 30 inches above an adjacent surface, and for openings in the guardrail to be less than 4 inches in diameter.


Staircases with four or more steps should have handrails placed and shaped so they can be readily grasped. Handrails should be 34 to 38 inches above the leading edge of the stairway treads. Handrails should return to the railing, post, wall, or ground and should not end in a projection that could be hooked by clothing.

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