AskDefine | Define handrail

Dictionary Definition

handrail n : a railing at the side of a staircase or balcony to prevent people from falling [syn: bannister, banister, balustrade, balusters]

User Contributed Dictionary



From hand + rail.


  1. A rail which can be held, such as on the side of a staircase, ramp or other walkway, and serving as a support or guard.


rail which can be held
  • Czech: zábradlí
  • Norwegian: gelender, rekkverk
  • Spanish: pasamano

Extensive Definition

Handrails are railings used on stairways and escalators. They are designed to be grasped by the hand while ascending or descending the stairs. They are supported by posts or fixed directly to a wall.

Handrail dimensions

Various model codes -- The International Code Council (ICC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-- and accessibility standards -- ANSI A117.1 and the Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) -- refer to handrail dimensions. Latest versions of these codes and standards now agree that handrail is defined as either a circular cross section with an outside diameter of 1-1/4" (32 mm) minimum and 2" (51 mm) maximum or a non-circular cross section with a perimeter dimension of 4" (100 mm) minimum and 6-1/4" (160 mm) maximum and a cross section dimension of 2-1/4" (57 mm) maximum. In addition, the International Residential Code (IRC) includes a definition of a "Type II" handrail that allows for handrail with a perimeter dimension greater than 6-1/4" (160 mm)if a graspable finger recess area is provided on both sides of the profile.
Handrails are located at a height between 34" (864 mm) and 38" (965 mm) In areas where children are the principal users of a building or facility, the 2004 ADAAG recommends that a second set of handrails at a maximum height of 28" (711 mm) measured to the top of the gripping surface from the ramp surface or stair nosing can assist in preventing accidents. An obstacle skateboarders and rollerbladers use to grind.

Handrail clearance

The distance between the wall and handrail gripping surface is also governed by local code with the most common requirement being 1-1/2" (38 mm) minimum. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) requires that the distance between the wall and handrail be a minimum of 2-1/4" (57 mm).
handrail in Catalan: Barana
handrail in Czech: Zábradlí
handrail in German: Geländer
handrail in Italian: Parapetto
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