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    Multiple Handrails for stairs >4 ft.

    Multiple Handrails for stairs >4 ft.

    New postby Bruce Ramsey on Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:03 pm

    I seem to recall a requirement for multiple hand rails on stairs 4' or greater in width. I reviewed capter 3 of the IRC but could not find a specific reference.

    I am looking in the wrong place or did I just make up that requirement?

    Any help would be appreciated.
    Bruce Ramsey
    HomeSafe Inspection
    Atlanta, Ga
    Bruce Ramsey
     
    Posts: 24
    Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:52 pm
    Location: Atlanta, Ga.

    Re: Multiple Handrails for stairs >4 ft.

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:11 pm

    Hi Bruce,

    You are thinking of the handrail requirements for non-dwelling units in the IBC, for occupancies other than R Occupancy and in common areas in the multiple dwelling R occupancies. The 4 foot dimension you are thinking of is 5 feet 9 inches (presuming maximum projection of the handrails from the walls, with maximum projection being 4-1/2 inches) for the required width portion of the stairway width.

    This is from the 2006 IBC and is probably what you are thinking of. (underlining and bold are mine)
    - 1012.8 Intermediate handrails. Stairways shall have intermediate handrails located in such a manner so that all portions of the stairway width required for egress capacity are within 30 inches (762 mm) of a handrail. On monumental stairs, handrails shall be located along the most direct path of egress travel.

    As an example, let's say a stairway is required to be 48 inches wide but is constructed 78 inches wide, and there is the required handrail down each side, then the required 48 inches width could be taken as being up to 30 inches on either side with the remaining width on the other side, or, simply splitting the required 48 inches into 24 inches from each handrail, as either way would put the required width within the 30 inches grasp of a handrail.

    As another example, let's use that same 78 inch wide stairway, however, the required width of the stair is 70 inches, there are the required handrails down both sides. Splitting the required width into 30 inches and 40 inches, an intermediate handrail is required to keep the 40 inch required width portion within 30 inches of a handrail. If the 70 inches were split 35 inches each side, then one intermediate handrail would still be all that is required because the intermediate handrail would be within 30 inches of the required width on each side (still less than 60 inches handrail-to-intermediate_handrail-to-handrail, once greater than 60 inches handrail-to-intermediate_handrail-to-handrail for the required width, than an additional intermediate handrail would be required, making a total of 4 handrails).

    The IRC, on the other hand, simply requires one handrail on either side, it does not even require a handrail on both sides of the stairs. That said, though, if two handrails are installed under the IRC, *both* handrails are required to meet the requirements for handrails - just because one of the handrails is 'not required' does not mean that 'non-required handrail' does not need to meet the code requirements for handrails, it does.

    From the 2006 IRC. (underlining and bold are mine)
    R311.5.6 Handrails. Handrails shall be provided on at least one side of each continuous run of treads or flight with four or more risers.

    Hoping that information clarifies what you were remembering.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan
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    Re: Multiple Handrails for stairs >4 ft.

    New postby Bruce Ramsey on Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:17 pm

    Now that you mention it does seem to be about railings down the middle of wide stairs and I just simpilified it to more that 4 feet needs two railings.

    Thank you for the references and details.
    Bruce Ramsey
    HomeSafe Inspection
    Atlanta, Ga
    Bruce Ramsey
     
    Posts: 24
    Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:52 pm
    Location: Atlanta, Ga.

    Re: Multiple Handrails for stairs >4 ft.

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:27 pm

    Hi Bruce,

    Not a problem.

    It can be disconcerting when at a dwelling unit with very wide stairs, such as down from a read porch to a rear yard/patio/pool deck when the stairs are 20 feet wide and there is a handrail on each end, 10 feet away from you when you are at the center of the stairs.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan
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