Graspable Handrails


Can you grab this? Often, I see deck handrails made with dimensional lumber (2×4, 2×6, 2×8’s.) I demonstrate to clients with my large hands how difficult it is to grasp a deck handrail. A handrail is meant to be used for support and should be graspable. I understood this years ago when I had a sciatica nerve and had to get up and down a long flight of exterior stairs numerous times while inspecting. I needed the handrail for a little extra oomph! And a dimensional board just didn’t cut it. We are conditioned to reach for and use a handrail, and if they are not correct in size, then there should be a secondary handrail that is graspable. Here is what the IRC (International Residential Code) says about handrails:

** 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.

Lastly, have you ever noticed that the handrail, typically, on the interior of a home is round or shaped in a way that it is graspable? How often have you ever seen a deck handrail that was graspable?


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