8 Tips for Design and Specifications of Balustrades and Handrails

Building regulations may seem a real mine field and perhaps even rather contradictory. However, as we all know it is essential to understand them, as mistakes can be costly to rectify! This article in our Building regulation series covers just the bare basics.

Building Regs

8 Tips for Design and Specifications of Balustrades and Handrails

  • Balustrades are required by law to protect building users from falling at changes in level of more than 600mm in dwellings and more than 2 risers in other buildings.
  • Handrails should be mounted at a height between 900mm & 1000mm above stair or ramp pitch line. Generally on landing areas and balconies the top of handrails should be a minimum of 1100mm above finished floor level.
  • A circular handrail should be between 32mm and 50mm in diameter.
  • If children are likely to be present, balustrades should not allow the passage of a 100mm sphere (This excludes the triangle formed by the tread & riser, EXCEPT in dwellings & flats) and should be designed in such a way as to discourage climbing.
  • A continuous handrail is generally required on both sides of a ramp, stair flights and all landings.
  • For disabled access, handrails should extend a minimum of 300mm beyond the top and bottom riser of a flight of stairs or end of ramp – providing it doesn’t protrude into an access route.
  • A second handrail is required at 600mm above finished floor level on a ramp or staircase pitch line in buildings specifically designed for children.
  • Required balustrade loadings vary dependant on the building use or category. BS 6399-1 & BS EN 1991-1-7:2006 are the generally recognised codes of practice for the minimum recommended dead and imposed loads in buildings.

Look out for further issues where we will drill into more detail, including proposed government changes. In the meantime drop us an email if you have any questions.

Information is given as a guide and is not intended to be exhaustive. It remains the reader’s responsibility to take specific independent advice and to comply with local legislation. Taken from BSS5395, EN1991, BS6180, BS8300