Approved Document K – Stairs and Ladders

In this article we’re drilling down into the exact requirements detailed in Approved Document K for stairs and ladders. The following 14 points are the ones we feel are most important, but this is for guidance and advice only.

If you are in any doubt, please refer to the Approved Document K on the website

SECTION 1: Stairs and ladders

1.   For flights of stairs (other than dwelling houses) a minimum width between walls or stringers should be 1200mm. Handrails should also be a minimum of 1000mm apart.

2.    A stair in a public building which is wider than 2000mm should be divided into flights which are not wider than 2000mm. This can be achieved with a post and handrail balustrade to provide an intermediate handrail. (See Fig. 1)

3.    In all buildings, handrail height should be between 900mm and 1000mm measured to the top of the handrail from the pitch line or floor. (See Fig. 2)

4.    Stairs should have a handrail on at least one side if they are less than 1m wide. They should have a handrail on both sides if they are wider.

5.    Second handrails should be provided in primary schools. This second handrail should be positioned at 600mm from the pitch line or floor.

6.    There should be a continuous handrail along stair flights and landings.

7.    Handrails should project 300mm from the end of the stair.

8.    Handrails should not project into an access route.

9.    There should be a visual contrast between the handrail and background. A stainless handrail is a good means of achieving this contrast.

10.  Handrails should not be hot or cold to touch. Both stainless steel and timber handrails meet this requirement.

11.  Handrails should be finished in a way that reduces risk of clothes being caught.

12.  Handrails should be between 32mm to 50mm in diameter. 42mm diameter handrail is the recommended dimension.

13.  They should also be 50mm to 75mm away from the wall or surface to which they are fixed. )

14.  In buildings where children under 5 may be present, then the guarding must not be easily climbable (e.g. horizontal bars are not recommended) and a 100mm sphere must not be able to pass through any openings in the barrier.

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. 

You cannot copy content of this page