What are ‘warm-to-touch’ guidelines for handrails? Warm-to-touch is a phrase commonly used in association with handrails in high-usage areas, such as entrance ramps or corridor handrails. But what does it mean and what materials can be classified as ‘warm-to-touch’ for specification in these environments?
Document K outlines that handrails should not become excessively cold or hot to touch. Handrails provide support on stairs or along ramps, and may help the user as the ascend or descend. If th environment is subject to extreme temperatures, and the handrail conducts this, then a user will be reluctant to use the handrail. This could cause a safety risk.
What considerations must be made when specifying a ‘warm-to-touch’ handrail?
Often PVC or timber handrails are specified due to their very low thermal conductivity properties. However, the thermal conductivity properties must be weighed up against durability and whether the material is actually suitable for the environment. It is also important to remember that a handrail only becomes ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ if it is in an environment that is subject to large temperature variations. Indoor locations are less likely to require ‘warm-to-touch’ considerations, although foyers and entrances at large buildings may be.
The statistics clearly show that PVC and timber handrails have the lowest thermal conductivity readings. However, in a lot of high-use environments where ‘warm-to-touch’ applies, a more durable metal handrail would be required. Stainless steel has one of the lowest thermal conductivity readings of any metal and meets the durability demands of these locations. The BS8300 document referenced stainless steel as being an adequate option to fulfil requirements of ‘warm-to-touch’ handrails.
For more detail or advice on handrails for your project, give us a call and one of our technical team will be happy to help!