When are handrails needed?

Handrails are often used as a decorative feature on, or in conjunction with, a balustrade. There is a huge range of options with handrails, and they can be fabricated to suit your exact requirements. Brass is a popular material for handrails, as are both stainless steel and timber. As well as looking beautiful, they play an important role in providing a safety barrier. There are a number of situations when a handrail is required by regulations. These regulations are set out in Approved Document K.


  • There should be a continuous handrail along stair flights and landings.
  • Handrails should project 300mm from the end of the stair
  • 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.
  • In all buildings, handrail height should be between 900mm and 1000mm measured to the top of the handrail from the pitch line or floor.
  • Handrails should be between 32mm to 50mm in diameter.
  • In buildings where children under 5 may be present, then the guarding must not be easily climable (e.g. horizontal bars are not recommended) and a 100mm sphere must not be able to pass through any openings in the barrier.

Protecting a drop

  • A guarding must be provided in areas where people have access (e.g. balconies and stairs). Guarding is not required to areas where people do not have access or where guarding would obstruct ‘normal use (e.g. vehicle ramps or loading bays)
  • Flights and landings should be guarded at the sides in dwellings when there is a drop of more than 600mm
  • Guarding is required in all others buildings when there are two or more risers on a stair

This is just a brief summary of some key points that go into determining when handrails are needed. For more detailed advice relating to a specific project, get in touch!

03300 414 881 | sales@whitemetal.co.uk

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