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Old 06-20-2009, 06:39 PM   #1
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standard handrail height?


I am replacing my old interior stair railing with a new oak one. I measured my buddies railing so I could make it the same, assuming the builder who built his house built everything to code. The question is........I have a small railing about four feet long that goes next to the stairs going down into my basement. The house is a split level, the are only about six or eight steps going down. I put the top of the handrail at 36 1/2" off the floor, but it looks visually like it's too high. Is there a standard? Where could I go to find this information? Do all the handrails need to be the same height?

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Old 06-20-2009, 08:17 PM   #2
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I am replacing my old interior stair railing with a new oak one. I measured my buddies railing so I could make it the same, assuming the builder who built his house built everything to code. The question is........I have a small railing about four feet long that goes next to the stairs going down into my basement. The house is a split level, the are only about six or eight steps going down. I put the top of the handrail at 36 1/2" off the floor, but it looks visually like it's too high. Is there a standard? Where could I go to find this information? Do all the handrails need to be the same height?
I live in Ontario Canada, and our code requires a height of 42" if the stair rises 24" or more. On a staircase it is measured vertically from the tread nose to the top of the hand rail.
A 4" sphere cannot pass through any opening between the balusters or on the stairs.

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Last edited by Wildie; 06-20-2009 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:30 PM   #3
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standard handrail height?


Most codes state not less than 34" and not more than 38". Some local codes state 36". There are many variables that apply. You should check with your local building department.






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Old 06-20-2009, 09:01 PM   #4
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standard handrail height?


I agree with cabinetman, check your local B.D.

A guild line: http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2006%20...C%20SCREEN.pdf

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Old 06-20-2009, 09:54 PM   #5
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standard handrail height?


Yup 34 - 36" from the nosing of the treads and don't forget returns.

I would go into depth but with handrails I always encourage people to consult an experienced carpenter. They seem simple but there is more to it than just telling you how to do it.

Good luck and be safe out there!
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Old 06-21-2009, 02:07 AM   #6
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standard handrail height?


I just went through this on a splitt level house. What was the original at.....34"? If it was,2 more inches is a big difference. It does not sound like it, but it is. I changed mine from 33" (ot to code) to 36. Replaced a wrough iron railing with a birch rail. I will admit, it was more work than I thought but I did learn alot.
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Old 06-21-2009, 09:50 AM   #7
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standard handrail height?


Yeti,

Also i re read your posting and it appears you have the know how to tackle this project.

Remeasure the railing height from the front edge of the first stair nosing and not off the floor and then measure the height from the front of the last stair nosing and it should be between 34 - 38" (preferably both will be the same). Check with your local building codes in your municipality to make sure but 34 - 38" is pretty standard.

Also remember those returns.

Good luck and be safe
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Old 06-21-2009, 09:56 AM   #8
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OHHH and BTW

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all of the Father's out there reading this posting
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Old 06-21-2009, 10:37 AM   #9
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The best thing is to probably review the stair building codes. This link to the Stair Mfg Association has the complete codes and a shortened visual version. It will say 34-38 from tread nose. Also,that local codes supercede these.
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Old 06-21-2009, 12:14 PM   #10
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34" to 38" is code where I live and I usually install mine at 36". One question I have never answered is can the rail vary in height throughout the run? Riser height can vary 3/8" but could the rail start at 34" in height and end the run at 38" if for some reason it need be? Also when calculating your baluster spacing, there is an app for the iPhone called BalusterPro that I use that works pretty well if you are so inclined. Here's a link www.gabrioconstruction.com

Good luck!
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Old 06-21-2009, 01:12 PM   #11
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Yeah I guess it could but why would it? Not to be snotty but maybe you know of a situation where it would come into effect, let us know so we can all learn something as this industry is filled with surprises.

The code states 34 - 38" and that is the tolerance.
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Old 06-21-2009, 01:27 PM   #12
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I'll have to redo my railings
Basement is at 35" but does not have a return
So I'll make a return & install

2nd floor was at 38" & I lowered it to 36"
This makes a big difference for my son
The entire railing will be replaced, new one will be at 35"
Also no returns & it doesn't extend all the way to the top of the stairs

The extra 2" lower makes a big difference for children

Older stairs can vary a lot more then newer stairs
My top landing has a very short step (2" ?) then the landing
One reason I can think of in varying the height of the railing
I have found that "visually" placing the hand rail doesn't work
IE - correctly placed it looks weird to me

Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 06-21-2009 at 04:05 PM. Reason: lowered to 36"
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Old 06-21-2009, 03:34 PM   #13
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Yeah I guess it could but why would it? Not to be snotty but maybe you know of a situation where it would come into effect, let us know so we can all learn something as this industry is filled with surprises.

The code states 34 - 38" and that is the tolerance.
I can't think of a reason why I would need to vary the handrail height on a railing system I installed start to finish but I came across this issue just last week. A homeowner I know was doing his own trim work on his remodel and found he just didn't have time to finish so he called me to complete the project. He set his newel posts but did not yet attach the rails. Well it turns out that they are set at the wrong height so now I can't maintain an equal handrail height up the length of the run without tearing out the newels. It's only 1 1/2" and he doesn't want the newels removed so we are hoping it won't be too noticeable and I have always wondered if that would meet code.
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Old 06-21-2009, 03:48 PM   #14
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Aha figures, "Hey I will do this project myself... ohh wait I don't know what I am doing and I have already screwed it up. I know I will call a carpenter to finish it for me but I am not going to pay them anything and I definitly don't want them to tear the project apart to do it right so I will make them install it without making any changes and then when they want to charge me a fair price for all of the work they did I will complain!"

Hmm homeowners please do me a favor either call a professional at the beginning of the project or if you enbark on a project and screw it up please let the professional correct it the right way. You took the chance and tried to save yourself some money but your plan backfired on you so now it is time to pay the piper.

I would say that to a trained eye you will notice that the railing is off but to a passer by it should be okay. Why won't he let you remove the newels? How are the newels secured? How are the handrails secured to the newels? Have any of the spindles been set or cut?

i would think that if he wanted the job done and done right he would hand the reigns over to you to take and if not then I wonder what other things he will not like you to do.

I had a client that wanted to control the job and I finished his job and will not do any more work for him because he doesn't want the job done right he wants it done cheap and then when th ejob is done he complains and wants money back!

you can read about his project on my website at http://paragonrenovations.net/basementtrim.aspx. he hired the framing and the drywall and the texturing all out from underneath me and then called me in to save his a%&. But then he wanted work done in other places and he wanted it at his price well sorry not the way it works.

Good luck and I will watch to see your reply!
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:11 PM   #15
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This particular homeowner is quite competent and has done an excellent job with the work he has done so far....better than some 'professional carpenters' I have seen. He just messed up on this one thing. The newel posts are set into the floor and attached to framing, the hardwood flooring is installed and finished, so ripping all that out for an 1 1/2" we decided wouldn't be worth it. If there was a knee wall I was attaching the balusters to it may be more noticeable, but it is an open tread system which I think you won't see as much. When I got there just the newel posts were in, all the windows were completed and most of the doors. I am just going to wrap up the place and he is paying me well and is very happy with all I am doing there. I don't foresee any problems with him but I know where you're coming from in dealing with customers wanting everything on the cheap.

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