A guard railing is a hand rail system that's built using balusters, banisters, spindles, glass, metal and almost any imaginable building products that they manufacture. The sole purpose for the guard railing is to keep people from falling off of a balcony, deck, porch, loft or even a stairway.
The picture above shows a metal guard rail
that was created by welding a few pipes together. This stairway is located in a three-story parking structure and is made almost entirely out of metal.
What Determines The Need To Use a Guard Rail?
Most building codes require a guard railing for any raised area (deck, porch, stairs, ect.) that's taller than 30 inches, from the level below (floor, soil or ground-level). But these measurements vary from city to city and you should check with your local building and safety department, before you do anything, just in case these measurements are incorrect.
Is A Guard Rail The Same As a Handrail?
In some instances the answer to this question is yes, but in most cases,
a guard rail is required to be at least 42 inches in height, where a
handrailing could be referred to something shorter.
A handrail is usually referred to as the part of the stairway that you hold on to, while walking up and down your stairs. It could be in the shape of a round pole made out of wood or metal.
A guard rail on the other hand would represent the entire protective barrier, that's at least 42 inches in height and attached to the stairway or landing.
Even though a full height wall forms a protective barrier, it wouldn't be considered a guard rail.
Stairs / Stair Glossary
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