Stair Building Ideas For Design And Construction

Rake Rail - Gripable Stair Handrailing

A rake rail is any handrail that is running at an angle. The picture below provides you with two different types of wood railings used to assist people while climbing up and down a set of stairs.

Guard Railing Or Handrailing

Rake rails can be used at the top of guard rails, handrails or even for gripable handrailing. However, if you're planning on building any stairs, you will need to know the difference.

A guard railing is used to protect people from falling off of a balcony or stairway and a handrailing is used to assist people while they're walking up and down a stairway or ramp.

It's not uncommon in the construction industry for someone to refer to a guard rail as a handrail or a handrail as a guard rail. There have been plenty of times where I needed to have someone provide me with additional information, so that I could clarify and understand what they were referring to.

A guard railing usually has a minimum height of 42 inches, where a handrail needs to be installed between 34 and 38 inches, off of the stair tread nosing. Now, you're probably wondering why I'm providing you with a description of these building components.

To make a long story short, a few years ago I was working with a new builder who didn't understand the difference between a handrail and a guard rail. To make matters worse, he ended up hiring someone who must not have known the difference either.

The building inspector wouldn't sign off on the building, until the handrailing had been turned into a guard railing. This cost the home builder about $5,000, but do you want to hear the real kicker to the story.

While I was working on the home, I warned the homeowner to make sure that the handrailing, quote guard railing, was at least 42 inches in height, off of the tip of the stair tread nosing. The moral to this story, sometimes I'm going to be right, even though my wife isn't ever planning on admitting it.


Stairs / Stair Glossary

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