The first thing you need
to understand is the difference between a handrail and a guard rail
. A guard rail
protects you from falling over or through the stairway and a handrail is usually something that you hold onto, to keep your balance, while walking up or down the stairs.
Now that you understand what a guard rail is, you make sure that you understand all of your local building codes and safety requirements, before building one.
You can use wood, metal and even certain types of glass, to construct your guard rail
s. However, they need to be built strong enough and tall enough, to prevent anyone, and I'm talking about anyone, from falling through or over them.
Make sure that the building materials you use, will provide you with a structurally sound guard rail
. If you're using a set of building blueprints to build your stairway, they might or might not have enough structural and construction information, for you to build the ideal guard rail
If this is the case, then contact your structural engineer, architect or building designer for more information. The last thing you want to do is build a guard rail that isn't safe.