Stairways Requiring Handrail on Each Side

This one is simple and easy to understand. If the stairway is larger than 44 inches in width, most building codes require a gripable handrailing on each side of the stairway.

Example 1: You measure the stairway width and its only 40 inches. This would only require one hand rail, on either side of the stairway.

Example 2: You measure the stairway width and it's 47 inches wide. Then it would require two handrails, one on each side of the stairway, as shown in the picture above.

This stairway does not have the correct gripable handrail size required by most current building codes and might need to be updated.

Keep in mind that a handrail might be required on both side, but it won't require a guard rail
unless a section of the stairway was more than 30 inches above the surrounding soil. Then it would require both a guard railing
and gripable handrail.

Here's another question you might have, trying to figure out whether or not you need one or two gripable handrails.

handrail attached to wall and another on side of stairway

What if you have a stairway wider than 44 inches against a wall?

This type of scenario would still require a gripable handrail on each side, but one of the handrails would simply attach to the wall, while the other side would require an individual handrail system like the ones in the picture above, if the stairway is less than 30 inches in overall hieght.

However, this particular stairway would require a guard rail
, because it has sections of the stairway that are over 30 inches above the lower level. Even though it doesn't have a guard rail
, because it was probably built before the building codes were changed, it would require both a gripable handrail and a guard rail
, if built today for the handrail system located on the left side of the picture.

Attention: Don't forget to check with your local building department to verify any building codes on this website. This information could be incorrect or outdated.

Back To Stairway Building Codes