Hello. Please sign in!

Guide to the ADA Standards

Handrails [§504.6, §505]

Handrails are required on both sides of stairs and must be continuous within the full length of each stair flight. Inside handrails on switchback or dogleg stairs must be continuous.

Stairway Handrails

Switchback stair and landing.  Notes and labels:  12” min. horizontal top extension in same direction as stair flight (§505.10.2); 34” - 38” (consistent height) above nosing to top of gripping surface (§505.4), Sloped bottom extension 1 tread depth min. beyond last riser nosing in same direction as stair flight (§505.10.3), Handrails must return to a wall, guard, or floor and cannot rotate within fittings (§505.10.2, §505.10.3), Inside handrails at switchback/ dogleg turns must be continuous (extension not required) (§505.3), Top and sides of gripping surface cannot be obstructed; bottom can be obstructed up to 20% of the length (§505.6), In alterations, full handrail extensions are not required where they would project into circulation paths and pose a hazard (§505.10, Ex. 3).

design compass

Recommendation:  In facilities that primarily serve children, a second set of stairway handrails 28” high maximum above stair nosings is advisable. A vertical clearance 9” minimum between upper and lower handrails will help prevent entrapment.

Handrail Extensions [§505.10]

Handrail extensions at the top and bottom must return to walls, guards, or floors and horizontal portions must comply as protruding objects. The length is measured to the start of the return radius.

Top horizontal handrail extension 12” long min. at stairs.  Note:  Handrails at the top of stairways must extend 12” minimum horizontally above the landing beginning directly above the first riser nosing or be continuous to the handrail of an adjacent stair flight (§505.10.2).
Bottom handrail extension sloping beyond the last riser nosing for a distance at least equal to one tread depth. Note:  Handrails at the bottom must extend beyond the last riser nosing at the slope of the stair flight for a distance at least equal to one tread depth or be continuous to the handrail of an adjacent stair flight protruding objects.

Top horizontal handrail extension with P-shaped return to post; bottom edge of return is 27” high max. Notes:  treatment as protruding object not required.  Objects mounted on posts with leading edges higher than 27” cannot protrude into circulation paths more than 12” (§307.3).  With handrails, this applies only to horizontal portions, not sloped portions.  Horizontal top extensions that return to posts can protrude any amount if the leading edge is 27” max. above the finish floor or ground.  Recommendation:  Treat free-standing bottom extensions as protruding objects if they have leading edges higher than 27".

Handrail Clearance and Cross Section [§505.5, §505.7]

Surface requirements and clearances facilitate a power grip along the length of handrails. Handrails can have circular or non-circular cross-sections, but must have rounded edges. The gripping surface and adjacent surfaces must be free of abrasive or sharp elements. Wall-mounted handrails with leading edges higher than 27” cannot protrude more than 4½” into circulation paths (§307.2).

Circular Cross Section and Clearance

Handrail circular cross section 1/1/4” to 2” in diameter with a 1 ½” clearance behind and below.  Note:  Specifications for handrails also address the diameter of circular cross sections and required knuckle clearance.

Non-Circular Cross Section and Clearance

Handrail non-circular cross section (square with rounded corners) with 2 ¼” max. dimension, rounded edges, 4” to 6 ¼” perimeter dimension, 1 ½” clearance behind, and clearance below that is 1 ½” (less 1/8” for each ½” additional perimeter dimension.  Note:  Non-circular cross sections must have rounded edges and meet perimeter and cross-section dimensions.  Other profiles meeting these criteria are permitted.

design compass icon

Recommendation:  Projecting objects above handrails can impact their usability. Keep wall surfaces above handrails free of any protrusions.


*You must sign in to view [MORE INFO...]