The Best Options for Commercial Exterior Handrails

In commercial applications, exterior handrails need to be able to stand up to the elements while also aiding in safe passage for a wide range of users. They must also meet multiple sets of guidelines and standards for safety and accessibility, including those set out by the International Building Code (IBC), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and local building codes.

Typically, commercial handrails are required to be continuous for the entire run of the stairs or ramp and located on both sides. They should be positioned between 34” and 38” from the walking surface with at least 1-½” of clearance between the handrail and adjacent surface.

Handrail extensions must continue at least 12” beyond the top stair riser and for at least the length of one tread depth at the bottom. Other requirements dictate the type of glass that can be used in handrails — laminated constructed of fully tempered or heat-strengthened glass — and the diameter of the handrails — at least 1-¼” but not more than 2”.

The best options for commercial exterior handrails need to meet all of these requirements while also being aesthetically pleasing and contributing to the overall design. While this sounds like a tall order, VIVA Railings meet all IBC and ADA requirements with ease and offer a variety of customization options, including different finishes, LED lighted railings, and different infills.

LED Lighted Rails

LED Lighted Railings for Commercial Exterior Handrails

Lighted railings offer additional safety, security, and visibility for commercial exteriors. By lighting the handrails themselves and the walking surface below them, they add peace of mind for those using it, and also for the company. At the Ross Perot Offices in Dallas, TX, the design incorporates elevated trails that feature the CUBE™ Cable Metal Railing System and the iRail™ Linear LED lighting system.

Infill Options

Infill Options for Commercial Handrails

At The PGA Headquarters in Frisco, TX, CUBE™ Cable Metal Railing System are combined with FSR™ Free Standing Rail System to create strong, supportive, and protective commercial exterior handrails. As a result, spectators can move quickly and confidently around the PEA headquarters to view different holes on course.

Elevated Balcony with Infill

At the Boeing New Everett Delivery Center in Everett, WA, the CUBETM Multiline Railing System provides protection on elevated walkways and balconies. In some areas, its clean, straight lines follow angled turns and corners and, in others, it curves to follow the walkway as a result of its fluid design.

Platform Handrail with Glass Infill

Another popular infill option is glass, as seen in the SHOE™ Glass Railing System at the Bandera Preston Tower in Dallas, TX. This system is ideal in both interior and exterior applications, and the tempered glass infill provides a nearly unobstructed view of the surrounding areas.

Elevated Walkway with Infill

At Cirrus Logic in Austin, TX, this elevated walkway requires a guard because it’s more than 30” above the walking surface below it. To meet building code standards, they chose a cable infill with the CIRCA™ Cable Railing System for the guard and included a handrail on the adjacent ramp.

ADA and IBC Compliance

ADA Compliant Handrail

Complying with the ADA Accessibility Standards and the IBC is a must for commercial spaces. It ensures that the handrails can be used by the widest range of abilities, in order to allow access to as many people as possible while maintaining safety and security. While many of the ADA and IBC standards are the same, there are a few places where they differ, so meeting both is crucial to ensuring safety in commercial spaces.

One such case is where guards are concerned. The IBC requires guards to be installed along open-side walking surfaces, including stairs and ramps, that meet certain criteria.

Guards must be at least 42” from the walking surface. Both the ADA and IBC standards require handrails to be between 34” and 38” from the walking surface. In order to meet these requirements, the JTA Administration Building in Jacksonville, FL, installed guards and handrails on the walking surfaces.


ADA Compliant Guard Handrail

In some commercial exterior handrails, the handrail itself isn’t necessary to meet building code standards. In the case of the Texas Christian University Lupton Stadium, in Fort Worth, TX, the guard is simply that — a guard to help prevent spectators from falling.

The TEE™ Cable Metal Railing System used in this design features a minimalist design and structural “T” section for stability against the tension from the cable strands, and the mounting hardware is concealed in the posts.

Choose the Best Option for Commercial Exterior Handrails

VIVA Railings offers a range of railing options perfect for exterior commercial applications. We not only supply handrails, we also supply guards and lighting options! Our stainless steel handrail systems can be powder coated to match the design and various infill options allow you to choose the best look for your commercial exterior.

Contact the experts at VIVA Railings today to explore our commercial exterior handrail options.