Commercial handrail height 2

What Are Standard Commercial Handrail Code Requirements?

Commercial handrail height

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Commercial handrail code requirements are often adopted by municipalities and local code bodies based on the model set out by the International Code Council (ICC). The ICC publishes the International Building Code (IBC) which lays out building standards for commercial buildings and multi-family residential construction.

Stairs are considered a means of egress and need to be accessible to everyone, so there are also ADA requirements that handrails must comply with. While the IBC and ADA requirements are often adopted by local bodies and municipalities, each individual area can increase their safety requirements, so it’s always important to check local building codes.

Handrail Requirements (IBC 1014)

Commercial handrail requirements are meant to ensure graspability and a position that makes them as effective as possible.

  • The handrail must be continuous for the run of the stairs or ramp.

  • Commercial stair handrail height must be between 34” and 38” inches as measured from the stair tread nosing.
    • The height must be uniform for the entire run of the handrail.

  • Must have an outside diameter of at least 1 ¼” but no greater than 2”
    • Handrails with a non-circular cross section must have a minimum perimeter dimension of at least 4” but less than 6” and a cross section dimension no more than 2 ¼”.

  • Handrails are required on both sides of commercial stairs (IBC 1014.1).

  • Ramps with a rise greater than 6” must have a handrail on both sides.

  • Gripping surfaces must be continuous.

  • Handrails cannot rotate within their fittings.

  • Clearance between the handrail and the adjacent surface must be at least 1 ½” and free of any sharp or abrasive objects or elements.

  • Commercial stair handrail requirements do not permit projections of more than 4 ½” at or below the handrail height.

Load Requirements (IBC 1607.8.1)

Commercial handrail code requirements ensure that handrails are able to withstand appropriate loads.

  • Handrails and guards must be able to resist a linear load of 50 lbs per linear foot and a concentrated load of 200 lbs.

  • Glass handrails and guards must be able to withstand the load specified in IBC 1607.8.1 and designed using a factor of safety of four. This means that the maximum load will be ¼ of the designed ultimate breaking load.

Glass Handrail and Guard Requirements (IBC2407)

The commercial hand railing code also lays out requirements for glass handrails and guards.

  • Must be laminated glass constructed of fully tempered or heat-strengthened glass.

  • Minimum thickness of ¼”.

  • Must be installed with a top rail or handrail that must be supported by at least three glass balusters or use supports that will allow the handrail to remain in place if one glass baluster fails.

  • An attached top rail or handrail is not required where the glass baluster panels are laminated glass with two or more glass plies of equal thickness and of the same glass type.

Handrail Extensions

  • Handrail extensions must return to itself or a wall, guard, or walking surface or be continuous to another handrail run on an adjacent flight of stairs or ramp.

  • Extensions must extend at least 12” beyond the top stair riser and continue to slope for the depth of one tread beyond the bottom riser and must be in the same direction as the stairs or ramp.

ADA Requirements

Americans with Disabilities Act requirements are very similar to the standards laid out in the IBC, but ADA standards are required for places of public accommodation and commercial facilities. If a building does not meet ADA standards for accessibility, the violation could result in a civil suit for discrimination.

Local municipalities and building codes can lay out standards and guidelines that are stricter than ADA standards, but the ADA standards are the minimum accessibility standard.

Modern Handrails That Comply with Commercial Handrail Codes

In the past, many commercial handrails looked the same so they could fulfill commercial handrail code requirements. Today’s modern handrails are able to meet building codes and ADA standards while also adding style and aesthetic value to the space.

See Clearly with Glass

Commercial handrail height 2

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The glass infill of the SHOE™ Glass Railing System helps to keep this space open and welcoming while meeting the commercial handrail height code as well as other commercial handrail code requirements. The massive wood staircase pairs well with the aluminum glass railing system that features a patented compression set aluminum base shoe system. This system is certified for the International Building Code as well as the commercial handrail code in California and Florida, so it is a great choice for a commercial space.

Add Personality with Tinted Glass

Commercial handrail height 3

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The tinted glass infill of the BLADE™ Glass Railing System highlights the ultra-contemporary design of the stainless steel modular railing system. The wood handrail adds natural warmth and mirrors the wood of the stairs to create a comprehensive and code compliant design. This design meets commercial railing height code and can also include a top rail.

Meet Commercial Handrail Building Code Requirements with VIVA Railings

VIVA Railings has a range of International Building Code compliant handrails that also meet ADA requirements for accessibility, so our handrails can meet the needs of all users as well as commercial railing requirements.

Contact the experts at VIVA Railings today to discuss commercial handrail building code requirements and explore our products!