Scroll Top

Handrail vs. Guardrail

This article provides in-depth definitions to handrails, railings, and guardrail and what you need to know: Guards, Handrails, Railings – Get Your Definition Right

These following sections below give the requirements and common uses for all types of rail to help provide a better understanding of what rail would be used based on a project type.

– Structural element intended to provide guidance to building occupants.
– 5 – 2” diameter; other profiles conditionally allowed.
– Must be 34-38” above finished surfaces.
– Must support 200 lbs point load; 50 lbs distributed.
– Some allowance for horizontal obstructions but generally must have 1.5” clear beneath rail.
– Required for any commercial stair with more than 3 treads (Check AHJ); required for ramps exceeding 1:20 slope.

– Structural element intended to prevent falls by building occupants.
– No dimensional mandates for construction materials.
– Must be 42” min above finished surfaces (Commercial) or 36” (Residential).
– Skeleton must support 200 lbs point load; 50 lbs distributed; Infill must resist 50 lbs/ft2.
– Generally, cannot allow passing of 4” sphere.
– Required for any elevation greater than 30”.

Read more: Handrail vs. Guardrail