Handrails: Designing with Codes & Impact

Installed HandrailThe safety of our Interiors continues to be a growing issue as our population ages. Statistically, within the next 25 years the US population will increase in size by 50% for people ages 65 and older, up to 20% by 2040 according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. It is critical to look ahead at how this affects the building construction industry and applicable codes. By providing proactive solutions to resolve these issues contributes to successful building design.

One way we can design for aging population is to specify and construct public buildings, health care and senior living facilities with appropriate handrails. Handrails are designed to provide a surface to grasp in order to gain stability while standing or moving.


ADA Handrail Section

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) now requires handrails in many buildings. The handrail is defined as either a circular cross section with an outside diameter of 1-1/4 inches (32mm) minimum and 2 inches (51mm) maximum or a non-circular cross section with a perimeter dimension of 4 inches (100mm) minimum and 6-1/4 inches (160mm) maximum and a cross section dimension of 2-1/4 inches (57mm) maximum. Handrails are located at a height between 34 inches (864mm) and 38 inches (965mm).

ADA Handrail Height

Designing for Impact

Traditionally, there are two types of handrails: decorative for low impact and protective for medium to high impact.

For light to medium impact areas, aRound Handrail 1-1/2 inch round handrail with aluminum retainer should be specified. This mounting bracket maintains the required distance from the wall, as required by code.

6 inch HandrailFor a medium to high impact area, a 5-1/2 inch or 6 inch surface diameter product is recommended. The 5-1/2 inch product is available with the thumb grip either behind or in front of the profile. A clean, solid surface is presented when the thumb grip is behind the handrail profile. For ADA compliance, any handrail with a height greater than 6 inches must have the thumb grip on the front of the profile.

Nystrom understands the complexities and codes related to handrails. For more information or to see how Nystrom can help on your next project, please visit www.Nystrom.com.