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Senior Advisor
GeorgeK-NJ
Posts: 1,588
Registered: ‎10-30-2009
0

Stair Rail Height?

[ Edited ]

I need to install a stair rail with balusters on my stairs, for some reason the inspector/appraiser for the mortgage company felt I needed a railing, don't understand his issue. :smileyvery-happy: 

 

I'm am getting mixed opinions on heights from resources on-line, some are saying 30" to 34" some are saying 34" to 38".  34" seems to be high compared to the Wrought Iron one I took down.  I know a lot of local codes are different, but they all should have a range. 

 

So what heights have you guys seen, or have installed? 

 

Added: I checked my neighbors who had the stair rail done locally and it looks to be about 30".  I'm thinking 32" right now. Any help?

 

Thanks,

George K
Aberdeen, NJ

"I keep cutting and it's still to short"

"Stupid is Expensive"

Esteemed Advisor
p_toad
Posts: 3,406
Registered: ‎12-31-2009
0

Re: Stair Rail Height?

[ Edited ]

The rail on my stairs going up is 32" and the rail across the hall at the top is 36"  It uses the gooseneck to make the 4" jump from handrail to newel  to rail...

 

if you want detail though, try this or this or this

 

I disavow any further knowledge or responsibility for any confusion.   :smileyhappy:

Advisor
Rrandy
Posts: 1,626
Registered: ‎11-05-2009
0

Re: Stair Rail Height?

32 inches at the center of the step in my son's apartment and my house just for reference.

Never do anything you don't want to explain to the EMT.

Esteemed Advisor
71166
Posts: 2,412
Registered: ‎10-24-2009
0

Re: Stair Rail Height?

 As always the local inspector has the say, but I found this LINK to the IRC requirements.   Roly

Honored Advisor
RussBoyd
Posts: 7,878
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
0

Re: Stair Rail Height?

HERE it used to be 32-38. NOW it is 34-38.

"If you can't hide it...advertise it!"
Honored Advisor
amateur60
Posts: 1,627
Registered: ‎10-24-2009
0

Re: Stair Rail Height?

While it does depend on the building code in your specific location, in general building codes do REQUIRE stair railings--it's not optional or a matter of opinion of an inspector.  Also the height,  at a minimum of 34"  and a maximum of 38" measured over the nose of the stairs, is pretty standard these days.  Yes, these heights have increased in recent years and if you hadn't removed the older railings you wouldn't have had to raise them.  But installing new,they must meet current codes.  By the way, in increase was almost certainly based on science which showed the higher height was safer.  

 

While their are local variations, the IRC codes have become very widely adopted.  You can find out which model code forms the basis for your local codes.  In some states, localities can't alter the codes, only the state, in others individual communities can make changes.  This is not an area where localities are likely to make alterations however.  The place to find out what is acceptable is your local building department.  What others have in their homes or in their areas isn't relevent, only the applicable code, as interpreted by your local building officials counts in any way.  Even if 50 people tell you their stair rails are at only 32", if your local code calls for 34" that's what you must do. 

 

By the way, for what very little it matters, the railings on my 3+ year old house are at 36" above the stair nose, and they feel quite comfortable to me as I use them. 

Veteran Advisor
grandpabear
Posts: 2,454
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
0

Re: Stair Rail Height?


71166 wrote:

 As always the local inspector has the say, but I found this LINK to the IRC requirements.   Roly


 

    the local inspector trumps everyone.

 


Whittier CA
THE MOST DANGEROUS TOOL IS THE ONE YOU ARE USING
Senior Contributor
dad4taylor
Posts: 223
Registered: ‎10-27-2009
0

Re: Stair Rail Height?

George,

 

IRC says that a handrail is required on at least one side of a each continuous run of treads or flight with four or more risers

 

Height "measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing, or finish surface of ramp slope, shall not be less than 34" and not more than 38" "

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
Senior Advisor
GeorgeK-NJ
Posts: 1,588
Registered: ‎10-30-2009
0

Re: Stair Rail Height?

So I was planning to go with 34" after reading some of the links.  I did e-mail the code offical and this is what I got this morning.

 

 In regards to the handrail height, the International Residential Code 2009, New Jersey Edition, section R311.7.7.1 states " Handrail height, measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing, or finish surface of ramp slope, shall not be less than 30 inches and not more than 38 inches".  So, your proposed rail height of 34 inches from the front of the nosing is code compliant. 

 

I do need to get a permit which is always fun.

 

Thanks for your input guys!

George K
Aberdeen, NJ

"I keep cutting and it's still to short"

"Stupid is Expensive"

Honored Advisor
mathisonr1
Posts: 4,067
Registered: ‎11-07-2009
0

Re: Stair Rail Height?

George, keep in mind that the height is measured 1" back from the leading edge of the stair tread. To throw my 2 cents in on the height question, I always set my hand rails 36" to the top.

Rick Mathison
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