There’s nothing worse than smacking an elbow or a hip on the sharp end of a handrail as you quickly descend a flight of stairs. Handrail returns connect the end of a railing to the wall or another surface, eliminating those “Ouch!” moments. They’re also important for people with disabilities who rely on well-designed handrails. Find out more about handrail return requirements according to both local and international building codes.
Handrail Return Requirements
What Is a Handrail Return?
Handrail returns are the individual segments connecting the end of a railing to the wall, a newel post, or a surface (like a sidewalk). Returns help protect individuals from the sharp edge of the rail; they also serve as a support system for individuals with mobility issues. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that handrails connect to a wall or a newel post on either end. Handrail return requirements are also dictated within the International Residential Code (IRC) and local building codes.
Understanding Handrail Return Requirements
When installing a new handrail, make sure to comply with all building codes that apply in your area. This includes the International Residential Code (IRC), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, and any local building codes. Complying with building codes helps increase your property value and stave off any legal issues, particularly if injury is involved.
International Residential Code Requirements
The International Residential Code (IRC) dictates international standards for the design and construction of one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses. The most recent version of the IRC dictates that all handrail ends in the aforementioned structures should end in either newel posts or safety terminals – which, in this case, could refer to a wall. Curious about the exact wording? Section R322.214.171.124 of the 2018 IRC dictates the following: “Handrail ends shall be returned or shall terminate in newel posts or safety terminals.”
Americans With Disabilities Act Requirements
Handrail return requirements are also outlined in Section 505.10.1 of the 2010 Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The ADA states that ramp handrails must extend horizontally above the stair landing for a minimum of 12 inches beyond the top and bottom of ramp runs. The standards also require those extensions to return to a wall, guard, or the landing surface. If not, the extensions must be continuous to the handrail of an adjacent ramp run.
Local Building Code Requirements
While ADA and IRC standards outline the basics of handrail returns, make sure to check your local building code to make sure your handrail is up-to-date. Ultimately, you should treat your local building code as the final authority on handrails, steps, stairs, and everything in between.
Installing Handrail Returns
Once you’ve explored IRC and local building codes, you’re ready to install your handrails. Our easy-to-install CHR Handrail Section with Return features a classic design that is meant for exterior stair railing use but also works great for interior stair railings. This handrail section is available in a variety of satin, textured, and multi-color finishes, and it features a lifetime limited warranty. Our CHR Handrail Section with Return is a great tool as you work to create a welcoming retreat for your friends, family, or tenants.
Sometimes the best kind of railing is the one you can install and then forget about, trusting it will do its job without a hitch. It’s easy to forget about the importance of handrail returns – that is, until you’ve knocked your elbow or knee against a pesky railing end. Keep your handrail sturdy and ouch-proof with a thorough understanding of handrail return requirements on both local and international levels.
Now that you’ve explored handrail return requirements, are you looking for an expert who can walk you through purchasing and caring for an aluminum railing? At Aluminum Handrail Direct, we are committed to providing high-quality aluminum handrails that are durable, maintenance free, affordable, and attractive. If you have questions about continuous handrails or handrail returns – or if you are simply searching for a handrail system that fits your needs – call us at 417-409-3179 or visit Aluminum Handrail Direct’s online store today. We offer handrails, wall mounts, mounting screws and anchors, touch-up spray paint, and much more. We look forward to hearing from you!