UK Stair Parts

The Importance of a Securely Fitted Handrail

Posted on Fri December 13th 2013 by Dan

Safety is paramount when building a staircase. Great care should always be taken when using stairs, as falls can cause serious injury or even prove fatal. Making sure people using the stairs are safe is particularly important in a public building for a number of reasons. Firstly, there will be a huge increase in the number of people using the stairs, increasing the possibility of an accident. Secondly, if your staircase is unsafe, it could leave you open to legal action if someone is the victim of a fall, and even prosecution if you have failed to comply with safety regulations.

So how can you keep your family or visitors safe and stay on the right side of the law? Buildings in England should abide by the Building Regulations 2010, with stairs covered by Part K.

The regulations specify in great detail every conceivable safety aspect for stairs in public and domestic buildings and handrails are a key focal point.

The importance of a securely fitted handrail cannot be underestimated. For a start, people who use the stairs are going to expect it to be secure when they put their hand on it and are in for a nasty shock if it suddenly starts to move! And if you’re not sure of your footing or your balance when you’re on a staircase, it’s a recipe for disaster. In the worst case scenario, a loose handrail could give way completely, sending someone tumbling to the floor below.

So how do you make sure a handrail is securely fitted? Here are a few tips to ensure your handrail is safe for all:

  1. Make sure your handrail is the right length. A handrail that’s too long can be cut down to size but avoid having a handrail that’s too short. If you’ve ordered a handrail to specific measurements, you shouldn’t have to cut it at all, but you should still check before you start any drilling.
  2. Get the height right. Your handrail should be between 900mm and 1000mm from each tread. Measure the height at the top and bottom of the stairs, where the newel posts are, then use a piece of string to check the angle and ensure the height is the same for each step.
  3. Fix the brackets to the flat side of the handrail, ensuring each one is screwed firmly in place.
  4. Bear in mind that if your staircase is more than a metre wide, you should have a handrail on each side.
    Once your brackets are securely fixed to the handrail, you can attach them to the wall. This should be a two-person as you will probably need someone to hold the handrail in position when you fix the first screw.
  5. If your handrail is going to be on top of newel posts and spindles, mark the underside of the handrail to match up with each spindle, and drill holes about half an inch deep. Apply wood glue to the holes and the top of the spindles and wipe away any excess. Use vice grips to hold the handrail in place and avoid any slipping. Once in place, avoid putting pressure on the handrail for up to 48 hours.