Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 8

ADA Advice

Accessibility:
Handrail Details for
Stairways and Ramps
BY KIMBERLY PAARLBERG, RA, SENIOR STAFF ARCHITECT, ICC

T

his article is typically
dedicated to accessibility.
It is important to remember
not all elements related
to accessibility are just
for persons using wheelchairs;
there may be additional general
safety requirements related to those
same elements. This is why not
everything related to accessibility
is in Chapter 11. Stairways and
ramps are two examples of elements
"mainstreamed" in Chapter 10,
"Means of Egress."
This article will discuss an element
common to both stairways and
ramps-handrails. While a small
part of a building, handrails are an
important safety element on stairways
and ramps. Handrails have three main
purposes: 1) for someone to grab to
possibly avoid a fall; 2) for assistance
to improve stability for persons
with mobility impairments; and 3) to
provide some guidance for persons
with vision impairments. Handrails are
required along ramp runs and stair
runs. Handrails are not required on
ramp or stairway landings, but the
handrail extensions can affect the
flow of travel along those landings.
Sometimes the terms "guards" and
"handrails" are confused. Where
there is a dropoff of 30 inches or
more, IBC Section 1015.2 requires
guards (i.e., vertical barriers) to
minimize the chance of falling off that
edge. This is typically at mezzanines
and balconies, and along open sides
of stairways and ramps. However,

8 | Licensed Architect | Summer 2017

the tops of guards are allowed also
to serve as handrails only along
stepped or ramped aisle-in-assembly
seating areas, or along stairway
or ramps in Group R-3 and within
Group R-2 units (IBC Sections 1015.3
and 1029.15 Exp. 2). This article
will focus on handrails along ramps
and stairways not part of assembly
seating, Group R-3 or within Group
R-2 units.
The top rail of a guard has a height
of 42 inches minimum (IBC Section
1015.3). Handrail height is between
34 inches and 38 inches to the top
of the handrail (IBC Section 1014.2).

Where both a guard and handrail are
provided, the handrail will be inside
and below the top rail of the guard.
Handrails are required along both
sides of stair, beginning at a single
riser, and ramp runs with a change in
elevation of more than 6 inches (IBC
Section 1011.11 and 1012.8).
A common mistake on ramps is
building the ramp with the curbs
at 36 inches apart, then placing
the guards on top of the curb with
the handrail inside. The clear width
of the ramp is 36 inches minimum
between handrails (IBC Section
1014.8 and Figure 1).



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Licensed Architect - Summer 2017

President’s Message
ADA Advice Accessibility: Handrail Details for Stairways and Ramps
Continuing Education A Review of Window, Door and Skylight Standards and Certification
Buyer’s Guide
Feature Article The Necessary Accessory: Hardware
Continuing Education Providers/ ALA New Members
Insurance Design Professionals and Cyber Risk - Part 2
Second Chances for Buildings The New Roof is Still Leaking?
Feature Article What Do Clients Want? Amenities, style and function
Firm Management Tools for Small Firms: Time Management
Index of Advertisers
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Intro
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - cover1
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - cover2
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 3
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 4
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 5
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - President’s Message
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 7
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - ADA Advice Accessibility: Handrail Details for Stairways and Ramps
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 9
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 10
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 11
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 12
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 13
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 14
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 15
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Continuing Education A Review of Window, Door and Skylight Standards and Certification
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 17
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 18
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 19
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 20
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Buyer’s Guide
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 22
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 23
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 24
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Feature Article The Necessary Accessory: Hardware
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Continuing Education Providers/ ALA New Members
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Insurance Design Professionals and Cyber Risk - Part 2
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 28
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 29
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Second Chances for Buildings The New Roof is Still Leaking?
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 31
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 32
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Feature Article What Do Clients Want? Amenities, style and function
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 34
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 35
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Firm Management Tools for Small Firms: Time Management
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - 37
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - Index of Advertisers
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - cover3
Licensed Architect - Summer 2017 - cover4
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