Handrails, Guardrails, and Bannisters: Understanding the Difference

If your home or business has two stories or more than a few steps in any particular place, you need to take certain precautions to ensure the safety of your residents and visitors.  This can be done with the use of handrails, guardrails, or bannisters.

Handrails, Guardrails, and Bannisters: Understanding the Difference

  • Guardrails – Guardrails are a barrier that is placed between a raised surface such as a balcony, mezzanine, or staircase that prevents falling. Guardrails need to be a minimum of 90 cm (36 in.) high, or more if the raised surface is further above the finished floor. The openings between the slats must be less than 10 cm (4 in.) to prevent small children from slipping through. A guardrail must also be able to withstand pressure of about 0.5 kilonewtons (113 lbs.) and be firmly anchored to the ground.
  • Handrails – A handrail is a long piece of railing that goes along the wall next to a staircase or sits atop of a guardrail where a hand would be placed. Regulations for handrails require that they be easy to find and hold onto and provide continuous support. A handrail is needed when you have more than two risers inside a building or more than three risers outside a building. According to the National Building Code (NBC), handrails should be between 86.5 cm (34 in.) and 96.5 cm (38 in.) high.
  • Bannisters – This is a term used to describe both handrails and guardrails.

If you are in the process of constructing a new home, renovating an existing home, or if your current guardrails or handrails are not up to code, come to us at Stainless Outfitters Inc. We can create the railing that you need and ensure that it is done properly and in line with local and national requirements.