How to Build Safe Handicap Handrails That Meet ADA Guidelines
There are some different areas where you might need a railing for a handicapped person to use - a set of stairs, a ramp, or even in the bathroom inside your home or business.
In this guide, we cover a few uses cases and go over a few options for railing in each different application. We'll also cover requirements for handicap railing if you are a business that needs to meet ADA guidelines.
Handicap Handrail Stair & Ramp Requirements:
ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, has specific requirements to ensure that your railing is compliant and safe for handicap or disabled people to use. Below, we've covered a few major "need-to-knows" when it comes to ADA guidelines:
Handicap Railing Height
- ADA handrails must be set at the height of 34 to 38". This allows most people, including those in wheelchairs, to easily grab the railing.
- The railing that accompanies a set of stairs must extend out one tread length before leveling out. It then must level out for at least 12" at the top and bottom of the staircase. This ensures the railing is set at the height of 34 to 38" throughout the entirety of the railing. It also allows a person to grab the railing before beginning to go up or down the stairs.
Handicap Railing Clearance
- There must be railing on both sides of the ramp or staircase. The clearance between these two railings must be a minimum of 36". This allows enough room for a wheelchair to pass through comfortably.
- The railing should be 1 1/2" from the wall and provide a clear handrail path. There should be no interruptions on the railing that would block a person's grip. This allows a person to keep a hold on the railing through the entirety of stairs or ramp.
Other Handicap Railing Requirements Set by ADA
- The railing must be smooth and continuous. This allows the person using the railing to have a consistent grip throughout the entirety of the stairs or ramp. This also ensures there is nothing for the hand to get caught on when sliding up or down the railing.
- A railing must end directly into an upright, the wall, or the ground. This keeps things such as clothing or bags from being snagged on the exposed end of the railing. It also protects people from injuring themselves on a protruding section of pipe.
This list does not cover every ADA requirement for railings. Each railing is different in application and arrangement. For a list of more ADA requirements, visit this guide.
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Handicap Handrail Options (from Home Depot, Lowes, & Simplified Building):
As a consumer, you have a few railing options available from retailers such as Home Depot, Lowes, and Simplified Building. Each retailer has a solution available for DIY railing applications. However, when it comes to building a railing for handicap people, you must ensure this railing is safe and if you are a business, that it complies with ADA guidelines.
Let's cover a few options:
Home Depot & Lowes
These types of railings are fine for use in a bathroom inside your home for an elderly, handicap, or disabled family member.
Additionally, Home Depot and Lowes do have a few welded and wood railings for use outside your home or business. However, these railings will not meet ADA guidelines. We are not going to go into details on these railings as they will not comply with ADA.
These fittings enable DIYers to build their own railing using just a few basic tools (such as an Allen Wrench and a power drill). This allows railing owners to save money on the cost of building a custom railing versus having to hire a specialist to create a welded solution.
In this scenario, we recommend that you contact one of our ADA experts to ensure that your railing is safe and meets ADA guidelines.
The second option is to use one of our ADA handrails kits. Each kit is already designed to meet ADA guidelines. Additionally, we have several options for ground and wall mounted railing with each kit being configurable in length.
Handicap Handrails for Ramps
One of the most common places you may need a handicap railing is to accompany a ramp leading up to your home or business. Many business locations are required to have a ramp for wheelchair access.
When adding a handicap railing to this ramp, there must be railing on both sides of the ramp, and there must be a minimum width of at least 36" between these two railings. This allows those in a wheelchair to pass through comfortably.
The examples pictured above and below are both custom solutions designed with the help of our ADA experts.
Handicap Handrails for Stairs/Outdoor Steps
Another common place that handicap railing may be needed is next to an outdoor set of steps. In most cases, these steps are constructed from concrete or stone. A fall on this type of surface can cause a serious injury, so safety is a big concern.
Handicap Railing for Bathrooms
Lastly, one final place that you may want to add a safety railing is in your bathroom. Here, we have a customer who has used Kee Lite fittings and pipe to create a railing around this shower to prevent any slips or falls. Since this railing does not accompany a set of stairs or a ramp leading to a business entrance, ADA guidelines are not a concern.
However, we might still recommend using ADA fittings to provide a smooth connection for the entirety of the railing.
If you have any questions on meeting ADA guidelines or building a safe rail for handicap people, please reach out to our team of ADA experts for help. Our team will work with you to address any questions you may have and design the perfect railing for your application. Additionally, make sure to browse our list of ADA railing kits to see if there is one that will fit your application.