What is the longest length allowed for a stair handrail?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

There is no maxium length specified in the code for a stair handrail, but the longest length for the stair run below the handrail is defined by the International Residential Code (IRC 311.7.3) and Florida Building Code (FBC) as a maximum of 147 inches (12’-3”) of vertical height between floor levels or landings. That is an extremely long stair run, though, and most residential stairs will have an intermediate landing for that much height.

   Also, a handrail must be continuous for the entire length of a stair, from directly above the top riser to directly above the bottom riser, and terminate (die into) the adjacent wall or a newel post, per International Residential Code (IRC 311.7.8.2). It can, of course, extend longer into the landings. Top of the handrail is required to be 34 to 38-inches above edge or nosing, it must be easily grippable, and a minimum 1-1/2-inches away from wall. 

     Also, see our blog posts What is the difference between a handrail and a guardrail? and What is a grippable handrail? and How many exterior steps require a handrail? and When is a handrail required on both sides of stairs? 

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about STAIRS:

What do home inspectors check when inspecting stairs?

Is a landing always required at the top and bottom of stairs? 

When is a railing required at stairs?

What is the building code for the minimum height of stair steps (risers)? 

When is a nosing required on a stair tread?

What is the building code requirement for receptacle outlets at stairs and stair landings?  

Are open stair risers acceptable?

What is the steepest residential stair allowed?

Why is a single step dangerous in a house?

 Do I need stairs at all exit doors from a mobile home? 

The stairs feel too steep. What's the building code? 

• What is the longest stair run allowed? 

• What is the lighting requirement for stairs?

• A light is required over a stair after how many steps/risers? 

• When is safety glass required for windows at stairs and stair landings?

   Visit our STAIRS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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