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Thread: Handrail continuity for winder stairs....(R311.7.7.2)

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    Sawhorse
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    Wink Handrail continuity for winder stairs....(R311.7.7.2)

    THE 2009 IRC States:
    R311.7.7.2 Continuity. Handrails for stairways shall be
    continuous for the full length of the flight, from a point
    directly above the top riser of the flight to a point directly
    above the lowest riser of the flight. Handrail ends shall be
    returned or shall terminate in newel posts or safety terminals.
    Handrails adjacent to a wall shall have a space of not
    less than 11/2 inch (38 mm) between the wall and the
    handrails.
    Exceptions:
    1. Handrails shall be permitted to be interrupted
    by a newel post at the turn.


    The question I have, is what is meant by "at the turn".???
    Does this explicily refer to landings??

    what would you think about a situaiton as pictured. assume that the handrail is legal for height, graspibilty, and that stairs are all legal.
    The location of the newell post is definately not a "landing".
    does it qualify as a turn??

    Feedback appreciated.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I think the first sentence of 311.7.7.2 is the answer. Because there is no landing, we have one flight of stairs. The handrail must be continuous, all the way down the flight. The newell post and decorative railing can stay, and the compliant handrail may be mounted on the opposite wall.

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    I've always interpreted "at the turn" as at a landing where the stairs might change direction, but I could be wrong.

    I know that the code does not dictate which side of the stair well the handrail goes on, but the walk line is on the inside of the turn, and a hand rail on the opposite side might prove to be awkward. But, it would meet code.

  4. #4
    Sawhorse
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    As I understand the language of this code section, the practical
    intent is to have a graspable surface to be able to hold on to
    and navigate the stairs, ...up or down.

    "At the turn" is where the stairs make a turn in direction from
    the preceding step. Could be a landing, or another step / riser.
    Your newell post WOULD qualify as a turn, ...or hinge point!

    As I look at your pics., the handrail must continue down the full
    length of the stairs, ...to the very bottom level. Your first
    picture does not have a handrail installed all the way down
    to the first floor. A separate handrail would not be required
    on the opposite wall, at the top. I know of a house locally
    here that has this very set up, ...only, their handrailing
    DOES extend all the way down to the first floor level.

    Hope this helps!

    .
    Please pray for Wilson ("Daddy-O") and his family!



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    Sawhorse JBI's Avatar
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    R311.7.7.2 Continuity. Exceptions: 2. The use of a volute, turnout, starting easing or starting newel shall be allowed over the lowest tread.This exception seems to require the newel to be at the lowest tread. Also the handrail continuity must be maintained from top to bottom. Since the section begins with, R311.7.7 Handrails. Handrails shall be provided on at least one side of each continuous run of treads or flight with four or more risers.it only makes sense to have the handrail continue uninterrupted to the lowest tread. In fact, R311.7.7.2 Continuity. Handrails for stairways shall be continuous for the full length of the flight, from a point directly above the top riser of the flight to a point directly above the lowest riser of the flight. demands it...
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, "Wow, what a ride!!!"

  6. #6
    Sawhorse
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    Handrails

    the handrail extending to the bottom stair will be required, has already been discussed with the owner. good catch though.

    the debate is if that newell post is a permitted interruption "at the turn".....per the exception.

    if it were a legal landing, there would be no issue, however, the landing is not part of the actual flight, so there would be no logical reason to specifically exclude it from continuity, as is outright permitted to not have a handrail, by definition....
    this is what leads me to believe this would be allowed, but i would like to hear pros and cons of both sides....

    thanks again.

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    The code allows this because the turn is a winder, and landings terminate were handrails are required to be, so turning on a landing is a misconception.

    The exception was written just for this reason.

    There are those of us that may not like it, but it is what it is, compliant.

  8. #8
    Sawhorse
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    [QUOTE In fact, [/COLOR]R311.7.7.2 Continuity. Handrails for stairways shall be continuous for the full length of the flight, from a point directly above the top riser of the flight to a point directly above the lowest riser of the flight. demands it...[/QUOTE]

    Demands it?
    That is why i was asking about the exception #1, allowing handrails to be interrupted "at the turn", and what this exaclty means...

    I realize on the pictures that the handrail is not shown to the lowest stair, that has been cited and will be corrected. The issue is the newell post "at the turn" occuring in a winder portion of stairs.

    When would you apply this exception??

    Am I stretching the code to interpret the phrase "at the turn" to be a situation exactly such as this???

    thanks.

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    Seems like odd language (never seen that before) in the code. I do not do much residential and have not encountered this situation since UBC days. I don't believe this exception was in the UBC. I remember a friend of mine who built a house (from a plan book design) with this very condition under UBC and it was flagged during inspection and he had to install a compliant handrail on the wall side. I'm going to interpret this to mean "at any turn" and what you show in the picture is compliant. I can see no other reason for this exception.

    Exception 2 would cover a mid landing condition as you have two flights of stairs, so exception 1 has to be for a turn as shown in the posted pictures.

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    righter101,

    It's all about the exceptions, if you would like the complete low down call Dave Cooper at the SMA, he won't do the forum thing, but he wrote it.....

    But the skinny on it is, the exception is just for this reason.

    So as long as there are handrails on each side of the newel post and the post is in the turn, then complies.

  11. #11
    Sawhorse
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    thanks TBZ, that is the direction I was leaning, but wanted to hear from other code folks.

    thanks to all for the input.

  12. #12
    Sawhorse
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    Chapter 3 definitions: flight: a continuous run of rectangular treads or winders or combination thereof from one landing to another. It's one flight, without a "turn". Continuous handrail.
    (PE)ach
    some days are just that..

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    Sawhorse Inspector Gift's Avatar
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    I will agree with Peach on this one. The handrail should be continuous. As shown it would not be approved here... at least not by the current building official. ;^ )

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    Arrow

    Peach & IG,

    I will not say that a handrail full run through the turn of the winders is not the best practice. I beleive it belongs there and is the best way to build the product.

    However, the exception in the code allows for just this reason as shown. Again this is an exception to the continues run of the handrail from riser to riser.

    If we take the def you posted to mean that a winder is not considered turning when would you have a turn within a flight? Once you hit a landing in the IRC your handrail requirement terminates. Thus turning at a landing does not need an exception.

    As noted in the IRC the flight ends at the landings, period. If you have 3 landings you have 2 flights and so on.

    Therefore the only allowable turn within a flight is a winder and thus the 3 steps in the middle of the flight posted above turns in to another direction. How do you not have a turn within the flight when you enter at 12:00 and exit at 3:00?

    You can read it any way you want, but the exception was written for just this reason in to the code.

    By the way I did not write it......

  15. #15
    Sawhorse
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    Wink

    thanks TBZ. I agree.

    I would be curious to hear Insp. Gift and Peach weigh in specifically what they think the exception is referring to?? I used your logic of the "turn" isn't applicable to a landing because it is not within the flight, therefore it obivoiously refers to a turn within the flight of stairs, as shown in the picture.

    the commentary sheds a bit of light, for this section, specifically the exceptions:

    "The two exceptions to this section create situations where the graspable portion of the handrail may not be completely continuous from the top riser to the bottom riser. These traditional situations are well known to the occupants and have not been shont to represent a safety hazard requiring their restriction"

    Mr. Gift, Peach, thoughts on the exceptions, and the statement in the commentary....

    ???

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    Sawhorse TJacobs's Avatar
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    The winder is the very area you'll need the handrail the most...
    Jake

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    and a post...

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    TJ,

    I agree that you should install a full run handrail, however the question is does the exception allow the handrail to break at the post in the turn, and with that I say YES, the exception is in the code for this specific condition.

    DRP,

    You could make the turn and drop 4 risers without the post, because of the turn it would lock the structure together, however the cost factor would rise by approximately 8-12 fold.

    I would even venture a guess that the custom wood fitting designed and cut on a 5 axis machine might cost more than the entire staircase itself.

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