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Graspability of handrails

Do you find a 2x4 acceptable for a handrail, as shown on picture?


  • Total voters
    3

Mac Moonfire

Sawhorse
Joined
Aug 2, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Sechelt, BC
Hi,
In regards to the graspability of handrails, the British Columbia Building code requires a continuously "graspable" handrail.
In my interpretation of the code, "graspable" is defined by:
  1. a recess, on both sides, permitting fingers and thumb to curl under part if not all of the handrail.
  2. no sharp edges
I don't accept a 2x4 as handrails, see picture. Anyone out there accepting them?

IMG_1386.JPG
9.8.7.5.(2) All handrails shall be constructed so as to be continually graspable along their entire length with no obstruction on or above them to break a handhold. (See Note A-9.8.7.5.(2).)

A-9.8.7.5.(2) Handrail Sections.
Handrails are intended to provide guidance and support to stair users. To fulfil this intent, handrails must be “graspable.”
The graspable portion of a handrail should allow a person to comfortably and firmly grab hold by allowing their fingers and thumb to curl under part or all of the handrail. Where the configuration or dimensions of the handrail do not allow a person’s fingers and thumb to reach the bottom of it, recesses that are sufficiently wide and deep to accommodate a person’s fingers and thumb must be provided on both sides of the handrail, at the bottom of the graspable portion, which must not have any sharp edges.
 

Sifu

Gold Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
1,466
ICC codes provide specific prescriptive requirements defining what type of rail meets graspability. They would not permit what I see in the picture. Your codes are more performance based, so it leaves it up to the idea of graspability. However, the note you shared does indicate that the thumb must have a place to wrap at the same time as the fingers (on both sides), so by that note I would say your requirements would also prohibit the condition pictured.
 

BJN

Registered User
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
9
Location
Kansas
https://www.dropbox.com/s/6rsli4zbh2fa3hp/IMG_1665.JPG?dl=0

In the US, under the 2018 IRC, we would not accept that. This picture out of the DCA 6 is how our jurisdiction interprets the IRC handrail graspability requirements.

Your code section requires a recess on both sides, but your picture shows only a recess on one side, and it looks like that handrail has some sharp edges also.

So, I think you are entitled to slap the contractor with your code book...
 

Inspector Gift

Sawhorse - Made in USA
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
348
Location
City of Sandy, Oregon
It is NOT acceptable here in Sandy Oregon.

The handrail shown does not meet either Type 1 or Type 2 profile requirements, nor does it provide equivalent graspability, IMHO.

TYPE I:
1. If the handrail is not circular, it shall have a perimeter dimension not greater than 6-1/4 inches.
2. Cross sectional dimension shall not exceed 2-1/4 inches.
3. Edges shall have a radius of not less than 0.01 inch.

TYPE II:
1. The graspable finger recess must start within 3/4" of top of handrail
2. The finger recess is required on BOTH sides
3. Edges shall have a radius of not less than 0.01 inch.
 

tmurray

Registered User
Joined
Jun 10, 2011
Messages
2,005
Location
NB, Canada
You might want to look at A-9.8.7.5.(2) in the National Building Code of Canada. You can grab an electric copy for free online on their website.

It gives specific guidance on what you can considered "graspable" and, while the notes section of the code is not enforceable, it can inform you on an official position as the building official. IN this situation, it gives a maximum perimeter of 100mm to 155mm for non-regular sections, which this does not meet.

I have accepted some handrails that do not specifically meet the requirements based on a case by case basis. For instance, the 2x4 handrail might be fine for stairs going down to an unfinished basement, but not to a finished one.
 

BJN

Registered User
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
9
Location
Kansas
What if you finished the handrail and sanded off all the splinters?
Would help, but still way too big. Adults could grab it okay, but children and elderly might have a problem. That is why the code specifies the size requirements as small as they do.
 

Inspector Gift

Sawhorse - Made in USA
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
348
Location
City of Sandy, Oregon
Is the handrail over 38 inches measured vertically from nosing of the treads? I can't tell from looking at the pic, but if the 2x4 cap is at 36 inches, then it's likely too tall.
 

tbz

Silver Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2010
Messages
644
Location
Pennsylvania
I was holding off commenting on this post, but felt the need to speculate on some of the comments.
  1. The picture shows a 2x4 or 2x3 on edge with a 1x? on the side.
    1. The first thing we can agree on is that it is larger than 6.25" on its perimeter and therefore is not a type I handrail
    2. However, why does it not meet a type II handrail
      1. first is the width less than 2.75" wide? I believe yes 1.5 + 0.75 = 2.25, a full 1/2" smaller
      2. Second does it start to narrow inward within the first 3/4" down from the top, The picture is not definitive on this but unlikely.
      3. Third once it starts to narrow inward, if it does, does it reach the required 5/16" inward depth within 7/8" below the required measuring point?
        1. I doubt it, but 7/8" + 3/4" = 1.625" from the top.
        2. The recess is required to be a minimum of 3/8" and be completed prior to reaching 1.75" down,
          1. I would venture it does not meet this requirement either
      4. Obviously there is the second side recess as one is not visible in the picture
      5. But in reality, if you remove the 1x? from the one side and add (2) smaller boards meeting the requirements on each side or simply remove the side board and screw it down on top making a "T" with the edges sanded to meet the 0.01 radius edge requirement, it could comply or be very close to meeting the the requirements with a little adjustment.
    3. As to the height being between 34-38, not sure a picture without a tape measure showing the height could tell us that answer. But, if higher than 38, NG there
But to the OP question, can you use a 2x4 as a handrail as shown in the picture, not as configured, but IMO if they remove the side board and attach it on top hanging over both sides, as long as it does violate the max height, it could very well meet the a type II handrail grip size requirement, or at a minimum "or provide equivalent graspability"

So a lot closer than not IMO

Just my thoughts on the OP's question
 
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